With just a few days until the fourth quarter of 2017 (How did this happen? We’re wondering, too…), you’re probably already giving some serious thought to how you’ll approach 2018.
A few of our clients have asked us for advice on ways to expand in the new year. If it’s on your radar too, here are four ways to start the conversation:
1. Open a new campus
Probably the most obvious way to expand is via literal, physical growth. Take what’s working in your current location and offer it to students in a new geographic area. Before you commit to a place consider these factors:
- Competition – How many competitors are already offering similar training?
- Employment demand – Are local employment needs being met by existing training?
- Location – Where is your target audience and what does the school landscape look like in that area?
- Cost vs. Benefit Analysis – Opening a new campus is basically opening a new school. How many students do you need to break even? To make a profit? Do you have the resources available to continue operations without making a profit for 3-6 months?
- Regulatory requirements – Whether in state or out of state, a new campus needs a license. And if you are considering operating in another state, make sure you understand their regulations before you start the process. New state, new rules.
- Accreditation – If you’re accredited, double check your agency’s rules related to opening a new campus. You’ll need to stay in compliance with those.
2. Serve a new population
Take a good look at your current student population, and get a sense for the kinds of students you’re serving. Notice what similarities they have. Now think beyond that. If your students skew young, would your programs work for older adults? If everyone’s from the same part of town, could you recruit from elsewhere? And don’t forget veterans, unemployed and underemployed individuals, and other underserved groups.
You could offer your program in another language. This is especially applicable to many healthcare-related training programs. Does your area have a large Spanish or Chinese speaking population? Check with your regulators to see what types of foreign language instruction are allowed and what you need to do to get approved to provide it.
If your existing programs do not fit another population, is there another program that would? Expanding program offerings is another way to reach new students. Make sure to do a market analysis. Look at the employment demand in the area and the competition. And always file the new program with your regulators before offering it. Pay careful attention that any new program still fits within your mission. If not, you may need to update that as well!
3. Add an online offer.
Maybe you’re ready to serve virtual students. You can ramp up slowly if that’s easiest. Instead of putting an entire degree program online, just start with an online section of your most popular class.
Keep in mind that an online program may be considered a new program or at the very least a change in delivery method. Obtain any needed approvals before you start recruiting students and offering the program.
Also, for those new to online, many states and accreditors have standards for online education that can include things like student tracking requirements and student teacher interaction. Do your due diligence before you create your program.
And of course, make sure you are paying attention to regulations if you’re recruiting out of state students. Just because your program is approved by your state, doesn’t mean it’s approved in every state.
4. Work with your community.
Employers in your area would be happy for you to help them fill their open positions. Find out what those are, and if you can create a certificate or other program to graduate qualified applicants. You’ll have more students, and the organization will have a steady stream of good employees.
Or, check to see if there are training needs for employees already in an organization. Do IT staff need to update their certifications? Are there team members who would like to learn project management? Or employees who could obtain a promotion with education? These are all great potential students. If the training is required for the job, the company may pay for it. But even if the company will not pay for the training, it is possible they offer tuition reimbursement to employees after the training is completed. If your program meets their policy requirements, you have just found yourself a potential new audience.
If you’d like to talk about growing your school, give us a call. We’d be happy to help.