#003 – Luc Boeke – SkypeLanguageSchool.net – Founder Interview

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In The Loop
In The Loop
#003 - Luc Boeke - SkypeLanguageSchool.net - Founder Interview

Show Notes

In this podcast you will gain insight into Luc`s business, those he works with and how they help executives, managers and those needing flexible learning options to develop their language skills. 
As a prospective student or teacher seeking to collaborate, you will learn more about the Skypelanguageschool.net, where to find them, its business model
and their flexible language learning offer.

Topics Covered Include:

• 00:00 Introduction

• 01:59 What type of students are attracted to your school?

• 04:37 How do you find your teachers?

• 06:09 Is your offering more skills or exam based for students? 

• 07:55 The flexibility of enquiring or signing-up explained 

• 09:54 Evidential student feedback and learning experiences explained

• 12:11 How do you market and attract students?

• 15:20 Which languages are you requested to teach the most?

• 18:08 Close and thank you 

Discussed Web Links Include:

For Luc`s school  website and LinkedIn personal profile information:

We hope you enjoyed this local business founder episode.

PLEASE remember to SUBSCRIBE for more interesting content from Zurich, Switzerland

SPEAKERS – Luc Boeke, Andrew Travers

Discussion Commencement
Andrew Travers  0:00 
Welcome to in the loop with Andrew Travers. Hello and welcome. Today we’ve got a very interesting guest called Luke Boeke. He’s going to talk a little bit more about his company, and also explain some of the reasons why his customers come and use his services and those of his teachers. So, Luke, without me stealing any more of your thunder, tell, can you tell me a little bit more about yourself and also the listeners, please,

Luc Boeke  0:27 

I can. But first of all, thank you very much for having me on this on this show. So my name is Luc, and I am a coordinator of a group of freelance language professionals who have grouped up on one website, one platform, just join forces, we are here to help people out that are not quite satisfied with the regular language school services.

 I’ll explain more about that in in in a minute. But first of all, let me just tell you what the key things are, that characterizes us. We are freelancers, so we know what they are. To drive a company, we are all entrepreneurs as such. We just teach online, there’s no school building, there’s no bricks, mortar, you don’t need to go somewhere if you want to meet us. It’s just an ordinary zoom call, as we’re totally flexible for whoever’s using the service.

My personal role in the group of language professionals, is to be the coordinator, I do teach my native language. But my main role is the coordinator of the group who are united under the brand of Skype Language School which is not too hard to retain, right?

Andrew Travers  1:59  
By the way, if anybody hasn’t noticed, Luke is actually Dutch. So that’s his native language. So if you actually need any help with your Dutch language, lessons, or anything else, or just some support, he’s the one to talk to.

Regarding online, obviously, there was a big burst of business going through from COVID. So what sort of requests are you getting? What what sort of type of customer comes to you, who wants this sort of service?

Luc Boeke  2:24 

That’s a very, very nice question Andrew, because I think you can understand this better. If you look at the people that call on our door, our virtual door or digital door. It’s the typical people that live and work on tight schedules, don’t want to commute after work towards certain building where they should report to have a lesson. Same day, same slot, week in week out.

No, that’s not the way we work. We like to connect with people connect to their schedules, and we simply ask them, when is it good for you to come to us and work on your German, your Spanish, or conversation chats in Swiss German? We have that in our portfolio. So it’s the typical modern professional, I’d say that is coming to us because they need the flexibility.

They go everywhere, they live globally, they work normally. It is mainly managers or execs traveling that we seem to get the most calls from. It could be the C-level, it could be a line manager, it could also be people who simply work in an environment where maybe one week they work on four days, regular office hours, but the next day, it could be an evening shift, or people that travel from the United States to Europe and back or to Asia, they are located they are staying in different time zones.

So it’s not the set in stone language program that they need. They need us because we provide this kind of flexibility. It’s as simple as meeting your tutor for maybe 45 minutes of German and then at the end of the session, you look ahead one week and you discuss with the tutor next week. Let’s do one session on the Wednesday afternoon or because I’m in New York next week, why don’t we do that or that slot because I’m not in Switzerland.

Andrew Travers  4:37 
It’s interesting. You say that about the need for flexibility. So how do you find your teachers?

Luc Boeke  4:43 
Well, the good thing is that COVID meant that a lot of these very experienced teachers were all of a sudden for a part of their work without work because face to face meeting was no longer possible. Jobs people went online and they tried to look for ways to make a living. And as the company and group was founded in 2019, it was exactly the right time.

We were lucky as no one before, that we had a first group of tutors of five already being online, having our websites, doing our advertising here and spreading by the word of mouth that we got on like a snowball. The first tutor brought in the next tutor, it rolled in the next because especially during the pandemic, those people, especially the ones in southern Europe, Spain, Italy, were all of a sudden out of work, needed additional alleys or avenues to make a living. So I was able, in 20/21 and foremost, to form to grow the group of tutors and while meeting a lot of people online, who came to knock on our door, I could simply select the ones that I thought would have the profile to match up with our already existing target group, Andrew, that’s the way it started that is the way it grew.

Andrew Travers  6:09 
And is it something that your exam orientated? Or are you skills oriented? Because that’s typically with language learning, somebody often wants a certificate or here in Switzerland, you’ve got to have a grade for your permit. So if you don’t have language level x, or sorry, A2, B1, let’s do it properly C2, then you know, that will determine what your permit is going to be. So for you, what is it? Do you get requests for both? Or is it individual?

Luc Boeke  6:42
Exactly, it is a mix, I’m really happy to to mention all these scenarios, because people with different requirements come to us. In the Netherlands, there’s a pretty strict regime for expats, on getting up to the basic level in the official classification, European scheme. Others come for social purposes. Others are part of a family who have gone overseas, but who are actually not looking to evolve their career or to build that career. So it could be very much a social purpose that they have as an objective. That’s part of our onboarding process with each and every individual customer.

And once again, coordinated so I make sure that I interview the people, I assess their language skills, their requirements, their motivation, the amount of time that they would seem to have available on a weekly basis for the language studies. So in this assessment, I make sure that I understand very well what drives somebody and what their ambitions are and discipline. Yeah.

Andrew Travers  7:55 
With regards to that, so when you land on your website, what happens? You’ve talked about the bit afterwards. Do you fill a form out? Hit your landing page? because I know you’ve mentioned the other part of the process.

Luc Boeke  8:13  
On Skypelanguageschool.net, you will find ways multiple ways of making it clear that you want to talk to us, there is the regular webform that you could fill out, specify your requirements or the skill level that you are looking for, you can leave your contact details. Of course, that’s the first requirements. Apart from the webform, we also have a simple button.

That will be that will start your email client. That will already as mentioned put our email address in the right position, so that sending us an email would be a matter of just two seconds. We have a whatsapp module. So you could simply click on the WhatsApp logo, you would contact me as coordinator and I would see somebody pop up in my whatsapp. I would respond to your questions or your question for information or your request to be contacted.

Andrew Travers  9:19 
So very simple, I actually like the WhatsApp thing, because at least with WhatsApp it’s a lot better than the chat bots where time and time again, you click it and then you find out you have to give your name and email address.

Then get an email or ticket for something you’re not sure its actually what you want. At least with WhatsApp. You can just say right there, here’s my message. I know what I’m going to get as a result, you know that there’s going to be someone at the other end of the phone. Yes, it’s a good move Luc.
For you Luc, what has been some of the key takeaways from the students in terms of their feedback of working with you, and your team and the teachers, and everybody

Luc Boeke  10:03 
I like that question very much, because if you take a look at our webpage reviews, you can read about people that have been working with us. The key takeaways, the reasons why they liked it, why they work with us one on one. So there’s not this kind of a group dynamic. Not everybody likes to work and study in a group. Some people really like to focus on specific domains, it could be medical, it could be financial services, it could be mining, it could be, well, any kind of area of interest that in a one on one context you could better focus on.

Even when you try to acquire a new language, it’s far more interesting that you talk about things that relate to you that you find very interesting. Of course, you need to do the basic stuff like ordering a coffee, finding your bank, maybe send an email to the community where you just landed in your new country, the basic stuff, everybody has to go through that. But in a one on one sessions, you have the opportunity to really steer towards a certain area of interest, you could also adjust to your own learning curve, we see how you learn is it visual? is it very factual or structured? 

We can adapt our courses to the very way that you like to work. By having so many very experienced tutors onboard, they are the people that are used to identifying, connecting with people and choosing a methodology that they think works best for you. And of course, you yourself as a participant in a language course, you have a mouth too. So one on one setting is perfect for direct feedback

Andrew Travers  11:54 
This is pretty interesting, because you then got the overlay, you’ve got the sector, you’ve got the sector knowledge and all that sort of thing. You briefly talked about the timezone where it’s New York, what happens if it goes the other way, Asia?

Luc Boeke  12:11 
Yeah, a lot of the European customers have an Asian origin or are in the US, France or Singapore as well. Now, these people travel to Europe and then come to us for support to learn German, Dutch or English. There’s also a share of those people in timezones seven hours later than we are. That means that if people want to work after business hours with us, that’s quite late in the evening.

We have ourselves tutors that are not only located in Europe, there’s always a way to find somebody who can be matched to somebody`s requirements. But of course, we had people from Australia, that’s really a large time gap so sometimes it’s not always possible to make the ideal match.

Andrew Travers  13:11  
Yes it is something I have problems with myself with my own business. From your side Luc, obviously, you’ve got others, those not buying anything at the moment, but may be interested to know more, you’ve got what a LinkedIn page, have you? do you have anything else?

Luc Boeke  13:39 
Yeah, correct, we are on LinkedIn, we see that LinkedIn is absolutely not a promotional channel for us. It is really the way to connect with people from the educational ranks. That’s people who are stakeholders, maybe HR professionals, they follow us. It could be the competition, they’re with us as well. So they like to see what we do and what posts we make, that is LinkedIn for us. LinkedIn is hardly a channel to people that have the urge to meet to train themselves on a language.

Andrew Travers  14:19 
And do you have a Facebook page or something else?

Luc Boeke  14:24 
Instagram and Facebook. To be honest with you, Andrew, we see that those channels are more entertainment, people that come to those channels, they expect stuff to be free a lot of the time. Let’s face it, we are a brand that is strongly connecting and relating to professionals. To be honest with you, I don’t think that somebody looking for personal training would go on Instagram or Facebook for that, maybe as a first way to see what other people are doing. We have a website that is key, we are present on third party websites, that target expats, international students, we make sure that our logo is seen over there. That’s one of the key ways that we connect to our target audience.

Andrew Travers  15:20 
Okay, so you’re actually going through the expat site wherever it happens to be, so that is where you will be affiliated. So from your side, if you’re needing any more students for any particular language, which one would it be? German?  Spanish or is it Latvian? What is it?

Luc Boeke  15:51 
Nice question. Now we’ve seen that especially the German and Dutch market are thriving, they both have economies that are really strong. Holland has this special climate where a lot of companies feel very much at home. Dutch is a language that is really a broader business language where it stands now. German, of course, is a market that is the biggest in its size in Europe. So Germany is very much wanted as well. Those are the inevitable number one and twos of our business, we have seen some Swiss German requests coming in which is very nice, a Dutch bank in Zurich wanted their Dutch staff to be able to really connect with the Swiss clients. For that, of course, you don’t need “Hoch  Deutsch” standard German, you absolutely need to be at least understanding Swiss German. That’s no comparison to  standard German.

Andrew Travers  17:01 
That’s a bespoke request, you know you have got to find the teacher and everything else to go with it, everybody’s levels and even their interest. From my side, thank you very much for, for being a guest for explaining a little bit about you, your business and for everybody else listening to get in contact with Luke, we’ll put the URL, his contact email and other contact information in the show notes. And don’t forget, when you’re on the website, you can either go with the WhatsApp connection, or alternatively fill the form out and make your inquiry that way. So Luke, thank you very much for your time, and I do appreciate it.

Luc Boeke  17:53 
Thank you so much. It was a pleasure to be on the show. I hope to see some of your listeners back in my WhatsApp inbox or on the website filling out a simple web form. I am looking forward to it. Thank you so much.

Andrew Travers  18:08  
Thank you very much. Take care, bye, we hope you enjoyed listening to “In The Loop”

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