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Need to pick your brains on an idea.............. please help!

(32 Posts)
FrenchGirl Wed 26-Jan-05 13:35:22

Hi everyone,
I have had an idea for a business and would love it if you could tell me what you think.
I'd like to offer french language services in the UK, through a network of native french speakers. The services would range from introducing toddlers to french through songs and games, in small groups, to helping teenagers with their french course work and exam revision, to adult conversation, to translating general letters and documents, making phone calls, generally helping people who plan to move to france with 'communication' problems.
This would NOT be a translation agency, and therefore would not charge that kind of prices.
I need to do a lot of research, but I thought I would ask you what you think of this, please be honest!
Merci beaucoup
Frenchgirl
xxx

cornflakegirl Wed 26-Jan-05 13:44:19

FrenchGirl

Sounds a lovely idea!

Few questions that sprang to my mind:

1) Would this be a countrywide or a local endeavour?
2) It sounds like quite a diverse but also quite a specialised service. Could make it quite hard to identify and advertise to your target users. Maybe helpful to start in just one area, and then expand into others later?
3) How would you select your native french speakers? If you were expecting them to offer all services, they'd need lots of skills - teaching toddlers, teenagers and adults are all quite different!
4) Is there an untapped market? What's the current provision in your area for toddler french / exam tutoring / adult education french / cheap translation? Are other businesses / individuals doing well, or is the market saturated?

Just my thoughts!

nnosam Wed 26-Jan-05 13:47:39

i think its a great idea.
my late mother was french, however i did not learn to speak french, which i regret.
if i had something local that teaches toddlers any language, i would be up for it.

FrenchGirl Wed 26-Jan-05 14:26:53

thanks for your thoughts so far, very very useful, please keep them coming!!

FrenchGirl Wed 26-Jan-05 17:27:26

bump (thought I might have to......)

lowcalCOD Wed 26-Jan-05 17:28:56

I woudl argue thatt he skills required for translation ( detectin g register and nuance for eg) are quite hard for a lay person to capture

FrenchGirl Wed 26-Jan-05 17:33:09

agree cod, but am not thinking of taking on anything big or specialised in any way (as I hate translating!), thinking more of stuff like letter or e-mail to estate agents, hotels, etc..., that would be expensive if done by an agency at a minimum of £45!

lowcalCOD Wed 26-Jan-05 17:33:40

wonder if poeplw wouldnt have mates who could d o it
dont want to put a dampner but I will be the bad cop!!

FrenchGirl Wed 26-Jan-05 17:35:50

I need the bad cop!

Was thinking of stuff like Thomcat trying to translate a short e-mail to a french company using one of these useless internet translating tools and ending up in a bit of a mess!
Still, it is quite o=possibly a bad idea.....Am actually starting to think more about tutoring...

weightwatchingwaterwitch Wed 26-Jan-05 17:46:54

I bet you'll find there's a market for teaching children French, especially in the summer holidays. I think the essence of it is a good idea but I think you need to crystallise it and really decide who will be your customers. I just did a quick google search on 'children french lessons' and where you live and, predictably enough, got muzzylanguage courses, the university and this, club petit pierrot which you could look at for some ideas. It strikes me that you could set this up with fairly low start up costs, which is always a bonus! For example, you could probably design and print some posters for libraries, toddler groups etc and just see what response you get before you decide whether it's a goer. You should be prepared to be professional when people ring though, have a venue provisionally booked, dates, prices all ready. If you went for the nicer areas I think you'd get a response. Remember that if you're teaching children you'll have to have a CRB check and all that. There's nothing to stop you then offering other services too, ad hoc translation, revision courses, conversational French lessons and so on. I think it's a good idea and you should give it a try on the basis I've described above.

weightwatchingwaterwitch Wed 26-Jan-05 17:47:52

For example, think about how much money Stagecoach make! They are franchises I know but fairly profitable ones. There are waiting lists in most places.

weightwatchingwaterwitch Wed 26-Jan-05 17:50:18

So my suggestion would be to design some posters, book a suitable venue, decide on pricing and numbers, get someone to do you a website if you can and stick some up and see what happens.

weightwatchingwaterwitch Wed 26-Jan-05 17:52:14

In case you haven't heard of Stagecoach! They're here

FrenchGirl Wed 26-Jan-05 17:54:03

www, thanks for all that!! Wouldn't want to do too much during hols because of dd (but she would love to help!), but I could always give a try to a french toddlers club during the week, in a church hall or something....and see how that went. Am just fed up working for other people!
This is soooo helpful girls, thank you!!!! I need to keep in mind all your points and see where I go from there.

Any more?

FrenchGirl Wed 26-Jan-05 17:54:37

am already CRB check so that's a small saving....

Marina Wed 26-Jan-05 17:56:24

You could also set up a "family introduction agency" enabling British families to organise one-to-one exchanges for their older children. I'd much prefer to send ds in due course to a family we have all been in touch with and even met than consign him to the dodgy lottery of being parcelled out from the back of a coach...
I think this sounds like a top idea Frenchgirl but don't underestimate the role that keen non-native speakers could play
Do you remember a company called Tous Nos Amis that operated out of a garage in Hampshire? They used to import quality soft toys in the Babar/Tintin/Asterix range. And you could do Bretecher mugs/t-shirts for the mothers too - I've always loved Agrippine and especially Le Destin de Monique...

Marina Wed 26-Jan-05 17:57:11

Should have clarified that Tous Nos Amis no longer trade and no-one seems to import Asterix toys in particular...

FrenchGirl Wed 26-Jan-05 17:58:10

Marina I love keen non native speakers!!!!
Great ideas there too! You lot are talented!

and I am not using my garage at the moment......

FrenchGirl Wed 26-Jan-05 17:58:55

about the family introduction agency, that's something dh has told me about and thought I should do but I wouldn't know where to start!

weightwatchingwaterwitch Wed 26-Jan-05 17:59:31

But Frenchgirl, if you could make quite a lot of money running classes for one week you could easily have the rest of the holidays off! And the exclusivity/limited availability may also play well to your target market.

weightwatchingwaterwitch Wed 26-Jan-05 18:00:50

Or, (I'm quite excited about your idea now!) you could run after school classes or Saturdays, TERM TIME ONLY! What do you think?

Marina Wed 26-Jan-05 18:14:05

Saturdays term-time only is tres interessant...a Chinese school in SE London is hugely oversubscribed and has won lots of deserved awards for its services to the community - you could be the French equivalent...

FrenchGirl Wed 26-Jan-05 18:39:50

www, you're good at that!!! Aren't you in Bristol too?
Marina, there is a flailing french school in Bristol, I think I need to be different, but won't discard any idea yet!

SenoraPostrophe Wed 26-Jan-05 19:54:44

I think it's a good idea, Thomcat, but I'd be worried about the overheads involved with chasing up all those small payments.

You could get round that by charging by credit card in advance (over the internet), but with the making phonecalls especially you'd have to deal with lots of to-ing and fro-ing ("oh right, well can you ask her xyz" " the 18th is not available, is the 20th OK?" etc), which would invariably end up costing more than the original price and be a bit of a pain - you'd have to be really strict with it, or come up with a 3 way call system which the client would pay for via a premium rate number.

But in general its a good idea!

SenoraPostrophe Wed 26-Jan-05 19:55:14

Thomcat? I mean Frenchgirl, obviously! sorry

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