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What is it Like to Work With You

Posted by Scott Barron on Dec 10, 2015 1:24:16 PM
Scott Barron
What is like to work with you and your school? Is contact information on your website readily accessible? Do you (individually and as an organization) respond in a timely, professional manner to emails and phone calls? What is the tone of interactions with you, and is this consistent with your desired brand? Do you seek to make life easier for your parents?

These perceptions contribute to the success of your school--whether you are expertly professional or awkwardly lazy in your standards and expectations. Excellence is the word most commonly used on school websites and in marketing materials, and your families are daily evaluating your commitment to excellence based on their interactions with you.

As you are looking for ways to make it easier for parents to work with you, consider these points of interaction.


Your school website is a primary way current and prospective families want to seek answers to their questions. More than half the time they will be using a mobile device to do so, which means having a "responsive" design that adapts to the format of the device (e.g., laptop vs. phone) being used is very important. As you're planning the navigation of your site, think about it from the perspective of someone who knows nothing about the school. Take the time to watch a few people interact with your pages so that you can see how many "clicks" are necessary to get to the desired information.

Phone system

Your phone system may be a contributing factor to your lack of growth. Automated systems may be "efficient" but they STINK when it comes to customer service. It's hard to believe you're really committed to "a warm family environment" when you make your parents suffer with a sequence of aggravating menu options every time they call the school. Then, when they finally do get through to a live person, the tone is less than friendly because of the chaos going on in the office and stacks of paperwork waiting to be finished. Professional development should include training your teachers and staff on how to answer the phone, the recording of appropriate voice messages, and how to handle difficult situations/people.

Accessibility to Meetings

Valuable information is shared at your various meetings but many of your parents have jobs that require travel or limit time on campus. Why not use the same tools that they are using in their businesses. Some of your parent meetings can be conducted online via a free Google Hangout or using a paid tool like GoToMeeting. Remember that your part of a much larger ecosystem in their lives, and that means finding ways to connect in their worlds rather than forcing them to always come to you.

Partner Selection

Key Partners are important to every company and school. When you consider the associations, service and product providers, area businesses, churches, other schools, emergency personnel, etc., who contribute to your success, be smart about how you select these partners. Using a highly bureaucratic process for making decisions is a huge impediment to innovation and collaboration, as is relying on friends and family to provide such needed support. Wisely choose partners who are genuinely interested in your success and who have invested in creating quality products and services that contribute favorably to your value proposition. Like the CFO mentioned in the interview below, find partners who will make your life better and enable your mission.

Relaxing Audit QuoteCFO Interview

Another technique to learn more about what it's like to work with you is to consider the levels of quality delivered by companies from whom you purchase products or services. If you can convert your "vendors" into ecosystem partners that collaborate with you to achieve the mission, your assets to grow will expand greatly.

For example, in a recent interview with the chief financial officer of a school, we were talking about the process of conducting an audit and the importance of choosing the right firm. She found that the relationship and support from the audit firm are of utmost priority because this enables her to improve as a consultative business officer for her internal clients (administration, teachers, staff, board, etc.).

During our interview, I was surprised by her response to a question that was asked.

Q: "Overall, how would you describe your experience with your audit firm?"

A: "Our HA&W team has made the audit process relaxing.”

Relaxing? Did she say RELAXING?!? That’s not something you hear very often--"Relaxing" and "Audit" used in the same sentence. Yet, this CFO was serious. She went on to explain that the audit team provided such a complete preparation packet in advance and such valuable interaction throughout the year, that the audit itself had no surprises and went very smoothly.

Her experience stands in stark contrast to many, many other interactions we've had with school business officers who hold such dread for the annual audit. This demonstrates the power of paying attention to the details and the relationship, making it easy for others to work with you. (Click Here to read more about this interview and HA&W) Learn how to improve your relationships with families by evaluating and choosing key partners who make you better and then collaborate with them to innovate your school design. When you make it easier to work with you, enrollment and fundraising tend to grow.


Topics: Administration, Marketing, Leadership

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