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October 4, 2005 - Beware of Extras: Training Costs Can Pile Up Quickly

Selecting a vendor to train your employees can be a long and complex process. However, the complexity should end before you've selected a vendor. One way to ensure that this happens is to make sure you and your potential vendors are clear about anticipated "extras".

When we started our company, we made a conscious effort to price our programs in such a way that we nearly always avoid extra charges for things such as handout materials, pre-training meetings, minor customization, etc. These extras variables add value to the transaction, but they do not add value to the process and are best included in the overall cost of the service. Adding variables to the price only makes it harder for the training office and the contracting office to do their work effectively. Easier is usually better, and in this case it definitely is.

Be Clear About Your Needs

When you communicate your needs and expectations to vendors from the outset, the process runs smoother. For example, instead of telling a potential vendor that you need your employees trained in Customer Service and to please send a quote, try being as specific as you can. Include these specifications:

1) The number of people to be trained and how many sessions you hope to run. 2) When you want the trainings to begin (dates and times). 3) When you want the trainings to end (dates and times). 4) How much customization or design time you've budgeted for. 5) The amount of follow-up training or coaching you've budgeted for. 6) The number of pre-training meetings, conversations/interviews, and surveys you'd like to have. 7) The number of travel days, transportation costs, and overnight stays, if any. 8) The specific challenges your employees are having with respect to Customer Service. 9) The employee mix (i.e. staff, managers, supervisors, various experience levels). 10) The target audience's past training experience in Customer Service. 11) Why good Customer Service is important to your organization. 12) Whether or not the sessions are mandatory, voluntary, and tied to performance plans. 13) Whether or not the training is part of a larger employee development curriculum. 14) If you would like publications on Customer Service included in the package in addition to training workbooks.

When all of these variables are presented upfront, your vendors will be able to quote you an exact cost, and you'll eliminate the chances of being charged for extras down the road. If you are not clear about your wants, the add-ons will often pile up, thus decreasing your capacity for running other training programs you were hoping the run during that particular budget cycle.

If your vendors ask for more money after you've been crystal clear, you might want to rethink your future procurement decisions. There are many training companies who do an excellent job and who will offer their best, flat-rate price, so don't waste time and resources fiddling with those who insist on making your life difficult.

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