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Black Bear Group

Practical Solutions for Schools and Business


Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Question 1, How much does it cost to join the Buying Group?
  2. Question 2, I only want to use one category area, does that matter?
  3. Question 3, When will I start seeing the price comparison reports?
  4. Question 4, How often do you carry out tenders?
  5. Question 5, So for example, if I use the buying group's office products supplier will they be the cheapest on every item?
  6. Question 6, I am interested in another area of spend that you don't cover in the Buying Group, could it be added as one of your categories?
  7. Question 7, Your focus seems to be on Schools and SME's, what about larger companies?
  8. Question 8, You have a number of other services that you provide, are these free?
  9. Question 9, How long have you been in business?

Answer 1:

Membership of the Buying Group is free. To obtain a membership number simply complete the form on the Contact Us page and we will respond within one working day. As a member you can take advantage of any of the category groups listed on the Categories page. In some cases we will require further information to get appropriate pricing for you, this is clearly stated in the category description.

Answer 2:

Not at all. You can take advantage of one spend category, or all of them. It's up to you.

Answer 3:

Price comparison reports are currently produced each month for Office Products, Educational Supplies and IT Consumables. We e-mail the reports out to members by the 5th of each month. Note: The Educational Supplies comparison report is only sent out to schools.

Answer 4:

We carry out tenders on a 24 - 36 month cycle dependant on category. It is very time consuming and is not practical to carry this out more frequently as this could lead to members constantly changing suppliers! So we monitor prices every month to ensure that buying group suppliers remain competitive as the market fluctuates.

Answer 5:

We cannot guarantee that our suppliers will be the cheapest on every item, just as Tesco or Aldi may not be for everyday groceries. A good example of this is with stationery suppliers. Almost all will look at your everyday purchases and create a "core list" which they will discount often below market value. You think you have made a fantastic saving. However, all your items that you buy that are not on the core list could well be priced at two to three times market value. That's how the supplier makes his money. When we go to tender we insist that our suppliers price everything - not just a core list, so our suppliers give actual savings on everything you buy. However if you compare some items on a core list our supplier may not always be cheaper.

Answer 6:

In principle yes. In the past we have had a lot more spend categories, but the more there are the more difficult it is to ensure the pricing remains competitive. The main criteria we use is that a category is useful to all businesses not just a select few.

Answer 7:

We focus on Schools and SME's because in general they do not have the buying power or management resources of the buying group. However we are happy for larger businesses to join, ultimately this will help us leverage even greater savings for our members which benefits everyone.

Answer 8:

The Buying Group is the only free service we provide, all other services shown on our Services page are charged for. However, please bear in mind that our target customers are Schools and SME's and as such our rates are very competitive and offer good value for money. Please talk to us about your specific requirements and we will provide you with a fixed price quotation.

Answer 9:

We started as a management consultancy business in 2001 providing services to UK financial institutions and businesses that were going through difficult times. We were often asked to look at ways in which business overheads could be reduced thereby improving profitability, key to this was reducing overhead procurement spend. In 2008 we formed the Buying Group for which there was an annual subsription fee with a number of "services" included. More recently, we decided to offer free membership to the Buying Group but to charge for all other services.