How 1% Can Translate Into Millions of Dollars

I have a story about 1% and how this esoteric, marginal mathematical digit can represent for schools the difference between mediocrity and excellence, breaking even or being highly profitable.

The Story of how Gregg Lost the Beautiful Girl
When I was 21, I had the good fortune of having the most beautiful girl in the world (or so I thought at the time) agree to have a coffee date with me. She was sought after by many guys on campus and lucky me, I got to sip a Cup of Joe with Miss Universe. I played Rugby at the time and the practice was scheduled just before my coffee date.

Our coach Gary Miller, (bless his heart) kept us extra long, running drills in the mud and being hugely pressed for time I made a strategic decision not to shower so I’d not be late for my meeting with Gorgeous. After dressing in my best clothes and flying out the change room door, I eventually made my date just in time.

We’d cuddled up in a little nook and chatted away, but as the coffee date progressed, I could tell things were not going so well, things were getting tense. By the end of our time, Gorgeous was turned off and I asked her what was wrong? Simply stated , she said while I had loads of appealing features, I smelled gamey. Simply put, I stunk. In the eyes of my coffee date, I was done like dinner.

I had smarts, personality, I was fit, there was an initial chemical attraction, I dressed well for the date, picked a great location, but my post Rugby practice odor (and the clump of mud I’d subsequently noticed stuck in my hair) was enough to send Gorgeous packing.

I delivered at 99% and lost…

This analogy holds true as sage advice for the cost effective strategic growth of your school programs…Honest, it does…

Allow me to explain.

In marketing there are no silver medals, second place is for losers.

A prospective student will not say to herself “Hmm, I’ll spend $3000 with this school, $5000 with that school, $4000, with that school”. Nope, it’s all or nothing. What’s interesting to me is from our analyses, those who came in second place, those who missed out on that Enrollment, did so in an incremental fashion. Soooo close, yet so far…This is a main reason why leaders in a given market have five times the profitability of those in second , third place etc…

Education is an Outcomes Based Business
Most education programs need to be delivered at a quality level in order to compete. What most schools miss is what quality represents in the eyes of the customer (the student). The primary determinant of quality in marketing education is relevance. Relevance is all about filling demand for labor, filling the needs of employers eager to hire graduates.

A school program offering is only as strong as the reputation it holds with the Employers of it’s graduates. If an HR Director is reviewing 5 resumes with largely the same education, the graduate with the most relevant resume wins, the other four continue their job search, simple…

Taking morals, ethics and business survival into account, it is imperative you as a school leader give your grads a razor sharp resume, giving your grads a jump start into the best jobs possible. Graduates need to be at 100% when in the job hunt and second place in a job competition is frustrating and somewhat debilitating. There are no silver medals within a job competition either..

How to Improve the Education Product.
There are many ways one can improve the Education Offering, giving graduates that competitive advantage when searching for a job…

Here’s a good one…

If you are an Allied Health School, offer graduates a National Certification Test. An allied health program where the graduate holds a recognized National Certification will give a graduate a huge advantage in the job hunt…Here’s why.

As you might know, a significant percentage of employers in the allied health field require employees to be certified before hiring. These employers are typically public or not for profit institutions where certifications are seen as kind of performance insurance, preventing substandard delivery of labor.. If a graduate is applying to a major hospital or clinic and they carry a certification they bring a huge competitive advantage into the job market.

Why Do I Care About My Graduates?
In years past, I’ve heard some short sited school leaders tell me that acquiring the candidates tuition and getting them graduated and out the door is good enough. I say people who view the education field in that manner have at best received a blow to the head or more likely are just short sited, greedy idiots.

Create for your graduates an inherent advantage in the job market and you will receive, tons of referrals and will be positioned in the eyes of the 100 largest employers of your grads as a top notch program. We call this ‘Wholesale Positioning or Branding Influencers’. Stated differently, if the 100 largest organizations that employ your graduates believe your school is top shelf, your marketing will work better.

Offer certification testing to your students at the end of your program and over time, conversion rates will increase and more referrals will flow in… 1% can make all the difference.

This article first appeared in the NHA Magazine, May 2009.