Wednesday, October 9, 2013

39 AND COUNTING



What does that number represent?

It is the number of sequential ‘STOOD-UPS … NO CALL -- NO SHOW’ appointments I’ve experienced the last several months; specific to my memorization business. THESE RUDE PEOPLE, all bi-lingual Panamanians, were looking me directly in the eye and promising to meet me at a certain time and place.   

This is verifiable truth about Panamanian culture and manners.  If you want to be disappointed, try starting a business here in paradise.

The late, great, Vince Lombardi, once said.  If you’re on time for an appointment with me – you are already ten minutes late.

 I’ve always subscribed to that policy and it’s damned frustrating when attempting to deal with potential Panamanian employees. They seem to believe an appointment is just a joke.  The joke is on them.  They will hang at the edge of poverty until they learn that achievement is measured and created by performance.  By not being responsible these ‘no shows’ will be forever blackballed from my company.  Standing me up is stealing my time.  At age 71, that time becomes more valuable.  Therefore those people become felons in my mind. My company does not hire felons.

HERE’S WHAT I WAS OFFERING. 

Over the past forty years, I have been developing a method of learning/instructing – kinda outside the box.  It’s a memorization technique that has been fine tuned down to the lowest common denominator. The learning system can be used for any subject but I chose to tailor the system to teach English to Panamanians.

Two of the requisites of learning any subject are need and desire. If one doesn’t have either of these requisites, it’s an exercise in futility.  Just ask my high school algebra teacher.
So this course is designed around adults that have a desire to learn.  It is not expensive.  $7.50 per class.  Each class is two hours in length and there are 3 classes per week.($22.50)  The student only needs to bring a pencil and a notebook.  (No books, cd’s, video’s or the like.)  This is a very complex method taught in a simple form. It can be taught under a mango tree or in the back office of an employer. The instructor carries the course in a 3 ring binder.  Like I mentioned… this is a complex learning system delivered in its simplest form.

The course has been proven; time and time again.  A motivated, non-English speaking person can go from zero English to Basic English in six (6) weeks.

Late last year (20120 I formulated the business plan for my new company.  We had just finished the beta classes in Arizona and I was anxious to bring this new form of learning to the folks in Chiriquí.  My initial estimate in my conservative business plan was to employ thirty (30) plus instructors and twelve (12) salespeople by the end of the first year. I expected the work force in Chiriquí to embrace these opportunities. Some of the students appreciate my efforts; 12 months later, many Panamanians are now speaking Basic English thanks to my system.  However, all the selling and instructing has been done by yours truly. 39 potential instructors had the opportunity to come on board -- none made their appointment.
(photo on the right; students in Bangkok, Thailand.)

Attempting to recruit salespeople and instructors finally drove me away from Panama. I took the system to the Orient (via the wonderful world of electronics – Skype, e-mail and the like.) The course is now in Chinese, Thai, Korean and soon, Khmer, Japanese, and several of the Filipino dialects. (English students in Samrong Cambodia)
 


I don’t believe this is a business plan failure.  It’s more of a cultural condition that exists.  It’s prevalent in Central America but very pronounced here in Panama.  I have affiliates in Costa Rica and have had no problem.  I expect to expand into Nicaragua as well and don’t foresee any problems.

Here’s part of a promotional explanation we send to our interested affiliates.
(the photo on the right is an English Class in Samrong, Cambodia.)

To summarize;  the memorization course we teach takes a zero English speaking person and brings them to basic English in six weeks – 18 ( 2  hours classes).  An instructor is provided with all teaching materials and a sales force keeps the classes at their optimum; 10 – 12 students.   Instructors receive $3.50 per student per class.  A class of 10 will earn an instructor $35 per class (18 classes = $630.)   $600.00 for actual instruction time is 6-8 hours per week for 6 weeks.  Several instructors are teaching more than one class per day.   An instructor in the Orient is teaching three (3) classes per day, 6 days a week.   Her adult son is the salesperson and keeps the classes at their optimum.  Both people, the Instructor and Salesperson are on track to make in excess of $42, 000.00, annually.   Neither breaks a sweat; working less than 50 hours a week.  Their counterpart, the teacher in the public schools, earns $530.00 a month and works 60 hours a week for those meager wages. 

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