The question I get asked most often is “How can I increase the performance of our continuing education unit?” More and more, continuing education units are being pushed to improve performance, thus the need for increased staff productivity, revenue, profitability and visibility.
1. Be a data-driven unit. Collect the right registration, class programming, promotion method and contract sales data and then analyze the data to determine what to do more of and what to do less of.
2. Operate in the “right” structure. There is no one “right” structure, but the most successful continuing education units a) centralize operations, b) allow revenue generators (sales people and class programmers) the time to generate revenue, c) have one person manage all marketing efforts but ensure they work in conjunction with class programmers and contract sales staff to get the right information to promote and d) separate the operations of class programming and contract sales (class programming is sold to individuals and contract sales are sold to companies, government agencies or organizations).
3. Plan. You must have a one-year business plan encompassing all you do. The one-year business plan includes your goals, budget, key benchmarks, expectations by divisions of the unit, promotions and plan and staff responsibilities. The plan allows you to be clear about expectations, thus ensuring accountability.
4. Can’t do it all. You cannot be everything to everybody. If you try to be, you spread yourself too thin and underperform in all areas. What you select to do must utilize your strengths and generate a good ROI. Your decision making process on new initiatives must be thoughtful and follow a clear vetting process.
5. Use the “right” software. There is no one “right” software for every continuing education unit, but most importantly your software system must be built for continuing education supporting both class programming and contract sales and be web-hosted so you are not dependent on your institution’s IT Department for support.
Addressing performance is important and these tips together can dramatically increase staff productivity, thus performance.