Just in the same way that Madonna and other music artists have maintained their presence at the top of the music charts, businesses also need to continually refresh their offering to ensure they meet the needs of their existing clients, whilst attracting new customers.
Tenet Education Services (Tenet) are celebrating 25 years of service to the education sector during 2019, with the 25th April being our actual birthday. Little did we know 25 years ago when the Founder David Thoms started the business that Tenet would become a market leader for education procurement services, never mind branching out into offering services to the wider public sector, because of customer demand.
Using some of the knowledge we’ve built up over the years, we have highlighted five key stages to business longevity below:
Stage one – set a business aim
The first stage to business longevity is setting an aim for the business and working towards achieving it. David Thoms describes Tenet’s aim 25 years ago when it was a new start up business; “it was my goal to help the then recently formed Grant Maintained Schools to acquire their key goods and services in the most cost-effective way. A long-term goal was to provide procurement support to 10% of schools during our first ten years.” This goal may have sounded unreasonable to some people but it was that ambition and drive that inevitably grew our business year on year.
Stage two – understand your customers’ requirements
Knowing what your customers’ requirements are is imperative. The cost of launching a new product or service can be very expensive and making an assumption can be a costly mistake to make. Tenet has developed our portfolio of procurement services by talking to customers, observing how our customers operate and identifying opportunities to meet their requirements.
Stage three – create a unique selling point (USP)
Tenet operate in an industry whereby our competitors range from sole traders to limited companies. Each one wins business by selling their service to the customers and inevitably convincing the customer that their USP meets the requirements of the customer.
Tenet was acquired by a not-for-profit, education sector owned registered charity called Crescent Purchasing Limited (registration number 1130461)
in May 2017. Our not-for-profit status provides us with an additional USP as 100% of our surpluses are now gift-aided to the charity which in turn reinvests them back into the education sector via innovative projects. This USP means that by using Tenet’s services, our customers can benefit from more opportunities, past examples of which have included; fully funded apprenticeships, free procurement training and education procurement focused conferences.
Stage four – customer service
It sounds simple but the reality is customer service can be very time consuming and expensive. Having said that, it is vital to ensure that your customers receive a service that exceeds their expectations. Customers are an excellent advocate of Tenet’s service and we are very fortunate to receive many introductions from customer referrals.
Stage five – look after your employees
LinkedIn users will see many quotes from business gurus who chant “look after your staff and they will look after your customers.” The reality is, it is very true. Losing good employees has a negative effect on your business because recruitment is costly and time consuming, plus more importantly, whilst you are recruiting you are having to maintain customer relations using other labour resources, which is inevitably having a negative effect elsewhere in the business. Best case scenario is you tread water for a period, worse case you lose the customer as well as the employee.
Leadership is important as it supports every employee to complete their role to their best ability whilst ensuring they understand the importance of their role to the overall business. Tenet are blessed with a team of dedicated procurement professionals, all of which work remotely across the UK and all of which deliver daily value to our customers through the work they undertake, which in many cases reduces their customers operating costs.
What’s in store for the next 25 years? Tenet’s Managing Director, Darren Lowe shares his thoughts;
Opportunities are a plenty for Tenet. We will continue to service and make improvements to our core procurement services by investing in training, technology and ultimately listening to our customers. Through partnerships and referrals, we will continue to expand our services, particularly in Higher Education and the Academy marketplace. The education sector is continually changing with funding reductions becoming the norm meaning educational establishments are continually having to reinvent themselves. During these times it is important that Tenet continue to support our customers and provide them with an excellent investment opportunity by utilising our services to reduce their operating costs. This was demonstrated during 2018 when we were able to deliver an average ROI of 493% for our managed procurement customers.
Tenet’s Founder, David Thoms provides his view on Tenet today;
I now look back with a great deal of pride and considerable pleasure in what I, together with Tenet’s dedicated team have achieved since 1994. Under the new ownership the business will grow and utilise the new opportunities which enable it to continue to be a UK leading procurement consultancy in the education sector.