It was great to see so many franchisees at the OCT. 15 training event from the Osaka Area. I mean let’s face it; in order to drag any of us into a study environment on a precious day off it would have to be good right? You bet it would, and this event was one of the best yet. Smith’s School of English Training Events vary from seminars in that they take specific points from our company training manual and expand on them to the nth degree. They are advanced, master courses into specific corners of a more general field of study. In our case that field of study is being the most successful foreign owned franchise English school system in Japan. The training events go beyond the scope of the initial Smith’s training course, are bolstered with up to the minute information, and ensure a chance for all franchisees to continue to improve their business.
One might not expect so many to give up 3 hours of their Sunday; however it is great to know that even Smith’s franchise veterans with more than 7 and 8 years experience still see the need to keep up to date. Why would they give up those valued days off? Because owning your own business provides direct correlation between effort and reward and these teachers, both new and experienced, know the value of learning both from head office and each other. Founder Mark Smith led discussions in detail about everything from schedule optimization to perfecting the all important trial lesson. Everyone in attendance agreed that the new techniques discussed could help them work smarter, keep students happier, and make them more money.
The trial lesson is the second phase in the enrollment process for new students and occurs after the Smith’s sales secretaries convert a sales enquiry into a commitment to come along and meet the English teacher at the school of interest. Secretaries work one on one with students in cooperation and in support of the teachers during that trail lessons for the optimal balance of comfort and professionalism.
In the English teaching business in Japan we English teachers who own our schools are in competition with some major players. Competitors with hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue know what they are doing and we need to be ready to meet and beat. Oh and rest assured our franchises most certainly meet and beat! One thing all English schools have in common is the trial lesson. Smith’s head office team encourages their franchises to perfect their trial skills and follow the trial lesson exactly as taught. The trial lesson developed by Smith’s includes key information that we know students are looking to find. We know how students will assess the school and ensure that we provide for these assessment criteria in a positive but subtle way within the trials lessons developed. Lesson as developed by Smith’s via many years of doing thousands of trials. These key points are subtle and will in most cases not be picked up even by the professional English teacher unless that teacher has a curious, diligent, and analytical mind. It is for this reason that, while we have a great deal of teacher latitude in our regular lesson plans, we train franchises to stick exactly to the Smith’s path in the trial lesson itself. These lessons sign students.
The job of a professional teacher doesn’t stop there though. Once a student experiences the Smith’s difference through the trial lesson and subsequently joins the school, we know how to keep them there. The student-by-student service, tailored to the individual’s needs, and professional support staff sees to that, but that doesn’t stop us from making extra efforts to continue to update and perfect our service anyway. Smith’s head office staff works directly with franchise owners and students to optimize schedules. Ensuring the most comfortable lesson to the student at the same time as making that teachers schedule efficient is paramount. For some schools this might be a new concept but we’ve always taken it for granted as the way things should be done.
The head office lobby, overlooking the Osaka cityscape, was alive with charged discussion about how to integrate these new techniques with what franchisees were already applying in the classroom. It comes as no surprise that inspired comments came from all corners of the room. It’s at times like that when you can really feel the synergy of the entire Smith’s T.E.A.M. Together Everyone Achieves More. Regardless if a suggestion came from a school of 8 years or 8 months experience, everyone had a positive point to contribute to the benefit of everyone in the system.
These training events are not new to Smith’s we have been holding them for over ten years. These days we see 8 or more formal training days such as this per year and that is just the tip of the training iceberg when you imagine just how many meetings are going on out there between like minded franchises on a daily basis. We take pride in our extensive curriculum. We take pride in our Coach training program. Like any living, growing English school system, we take great effort to constantly update and improve our services. The Oct 15th Training Event shows us that school owners take that same pride, and make professional efforts to improve right along with us.
What was it like to be there though? The training event was a cross between a hard hitting business meeting on the top floor of some corporate building and a gathering of friends and colleagues for afternoon tea. To someone who’s never attended a Smith’s seminar or training event that may sound like an unlikely combination, but it works and we get business done! Franchisees sat back and sipped soft drinks and coffees while material was presented that took old veterans and new faces back to basics. The core beliefs: Teamwork, Effort, Goal Setting, Measuring (and celebrating) achievements, Providing the best learning environment possible to our students, Identifying what that individual student actually needs to improve their English skill, Providing the best business opportunity for English teachers in Japan, Allowing foreigners to own their own assets and be more than just an employee. Who better to show us all how the core was established than the smith’s school of English franchise system founder Mark Smith? Don’t be fooled though, every one of those teachers is a business owner and you can bet that not a point went un-noted. Clip board and pens were standard issue, and they were put to the test as attendees diligently noted techniques to apply to their school (or schools). They took those pertinent techniques home and put them into action.
To be sure, it was a fun, informative, performance focused day. Things wrapped up at about 6:15PM and franchisees filtered out to head back home by about 7PM or so. With so much content to introduce and discuss, it’s impressive that we were able to break it off on time at all. Here’s looking forward to seeing you all at the next Osaka Curriculum Training Event. Next stop: Tokyo!