Improve the quality and quantity of your learners

The December dip in learner numbers is nearly upon us, and at this time of year our thoughts turn to how we can fill profiles before the end of the year.  Normally this is a cue for all sorts of innovate thinking about marketing campaigns – what can we stick our branding on this year that might drum up interest in our existing or lapsed employer base and get them fired up to send their learners in our direction? While these tricks make us feel great in December as we struggle over our starts target, how many of these learners become Early Leavers in the New Year? Too many for comfort.

And we know this, but the trade-off between quality and quantity is a vicious one, and so every year we play the same game – even though it makes us miserable. But failing to recruit sufficient learners makes us even more miserable.

So what are the top tips for making things different this year?

1.       Look at your learner journey – are you making your existing learners feel loved enough? Because they are the key to repeat business, either because a happy learner tends to make for a happy employer, or because happy learners tend to return to do more courses.  The learner journey starts from the point where they first learn about you all the way through to when they have completed, and even in some cases a time afterwards.  Are you communicating with learners well enough throughout this journey?  It is often one of several years, and in many cases our relationship gets fraught at times.  This means we have many opportunities to not communicate what the learner needs and when they need it.

2.       Are your learners good enough to train with you? Desperation to hit targets tends to mean that we compromise on quality. How do you know that this is not happening? Are your systems for vetting learner quality robust enough, not just during the induction process, but also in that crucial period between application and sign up. Are your pre-start systems slick enough to not only organise when inductions are happening and who will be doing them, but also to get answers to crucial eligibility and employer consent questions.

3.       Are you in control of your sales team? Do you have real time independent information about what is in your pipeline, or does your sales team control this information?  Having a great CRM system is one thing, but is it linked to the systems that you use one a learner is active?  Are you able to track applicants through the pre-start process to minimise drop outs, and for first line learner quality assurance.

4.       Are you working hard enough to confirm appointments ahead of time, making sure all the necessary consents approvals and employer representatives are going to be there when you need them to be?   A learner without employer consent or contracts signed is not a new start. They are a headache that will not get solved until January for your quality or finance staff, and worse than that, it is also a really bad customer service experience for the learner. Instead of spending the Christmas period diligently beginning their studies, they will spend it feeling unloved, unwanted and un-cared for because you have quite rightly denied them access to learning until the paperwork is sorted out and you can claim funding.

5.       Is your communication with learners at the end of training good enough?  Are you nailing the conversations and communications around them taking their studies to the next level with you? A progression is a much easier start then someone brand new, but these learners often get lost in our sales pipelines – they can easily fall in the cracks between the sales team and the assessment staff, with each deciding it is the others’ job. If all this sounds depressingly familiar, but also slightly overwhelming, then Be Astute can help you.  With over 30 years experience in the sector, we help providers develop systems that solve these problems.  If you want to know more, email me at julia@be-astute.co.uk to arrange a free no obligation review of your current situation and some suggestions about how you can create IT happiness.