FE Providers need to continually generate more income, especially as funding gets tighter. One way is to encourage local and national employers to buy more full cost courses.
But this isn’t an easy solution. Your sales team have a lot of competition and you could easily end up being course commodity dealers where the lowest price usually wins. This isn’t going to generate much profit.
The solution is to be seen as trusted business partners. People who provide high quality advice that makes the employer money.
Who would you prefer to do business with. An organisation that is constantly trying to sell products to you or one that provides proven wise counsel and is interested in your business?
Employers tell me that a provider that is just satisfactory doesn’t engender their loyalty. Satisfaction isn’t enough. A genuinely loyal customer is one who values something about a provider so highly that he or she stops shopping for better deals. If you have any customers like that, the overwhelming likelihood is that the thing they treasure so highly is the relationship that has been developed.
But how do you move from Commodity Brokers to Trusted Business Partners? Does it need expensive staff or weeks of training?
The answer is that it is about two things. A simple low cost process and a mindset that focuses on the needs of the customer. Get these right and sales and profits climb.
Processes that have been used for years eventually lose their edge as new technology is able to replace previous admin roles. I recently reviewed an admin team that took hours each week moving files from one system to another. We were able to advise how to automate this and they have saved over 30 hours of tedious monotony each week.
The other big problem we often encounter occurs where the process revolves around the needs of the operator and not the customer. Again we saw this recently where phones in a relatively busy area were turned off at 3 pm each because someone was part time. Senior management thought that the calls were transferred to another area but this had apparently stopped when someone went on maternity over six months previous to my visit. The person that left at 3 pm hadn’t raised the issue as they thought they would be asked to work until 5 pm.
Worse still the answerphone had been disabled as it took the staff too long to go through them each day. I’d been called in to improve marketing for the area of work but the reality was that it was the admin process that was the problem.
The needs of the customers were not really considered by anyone and several hours of potential enquiries were missed each day.
The reality is that if you go beyond being commodity brokers that compete on price and organise your processes around staff needs you will lose market share.
However if you take steps to remedy the above problems AND to become trusted advisors it is possible to have the employers ringing with work throughout the year.
If you want to learn more than give me a call and I’ll explain how it is done.