The Obvious Problem : Not covering the costs of workshops and lessons due to students not turning up
Ok, this is another “Bev is learning the hard way” post in the series! I run workshops and courses and often find that although people say they are coming, when the day arrives, no one is there or 1-2 people turn up and I can’t cover the room hire, let alone anything else!
Whilst this is a problem in itself, we go back to the problem solving steps discussed in the first post of this series, I have to look much harder – after all I can’t change the behaviour of the interested parties, so there must be something I need to do differently. Because some of the workshops are low cost I feel that asking for a 50% deposit is silly – after all half of £5 is only £2.50! But actually if I had to pay £12 for a hall and had 10 no shows then at least I could cover the cost! So I need to rethink my strategy here and either charge a deposit or a full amount.
When I first started out running workshops and classes, I tried offering a discount for early booking and offering a weekly alternative – but again I ran into trouble as this didn’t cover the room hire, I also trusted participants who told me they were bringing friends etc but didn’t then chase the friends up to at least get a deposit – with hindsight I now realise that if they weren’t willing to pay the deposit then they were highly unlikely to come along.
I’ve also realised my marketing materials are still not identifying Bits and Bobs as a brand, as I have a call booked with a marketing lady in the coming week I hope to have a solution to this soon!
The Real Problem
When planning a workshop I need to have a booking policy, take a deposit and ensure any early bird discount offered still covers the basic costs
The Solutions / Action Plan
1. Invest in marketing the workshop or course in advance in the local media
2. Develop a bookings policy which offers payment via paypal, cheque or cash in advance
3. Ensure all marketing materials are clearly written and have a corporate feel
4. Cost out all workshops and courses in advance to include: room hire, preparation time, teaching hours, refreshments, learning materials, paypal booking fee
5. Set a maximum and minimum number required and set the individual charge at the higher level, leaving me a margin for offering discounted places
6. Set a cut off date for bookings and then make a decision re running the course based on numbers
I am planning to trial this approach for the coming academic term – i.e. until 15th Dec 2012 and review
Next weeks post will be about identifying a niche