Business tools

These are a list of suggested Business tools that may help you run your First Aid Training Business. The trick is to automate as much as possible, especially with public courses where many tasks need completing as well as learner management.

Back Office

Microsoft Office – the most common Office suite out there – Word Processing, spreadsheets and Powerpoint applications

Libre Office – a free challenger to Office

Either of these will give you Word Processing, Spreadsheets and Presentation capability. These are pretty much the minimum essentials for running a Business.

Most people, myself included, start with a spreadsheet to manage Course Bookings, finances, client enquiries etc. I’m sure that with enough effort, a spreadsheet could be made that is reliable and flexible for your purposes, however I am not convinced. As soon as you get any level of complexity it is very hard to keep a spreadsheet updated. I strongly recommend a dedicated financial packaged for Accounting, a dedicated CRM (Customer Relationship Module) for managing (prospective) clients and specialist software for Booking courses.

Whilst there are plenty that you should try, here are a couple of recommendations to replace spreadsheets

Telephone Answering Service

We use Answer.co.uk. If I’m teaching and a call comes in, it diverts to them and a real human takes a message. About £1 a call and if it leads to a Booking rathe than someone Booking elsewhere, job done.

Virtual number

We use eReceptionist and also Invoco for our virtual numbers. Both have banks of numbers to call from and we are happy with either. Use the one that has a suitable memorable number in your area

01628 56 99 22 and 01491 22 55 22 are ours and both are ‘nice’.

Course management

There are dedicated Course Management tools out there. This is my original workflow based on using a spreadsheet with all courses listed and invoicing each person for the Booking

Old workflow

  • Create a course
    • Insert new line for course into course List spreadsheet
    • Take life into hands when sorting courses by status or date or any other criterion
  • List courses manually on a web page. Maintain list across multiple websites
  • Accept Booking requests by email. Create and send out invoice.
    • Chase invoices
    • Bank cheque payments (trip into Town)
    • Accept that I will get no-shows from people that Book a place but never pay
  • Manually update Bookings, including closing when courses become full or cancelled

It takes about an hour to set up a bunch of courses then probably about 15 minutes per person to Book them in and deal with payment. For a course of (say) 10 people that is about 3 hours overall per course. Ignoring the stop/start nature that is a minimum of £30 cost per course. Realistically, because of interventions, a lot higher.

Current workflow

  • Create a course
    • Duplicate an existing course if similar on Airtable, otherwise create from scratch. Airtable automatically inserts it into the correct chronological row
  • List course on Ticket Tailor
    • Duplicate an existing course if one exists, otherwise create from scratch. All websites have code that pulls the course information directly from the Ticket Tailor website so as soon as course goes Live it appears across all websites automatically.
    • Ticket Tailor automatically takes Bookings and Credit / Debit payment off someone Booking one or more places. Money automatically appears in Bank Account via Stripe. No intervention required. 4 Minutes gets notification email.
    • We manually send out instructions and directions. Not automated that but it’s a 30 second rubberstamp task
    • We also manually update Airtable with manes as this will be used in 3 years’ time to remind them to renew
    • Ticket Tailor closes Bookings automatically when course is full.

New timelapse: About half an hour to set the courses up and about 1-2 minutes per Booking to send out instructions. No-shows are not a problem as they have already paid. No need to manually pay in cheques or chase late payers. No payment, no Booking.

Cost? £5 to set up the courses and £1 per Booking for Ticket Tailor and Stripe fees. My time freed up for more profitable work.

Applications mentioned above

Ticket Tailor

An event ticketing platform. Similar to Eventbrite (which I have tried) but is a bit more user-friendly and fees are much lower. recently it has introduced add-ons, so now anyone buying a place on a First Aid course is offered a chance to purchase (say) a a First Aid kit for collection at the course.

Ticket Tailor uses…

Stripe

Stripe is a payment Processor. It integrates with a large number of Applications (such as Ticket Tailor) to handle the payment side. It automatically Credits your nominated Bank Account – initially after 7 days, but this gets reduced to 3 after a trial period and can be shortened to same day (for an additional fee)

Airtable

A cross between a spreadsheet and a database. Build around user friendliness and flexibility, it is a tool that you must check out. My course platform is built around it and I wouldn’t be without it. As part of the premium package on this website I can get you set up on this to manage your courses. It is soooo versatile and makes creating, updating and generating Views and Reports a doddle.

Click here to sign up for a Free Account and give it a try

My next step may be to work out a way of automatically sending out Booking confirmations and maps to remove that step.

Miscellaneous Office items / software needed

ItemNotes
PC / Laptop
PrinterI’ve bitten the bullet and got a Laserjet as I’m fed up of unclogging inkjets if I don’t use them for a while. If you plan on printing your own Certificates a decent one plus decent card is a must
Landline or virtual landlineHaving a mobile number as your main contact screams ‘small business / one person band’. Giving out a virtual 01 / 02 number that is on permanent redirect to your mobile looks so much more professional. Couple that with….
Answer service… virtual assistant. When I’m teaching I can’t be answering the ‘phone. I have a service where unanswered calls are diverted to a real human answering service who will take a message then email and text me the message so I can call them back. Again this gives the impression of a larger Organisation.
We use Answer.co.uk and can highly recommend it
Setting outGetting set upThe Business sideUseful ResourcesAdvanced resources
(subscription required)
Why become a First Aid TrainerQualifications overviewLegal format of your BusinessBuy equipment & consumablesPremium package
Can I become a First Aid Trainer – have I got what it takes?Getting QualifiedVATList of Training Organisations
How do I become a First Aid TrainerGoverning BodiesBookkeepingList of governing and Awarding Organisations
Equipment neededBusiness toolsUseful websites
Buy equipment and consumablesManging my clients (the Pareto Principle)First Aid abbreviations
Budgeting and pricingBooks and e-books
Marketing and Advertising
Podcasts
Manging my courses
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