In last week’s blog, we covered the basics of setting up a training business but, this week, I wanted to look at seven expert secrets of training business success, whether you’ve yet to launch or you’ve been freelancing for years:
1. Look after your existing clients
Many small business owners, including freelance trainers, make the mistake of throwing all their time and energy into finding new business while forgetting that they have a small but potentially lucrative pool of existing clients that could serve the business much better.
Existing clients are people who have already experienced your training services and understand their value. They’ve paid your prices before and booked you because they need your experience in their organisation. It’s far easier to sell to warm leads – people who already know and like your business – than to sell to cold leads, i.e. people who nothing about you.
Although you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket, it’s important to consider how you could nurture your relationship with your existing customers. Even a regular email to say hello and ask how things are within their team could go a long way towards securing repeat bookings.
2. Invest in your education
I think that to be the best trainers we can be, we need to keep investing in our own education. Even if you have a list of training qualifications as long as your arm, there are always new things to discover and learn, even if you invest in your personal rather than professional development.
By investing in your own education, it keeps you in touch with what it’s like to be the trainee or learner, as well as the teacher. It also shows your clients that you’re passionate about keeping your knowledge current.
Remember that money spent on your professional training counts as a business expense.
3. Know what your customers know
As a trainer, you’re always updating your skills and knowledge to give your clients access to the most current thinking. It also helps to look at what your customers know and where they’re getting their information (apart from you).
- What websites are they visiting for advice?
- What publications are they reading?
- What new trends might they be hearing about?
Sometimes clients read about something online and become convinced that it’s right for their business, even though you know it wouldn’t be a good fit. By understanding what other people in your industry are saying to your clients, you can stay a step ahead of the game and give your clients the value of your experience.
4. Assign homework
If you’re providing ongoing training or a training programme that covers several sessions, it’s a good idea to assign homework. Why? It keeps people focused on the training in between sessions and is another way to create value for your clients.
You can encourage people to try different exercises in the office or at home – depending on what your training covers – or to jot down some thoughts in preparation for the next session. This can help get conversations going and give people a sense of how the training will make a difference to them once the programme is finished.
5. Set clear boundaries
In any business, it’s important to set clear boundaries. Give your clients a clear breakdown of your terms and conditions, including your cancellation policy, and provide comprehensive information about what your prices entail and what the client can expect when they book your training services. By setting clear boundaries, you can help prevent misunderstandings and make sure everyone is on the same page. It also gives both you and the client something to refer back to in the event of a query or dispute.
6. Be flexible
That being said, sometimes unforeseen circumstances happen and it helps to be flexible whenever possible. Perhaps a client has to cancel because a key member of staff is off sick – you could always decide to waive your cancellation fee (and let them know this is what you’ve done) as a goodwill gesture.
By showing clients that you’re willing to work with them and create a mutually respectful relationship, you are more likely to be remembered as someone who’s easy to work with and has a human touch the next time they need to book training.
7. Decide how many hours you want to work
When you run your own training business, there’s always something to do, whether it’s preparing training materials, marketing, accounts, admin, social media or actually delivering training. It’s so easy to burnout, which is why you should sit down regularly and review where you’re spending your time and how many hours you really want to work compared with how many hours you’re actually working.
If you’re working round the clock and everyone says yes to your quotes, you might want to consider putting up your prices. You may hear ‘no’ to a few quotes but even if you work fewer hours for the same amount of money, it can help you maintain that precious work/life balance.
So, these are seven expert secrets that have made a difference in the success of my training business. Are you doing these things? Which one do you think could have the biggest impact? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.