Monday, February 18, 2013

W08.01 Front-end And Back-end Businesses – What Does This All Mean For You?

What is a back-end business?

The first surprise could be – you already have one. Then the challenge for you is not “How do I build a backend?” but “How do I build a front-end?” How do you find out if this is what you need to do? Eileen Troberman, a teacher in San Diego who will be a Case Study in my free online course, told me last year in Japan, when she visited BodyChance for our annual Golden Week residential, that about 80% of her pupils are long term students.

Eileen is running a back-end business.

By definition, those that attend your “back-end business” are the people who are willing to forever be learning with you, who see Alexander Technique as a life long pursuit of self-knowledge, who continue to be thrilled and fascinated with the self-discoveries available as they continue their sessions. Is that the kind of practice you have? Then maybe you already have a back-end business.

However, alone, a back-end business will eventually whither. This is the lesson so many Directors of Alexander Technique Teacher Training Schools are discovering around the world. I spoke with one teacher recently whose school has been reduced to one student: “I don’t really have a school anymore.” Eileen is also concerned, because her practice does not feel robust: if Eileen had to stop teaching for a few months – would her practice survive this crisis?

The most obvious back-end business for Alexander Technique teachers is an Alexander Technique Teacher Education course – it is more robust. It can survive your absence, as students would accept another teacher for awhile and continue paying their fees. However, the mistake that many Directors of Training make (including me once) is thinking that an Alexander Technique training school is a front-end business.

Front-end is razors, back-end is razor blades. Front-end is printers, back-end is ink. Front-end is private lessons, groups and workshops, back-end is Alexander Technique Teacher Education school, or something else.

Get the idea?

Business wise, it’s simple mathematics: of every 10 people who come to you, at least 1, maybe 2 if you are well attuned to your niche, will be excited to step up into a whole new level of engagement if you create it. By providing them a credible means, these people will stay with you for years – happily paying for your services, and giving you the financial ease and security that so many of you yearn for.

Isn’t that a wonderful thing? All you have to do now is figure out how to do it…

How To Make A Teacher Training School Work
“But I don’t want to start a school.” some of you say.

Well, why not?

I am guessing most of you think of it as huge hassle. That it will involve you switching away from what you are already doing, filling out a lot of forms, fighting a few political battles, and basically going into another whole world. There’s no time left to keep your front-end business going! Sure, if you follow most of the current models, it will be like that.

However, there are some Alexander Technique teachers who decided to band together and start a school, while keeping their practices thriving. ACAT in New York, or ATILA in Santa Monica are both Alexander Technique Teacher Training schools that have been around a long time using this method. It is a viable business model – it doesn’t make any one teacher a lot of money, but it creates another income stream for all them, offering more security than just their own individual practices offer them. And it is their individual practices that continue feeding students into the school – making it an efficient business engine that just keeps chugging away. It is robust too – if one teacher leaves it is not hard to find a replacement, but guess what? Vacancies don’t come up very often! I wonder why?

An Even Stronger Model For An Alexander Technique Back-end/Front –End Business
BodyChance is example another of the Alexander Technique Teacher Training school which has opted for this co-operative approach – but it has taken this model much further. BodyChance’s teaching technology is becoming deeply integrated with it’s career success mission, as those of you reading my blog are starting to find out. We’ve added a little more sizzle and spice to the trainee’s meal, while also actively building up our front-end business.

BodyChance is slowly graduating from being a school to becoming a college.

At BodyChance there are 3 full-time Directors of Training (Jeremy Chance, Ken Arno and Kimiko Serizawa) and 5 Associate Directors of Training (Cathy Madden, Tommy Thompson, Lucia Walker, Sarah Barker and Greg Holdaway). Associate Directors are like STAT Moderators – they visit annually from between 2~3 weeks, work with most of the students, and offer feedback and advice based on their experiences.

As a result of this approach – and all the business, marketing and sales technologies BodyChance has adopted - we are about to open our third Teacher Education school in Japan. In the future, I imagine hundreds of schools like these. Maybe you will be involved in starting one of them?

In recent times, we have around 100 people in teacher training, but it fluctuates a lot because the other mistake we avoided is the “you must do 15 hours a week” rule that Societies try to impose on Alexander Technique businesses in a misguided attempt at quality control.

BodyChance Quality Control That Results In More Business Flexibility
BodyChance employs a much stricter quality control methodology, which in turn offers us much more flexibility in the program we can offer time-challenged and money-challenged students.

At BodyChance students at second stage of training can not graduate to third stage of training until they have taught an Alexander Technique lesson to the satisfaction of three different Directors of Training. In BodyChance the shortest a student has been in Stage 2 of training is 6 months, and the longest is 6 years.

Until three Directors independently decide you are good enough, you will never finish the BodyChance Teacher Education system! We also insist that at least one of these Assessments is completed with a visiting teacher, not a local one. Personally, I think that is a far more reliable quality control standard. If the Directors of Training are not qualified to judge, who is?

Therefore, BodyChance does not utilize the 1,600 hour standard, the 15 hours a week standard, the 80% must be “hands on” standard – none of it. This gives us huge flexibility in the service we can offer our students, which in turn is why large numbers have flocked to join our schools.

I Want To Support In My Local Alexander Technique Society…
To follow my reasoning, many of you will have to break with your local Society, but I guess you don’t want to do that? Maybe that’s the reason you don’t want to start a Teacher Education school? Given the way you have to set it up, it’s just too dam difficult to make it work.

Well, keep up your hope. Do you really have to train teachers in the Alexander Technique?

No. There are other ways to build an Alexander Technique small business (without resigning from your local Society) and this week I intend to guide you through other options and choices to build the financial future you want, by creating a front-end/back-end business that is robust enough to offer you financial ease and security.

But first, I will tell my story of how I came to learn all this…

TOMORROW: How I Painfully Discovered The Difference Between A Back-end and Front-end Alexander Technique Business…

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