Now that we know what not to do, it is time for a portion of inspiration. We encounter several types of barriers in the activities of language schools. Below we are hinting at some ideas on how to overcome each of them.
Overcoming barriers of a district/neighborhood
If you want to go beyond operations through a single facility, you do not have to take such radical steps as establishing a new branch, though you obviously can 🙂 This, however, entails a decision of “where” and a significant financial outlay. On the other hand, if you prefer the small steps method, we have several solutions for you:
One of the most important factors determining whether a given person opts for a language course in your school is localization. Coworking spaces are becoming increasingly popular and virtually in every city, there is a wide range of available choices. If you receive a signal from your students „Cool, but unfortunately a little too far for me „, such a solution will be perfect and relatively inexpensive. But if it turns out that such places ae missing in your town or city, you can always use a cafe or some other common spaces. We know the schools, that will confirm that such ideas work very well.
- On-site classes
In the times when everything can be ordered with home delivery, language teaching is no exception. Here you have complete freedom as concerns the form of such classes. Whether those will be individual, group classes, delivered at home or in the office depends only on your willingness and potential. But it is worthwhile to determine a preliminary time schedule to avoid situations when having declared readiness to deliver classes, such delivery turns out to be impossible for ill-fated reasons. If you opt for such a form of language courses, you need to take into account among others the distance, traffic jams or availability of teachers. Sounds like a huge challenge, but a lot of schools successfully provide such type of classes 🙂
- Online classes
They enjoy unfaltering popularity, which is not surprising because they constitute a perfect complementation for traditional courses, not restricted by virtually any barriers. This is a form of teaching that allows you to reach really very far. Besides students who value direct contact with teachers and other students, we have also people who prefer online courses for various reasons. Do you wonder who they are? People who often travel on business, people working remotely outside your country, parents taking care of children or people who value their time so highly that they do not want to waste it on commuting to courses. Online classes will also work perfectly when – for example – for health-related reasons students are unable to travel to classes but at the same time they do not want to resign from such classes.
- Reaching out to the clients
Sitting at school you will not reach out to all potential clients. Yes, we do live in the times of the Internet, but sometimes a post at FB, Instagram or even a website is not enough. Indeed those tools are necessary to create a school’s image but their reach is quite limited. If we come to think about who visits our social network account, those will be mainly people looking for language courses who are virtually determined to start learning. This is a group you should certainly not forget about, but there is another group of people whom you should target and who is remembered by hardly anyone. Here I think about people who want to start language learning but have not initiated any related actions yet. This type of group needs an external stimulus and a more powerful one than an advertising campaign for your language courses. What can you do in such a case? Anything as a matter of fact and it is uplifting that schools increasingly undertake such creative marketing activities. Please find below several examples of thematic events owing to which you may reach out to such unobvious clients:
- movie shows in foreign language preceded by a lecture by a native speaker,
- a thematic event, e.g. Latino with thematic food tasting and dances, during which one can win a month of language learning,
- cooking classes related to cuisine of a given country,
- creation of a community: shared outings, dinners, to which not only students but also their friends may come.
By creating a community that anyone may join, your students (both present and future ones) become emotionally attached and owing to the atmosphere present in the school they will not even think about offers of other schools. And perhaps in your neighborhood meetings are held, at which you may turn up as an expert in a given field with information about running of a language school appearing as a subplot? You are limited only by your imagination.
Going beyond city limits
A topic that seems quite complicated in terms of logistics because while we are able to imagine moving within limits of a single city, going beyond them may be harder to imagine. But in reality, it is not as complicated as it seems to us.
- Online classes
We will be invoking this topic many times because this is the easiest and most accessible form.
- On-site classes/cooperation with teachers from other towns and cities
Solutions of that type are applied for example when a school manages to sign a contract with a bigger company, which has employees in various towns and cities. An advantage in such a case is the fact that such trainings are usually held in the company seat so this eliminates the considerable costs related to running of own school. But sometimes this is the first step leading to the establishment of a school chain. After the success in delivering classes with one company, it frequently offers to emerge from other ones. If you specialize in courses for children, such opportunity is provided by extracurricular classes delivered in agreement with a school or kindergarten.
- Franchising schemes
If your school is characterized by something unique, for example, you have your own proprietary teaching curriculum or proven methods of how to run the school backed by successes and students’ satisfaction, it is worthwhile to share them through a franchising network. Many people seriously consider pursuance of their own business activity, but what holds them back most frequently is the absence of their own idea, organizational backup, and business support. Once such entrepreneurs receive such support and a model governing the running of a school that works, it is easier for them to make the decision and invest in such type of activity.
- Cooperation with travelers
Not a very obvious idea but as I keep observing the language school market, I come to the conclusion that this is a model that actually works. The first step is to hold thematic meetings in the seat of your school, a traveler cafe or the office of the travelers you hold the meeting with. Such cooperation is highly beneficial for both parties. First of all, everybody will benefit from the expansion of the list of potential clients. The second aspect is comprised of the fact that such meetings are relatively cheap to organize and given the current trends related to traveling and language learning, you may count on huge interest without the use of intrusive advertising. The next step is comprised of the organization of joint trips. Very often a traveling influencer of that type has a group of fans surrounding him and additional language courses delivered away from school may become an additional attraction both for them and for your future and present students. And this is where we aptly cross another border and…
We go to see the world or how to start acting globally!
At this point, besides holiday trips you may venture to organize May Day and New Year’s Eve trips. This is when most people have days off school and work and no idea how to use that time. A trip abroad combined with learning the culture and language of a given place is a perfect solution!
- Cooperation with foreign schools/universities
There can be many forms of such cooperation. The most popular one is probably comprised of student exchanges between schools. Those can be both summer holiday courses and student exchanges of Erasmus type. But for the start, you may begin by organizing casual online meetings that allow participants to become „immersed in the language” as is popular today.
- Drawing inspiration from schools from various countries
The last and definitely my favorite item, because it opens before us a sea of possibilities, and still it is so rarely used. We usually limit ourselves to what we see in our market, we check the competition, read the news and follow the development of other experts in the industry. And of course, it may turn out that your market operates buoyantly both in terms of marketing and sales and there is a lot to draw inspiration from. BUT it is worthwhile to view the topic in light of foreign schools. Problems related to the pushing of the boundaries are a share of schools in each market, not only in yours.
Watching how they cope with that topic, following their highs and lows you are able to reach an invaluable source of knowledge. It suffices to look for example at rankings of websites we publish from time to time at our blog. And it is solely up to you whether you will continue making a salad out of old lettuce in the language school market by observing local schools, or you will initiate something new, original, which certainly does not have to be very complicated.
And in the end, I would like you to learn the story which I hope will become a source of inspiration for you, because I myself was delighted by it 🙂 Certainly, each of you knows EF school, which already for over 50 years has been flourishing all over the world. But hardly anyone is aware that the whole story started from a Swedish teenager named Bertil Hult, who as a dyslexic had problems with learning. Everything changed when he left for England where he discovered that to his surprise he could learn English easily, This was the start of the creation of a proprietary teaching curriculum that is known all over the world today. And all of that in the times when nobody even was thinking about the Internet and social media. You can read the entire story here.
Although the article is quite long, and the topic was not even exhausted in half, I hope each of you will find an impulse for action here. If not, or if you miss something here, please write about it in the comments and messages. We want to learn your point of view and to know what this issue looks like to you 🙂