Therefore, it is profitable to open a school of foreign languages, especially if one considers that investments at the start are minimal. But because of the high competition, it will not be superfluous to study the market. Although, this is not always necessary.
Speaking of competitors and the market of educational services in general, we can safely say that in Russia it is oversaturated with supply and is highly competitive. You can find a service provider for every taste, in any price range.
At the same time, the market is promising and dynamically developing even in a crisis. The need to learn a foreign language is understood by both optimists and pessimists. The first believe that everything is stabilizing and do not want to change the usual rhythm of life (fitness, cafe, foreign language courses), while the latter are thinking of leaving the country (and urgently begin to tighten the tongue).
We did not cut the market, because at the time of the opening just did not have the necessary experience. And, frankly, we did not need it, because we already had requests from potential customers.
At us the case when demand has generated the offer: we precisely knew, that the certain quantity of students at us will be. In short, nothing to do with the cases when a company enters the market with a product, not knowing whether it will be in demand at all.
In addition, we were already active teachers, and to say that we opened a business from scratch is not entirely true. We did not have the skills directly related to doing business, but we had an idea of how to organize the training process, had, at the time of opening, our own client base and experience of teaching in a private school.
It was the latter that helped us at the very beginning. We watched how the director of this school conducts business, how contracts are concluded, corporate training passes, noticed mistakes that we do not want to repeat. We can say that the only competitor we studied was the school in which we ourselves worked.
Also at the start, you need to decide what audience to work with. Today foreign languages in private schools are studied by people of all ages, starting from the age of 3. So you can work with kids, preschoolers, schoolchildren, students, working people and pensioners. For each category, you need your own training program, and not just one. You can not teach a first-grader and a graduate preparing for the USE, for the same pattern. And it’s almost impossible to reach all segments of the population at the start, so it’s better to start working with a category with which you already have experience of interaction.
We started working with older people, and so far I have never worked with children in my life. Because I just do not know the right approach to them, only I can observe it from the side like my mother. Therefore, we launched the «children’s sector» in our schools much later, when I saw the effect of learning on my child and invited a specialist to head the corresponding direction in our school.
If you want to start a business with something that you do not know at all, it’s important to hire a good specialist. In this case, you need to test its method on yourself as a client, wait for the results. Because you can not convince people that your product is good, never having tried it. At the start you need to do what you can, what you are ready for. Only this will ensure the high quality of services.
This also applies to the choice of languages that will be taught in your school. If you, for example, are thinking about starting a Spanish course without knowing the information about it and about the advising market, nothing will come of it. You can not even hire good specialists, because they are extremely reluctant to go to unknown schools.
It is best to start from one direction, work it well and «run-in», and then open new directions: launch courses of other languages, expand the reach of the audience. Something new in the school of foreign languages should be launched regularly. Trying to sell the same 10 years is very dangerous. Periodically, the market subsides in every segment. The same English sometimes comes to the fore, other languages periodically become more popular, and in turn.
But the palette needs to be expanded gradually, to start right away from everything – the same as spraying. This is exactly the problem of many schools that claim many languages, but can not assemble groups, and as a result, dissatisfied customers, without waiting for the beginning of the class in a month or two, leave. At the same time, they do not just take their money, they have a negative impression, they do not return to this school any more.
It is necessary to separate two types of business. There is an investment business that requires large investments, in order to achieve grandiose goals, to release a product and to quickly profit in a large amount. And there is a so-called lifestyle-business, to which our school of foreign languages belongs. Our business is based on professionals who have long been engaged in teaching privately and have simply decided to take their activities to a new level. In this case, you can do really «little blood», without resorting to loans, support funds for entrepreneurs, the search for investors.
Of course, some amount for the start is still needed, but it is quite difficult to name the exact figure. It all depends on many factors: where and for what price you will rent a room, how to equip it, what kind of advertising campaign you organize, etc.
On average, you can expect an amount of 300,000 rubles. This money will be needed to pay for renting an office for 4-6 rooms for two months, buying furniture, creating and promoting a website, printing business cards and leaflets. But the amount can vary both in large and in smaller side. Each case here is individual.
Taking into account small investments it is better to invest in opening own, rather than borrowed funds. Perhaps at the beginning it is better to team up with a partner to make it easier. And having already worked, you will see how much your services are in demand, popular, and will be able to invest in the further development of business profits. Do not immediately take loans, look for investors, even better clients will be your investors.
If you can not do without investments, you need to choose a bright speaker from among the representatives of the company. Now there are a lot of sites where you can talk about your start-ups, write about it as much as possible, involve the press, PR-service, friends. In this case, it is possible that you will be noticed, and then everything depends on your ability to communicate with investors.
Please note that any business is associated with monthly expenses. At the school of foreign languages, they fall mainly on the payment of rent and utility payments, a payroll and advertising. The average figure is about 150 000 rubles. But the figure again may vary greatly depending on the rental rate, the number of people in the state, the amount of wages, etc.
To survive in a competitive environment and not dumping prices, you need to pay the greatest attention to the quality of the services provided. Therefore, after you have studied the business from the inside and collected the necessary amount of investments, you need to think over the question in detail with the curriculum. First of all, it will depend on what kind of audience you are planning to work at the start. For example, very young children are better able to learn languages through creativity: music, dance, modeling, etc.
With adults in this regard is somewhat easier, but they pursue different goals when they come to the school of foreign languages: someone wants to emigrate, someone needs a language for work, someone needs to travel. Accordingly, it is desirable to give different programs for different purposes.
Opening our school, we wrote several programs: business English, spoken English, financial, legal English, English for tourists, etc. All this we taught earlier, so that the programs were working and proven in public.
Now at our school about 65 programs are taught, including very narrow areas, such as preparing for an interview. All of them are written by professionals. And there is simply no other method than involving a specialist in writing a program. For example, we currently have a methodologist who has a higher pedagogical education and three years of experience in the specialty.
Another way is not to write your program, but to use modern teaching aids of the international class – textbooks of such publishers as Macmillan, Longman, Cambridge, etc. They offer their programs, which you can simply download on the Internet and use the provided step-by-step instructions.
The teacher can also make a program independently. But for this you need to spend a lot of classes, describe them, writing down terms, results, used textbooks. Only then will it really be a normal program of study.
It was with the help of our teachers that we started the teaching of German, French and Italian languages. Almost all the teachers in our school are educated in MSLU, they all know at least two languages. When we have already formed the staff of our teachers, each of them owned one more language. At this stage it was easy to launch the second foreign language, because we were confident in the professionalism of our employees.
In general, the teacher is the key figure in this business. This is the person who will «keep» your client. If you make a mistake with the teacher, the client will not remain with you for all investments, beautiful offices, smart sales managers.
If the founder of the school himself has a specialized education, is «brewed» in this environment, then it will be much easier to recruit staff, simply because one can attract his classmates to work.
Otherwise, you can search for teachers in standard ways, for example, through sites with ads. It is also necessary to «monitor» students and graduates of local universities. For example, I constantly interact with MSLU, I know all the forums, I attend all the sites where students sit, and often I write directly to them, I ask if they want to take shape after graduation to us in the state.
Do not be afraid to hire young professionals. From the age of 21-22, you can work, demonstrating at the same time all the talents and a high level of language skills – C1.
Sometimes applicants come to us, but after the interview we advise them to start studying at our school at the Intermediate-Upper-Intermediate level, because they make a lot of mistakes in the speech. This can often be found on the Moscow market.
Therefore, the selection of new teachers should be given special attention. And here it is important not only how well a person knows the language, but also how he can interact with the audience. Before you hire a person, we ask him to show the demo lesson for 30 minutes.
It is also important what kind of work experience a person has, what benefits he used. A newcomer at our school can practice. This means that a month a person conducts classes under the guidance of a senior teacher for free, looks at how our teachers work. After that, during a week he leads the lessons himself, and we collect feedback from the students. Sometimes a person has such energy, that he can give odds to any experienced teacher at the expense of his desire to work.
Effective and well-designed program and talented teachers are what will make the customer stay with you for a long time. In addition, all this can help in promotion. And if the student remains satisfied with the training, he will necessarily tell about the school to others, and all the «word of mouth» known in Russia will start to work, which causes more confidence than direct advertising. Plus, even in the event of a temporary suspension of training, a satisfied customer will return to you at the earliest opportunity.
But in addition to the «sarafanka», at least at the start it is worthwhile to use other ways of attracting the audience: a modern website and professional promotion will undoubtedly provide a large influx of potential customers, and experienced sales managers will most likely make you a plan and provide a high average check. Do not neglect and social networks. Today, this is one of the most effective tools for attracting customers, which, moreover, does not require huge investments.
Experienced we found out that a sign is important for school. Initially, we believed that today people are looking for information, including about courses, on the Internet, and therefore signs are not needed. But it turned out that when we rented an office with a front signboard, 30% of customers came to us, just passing by.
At the stage of brand building, do not forget about PR: publications, free events, prize draws from partners. Try to find interesting partners and exchange audiences. It is very useful.
Even with the most competent strategy of promotion, clients will not deal with you, if it is inconvenient in time. At the start, we worked with a partner from 7 am to 10 pm ourselves, looked at what time people are most active. After examining the peaks of demand and typing the staff of professionals, we established a working day from 10:30 to 19:30. At the same time the greatest influx occurs in the evening: after work people come to meetings, testing, demo lessons.
In addition, for the convenience of the client it is necessary to work on the weekend, with which at first there was a big problem. Therefore, we have developed a duty regime. Now we have a person who works on Saturdays, but does not work on Mondays, and on Sunday one of the coordinators on training always is on duty. It turns out that the employee is on duty once a month on Sunday and gets a day off on any day when he wants. Thus, the office works almost always, so the client can come at any time.
It goes without saying that long before the opening it is necessary to look after the suitable premises for the school and its design. And there are also a number of rules.
The school of foreign languages must be located in a place with good traffic. We took for ourselves as an axiom, that the distance from the metro is not more than 6 minutes. The admissible figure for Moscow is up to 10 minutes from the metro.
In other cities, you should also focus on public transport stops. Anyway, people should be able to walk calmly to you, rather than go to the bunk. It is highly desirable that the school has its own parking, but in the city center this may be a problem.
Many start-up entrepreneurs think that the office must necessarily be in the center. Perhaps, there is a certain amount of truth in this. For example, our central office is always hammered under the application. But choosing a room «more centrally», it is important to consider one thing:
In addition, rental rates in the central areas are quite high and can vary at times. For example, you can rent an office of class A, paying for it the appropriate price, and the competitor literally across the road rents an office of class B, which is almost as good in quality, but its price is much lower.
The cost of rent ultimately affects the cost of the course for your students. Therefore, you need to adequately assess the average check, the budget of your client. Even those students, for whom money is not a problem, do not want to overpay just for the building. Before you go broke on the entourage, think about whether your customers will pay for it.
At the same time, according to the principle «the cheaper, the better» the office should not be chosen either. Too budget options may not be entirely «clean» from a legal point of view.
It is desirable to solve the problem with the room together with a lawyer, so that he checks the contract and the building for «cleanliness». Sometimes everything looks perfect, but after a couple of months it turns out that the building belongs to other people and you can be kicked out every day. This will damage your reputation.
Strict requirements for the purpose and condition of the room, to repair it, does not exist. It is desirable to avoid the format of open space. The walls must be erected initially, so that they do not have to divide the room on their own. Otherwise, the soundproofing, and hence the quality of the training, will suffer.
The number of classes will depend on the school’s load. At the initial stage, 4-5 rooms are sufficient (the total area is about 60-80 square meters, taking into account the entrance and administrative zones). A larger number does not make sense, because the classes will be empty. This often produces not the best impression on customers. Better with time to move to a larger room in the same territorial block. Moving to another area is undesirable, since many clients are residents of neighboring houses, who are often not ready to attend their favorite school after moving.
In the case of registration of LEU (non-state educational institution), a number of additional requirements for the premises appear: the presence of a separate bathroom, the presence of a separate entrance, the ceiling height – from 2.6 m, the source of natural light in each class, etc. It is also important to acquire conclusions from firefighters and SES. They will be required for registration of a license to conduct educational activities.
When organizing business in Russia, first of all, it is necessary to register with the tax authorities. And for this it is necessary to determine the organizational and legal form of ownership of your future business: to work as an LLC, LEU or as an individual entrepreneur?
The form of IP, of course, is good for beginners. It allows you to provide services for customers on a fee basis, rent space, hire staff, but you will not be able to give out certificates to your graduates, and your activity from the legal point of view will be only advisory, but not educational. You will not be able to access corporate clients. And officially you will be considered only a specialist in foreign languages, and not their teacher.
This will give you a license to carry out educational activities. Such a document is drawn up in the territorial educational authority, and to receive it, you must provide a certain set of documents (the full list is specified in the body itself). This is usually documentation related to the placement, qualifications of teachers, the quality of teaching methods and plans, etc.
At the end of 2013, Russia adopted amendments to the federal law on education that private schools with any legal form have the opportunity to obtain a license to carry out educational activities. This is great news! But, unfortunately, the process of obtaining a license has not become easier, and the requirements for a licensee in the person of a small private school are still overstated.
To obtain a license for educational activities, it is best to use the help of specialized law firms. But do not confuse the receipt of a license with its illegal «purchase.» This will inevitably lead to repeated checks and identification of counterfeits.
A weighty argument in favor of issuing a license is an opportunity for your customers to return their personal income tax (personal income tax – direct federal tax in Russia) to the amount paid for education (which is 13%). This is a significant competitive advantage.
About what you need to register a license
Usually for registration of the license are required:
– copies of constituent documents certified by a notary;
– copies of documents certified by a notary who confirm that you have a place to work;
– application for a license;
– documents for the dining room, gym or medical office (if any);
– A certificate stating that you paid the state fee;
– documents confirming staffing;
– academic plan;
– A certificate that you have special literature necessary for institutions of this type;
– conclusion of fire and sanitary-epidemiological supervision.
The term for processing and issuing licenses for educational activities, if all documents are available, is two months.
Check-list of opening
- Market analysis,
- Search for a room,
- Evaluation of the rental location.
- Conclusion of the lease agreement,
- Registration of IP, LLC or LEU, registration with the tax inspection,
- Development of the curriculum,
- Submission of documents for obtaining a license to conduct educational activities,
- Measuring the room to create a design project,
- Creating a design project,
- Drawing up a repair estimate (a list of necessary furniture, building materials),
- Search for a construction team,
- Buying building materials,
- Purchase of furniture and interior items,
- Repair work,
- Search for teachers,
- Search of administrative personnel,
- Interviewing, selection of candidates,
- Development of an advertising campaign for the opening,
- Development and coordination of the signboard, its installation,
- Development of shares, discounts and other marketing activities,
- Scheduling shifts,
- Festive opening.
Is it profitable to open
In the service sector, the issue of pricing becomes particularly important. Many beginners do not understand what the cost of classes to establish. At the same time, it will depend both on the region of the country, and on the specifics of the educational institution (on whether you are taught by native speakers, for example).
The cost of 1 academic hour (45 minutes) in classes in foreign languages in Moscow today in rubles is as follows:
– Russian-speaking teachers: from 700 rubles (teachers are students of 3-4 courses of profile universities) to 3 000 rubles (taught by teachers with experience).
– Teachers – native speakers: from 1,500 rubles to 3,000 rubles.
– Classes for Skype: from 300 to 1300 rubles.
– The cost of training in online schools (classes on the Internet): from 300 rubles to 2000 rubles individually or in a group.
– Courses at universities: from 800 to 2000 rubles.
I repeat that the prices are approximate and fair for the capital. Also, you can approximately «estimate» the profitability of the business. By average indicators, the income per month will be from 300,000 rubles less the tax from 6% with the simplified tax system, the net profit in the following months – from 100,000 rubles.
There are schools that do not pay off at all. Here everything is very individual and depends on many factors. To predict how quickly to pay for the school in your case, you need to make at least a simple business plan. Calculate how many people will be in groups, how much will corporate training cost, individual training, what is the salary of teachers, what is the rent, what is the price of the lesson. All these factors affect the payback of the school of foreign languages, but they can differ at times. But in the end, business in this area is quite profitable, primarily because of low initial investment.
The school of foreign languages, like almost any business in Russia, is subject to the influence of seasonality. For example, in December the influx of students falls, as everyone prepares for the holidays, and in the summer – because people go on vacation. But you can always find a solution that will help to smooth seasonal fluctuations.
In December we hold an annual New Year’s lottery. Everyone who buys a course with a significant discount in December, receives valuable gifts: Apple’s equipment, travel to Europe, certificates to beauty salons, etc. Due to this action it is possible to create a huge hype: people buy annual subscriptions, give courses to each other.
Another way to smooth out the influence of seasonality – the provision of various free services. Every week we conduct free language meetings in the parks in all five languages, conduct master classes at public events in training centers, presentations in different languages on request, show the cinema in the original, followed by a discussion with the teachers in the city cafes. Everyone can take part, and he does not have to buy a course at all.
Free services are a great thing, which, although it does not bring anything financially, is very helpful in organizing the work of the school, because it has a certain social function and increases the loyalty of existing students and awareness of the target audience about our school. At the same time, the free sector is much cheaper than any advertising.