Everyone promises you to help you to be more effective, to get your work done faster and to help you earn more money. How important is software for this, really?
What Kind Of Software Tools Does A Language School Need?
Let us take a look which kind of software makes your life and success easier as a language school owner. And of course, very important – calculating the cost and effort involved using it.
The Cost Of Software: Why Free Open-Source-Software Is Not Free Either
Software costs money. Of course, there is always popular “open source software” that is free to use and there is no license cost to install and maintain it. It should be clear that installing, maintaining and USING software always results in cost. The hours you spend with the software are “not free”, and certainly not if you employ others to do it for you.
The cost of software is something that needs to be carefully monitored. In order to avoid unnecessary maintenance cost, it is usually advisable to use Online software solutions “in the cloud”.
Here is why.
Offline Software versus Online Software
To run a successful language school you need a variety of tools and software is the most important to consider if you do not want to waste time, energy and ultimately money in running your day-to-day operations as language service provider.
You have software being installed and maintained on your local machines – for that you most likely need a dedicated skilled technical person to update and maintain at your physical location.
Then – and this is the growing trend – you have software that is hosted and maintained online. “In the cloud” software has the extremely positive effect that updates and maintenance are usually offered by the company that sells or rent you their software to use.
If you play the “cloud” software card well then you can also avoid the problem that happens if you make no backups and lose important data when one or more of your computers crash (which sooner or later happens with all systems, if you are realistic).
Software being managed online and data regularly being synchronized and remote backup is immune to technical failures of single machines.
Software Designed To Do What?
There is software needed to create and maintain your website that is more likely to be used from contracted companies doing this kind of work for you.
There is software that helps you to create content like video editing or image editing software to make them ready to be used on social media.
There is software for effective online marketing, including scheduling that content you just did create with the above-mentioned solutions. Automated software that leverages your time also includes email marketing follow up to keep in touch both potential and current and even past customers alike.
And then there is specialized software to be used to administrate your day-to-day-business as a language school, managing your classrooms, teachers, and students more effectively.
Generic Tools Versus Specialized Tools
The question is: should you use specific language school software or can you also work equally effectively with generic tools that cost you significantly less?
It all comes down to the budget you currently have – maybe you depend on using free tools with Google like its documents and spreadsheet functions – but you also have to consider that it will often cost you additional TIME that needs to be paid to use all those different tools.
Also: there are often simply no specialized tools for language schools in specific areas. If you do a search for “email marketing tools for language schools” the search results in only generic email marketing providers, because honestly there is no need for an “industry-specific email automation software”. Email software needs to deliver specific content to their subscribers. Each company and industry determines that content by their own standards.
So you have to carefully think if you are not good with using generic solutions to teach online language courses – as there are several companies that offer you setting up your own learning platform – teaching anything you like, not just languages. If you hunt for a budget-friendly solution you should include all of those in your research which one to use.
The Solution Against Clutter
Sooner or later you will realize that there is no just one-does-it-all software approach. In the end, you will have to work with a few different systems at the same time.
So what do you do against the clutter and feeling you are all over the place, constantly fighting that everything is up-to-date?
Connecting different software solutions together is a big trend in the last decade online and companies have managed it to help you that seemingly disconnected software solutions are able to talk to each other.
Companies like Zapier (founded in 2011 and the industry leader for automation) help you to integrate different services together and create the perfect workflow that is just right for your individual work style.
It can automate Google Sheets and Docs with social media like Buffer, with email automation services, with management to-do services such as Trello, book-keeping platforms like QuickBooks or online support systems like Zendesk – the list is endless. Zapier alone offers over 1000 apps to be connected.
So this is an important insight when considering to buy an “all-in-one-solution” that claims to save you money and time. Sooner or later you will find that there is a missing functionality you need.
With solutions like Zapier you can add additionally needed functions any time you need them – so you could go for a less pricey solution if that is what you are looking for when purchasing or renting software.
Language School Administration Software: Managing Teachers And Students
A central consideration, of course, is how to administer your language school. The hours lost and anger produced by missed classes and misinformed students and teachers alike because everything is done “manually” via Google Sheets and other similar systems that are “free” are lost profits and lost opportunities.
Would you like to allow students to book their own schedule? If you give them more choices and include upsells – then this would give you additional profits. For that, it is well worth to consider a specific language school software that allows for centralized management and tracking.
Also: by automating as much work possible you free your time to concentrate on the profitable and important aspects of your work in inspiring and helping language students to reach their goals.
Improving the quality of this central aspect of your language business should always be priority. Unfortunately, most often the mundane boring day-to-day-tasks come in between this. That is why automation is so important.
Teaching Software: Online Courses To Multiply Your Reach
One interesting aspect to consider is if you would need teaching software to create and offer online courses. The only way to teach more students without employing more teachers and opening more physical language locations is to increase your virtual reach.
Of course, someone might argue that if you put classes online, wouldn’t come less and fewer students to your physical location?
Not really – as we all as human beings need real-time human interaction. The online offers are the perfect multiplicator for what you already do at your physical location.
While there are certainly online learning companies without physical classrooms – those schools who have them can profit from online courses two-fold.
First, you can get students that buy online courses and upgrade them to your physical language school courses as an up-sell and second you can offer students that have studied with you at your physical location to take special follow-up online courses to enhance and improve what they already did with you.
This way you can increase your profits and increase how you reach out to students without the need to employ more teachers or investing in renting more office and classroom space physically.
This is what smart investment and usage of software can do for your language school.
Key Importance: Contact Management Software
CRM – contact relation management software – is the center of any business. Potential customers, your “leads” to be nurtured until they finally become paid customers, then being fully satisfied customers that refer new other customers and then getting them to buy even more products, like additional online learning products after they have left your physical school location.
This whole life cycle of your contacts are time-intense and unfortunately, many sales opportunities are lost because of lack of follow-up.
There are simply only so many hours of the day to give your personal attention to people. It is clear that without software automation you are not able to focus 80% of your time to deal with the 20% of the customers that make your business profitable (yes, the old Pareto Principle is still alive).
CRM is specifically important as it is very likely that many different people in your language school business will have to deal with it at the same time. So team features and the ability to know who did speak with whom is very important.
One thing is to improve the work-flow inside your language school business. That are strategic considerations to be made that have nothing to do with software at all.
But once you have come to clear agreements and know how to streamline and eliminate communications errors the right language school software solution will make or break your long-term success.
You will find a more detailed article about CRM Software for Language Schools at “Language School Contact Management Software: The Cure Against Lost Sales?“