If you were to survey agencies all around the world about their business, you would probably hear a lot of common pain points. What should come as no surprise, is that the most successful agencies do not have these pain points. When I say successful I don't mean size. Any agency, any size can increase their close rate. So what are these agencies doing that is so different? Here's a few things I've learned:
1. Create a student pipeline (or funnel)
This sounds obvious, but still, many agencies in our industry do not have a clear strategy to track and move their students (and no, excel does not count). The successful companies know where their bottleneck is. If you don't know how many students have had their study visas rejected or how many students still need to complete a school application, how will you know what to improve? By using a clearly defined pipeline (I suggest having separate ones for language schools and higher education), you can count every student in every stage and see where the drop is. No guessing, just numbers.
2. Share information quickly
How much do you search through your email history for letters of acceptance or passport pictures? Be honest. Truth is, you probably spend a lot of time managing documents for applications and invoices. So how about google drive? Or dropbox? Both great services - but you still need to know where to look for a student's visa application. Successful agencies are able to share their information intuitively and collaborate quickly.
3. Know the person behind the student
Our industry is very different from any other. Just to prepare a quote you need to know the destination, start date, visa status, accommodation needs, and much more. But a key factor that separates the agencies in the green, is the curiousity to know the person behind the student. Times have changed and it is easier than ever to find information about your potential customers. Do they facebook, WeChat, instagram or twitter? What are they posting and sharing? Identify your client personas, align your strategy and build that relationship.
4. Find the problem, don't just sell the solution
Ok, fine, so maybe this one isn't so simple. But it is important. The student will probably talk to many agencies to find the best price. But there are many courses you can offer to achieve that goal - much like every other agency. To make that connection unique you must dig deeper. Maybe the student wants to get away from their overbearing parents for awhile, find a career job or live in a city where they can learn to surf or snowboard. Often, when you find their true goals, you can provide them with an option that truly meets their desires, resulting in a very thankful student.
5. Deliver information, fast
This industry is built on the speed of delivery of information. When a student wants information, you need to provide it immediately or risk losing them to another education agency who can do it faster. So it is crucial that there are systems in place to deliver information as soon as possible (and no, excel does not count). You may be thinking that only the big agencies can afford such systems, but that's not true anymore. Web-based software like Edvisor can provide you with a customized and affordable solution.