As the Partner Agency Scheme grows, we thought you'd like to find out a little more about our recognised partner agencies.
In this issue of the Partner Agency Newsletter, our guest is Alberto de Prada. Alberto is a co-director and co-owner of Klensein Ltd, a Spanish-based company he founded with his friend and business partner Samuel Santa in 2011.
It all started with a meal in Manchester's "Curry Mile" with Samuel, when we were having a long and interesting discussion about economics and trends. We found it an appealing idea to build from scratch a very cost-oriented language agency for the Spanish-speaking market, and a travel agency for Southeast Asia.
We knew this industry was a very crowded one in terms of competitors, but we were very confident we could get a decent market share in a matter of months, as we are much younger than average compared to the people working in the industry. That translates into motivation - our policies are crystal clear and our customer service is outstanding.
The trend in the market could not be more blatant as the unemployment rate in Spain was growing steadily and people were realising that learning English was a must for any job whatsoever, even in their home country - English has quickly became a key factor in selection processes.
We have three business lines but all of them get along perfectly. On the one hand we have the core business for all agencies: helping students study in the UK, USA, Canada, Ireland and Singapore efficiently.
On the other hand we have the accommodation part of the business, which complements the core business pretty well, as most of the students require accommodation during their stay in their learning destination.
Thirdly we help and assess students who want to study a degree in a British university. We take care and handle the main aspects of the enrolment process, making it fully understandable and worry-free to the parents who might find a language barrier that holds them back when taking the decision of sending their children to study a degree abroad.
The part I enjoy the most is building trust with the students and their parents. It is probably the most crucial point of the whole process, and it is definitely the key to survival in this industry, allowing you to grow consistently at a sustainable rate.
I also like having our associates (ie schools and accommodation providers) happy with the results.
There is something I really do not like, and it is when some schools rival the agency for the students - like we have been dealing with the student for a couple of weeks and he is ready to pay, and all of a sudden the student phones the school to double check for references or to see if it even exists and the school offers the student a flash offer, getting the student to enrol directly and the agent doing all the work for nothing. Some schools should learn we work for them and not against them - some of them should be more collaborative and consistent.
Exposure and distinction. There are thousands of agencies all around the world, but only a few hundred of them belong to the English UK Partner Agency Scheme, which gives the member agencies more visibility, a personalised page for each one of the agencies inside English UK's website and a credential of good practices from a very trustable source such as English UK.
We have made use of the guidance of English UK when an issue with a school has arisen, and the newsletters are definitely very useful as they keep you up-to-date when it comes to visa regulations, partner additions and so on. All in all, we are in a better position inside of the Partner Agency Scheme than before when we were flying solo.
The students do not seem to notice about the membership even though we mention it a few times in our website, and when you bring it up on the phone they do not seem to pay a lot of attention to it - if they have doubts, mentioning that is not strong enough, they prefer having references from previous students or a direct contact to the school in order to find peace of mind.
Some of them even asked what is English UK, probably because of their lack of interest on the industry, but in any case I am sure English UK can keep advertising so more people get to know them and that way members (both schools and agents) can receive a more positive impact from it.
Definitely yes, as long as the agency is completely external to our market!
We would love to hear from other recognised partner agencies who would like to be interviewed. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.