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Running an English School: Tell Me About the Numbers

Numbers, numbers, numbers. So, tell me about the numbers. I ask this question all the time when looking at schools to buy, or help out with management. Sometimes people have very good answers and have kept all the figures since they started. More often, they only have a patchy grasp of the finances of their business. Surprisingly often people say: “Oh, I don’t know anything about the numbers, I just do the teaching.”

 

This hints at a paradox in our industry. People often go into teaching because they want to help people–this is the giving, caring side to the teacher.

 

People then often start schools because either they don’t like the way their employers run the school, and they want to do it themselves, or they want a piece of the action.

 

These differing reasons probably indicate what sort of answer the owner will give to the numbers question.

 

I have recorded every single piece of information I thought relevant since I started. And not just financial numbers, but capacity and efficiency performance ratios, spoken output improvement, that sort of thing. I like numbers. (We’ll look at them in later posts.)

 

You really need to decide why are you are in this business, and what you want out of it. If you wish to stay as a single teacher-owner-operator–probably the most efficient form of business–you have will have most things you need at your fingertips, and only need expert help in a few areas. It’s best (more efficient, better, cheaper) to outsource those.

 

If you wish to expand, you will need to develop and pay for skills outside of the classroom. And your role will change dramatically.

 

There are not many people who can do all of the things required to be both a great teacher and an astute business person and scale up.

 

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