How Your Business Can Treat Teachers Like VIPs

Showing goodwill toward educators builds your reputation as a valuable business in the community.
teacher with elementary student high five
Supporting teachers with surprise care packages, fundraising assistance, promotions and raffles will recognize their hard work and help boost business. (Photo: michaeljung/Shutterstock)

Back-to-school season is already upon us. While parents and students are busy shopping, teachers have been at work for weeks or months getting ready for the upcoming school year.

Ray Camillo

Teachers carry a lot of clout with the local community, said Ray Camillo of Blue Orbit Restaurant Consulting. (Photo: Ray Camillo)

Despite the important role they play in shaping young lives, teachers rarely get formal recognition for their hard work. That’s all the more reason for local businesses to step up and give educators the appreciation they deserve, said Ray Camillo, CEO and founder of Blue Orbit Restaurant Consulting.

“It falls on the community to support teachers and the [businesses] that do will reap the rewards,” he said. “Teachers are actually very powerful and carry a lot of clout.”

Here are some strategies you can use to treat teachers like VIPs at your business.

Offer back-to-school specials

Customers love scoring an exclusive promotion. While some businesses provide educators a small discount they can use anytime, teachers might value a larger, limited-time promotion that comes up when they need it most.

“Consider offering teachers specials during the back-to-school week or month to help build good will and show appreciation during a very hectic time,” said Charles Lindsey, associate professor of marketing at University at Buffalo School of Management.

Revive the promotion around finals week, when educators spend extra hours grading papers, Lindsey added.

Related: How Small Businesses Can Capitalize on Back-to-School Season

Honor a teacher at your business

Freebies are a nice perk, but that’s not the only way you can show appreciation toward teachers. Make it personal by choosing specific educators and honoring them at your restaurant or store.

“Proudly display a plaque recognizing a specific teacher or teachers from several schools that achieve something special,” said Camillo.

You could also take it one step further by recognizing an entire school and all of its faculty, hosting a special event just for them.

“It could be a reserved table, a karaoke night, food and beverage specials or other basic promotions,” said Lindsey. “Do it for all the schools in your area.”

Send a care package

school supplies basket

Bouquets of flowers, edible treats, coffee mugs and even school supplies are great things with which to fill a teacher care package. (Photo: rawf8/Shutterstock)

Between their classroom duties, grading papers and building relationships with students, teachers spend countless hours at their schools. Sending some goodies directly to their workplace is a gesture that shows your business goes above and beyond.

“Sending school-wide care packages or baskets for teachers is one way to treat them like VIPs,” said Lindsey.

Bouquets of flowers, edible treats, coffee mugs and even school supplies are great things with which to fill the care package. If you have the budget, consider throwing in a few electronics, as well, said John Butler, the director of Texas Venture Labs and professor at the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business.

“Think about the modern classroom. They teach with technology and [could use] jump drives, tablets, monitors, gift cards, etc.,” he said.

Make sure that your business information is somewhere on the package, so teachers (and their administrators) remember who sent it.

“The principal will appreciate it (talk about sway!), and the brand will be seen by both students and faculty,” said Camillo.

Charles Lindsey

Have teachers as guest servers at your restaurant as a fundraising event for your local school, suggested Charles Lindsey. (Photo: Charles Lindsey)

Related: How To Market Your Restaurant as a Graduation Destination

Invite teachers in as guest staff

Few things are more thrilling for students than seeing their teachers outside of the classroom. Use this to your advantage when trying to find a way to honor educators, said Lindsey.

“Have a celebrity bartender, server or chef event where selected teachers in the community spend the night serving customers,” he said.

It’s more than a silly ploy — you can actually use the special event as a fundraising tool for local schools.

“A percentage of sale proceeds from a certain event can be donated to students or schools in need,” said Lindsey.

Plus, the event is bound to draw crowds of paying customers, like parents and school faculty, who are likely to return again in the future.

Don’t forget about coaches


Coaches also play an important role in kid’s lives, so remember to include them in your VIP plans. (Photo: matimix/Shutterstock)

They might not typically work in the classroom, but coaches also play an important role in helping students succeed. Don’t forget about them when planning your initiatives to support educators, said Camillo.

“Offer a significant discount for life to coaches, say 20 percent off,” he said. “Making all coaches VIPs at a restaurant while sponsoring a sports field banner is a double whammy because the coach may tell his students and athletes about the goodwill, and it will be backed up by sponsorship of the sign along the track or in the outfield.”

Related: 5 Benefits of Sponsoring Local Youth Sports Teams

Host a teacher raffle

You know how many local businesses encourage customers to drop their business card into a fishbowl for a chance to win a prize? You can do the same thing just for teachers, said Lindsey.

“Have an index card where teachers print their name, school and subject taught. Each week or month, hold a drawing and the winning teacher gets a free lunch, dinner, appetizer or drink,” he said.

The tactic would work for a retail store or a florist, as well — just switch up the prize to reflect whatever your business is known for.

You could also choose to deliver a prize straight to the classroom, said Camillo.

“Visit one classroom per month randomly to offer a $100 gift card to the teacher and $20 gift cards for each child to take home. The teacher will feel like she just got a visit from Oprah and there will be buzz around where you will strike next,” he said.

Honoring teachers should come from your heart, but it will come back to benefit your business.

“The key to any great philanthropy strategy is consistency and longevity,” said Camillo. “What goes around comes around, and giving to teachers is a great way to push goodwill into orbit.”

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