For private training companies that provide workplace training for individuals, missed appointments are a common and frustrating problem that waste substantial amounts of time and money. SMS marketing is a simple and effective way to tackle no-shows and reduce the associated costs, as well as improving customer relations.
A large proportion of adult work-based learning is provided on the basis of grant funding from the government, through various programmes such as the European Union’s ESF programme. Such projects offer a fixed payment to the training provider, regardless of the number of sessions or visits required in order to complete the training course and get the learner certified by the relevant awarding body.
For the contract to be profitable to the training provider, it is essential to budget for a fixed number of contact hours per learner. This requires other expenses associated with the learner to be taken into account, such as travel time and mileage allowances, as well as the direct cost associated with the tutor.
Government funded training contracts often include strict rules on the remuneration of training personnel, meaning that staffing overheads are often high.
Let’s use the example of a small, privately owned company in the West Midlands that provides work-based Functional Skills tuition to adults. The company is funded by government grant funds awarded for each learner, with a fixed lump-sum payment for each candidate. The company is required to pay their trainers a fixed hourly rate of £25 including travel time, plus fuel expenses of 25 pence per mile.
The terms of service state that a pre-arranged meeting can be rescheduled by the trainee or their employer-provided at least 48 hours notification is given. Despite this guidance, there is no provision within the terms of the funding to charge the learner or their employer in the event of a late cancellation or no-show.
Consequently, if a tutor travels 15 miles to a trainee and the learner does not show up, the total cost to the company breaks down as follows:
Travel: 15 miles x 2, 30 minutes each way
Fuel allowance: £7.50
Salary: 1hr: £25
Waiting time 15 mins: £6.25
Total cost: £38.75
As the terms of the contract set out by the government funding require the training provider to reschedule the session at no cost to the learner or employer, the time and money cannot be recovered. In reality, the need to deliver the session on a future date means the cost is effectively incurred twice.
In addition to this, there is the cost of chasing the learner to confirm that the lesson will not go ahead, as well as rearranging the lesson. This can quickly add up when you consider the costs of time and phone calls.
Imagine that 10% of learners each month fail to turn up because they simply didn’t remember the lesson. With several tutors on the road, that’s a huge cost to the training provider that simply cannot be recouped and a massive dent in the profitability of the contract.
Introducing SMS Marketing throughout the training relationship can see dramatic reductions in lost journeys and wasted time. Ideally, training providers should seek the trainee’s permission to receive SMS communications at the moment of registration, or even earlier if they have expressed an interest in receiving training but not yet signed an agreement.
Once the learner has signed up, there is a golden window of opportunity to thank them for enrolling with your company by SMS. This will ensure that they are immediately accustomed to engaging with your company via this medium. It will also give them that personal touch from the outset and demonstrate a positive attitude of customer care.
After making arrangements for the first meeting, these should be immediately confirmed by an SMS message stating the day and time, and ideally the name of the trainer. You may also include a message with the cancellation policy. Reports indicate that clients respond positively to such confirmations, with many people stating that they make it easy to check. Because the majority of people tend to have their phones on them almost all the time, they often double up as an electronic diary. As an added bonus, SMS message are stored on the phone itself and therefore do not even require an active data connection to check.
It is then recommended to issue reminder messages at reasonable intervals prior to the meeting, most importantly the day before it is due to take place. You may simply wish to confirm the details of the meeting or could take it one step further and seek the learner’s confirmation of attendance.
To make things even more straightforward and cost effective, keywords can also be used to filter responses. For example, you could simply ask the learner to respond YES/NO to confirm or rearrange the session. These responses can then be filtered and forwarded on to a specific individual at the company, e.g. the email address of whoever is in charge of scheduling, or the specific tutor’s mobile number.
For more information on how to automate your planning with keywords, read our useful tutorial here.
Following the right cycle of SMS messaging will help to convey to the learner that they matter to your company as well as remind them of the commitment they have made. This will result in a substantially reduced likelihood of missed appointments in the first place, as well as help to avoid wasted journeys and the costs connected with them.
Here at FastSMS, we have a reputation for providing exceptional customer service. If you would like more information about how your training company could use SMS Marketing to improve profitability, give us a call on 0800 954 5305 today and we will be happy to arrange a no-obligation consultation with a specialist in your field.
If you’d like to try before you buy, sign up now to receive 100 free texts. Simply click on the link at the top right of the page and complete the sign up in under 30 seconds. No credit card details or subscription required – simply register and have a go right away.