Working harder to increase registrations, income and your operating margin can be exhausting and disheartening. Working smarter to increase registrations, income and your operating margin can be exhilarating and rewarding.
There are different strategies to increase the amount of business you are doing with present customers, as well as new customers.
#1. You can continue to sell your existing programs to your current customers. This is what you do now. You have existing programs for existing customers. This is an important strategy because you must have a foundation of core programs that you offer over and over. The percentage of core programs should be 50 percent of your total programs. If this is your only strategy, you will soon see your registrations, income and your operating margin decrease because customers will run out of programs to buy.
#2. You can develop new programs for your current customers. Here’s a good way to increase the amount of business you are doing. Create new programs for your existing customers. Since 50 percent of your programs are core, that means you need to be developing new programs. Successful lifelong learning organizations develop 20 to 30 percent new programs each year. They do this by asking their present customers what new programs they would like to see offered. The balance of programs (100 percent - 50 percent Core - 20 percent new) are called seasonal programs – programs that you might offer only once or twice a year or programs that have been introduced as new in a previous session but have not generated enough interest to be labeled core.
#3. You can sell existing programs to new clients. Here’s another good way to expand. Take existing programs to new audiences. No matter how good your marketing is there will be customers who do not know about you and/or are uncomfortable about attending your programs. They may be uncomfortable because of where the programs take place, when the programs take place and/or how long the programs take to complete. But that does not mean they are not interested in learning the subject area. A successful lifelong learning organization is flexible and is willing to bring programs to customers. You do this by bringing programs to businesses, senior centers, centers for mentally handicapped citizens, international locations, etc. You also do this by providing a variety of program delivery methods such as online, self-study, seminars, conferences, contract training, certificate programs, etc.
#4. You can develop new programs for new customers. This is a poor strategy and a risky choice. It is extremely difficult to succeed by creating new programs for a new audience. This is an option that takes “think time” and research. All too often we feel obligated to develop new programs for new customers because we feel it is our duty to be everything to everybody. That is not possible and could potentially put you out of business. You need to be selective with this option. Besides taking time in reflection and research, you should ask yourself the following questions.
- Will I be able to sell these programs (and additional programs) to this audience for a minimum of three years?
- Will I be able to generate a minimum of $100,000 in gross income during the three years? If you are a small program the question you should be asking is…Within three years will I be able to generate 5 to 10 percent of my total income from this audience?
- Will I be able to generate a 40 to 50 percent operating margin from this audience by year three?
- Do I have names and addresses to mail to? Do I know exactly who these programs will be marketed to?
Take time evaluating your present strategies. Review the above four strategies to determine if you should be rethinking your present plan for registration, income and operating margin growth.