While things are still slow during the last days of December and the first week of January, we recommend every training provider or training department to go through a few simple yet extremely important chores to get ready for the New Year.  Many of these projects aren't that time consuming, but can make all the difference when striving to beat the previous year's performance!

Clean Up Your Contact Database

It's natural for customer and student databases to get outdated over the course of a year.  This is particularly true if you're using spreadsheets or many different systems to manage your contacts.

We recommend assembling your contacts into a single database (or Excel file), building a report that includes the main demographics (first name, last name, address, phone, email, etc.) and sorting by last name to catch any duplicates.  It's also a good idea to define the minimum contact information you need to be a viable record (such as at least one phone number or one email), and either fix records that are missing this information, or delete them.

Do you have external sources of information like an Outlook contacts database, or perhaps some old paper records that you haven't had time to enter?  Get them into an Excel spreadsheet and off those paper records!  Once you have the records electronic, import them into your database and merge records to make sure you've got all your relationships tracked.

Administrate's training management and administration software is designed to make these chores easy and to prevent the degradation of your valuable relationships over time.  Read how you can even integrate your email client with Administrate to prevent losing customer correspondence or contact records automatically!

Review Your Website for Outdated Courses or Content

We recommend spending a few hours reading through your external website.  Examine each piece of content and do some editing, and also make sure everything is up to date.  Look for broken links and images as well, and now is a good time to make notes on anything that's missing so you can prepare a list of new content to add to your website over the course of the year.  If your website isn't easy to maintain or someone has to help you add, edit, or change the text on your website, you should seriously think about switching to the Wordpress blogging and content management platform.  A website that's hard to use or update rarely gets updated, and continuously updated websites always perform better in both search engine rankings and to actual human visitors than those sites which are left fallow.

Evaluate New Course Material or Course Opportunities

The end of the year is a good time to examine your course catalog and training offerings and see how the year turned out in terms of profitability and delegate feedback.  This doesn't have to wait for year end accounts - you should be able to examine and review course profitability by offerings without waiting on your accountant.  By examining the numbers you'll be able to see which courses offer the most money, which are popular, and this will inform your pricing and course offering strategy for the new year.  It helps to get creative as well - we've seen some training providers choose to offer less profitable courses as a discounted bundle with other high profit training offerings which then drives up revenue and profitability for both!  Now's a good time to peruse your customer feedback to see if you need to provide any supplementary training or have holes in your course lineup.  Maybe nothing comes about from this review, but it's never a bad idea to spend some time engaging with your courses and reflecting on ways to improve.

It's worth noting that course profitability analysis is built into Administrate and is accessible in just a few clicks.  Many of our customers actually perform this kind of analysis monthly or even weekly to stay on top of quickly moving trends across their training business, it's that easy!

Test Your Online Booking System

One of the worst feelings in the world happens when you receive a phone call from a customer telling you your online course booking system isn't working.  How many customers didn't call?  How long has it been broken?  How quickly can you get it fixed?  Avoid these questions by proactively running through the course booking process on your website.  We recommend performing the full transaction by offering a special course for an extremely low amount and going through the full booking process.  Take some time to review the process critically from a new customer's eyes and maybe think about adjusting some of the email verbiage that comes through or updating anything that's outdated.

Course booking systems should be relatively easy to manage, and if your website doesn't automatically update when you add a new course offering or scheduled training event, you're wasting a lot of time and introducing a lot of manual effort!  Administrate provides several methods to integrate your existing website with our training administration backend, but by far our easiest and most popular option is our Wordpress plugin.  Simply download the plugin, click once to install, enter your credentials, add the wordpress short codes to your existing pages, and you're off and running with a fully fledged online course booking engine that includes secure payment processing!  You can even customise things like error messages, look and feel, and backend payment processors.

Looking Ahead to 2013 and Another Great Year of Education and Training

We're extremely excited for what 2013 is going to bring for our customers.  The value our  customers provide through their educational and quality training programmes creates a ripple effect that lasts for years to come.  Enjoy the last few days of the year and use these tips to prepare for a great New Year!