The Guardian headlined recently, ‘Balancing the books. In coming years state school finances will be affected by funding changes, the end of a staff pay freeze and a rise in the pupil premium. With the economy continuing to flatline and the government struggling to control a growing national deficit, these are tough times for schools.’
The same is true for the independent sector. The Telegraph reported: ‘Everywhere, efforts are being made to keep costs down to make schools as attractive as possible. Some have gone so far as to advertise discounted fees.’
Chris Allison is Managing Director of Auditel, the UK and Ireland’s leading independent cost management consultancy. He explains: ‘For schools and colleges, managing costs is an uphill task without dedicated, professional help. These can be as diverse as utilities, catering and stationery, let alone finding the time to keep on top of contract renewals and seek out innovative cost management solutions for education’
Since 1994, Auditel has built a reputation for delivering ethical and sustainable solutions for the educational sector through their Total Cost of Purchase®. This approach is now widely regarded as the most effective approach to cost management and Auditel regularly delivers results that not only meet, but exceed clients’ expectations.
Allison says that all educational establishments can be helped. He provides examples of savings for a pre-school day care provider, a secondary school and a college.
Pre-school day care:
Established in 1983, Busy Bees are the UK’s largest provider of pre-school daycare, offering more than 11,500 children’s nursery places in 129 unique locations nationwide. Their FD, although sceptical about the Auditel proposition, agreed a trial project to review water charges across all the sites. Over a six-month period, Auditel were able to recoup over £45,000 worth of rebates and identified ongoing annual savings in excess of £14,000.
As a result of this exercise, Auditel were invited to investigate the existing contracts with their telephone supplier and a shorter 2-year agreement was negotiated to deliver a common end date. The annual additional saving is estimated at £18,000.
Auditel was also asked to assist with a disputed final electricity bill. The result was a 90% reduction in the charge and a refund cheque from the supplier. As their IT Manager reveals ‘Having strong control of our costs going forward is essential. Outsourcing expert advice has paid off, both in terms of savings and providing the in-house team with additional management support. I would be happy to recommend Auditel to any company wanting expert help to review their expenditure.’
Founded in 1864, Framlingham College is a co-educational boarding and day school for pupils aged 13-18 in Suffolk and has approximately 425 pupils. Dissatisfied with their previous consultants, their Finance Director saw in Auditel the opportunity to have their complex cost management handled professionally. This saved them a considerable amount of time and money. ‘I invited Auditel to look at our utilities costs. We knew we had not been getting best value from the previous firm of cost consultants and that there were better deals out there. We simply didn’t have the time, knowledge or buying power required to access them.’
On utilities, Auditel delivered savings of over £95,000 and refunds for VAT and Climate Change Levy of over £60,000. A detailed lighting survey promised annual savings of £72,000, bringing total savings of £156,100. Their Finance Director concedes: ‘I hate to think where we would have been now, if it had not been for Auditel!’
St. Clare’s is an international residential college, which specialises in teaching the International Baccalaureate Diploma in Oxford. Based in 26 sites, the college presents an interesting challenge when it comes to cost and purchase management. Auditel was engaged initially by their Bursar to investigate the College’s spend on electricity, gas, water and fixed line communications.
In the first year, Auditel delivered savings which totalled over £42,000. Of these, electricity amounted to £31,250, including a rebate for past overcharges of £24,100. Gas amounted to £6,400 from historical overcharges going back three years and £4,200 (21%) on fixed line communications. Auditel have also provided significant levels of day-to-day management support in these areas.
Their Bursar concedes: ‘We didn’t have the time or the necessary expertise to sort them out. It was a huge relief to give these tasks to Auditel.’
Chris Allison adds: ‘There’s no doubt, our clients value the huge time-saving. In-house resources are freed up to concentrate on core activities. Budgets now contain up-to-date, accurate cost management information and we have become a trusted, outsourced member of their executive team. For any organisation wishing to have peace of mind amid spiralling costs, our Auditel Business Health Check can be an enormous benefit!’