Your sales staff is burning up the charts with training package deals. Thanks to the push, you now have repeat students who will take five classes of their choice within a 12-month period. What you have is a prime opportunity to increase business and drive good public relations. Take advantage of the opportunity to develop a strong instructor/student bond.

Alert, alert
To make your first impression a positive one, ask for a heads-up from the sales staff when students who have purchased a package deal are placed on your class roster. Get the staff to arrange early arrivals for the students so that you may take extra time to become acquainted with them. Inquire into students’ backgrounds, and ask why they’re there for training.

  • Are they taking refresher courses?
  • Are they trying to update certifications?
  • Has the company sent them, or are they paying for these courses themselves?

Answers to these questions will help you determine how to handle your “package” students on the first day.

Remember the kid glove treatment
Keep in mind that people come in all flavors. Some of the “package” students may be boisterous and outgoing, while others may be shy and withdrawn. They might be new to the city, or possibly a new career path has placed them in your hands.

Shy students often require additional assistance, and you should recognize and prepare for these students. A nice way to help shy students is to avoid asking them direct questions they may not be able to answer. These questions are better directed at other students. Lunch and breaks are excellent times to endear yourself to the shy student. Remember these are paying students, and shy students may feel that they have been treated unfairly if you don’t go out of your way to pay attention to them. A phone call or meeting with the student’s company may result in a refund and a loss for you.

The connection is made
During the first day, try to bring to the forefront anything you have in common with new students. This could be home location, personal interests, computer history, food, or whatever you consider valuable in establishing a bond. Technical skills and knowledge will engender respect, but a personal connection is needed for students to feel they’re part of the program.

What’s your e-mail address?
Exchanging e-mail addresses is an excellent way to make new students feel welcome. Ideally, you should give students your professional e-mail address so that you can keep your personal e-mail, well, personal. Sending e-mail, especially in technical classes, shows students that you are taking a personal interest in them. This is invaluable bonding material, so use it.

Give ’em some space
One of the best ways to say “welcome to our business” to new package students is to allow them personal disk space on your server. Most classes include practice files that the students use in their classes. Since some classes overlap, let students save and keep their own personal practice files on your server. Giving them names and passwords to your server gives the impression the students are accepted into your community.

Anyway you slice it, the instructor/student bond is crucial. Keep these tips in mind when dealing with returning students, and they’ll become salespeople for you. Their sales pitch is the best kind.

Schoun Regan is a consultant to training firms and travels across North America educating people for Complete Mac Seminars . If you’d like to comment on this article, please post your comments at the bottom of this page. To offer suggestions for future Lesson Plans columns, write to Schoun .