Once Upon a Time There Was a College Restaurant

Why some college restaurants need to closeCollege Restaurants are about to hit the news.  Some providers are about to announce expansion plans with city centre commercial premises .. and others are quietly closing their restauarants.

Neither route is necessarily the one other providers should follow.  But we all should ensure our commercial activites are there for the right reason.  And that has to be to provide our students with the very best training and education we can provide.  They deserve no less.

Sadly many providers close over the summer period and, whilst i agee that staff need a break, I'm not convinced college restaurants should close over the summer.

You can read more about my views in my latest FE News article entitled ........Why Some College Restaurants Need to Close

How to Brief a Website Designer

How to Brief a Website Designer. Website Specification is Essential if You are to brief your website designerWebsites Cost a Lot of Money, So Correctly Briefing Your Website Designer is Vital if You Want Value for Money from Your Designer

How to Brief a Website Designer

Over the last ten years I've specified a lot of education websites. I've also reviewed a lot of website specs drawn up by providers. So How to Brief a Website Designer is now second nature to me; but lots of people struggle with it. Specifying the website is key to getting your site right, but it needs detailed and concise specification.

A lot of good web designers tell me that too many clients haven't much idea what they want in a website except it should be a "good site" or a site like one of their competitors.

No designer can give you value for money with such an imprecise specification. The good ones will probe for detail but the unethical designers (and there are a lot of them out there) will rip you off by fulfilling your imprecise instructions at high cost (then blame you for not briefing them properly).

Website Specification Detail

In the last few years I've specified many websites and my experience is that a specification needs to be at least 30-40 pages in length to be detailed enough to provide a designer with sufficient information. And I don't mean a document full of screengrabs of sites that are liked or disliked; I mean hard facts.

It is necessary to specify your customer profiles, the products and/or services you wish to offer, the Calls to Action you require to be followed and the apps, plugins and functions you wish to provide.  In most cases it is the function we wish to provide e.g. an appointment booking system, rather than the actual app or plugin to be used as the designer should have a more up to date knowledge of these and how they will interface with other systems and functions. Continue reading

Risk Management, FHE Websites/Databases at Risk

Risk Management from IT Crash, Server Problems and Wasted Websites Risk Management: Unseen Risks in Your Department Could Crash The Organisation.

Imagine the scene.  Late Friday night your servers go down.  No one notices and  even if they did the premises are locked and no one can get in to repair the problem.

On Monday someone spots the problem but it is impossible to remedy the fault as your IT server back up has failed.

You no longer have a website .. the MIS system has also packed up .. and you can't access any of your files.  In fact the total IT system has collapsed and can't be repaired.

So the organisation closes down and you are left without a job!

Risk Management

Far fetched?

NO!

I've recently surveyed a lot of providers and this scenario is possible in many of them.

In my latest FE News article I highlight some of the reasons this can happen and how to prevent it happening to you.

To discover more read FE At Risk: Clear & Present Danger

Almost Instant Video & Audio Transcriptions for FE

Audio Transcriptions: Rapid audio and video transcriptions Audio Transcriptions: Being able to post a transcription of a video, keynote speech or lecture has many benefits.

Cost has always been a factor in obtaining audio transcriptions as has making recordings. But the costs have now virtually disappeared and recording the words has never been easier.

Let's take the words first.  The simple way to do this .. if you don't have access to a lot of expensive kit is to use a mobile phone and a low cost Lavaliere microphone. I personally use the PRO70 (£111.28 the day I wrote this post), but there are other options.  Lavaliere mics plug into your Android or iPhone and will record either sound only, or sound and video.

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What is Psychological Nudging?

Psychological Nudging: The Government's BehaviourImages of Eyes are useful for psychological nudgingal Insights Team, aka The Nudge Unit, has been in existence for many years, but few people know of it.  

However it can teach FE a thing or two about marketing and business development.

Psychological nudging is used by government to encourage us to do things we might not otherwise want to do. Things like pay their road tax.

A few years ago the Nudge Unit suggested that DVLA changed their normal long-winded letter to suspected non payers and sent a very simple message to those suspected on non payment. It simply said, Pay Your Road Tax or Lose Your Car.

Payments from previous non payers doubled.  And when a photo of the vehicle was added payments tripled.

Outside of government nudge methods  also work.  Where honesty boxes are used the level of non payment significantly drops if you put an image of a pair of eyes next to the box! Continue reading

Lifetime Value: What’s a Customer Worth?

Lifetime Value of CustomersThe Lifetime Value (LTV) of a Customer is Important. So Using the Supermarket "Lost Leader" Concept to Grow Your Provider Business Is Essential. 

So often a course fails due to low numbers.  You have nine people signed up and you need ten to be viable.  So you send nine people away unhappy because you ignored Lifetime Value.

Often it feels like this is the only way forward.  It makes economic sense.  OR does it? Continue reading

Coffee Gets Additional Business

Hfree coffee is a way to build relationships ow Often Do Your Clients Become Past Memories? 

For example you might have had students from a particular business for years and then they suddenly stop enrolling one year. Or maybe a school was an excellent feeder for years and then started to tail off. The answer could be coffee!

The schools issue is not so common with most providers as they often have a dedicated schools liaison person.  And that fact indicates the problem with the former. You see if no one is tasked with keeping in touch with current customers they soon get forgotten.  It isn't enough to think that your courses are great and they will keep on coming.  All it takes is for a competitor to appear and woo them away from you.

But if you keep in touch with them on  a regular basis then they are far less likely to disappear. Ideally you should be sending them some useful snippets of info, or some top tips relevant to them, on  a regular basis.

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Marketing Without Email

Internet Marketers Claim Email Lists Are Where The Money Is To Be Found.Marketing Without Email

In fact many internet marketers spend huge amounts of time, money and effort building their "lists" .. of email addresses. They can't contemplate marketing without email.

And while it is true that email is an important facet of marketing, I'm not convinced it is the "be all and end all" it is often claimed. In fact I've ditched my lists and CRM in my own busienss and have developed another strategy which, for me, works even better and is less effort.

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Trivial Colleges Mooted For Closure

What are trivial colleges?

Why will they close?

My recent article in FE News explains all

Trivial colleges will become  Extinct First

 

How to Find Individual Email Addresses

how to find email addressesHave you ever wanted to email someone but didn't have their email address?

Frustrating isn't it.

The person you need to contact could be the MD of a large company that you can supply apprentices to.  Or they could be the perfect guest speaker at an event you are running. But if you can't email them you have a problem; especially if the gatekeeper assiduously guards them.

You could look for them on Facebook or LinkedIn but that takes time.  Their website might only have an info@ type addresses.

Finding email addresses

So check out emailhunter.co .

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Don’t Quote A Price, Demonstrate Your Value

Demonstrate Your ValueDemonstrate Your Value

When a client next asks for a quote try this.
Tell them that rather than spend half a day quoting for their work you have a counter proposal. You are willing to come in for half a day and demonstrate your value.

Tell them you are willing to come in and run a half day taster to help them see what you can do to help them. All they need to do is to line up some staff that will benefit from attending.

That way they will get some benefits anyway, and a quote never provides benefits .. just figures. And you will both see what it is like to work with one another.

This approach is unique and sets you apart from those just providing a quote but no evidence of their value.

If the prospect doesn't want to go for this option then just quote as usual.

How To Prevent Distractions

How to Prevent Distractions and Stay FocusedPrevent Distractions & Improve

Your Focus 

We all need to prevent distractions and sharpen our focus from time to time.  Distractions like email and social media are all around us and we need to stay sharp if we are to accomplish a days work.

If you are like me you will find it very easy to just check your emails when you are half way through a job.  Writing a short post like this ought to take minutes but can easily stretch into an hour if I get distracted.

Staying motivated is hard when the task is boring and not even that easy when the task is one we enjoy.  The reason?  We all have short attention spans and soon get distracted.

Continue reading

FE Faces Extinction

FE is Facing ExtinctionCould Area Reviews, poor financial track records and being digitally challenged spell the extinction of the FE college?

That is the argument of some private providers I had lunch with recently.  They thought FE colleges had real problems with the calibre of governors, a marked lack of understanding and reluctance to use digital and much more.

Have they got is right or totally wrong?  Most FE staff have strong feelings over this but tend not to voice their views too loudly. What is your view?

The full article can be found in my regular column on FE News.

 

How to Obtain Expiring Domains

Buying expired domain names Colleges and Universities mainly use the .ac.uk domain names reserved exclusively for them. But they can also use other domains (urls) at their description and other training providers frequently prefer to use  .co.uk or .com addresses for their websites and emails.

But what if the domain you want isn't available?  Well, you might still be able to pick it up.  Some addresses aren't used, people just buy them with a view to sell them.  They cybersquat on them. Agencies that do this will offer urls at exorbitant fees.  Think carefully before paying them.  How much are they really worth?

Some addresses have been used but are going to expire for various reasons.  It might be the businesses has ceased trading or changed business direction. In that case you can buy them once they are available.

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Employers Will Pay Much More

employers pay extra for luxury Frequently I'm Told Employers Will NOT Pay a Premium .. or sometimes anything at all. 

That's NOT True

Employers will pay much more than most people think when buying courses for themselves or highly valued staff.

The trick is to tap into what they value or need most.

Employers are people and people value the little extras in life .. such as
Luxury (the feeling of)
Time
Clarity
Experience
Process (if it’s unique)
Passing Responsibility (the transfer of it…to you)
Think about the businesses that YOU pay a premium to…

What do they give you that makes you happy to pay extra?

Coffee shops; most charge a high premium on coffee fees. In return you get a distinct ambiance, great coffee, comfortable seating and (usually) good music.

Apple, Their computers and phones are really expensive. You can pay 100% - 400% premium on their computers. But in return, you get a Apple shops which provide a much better experience, a great feeling when opening the box plus good  customer service.

Even the simpler, more innovative design implies clarity.

 

What Employers Will Pay For 

Employers will pay extra if you provide some, or all, of the above.

The first step is to answer the phone correctly. These people are responsible adults that run businesses.  Far too often when I speak to providers on the phone I feel like they are treating me like a school leaver. There is no need to be abrupt or appear superior!

I'm sure staff don't set out to appear like this .. but sadly some definitely come over like this.

So start by thinking about the people you are dealing with and what they expect.  Provide this as a minimum and then try to exceed their expectations.  You can then base your prices on this level of service and see significant income improvements.

You will also stand out from the crowd when bidding against other providers.

How To Promote Courses to Employers

Promote Courses: Employers will pay for unusual coursesDo you only offer the usual courses.  You know, the usual list of manual handling, health and safety courses, food hygiene and all those other courses you can find on 90-95% of provider websites?

This employer market is limited and incomes restricted.  

But there is another way where incomes and profit grow at an exponential rate.

You see while very few ever look beyond offering this shortlist and, if asked for something out of the ordinary,  just say they there is no call for it. The really smart providers do something entirely different.

They make significant profit.

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Generating Income, FE Space Utilisation & Pop Up Restaurants

Pop Up Restaurants Make MoneyGenerating More Income in FE isn't Always Easy

.... but that is usually due to our mindset.

One major asset we have is space .. and it is worth money but think about it in the wrong way.

You see we think about space in terms of how we would normally use it and can't see beyond this.

But turn your thoughts upside down and look at the space in a different way.

The space doesn't need using for its original purpose.  It's just space and can be used for a myriad of purposes.

Link your space to a local or national event and marvelous things happen.

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These Words Precede Failure

Flip a coin and turn failure into successProject Failure .. in Fact Any Failure  ... is Often Preceded By the Words "I can't until". 

As in "I can't start building a CRM list until we've rebuilt the website". Or "I can't promote the new course until it is validated".

Of course these reasons are absolutely rubbish.  They are nothing but excuses.  They are the words associated with inertia.

They are very common words.

But turning failure into success isn't difficult.

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Parents Don’t Understand Degree Apprenticeships

Degree Apprenticeships are a mystery to some parentsIn my latest exclusive for FE News I look at Degree Apprenticeships and learn the dire truth based on the latest survey.

The recent CMI-commissioned Degree Apprenticeship survey, carried out by Populus, makes interesting reading.

It seems that, 83% of the 1003 parents interviewed would, if in their child's position, prefer to take a Degree Apprenticeship with a major company over going to Oxbridge. They also believe a Degree Apprenticeship will offer better job prospects than a traditional university degree.

With the average graduate allegedly shouldering the burden of a £40,000 debt, this is clearly a factor that contributes to these findings.
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Recurring Income Streams From Employer Based Curriculum

Recurring Income models for training providersDo You Need a Recurring Income Stream?

 

Employers want and need accredited courses.

Correct  .... but did you know employers also want and need non accredited courses?

This provides a recurring Income Stream Opportunity

The fact is that hundreds of thousands of employers and self employed people actually don't need or want accredited courses.

What they want is to acquire a skill or knowledge they can implement right now.  That means they don't want a September start. They want to start now.

Their need is for knowledge and/or skills right now. And they will pay for instant gratification. 

Continue reading