Queens English School
Queens English School owner Ian Simpson is a very good lecturer. I had the good fortune to attend one of his presentations at an ETJ Conference in Kanda, Tokyo.
If you own a business in Japan, and especially an English school, it is a great idea to listen to Simpson. Even though I have been involved in teaching for over 25 years and run my own school for over 20 years, I found myself questioning many things while listening to him talk about, "The Edge," his system for teaching English to non-native speakers. He sells this system and it is worth considering in my opinion.
If you are a teacher and not intending to start your own school,
Queens English School
strikes me as a great, innovative place to teach in Japan.
Queens English School - Ian Simpson`s Talk:
Much of his lecture was on staying ahead of competitors in the educational business sector, and how to create competitive advantage.
Simpson has been an educator for 30 years. He was a professional rugby coach in the UK, and is one of very few people to have been awarded the "Winston Churchill Fellowship," for research in education.
In his younger years, probably Simpson was not aware of how his experience as a rugby coach, would impact his future life, yet it has in a big way. As a coach he had to analyze mistakes, only now he does that live while students are speaking. While they are talking to him online live, he is typing away, color coding the kind of mistakes they are making, while engaging in conversation with his students. At the end of the lesson, he Emails them a document, in colour, outlining what they need to work on. Pretty impressive stuff! I imagine it gains new students for Queens English School by word of mouth.
He talked a great deal about creating competitive advantage. Many schools try to be all things to all customers and they have little to no competitive advantage. They try to improve, by bettering their operational effectiveness - how efficient they are on the phone, with interviewing students, and with a nice website they use to promote the school. While it helps, it is easily copied by other schools.
Many schools have no strategy. So if you have one, you are ahead of the game!
"Strategy is the creation of a unique valuable position involving a different set of activities."
To differentiate your school from competing schools you can do different activities, or do similar activities but in a different way. Any way you choose to do this doesn`t really matter. What matters is that you do create a unique strategic position.
Otherwise, why should anyone study at your school, when the school down the road is doing the exact same thing?
Simpson went on to talk about some different strategies a school
owner could instill for his school. Were the school to be near a large medical university, the owner might cater the school to serving the needs of busy, monied professionals, with a medical bias. Thus, serving the broad needs of many customers in a narrow market.
What are the Trade offs?
Choosing what not to do!
Some owners who are talented musically have created musically based English study. I in fact study guitar with an Australian who does that. He teaches through English how to master guitar, mostly to Japanese students. He actually teaches for a music school, but an English school could just as easily adopt such a program. Some teachers have gone on to perfect a musical teaching product, publish it, and sell it. You could too!
Simpson emphasized that the basic units of creating competitive advantage revolved around creating unique products. In the case of a school, that usually means lessons. But as mentioned above of course, it could be a physical product that you sell or rent out.
If you are interested in this article and what Simpson has to say, I encourage you to read "The Icarus Deception," by Seth Godin. It`s a fantastic book, and says what Simpson says, but in a different way, that might be more accessible to some readers.
So you create a unique school, that cannot be copied easily and you want to expand. You want to create another school. What do you do?
You deepen your uniqueness. - deepen your strategic uniqueness.
What is needed in your area? What kind of school would benefit people?
Supply it to them!
If you want to expand more, you may wish to create a totally different concept. Give it a new name and a new logo. Customers will not know that they are linked.
Simpson said that you need to check your core confidence as a business owner, and teacher, your rivals -what are they doing?
As well, you need to ask, what is needed in my area?
Simpson of Queens English Schools discussed FIT
What is it?
It is a very hard to copy, and strong interlocking system. He employs FIT at his small chain of Queen`s English Schools.
1. Queens English Schools serves the broad needs of a few customers - mostly medical personal.
2. Targets busy high end professionals (with a medical bias)
3. Queen`s offers - (Example of FIT):
- Private Classroom lessons
- Private Online Video Lessons
- an Online Learning Platform
- a Central Hub - administration software system
Queens English Schools operates 3 schools at least 30 minutes apart by car.
Ian trains all teachers in his system, so that students can expect a unified teaching style.
This master curriculum is tweeked for specific situations.
You could attempt to make your own system if you choose to start your own school in Japan, or you could develop a system if you all ready have a school.
Or you can buy "The Edge," from Ian Simpson. He sells the system!
I am not so impressed by much these days. However I was impressed by the man and his system!
Do you have a Strategy for your English School Business?
It should incorporate, Simpson related:
- strategy vision
- unique position
- improve operational efficiency (OE)
- decide activities
- trade offs - what not to do?
- Create FIT
- deepen unique position
If your school is unique, then you will get customers who prefer your style, and your style will not be easily copied. If you teach like every other school, why should anyone come to you?
This is a heavy question, but an important one for many school owners with little to no training in business and marketing.
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