I’m going to disclose the entire Grauer School business model and our most valuable trade secret at the end of this article, but no peeking!
The Grauer School has a humanitarian, progressive mission, which might sound lofty, except it has to be anchored on the solid ground of the marketplace. Can we achieve this balance of ideals and practicality, of philosophy and bottom line? Are we a viable business model? Consider some almost incredibly curious facts: For starters, we sell our services at a cost less than what it costs to produce them. Secondly, we are expensive while most of our competition is free! Thirdly, we offer a class and school size that most educational accountants find impossible to pencil out—we have no economy of scale. (We actually persist in feeling sure that there is no such thing as an economy of scale in education, even though we can hardly find anyone who agrees.) And fourth, to turn matters even more upside down, if people can’t afford our services, we often give them away at up to half price! I think if I pitched these strategies to a business professor at a top college, I could flunk the course. It sounds like an anti-business model. How is any of it possible?
I know that if we develop better, happier students we will always be on the right side of history and economics, people will always want to collaborate, and we will flourish. So long as we are preparing students for an ethical, prosperous, and creative life—so long as we continue to hold this above all other missions–we will attract people who have those very same qualities. It’s perfect! I think we are appealing to the best in people rather than the standard appeals to what is quick, most convenient or the best bargain. One proof of this is that 100% of our clients make donations to us.
Of course, no discussion of marketplace strategy would be complete nowadays without mention of technology. Technology makes it so that our smallness is no longer a disadvantage except for fielding big team sports, which is hardly a core value. Today’s technology gives us access to information anywhere. So we can retain the amazing advantages of one on one, meaningful relationships all over campus while our students and teachers are tapping into a rich, global world of information and resources.
We have used the same business model for 23 years now and that has been no 24-month period wherein we have not experienced growth in income and popularity. And now, at last, here is The Grauer School business model in its entirety: Do good work.
What a great country and community we must live in for such a model to work! If you think we are off that model in any way, I hope you will continue our great collaboration and let us know.