By Stephen Spruce,
Founder & CEO
In the past several blogs, I’ve talked about working with registered programs to create a pipeline of new candidates, developing education providers as channel partners, and inviting your corporate partners to invest in the work you do. It’s all a part of a new concept we call “The Business of Certification,” and I’d like to suggest a new way to approach accredited facilities – as franchisers.
In a franchise model, the parent company sets the standards for each of the franchised properties. The franchiser must maintain those standards or risk losing the ability to operate the business.
One great example is the McDonald’s Corporation. McDonald’s is famous for consistency and wants every hamburger to taste the same, regardless of where you buy it. McDonald’s franchisers maintain that consistency by meeting the high standards that McDonald’s requires. In exchange, they operate as a brand recognized around the world by its golden-arches logo.
In a similar relationship, the facilities that your board accredits agree to meet the standards that the board sets. Boards conduct site visits, require a certain number of certified employees at each facility, and create standards for the industry.
Of course, the facility doesn’t operate under your brand, but it uses your brand to advertise its adherence to your standards; Its association with the board helps the facility attract customers, clients, or patients, and can be the basis of building excellence in customer service.
So Why Is This Important?
We believe that the past year has brought home the need for certification boards to develop more than one revenue stream. Case in point – just offering exams, however important and well-conceived they are, makes a board vulnerable to forces beyond its control, such as a pandemic that prohibits in-person exams. A board concerned with The Business of Certification will develop relationships throughout its ecosystem that increase the number of revenue streams and help protect it from financial downturns.
For many years, we’ve understood the business of certification to be the legal and regulatory efforts that keep a board in compliance. We’d like to expand that definition. The new Business of Certification encourages boards to create financial stability by diversifying their revenue streams, specifically by developing relationships within their certification ecosystems. We think your board can operate like a for-profit business without sacrificing your not-for-profit tax status, all while fulfilling your mission. Adding revenue streams, while continuing to serve your stakeholders, only increases your financial stability.
How Would the New Relationship Work?
The relationship between a certification board and its accredited facilities varies from industry to industry. We’d like to suggest several positive outcomes that are possible from a closer relationship with accredited facilities.
- Accredited facilities can become an extension of the board. They deal with the public and certified employees every day and can be valuable in your efforts to increase the board’s visibility and reinforce the benefits of becoming a certified facility.
- Accredited facilities can become champions of the industry to the greater public. By meeting accreditation standards, the facility shows its dedication to meeting the public’s needs at the highest level. We’d argue that reputation is everything, and strategies to improve reputation are worth the effort.
- Because accredited facilities meet the public and employees every day, they are prime sources for information about the industry and its core knowledge. Facilities that have a close relationship with the board can identify gaps in the domains of knowledge you test or alert you to changes in the profession, keeping your exams highly relevant and current. Your next job task analysis can be informed by information you’ve gathered from the accredited facility.
What Will You Need?
I’d like to say that all you need is face time with the heads of your accredited facilities, but that isn’t always true. Sometimes boards will have to invest in new technology to serve their constituents.
For example, you probably have a primary contact for accreditation at the facilities that work with you. We think it is helpful for that person to have the ability to see a list of everyone who is certified within that facility. We think it would be even better to know what continuing education credits they have and who needs to renew and when. The accredited facility can be a partner in keeping its staff members certified.
How Will You Pay For New Technology
If your current technology won’t allow you to track certificants for accredited facilities, you’ll need to find ways to afford new technology. Here are some ideas we had:
- Application fees and renewal fees.
- Site survey fees if they aren’t included in the application.
- Ads on your site.
- Enhanced listings in your directories.
With updated reporting capabilities, you can better track facilities that aren’t accredited. With new revenue, you can develop campaigns to convince them to become accredited. Increasing the number of facilities that become accredited is better for the general public and better for the board.
I’ve been writing about The Business of Certification because I believe that certification boards can attract more revenue that will allow them to offer new services to their industries. If you think this is a valuable goal for your board, we’d love to start a conversation with you.