Setting Up An Online School - Part 22 - Working With Companies

This time I will share my experiences of working with companies and how they can be a great boost to your business.

Part 1

Companies are great for the long term and having full classes

One of the best ways to get continuing business is to work with companies for their training needs. The advantages are great. You get full classes and often a lot of repeat business. I have had companies for many years. They may negotiate a bit tougher but to be honest, that isn’t really my experience. And so far I have always been paid. They have different needs than your average student, often wanting a large emphasis on communication and making sure their staff don’t make mistakes in their emails and phone calls.

This is where the needs analysis comes in. I have already dealt extensively with this area in my previous articles, so I won’t go back over it other than to say that a good needs analysis and training plan will make or break your relationship with a company. You need to do your best to find out exactly what they want and give it to them. Modify it as you go to improve it, all the while looking for feedback. This will impress them that you are serious and approach your work diligently.

Of course, the more companies you get, the more of a track record you will have with them and it gets easier to attract more.

How to get companies

So how do you get them? There are super blogs on this site on marketing and social media and go through them for their advice and help but I will give you my experience as well. Go through your contacts first. If you have satisfied students then ask them do they feel their company might be interested? Also the sheer fact that you have a website and a social media presence means that companies might include you in their searches. I have got work in this fashion, in fact one of the longest running companies I have came about by them sending a random email to many schools. I happened to be at my email when it came in and responded immediately. The boss was impressed and hired me to teach his staff. I am still doing it.

Say yes

However, most of my work has come from my contacts. People like a recommendation when it comes to teaching. Happy students recommend. Also try never to say no, even if you have got enough work on at the moment. Hire a teacher or just work crazy hours in the short term rather than say you are too busy. I have done this for quite some time now as every no seems to mean they never come back. I have passed on work to other teachers and they have got the long term relationship that would have been so good for my business. You never really know who is going to turn out to be a great customer so don’t say no. Find a way to say yes.

Online advantages

There can be several advantages to companies having the lessons online. They don’t need to put aside a room or they may not have a spare room anyway. The staff can take the lesson from home if that suits. They can don a headset and continue quietly in their own position in work. Times can be easier to coordinate because of this, particularly if staff don’t work at the same time. They will need access to a computer, of course, but that is a given nowadays. The employer can see archives of the lessons if they desire and give input as to the areas that they really want to see improved. Seeing the classes in action can solidify in their mind what they truly need and that may not exactly tally with what you agreed during the needs analysis. And by being flexible, you can change things to suit.

Guest speakers

Another thing you can do, potentially, is to bring in guest speakers or teachers to complement the particular work that they do. And as it is online, there are no expenses in bringing them along, no transport or food costs just their fee, if they charge one. I once had an expert from Australia (I am based in Bulgaria) address a class and it went down very well. You can also ask the company if they have someone they would like to give an input into the class as a guest speaker. It is so easy to arrange with Vedamo Virtual Classroom and may only take a half an hour or an hour out of their busy schedule so minimizing the impact on the business.

Problems

You may potentially, have a conflict between what the boss wants and what the students want. This has been a problem for me in the past. If you try to persuade the boss, at the beginning, to include the students in the needs analysis that can help. If the students are forced into participation that can also lead to problems. You then need to call on all of your motivational skills to try to get them enthusiastic about the lessons. You really do need to be a good judge of what is working in the class, what they respond to well and give them more of that. Look for as much feedback as you can. Try to make the lessons as relevant as possible to what they need. Do roleplay that mirrors their real life situations and show them how best to deal with them. If you make it useful to their work you will win them over. Always listen and bring to the table what they want. You will never go broke giving your clients what they want.

Next time I will continue in this vein about attracting and retaining companies.

Related articles:

Gus Worth is a highly experienced writer and educator having worked in universities for nearly 20 years and being first published at the age of six. Currently in the English department of the American University in Bulgaria, he also writes extensively for the web and in print for many companies. He has a particular love of online teaching and enjoys helping teachers take their first steps in the exciting world of the future where you can connect with, and help students develop, all over the planet.
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