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Opened your OWN school or plan to? ...or tutored 1-to-many?
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Expat101



Joined: 09 May 2012
Posts: 108

PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 1:23 am    Post subject: Cash Flow and Parents Reply with quote

If you are planning on starting a business in this field, you should seriously take into consideration these important things:
1. Cash flow - do you have enough in reserve and to invest without going broke or trying to do everything on the cheap (e.g. photocopying and selling student books illegally for profit)?
2. Student placements - How will you assess the students' levels and place them in the right classes with appropriate materials? Will you just throw all kinds of students in a class with any materials because it's a new school and you have to keep the lights on? Or will you charge small fees to attract large numbers of students and crowd them into small rooms without heat or air?
3. Do you know your competition well? A few weeks ago, I was speaking with someone who had started a new school and he insisted that IDP was 'a school.' He really had no idea! This owner saw a sign on the building and that's how he jumped to this conclusion.
4. Parents! Do a Google search on 'teachers dealing with difficult parents' and imagine yourself dealing with them in droves every single day. Do you have a therapist to help you through all of this? How's your health, now?
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LongShiKong



Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 1082
Location: China

PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 2:25 am    Post subject: Re: Cash Flow and Parents Reply with quote

Expat101 wrote:
If you are planning on starting a business in this field, you should seriously take into consideration these important things
:

1. Cash flow
I'm not as rich or foolish as some of those I've worked for who've spent 100s of 1,000s on licencing fees, multi-room schools, etc only to find themselves with far fewer students than they'd counted on. If I do this, I'll start off small and let the school grow itself.
2. Student placements
Have you read what I'd written about this and assessments? Did your training adequately cover assessment?
3. Do you know your competition well?
I've worked for them. (4 different private schools in Beijing)
4. Parents!
That's why I dropped out of my B.Ed. But I've never had much trouble with parents of ELLs as most understand and respect what I try to accomplish. If you begin with a clearly communicated set of expectations including behavioural, and consequences then there's no surprises. You'd be surprised at the number of schools at least here in China that avoid setting or upholding academic or behavioural expectations, which reduces them to the status of daycares. Read what I'd written about Longman Schools for example.
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Expat101



Joined: 09 May 2012
Posts: 108

PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Student Placements:
LongShiKong, that's good if you have had adequate training on how to do assessments and placement tests. You might be amazed by how many new start-up schools never take this into consideration. I was once told to use my time (maximum of three minutes) to give 'free assessments' as a sort of marketing tool for the new school. I asked for ten minutes and this was considered out of the question. Mind you, this was the only placement/assessment they would ever receive at this school.

Quote:
Do you know your competition well?
I've worked for them. (4 different private schools in Beijing)

I'm quite sure there are a lot more than four different private schools in Beijing. You might have far more competition than you could have ever imagined. You will also be competing for the students' general time and the parents' money, which can be spent on so many other things, or saved for that matter.

Quote:
4. Parents!
That's why I dropped out of my B.Ed. But I've never had much trouble with parents of ELLs as most understand and respect what I try to accomplish. If you begin with a clearly communicated set of expectations including behavioural, and consequences then there's no surprises. You'd be surprised at the number of schools at least here in China that avoid setting or upholding academic or behavioural expectations, which reduces them to the status of daycares. Read what I'd written about Longman Schools for example.

You are also not running a school yet. Every school I have ever known and worked for has always had problems with parents. You can clearly communicate all you want, but that will in no way guarantee you a smooth ride. Try running a school and pleasing all of the parents; you'll see just what stress is all about. Talk to the people who've done it. Ask for examples of the worst cases and see if you are ready for this kind of thing. Most people don't like it and if your dropping out of a B.Ed program is anything to go by, you would do well by yourself to think of it seriously instead of assuming that it will hardly ever happen. It will happen!
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Andrew Jordan



Joined: 25 Sep 2011
Posts: 26

PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 11:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I plan an eventually starting my own school, I don't feel I have the experience to do it yet. I tried several years ago, but only because I found a city I loved and knew well (did an exchange program there many years before) what did not have any good schools. I felt it was an untapped market, I had local partners and a thought out plan. Then my visa upgrade (temp to yearly worker) fell through and I left the country quickly. Now I think it was a good thing I did not start the school, I lacked the experience and was too reliant on friends for cultural and linguistic understandings.

In another country I quit my job (language mill bad boss) and spent a year teaching privates exclusively, including some group classes. I felt that was a valuable experience. I improved my curriculum design, level testing, and dealing with parents/students in a non-classroom (business) setting.

I found the most important thing with maintaining my reputation. Once I got a small group of students (mostly from a disgruntled employee of a bad language school) they started referring their friends to me. Even now 6 months latter I get e-mail monthly from someone say "I heard you taught XYZ, Do you have any opening in your schedule." I can only wonder how many phone calls my cell has gotten, i never communicated with students by e-mail when I was there, only cell.

I also specialized, I taught general English too, but most of my classes were students came to me with something specific. "I want to negotiate a new contract next year in English with my Canadian partners." or I want to take X test to go to university. (TESOL or local). By doing this I was able to focus on what I could do best and I could market more effectively.

Eventually I will have my own school, but this is a slow process to develop the skills necessary. I want to become a manager at a school next, (I have had manger responsibilities before but not the title or full set of responsibilities)

My question to those of you who have opened schools is, What did you do to prepare that was most effective. What do you know now that you wish you had known before.

**I asked my CELTA trainer this last question years ago, his response surprised me. He said get a good lawyer.
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LongShiKong



Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 1082
Location: China

PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 4:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Expat101 wrote:
Student Placements:
You might be amazed...

Yes but I realized long ago teaching in China isn't the profession it is back home (nor are many other professional endeavours).

Quote:
I'm quite sure there are a lot more than four different private schools in Beijing.


Yes but having worked at/scrutinized the larger ones, I know how they operate. They rely upon their 'famous' brand name, carefully chosen sales staff, and to a lesser extent on their appearance oddly enough as this is China and image is everything. Other than appearance, they're not very professional offering little if anything in the way of training, support or assessment as you've stated--they're run more like daycares. Not surprising they all receive complaints from parents.

Frankly, the best school (in terms of co-teacher/manager, coursebook choice and teaching resources for kids) I worked for was this small start up in suburban Beijing financed by a Taiwanese. Unfortunately, with only 2 students they had to close.

Andrew Jordan wrote:
...get a good lawyer.

It's actually a Chinese lawyer friend who's encouraging me to do this. He says there are quite a few parents in his neighborhood whose kids I could start teaching.
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gharwell1



Joined: 21 Oct 2004
Posts: 48

PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2012 11:19 pm    Post subject: Get a Bookkeeping System Reply with quote

If you want to set up a School anywhere, go to an Office Supply and get a Dome Bookkeeping System. (Spiral Bound) http://domeproductsonline.com/

You are going to need a system to keep your numbers straight. You can't make good decisions if you don't know where you are. I did this for a school I opened in Guatemala and it saved my life. I also did it for a school I took over in Ecuador and again it saved my life as well as the school.

As far as materials, be sure it's something nobody else has. Otherwise, why should they come to you when Joe Blow down the street is 3 bucks less per month. "Because i care!" Right.... 3 bucks is three bucks. In Guatemala I sent out a flier that said, "I teach you how to speak English not operate a tape player." Then the problem became where to get teachers who didn't live out of a backpack ; which is all I could afford anyway. But, I had organized numbers to look at and examine.
I made a great living. My local bar would ask ME if I could change large bills.

Also, if you think you are not going to get harassed by every Tom, Ivan and Wang....., you are sadly mistaken.
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LongShiKong



Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 1082
Location: China

PostPosted: Sat Aug 11, 2012 6:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

gharwell1: Thanks for the advice!
Yes, bookkeeping will help determine if and when I'll break even and recoup the initial outlay for classroom space, a co-teacher/assistant, furnishings, courseware, and other supplies.

As for courseware, most private schools use their own (in-house published) which I find acceptable at best. I even felt Longman School's choice of curriculum left a lot to be desired--one of the reasons I left.

For young learners, I'm partial to what Macmillan publishes, having used their Fingerprints series. After Oxford, they have the best selection of coursebooks for kids and just as many N.A. as U.K. English series. Few schools resort to such series due to the expense compared to domestically published series.
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coledavis



Joined: 21 Jun 2003
Posts: 1838

PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 10:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sashadroogie wrote:
Wishing you all the best, Cole.

In the end, we went to see the local deputy (member of the Duma if I am not mistaken). When he heard that we were a growing employer, were improving skills of local people and were investing in staff training in London, he was apparently very impressed. Given that the other party is likely just to take out as much money as possible in the shortest possible time, it was clearly in the best interests of the town to sort this out. So this time, some legitimate influence has been exerted. Now a chance to get on with actually running a school.
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LongShiKong



Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 1082
Location: China

PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 4:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've changed my plans from teaching out of an apt to tutoring small groups (of kids) in their homes. The new residential area in Beijing I've chosen is both high-density and high-income with little competition but since it'll take time to develop a reputation in the area, I figure it's better to tutor kids in their homes at first. By watching/assisting me teaching their kids, I hope to win parents' trust and establish the reputation I'll need to open up a school.

I'll have to convince parents of the value of group tutoring for their child's and mine. By offering discounts for each additional child, I can reduce the time I'll need to teach to make the same income. I'll provide a viable alternative to private schools where parents are excluded from all but demo lessons and teacher turn-over is a common complaint.

As I said on a private lessons in China thread, in my marketing rhetoric, I'm going to take direct aim at private schools run more like daycares than schools and their hapless victims (parents, kids, and even teaching staff). With learning outcomes set to the lowest common denominator, they more or less equate America's 'No child left behind' policy.

I'll have to do market research to find out how many parents would have the time or be willing to assist me teaching their own kid(s) and others in their homes. Having taught young kids with parents present in the classroom before, I don't see this as problematic if I clearly define how and why I want them to assist me. If not, I'll hire and train an assistant and up the tuition.
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coledavis



Joined: 21 Jun 2003
Posts: 1838

PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 5:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting. I suspect that parents may be less keen on helping to teach children other than their own. But I guess you will only know for sure if you try it.
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LongShiKong



Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 1082
Location: China

PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 6:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

coledavis wrote:
Interesting. I suspect that parents may be less keen on helping to teach children other than their own. But I guess you will only know for sure if you try it.


But if it's their friend's child, it may be different. There's a strong argument I can make for communal learning especially for young children. Many privates I've worked don't want parents in the classroom yet they've only been a help, not a hindrance to me. Those've been the most successful because it means I can do pair and group work which I couldn't do otherwise with small kids. So, ideally, I'd like to have each child's parent in the room.
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coledavis



Joined: 21 Jun 2003
Posts: 1838

PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 6:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe, maybe. I would merely question whether it would be the parent's ideal to be there (and think about whether or not the class would become unwieldy with so many adults there).
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