Saturday, March 02, 2013

W09.06 Case Studies: Eileen Troberman in San Diego, USA. Part Two

Yesterday I proposed that Eileen was at the perfect time of her life - and situated very well with her current practise - to build the classic back-end business of an Alexander Technique teacher: open an Alexander Technique teacher education training school. I pointed out that most teachers shy from this undertaking because of it’s complexity, and fail at it because they have to close their front-end business to do it, which cuts off supply. So how does Eileen solve that problem? Partner with BodyChance. Maybe you are interested too? Read on to find out how…


Step 6 – Build Your List
Here’s what I learnt when I lost $30,000 failing to start a BodyChance branch in Sydney in 2009: don’t start cold, don’t do it alone. As both my eyes popped out (retina detachments) and I ran amok chasing every niche I could (ask Paul Cook) what I learnt is that building a school takes a long lead time: Alexander Technique is industrial. Eileen has been right there in San Diego for quite long enough. Why not get started?

Step one is to start a mail list specifically for people interested in attending an Alexander Technique teacher education training school. It’s a niche too. A tiny niche, but still a niche. You are building a new community of people who want to spend their time and money learning to integrate Alexander's discoveries into their lives, and earn a living as a teacher while they do that.

How many people are there like that in San Diego?

Step 7 – Write Your Story
This means finding a reason to start a school - is this something Eileen even wants to do? I have no idea. I write these Case Studies to stimulate, not to proscribe. My job is to paint a possibility - using the inks each person has in ready supply - that is realistic, doable within their lifetime, and delivers the financial freedom I promise is possible for any Alexander Technique brave enough to do what it takes.

I have many ideas of who Eileen could reach out to with her words in the slight chance she actually might agree to my harebrained scheme, so I’d better not let slip the strategies so publically at this stage of the game! Talk to me personally if you are still curious…

Step 8 – Invent a Back-End Business
Eileen writes that her current back-end business is: “Long, long time students  - they get a little better each time and so they keep on coming.” People like that will have thought about becoming teachers - but something stopped them. Obviously not lack of enthusiasm for Alexander's discoveries! So what stops them getting more serious?

They are not innovators: my guess is that they are more conventionally inclined people. Probably have families, a nice career, things are working well the way they are thank you very much. No rocking the boat.

At the moment, the buyers for Alexander Technique teacher education schools that are not niched, are what marketers call “the innovators.” These are people who will move anywhere, change anything, even risk divorce just to have an opportunity to become a teacher of Alexander Technique. And bravo! to them.

However, beyond “the innovators” are the “early adopters”. There are a lot more of them. Now these people are less obsessed, but still enthusiastic people, who wisely want to keep their day job and marriage in tack. BodyChance, by stumbling about in many directions at the same time - as I wrote previously - finally developed a product for early adopters. Remember, the product (where is it? when is it? how much is it? how long is it? who teaches it? can I learn part-time?) needs to overcome any obstacles people have to training at Eileen’s BodyChance school.

One of the ironies of Alexander Technique Teacher Education training is that the only people who can afford it are the people with no time to do it. Solve that problem - Bingo!

The challenge for Eileen, BodyChance and all the team that will put her back-end business together, is wondering if BodyChance’s product can switch cultures and work in the United States? Will we see the same kind of phenomenal success that BodyChance is starting to experience in Japan? My gut says yes, but with a few expensive bumps and jolts along the way.

Step 9 – Undoing The Stories That Bind You
Of course the horror of this plan, for Eileen and many others out there, I have already described in my blog on Back-end businesses. No need to recap that!

In Eileen’s “I’ve got no other plan” submission, she chooses not to get personal about her Self, instead writing that what frustrates her is: “Getting people initially interested to take a lesson. Getting local newspapers to do an article on AT, also would like to get Scripps Integrative Health to offer it (they're not interested either).”

People are not interested - is that true? When you believe that thought, how do you behave? How do you co-ordinate your Self? How do you talk to the people who are “not interested”?

There is a saying in business: “Money does not flow to need.”

Eileen is the girl who impressed me with a comment that has been permanently etched into my brain. I had just finished a pole-dancing bodymap demonstration at the ATI Conference in Phoenix, Arizona in 2006, when Eileen declared: “The day I decided to stop teaching Alexander Technique and help my students with whatever they wanted in any way I could, was the day my practise finally took off.” Wow! I love that.

An added comment Eileen made in her answers to the 12 questions: “… I know I could be better because if they're already calling or emailing, then they're already interested and if I just said things a "different way" they might've come in, but I don't know what "way" that is.”

Eileen - what happened to your idea of just asking them what they want?

Step 10 – Launch Your Marketing & Sales Funnel
Does Eileen restrict her school to people from San Diego?

Again, it depends on her Product. If she opts for the classic “5 times for 3 hours a week” product, you can forget attracting anyone more than an hour’s travelling time away, ever. This severely limits your ability to leverage the motivations of students outside this time travelling circle.

However, BodyChance’s product of two Certificate courses, a Career Development elective, an online Books Course and a Full-time option for locals is the kind of product that appeals to a much wider cache of people - all the way up and down the West Coast of America is a juicy number of people to chase.

How does Eileen find her students?

Step 11 – Become a Authority/Celebrity
Eileen, for a lot of people that matter in this niche, is already an Authority. Teachers and students accept her without hesitation as a teacher of considerable merit and experience. Within the community of Alexander Technique teachers - who after all are the first source of advice for would be students - Eileen manages to straddle two worlds. She is both a member of AmSAT and ATI in America, with many friends and acquaintances in each.

I was tossed out of AmSAT for running my school in Japan, so Eileen’s reputation may be about to gain some notoriety in certain circles if she takes my plan seriously. Hmmm - is this the kind of ragged celebrity Eileen was imagining for her Self? Smile.

Step 12 – Find Partners, Make Deals
Scripps Integrative Health? Eileen thinks so, but I doubt it. It’s a doctors business, despite what they preach on their website, and Eileen is not an MD.

Eileen’s real partners in this venture are other Alexander Technique teachers. It takes a good-sized front-end business to keep fuelling your back-end business, so an obvious source of students are other Alexander Technique teachers with good-sized practices that look favourably upon Eileen as a Educator of teachers.

In Japan, we pay a thank you gratuity of $300 to any teacher whose student decides to join our school. It’s not much, but we recognize that once a student decides to join our programme, their teacher effectively loses that income.

Currently, our statistics show that 14% of the people who join our front-end business join the Alexander Technique teacher education training school. If our retention rate in the US averaged at 75%, (in Japan it is 90%, but that’s Japan) that would equal a total income over the life of a student of approximately $30,000.

I wonder how American teachers would feel about referring their students if Eileen offered 5% of their total fees as a gratuity? That comes to something more like $1,500 and could be a well-deserved investment in that teacher.

These are the kind of deals that are possible when you get serious about building a successful business. Hey – any teachers out there got a pupil they can refer to Eileen’s new school?

TOMORROW: Kit Racette writes her reply to my Case Study of my suggestion to train people in her trade marked Grief Edu-Therapy. What will she say to that idea???

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CAVEAT: Remember what Alexander said: “They will see it as getting in and out of a chair the right way. It is nothing of the kind.” Is this case-study about the “right way” for Eileen Troberman to go ahead? It is nothing of the kind. It’s intended to demonstrate a way of thinking, not a set of proscriptions, even when they read as proscriptions! My true intention with these case studies is to provoke you into finding another way to understand the same ideas.

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