The Story of CORE Languages
We recently stumbled upon an article that caught our attention. This article from INC Magazine hit especially close to home as we are in that same classification of “(mostly) gone” entrepreneurs who find value in the struggle. The value of tightening the belt not only for cost effective measures, but also environmental impact! I am the owner and founder of CORE Languages, INC. (www.corelanguages.com). CORE is a language services provider for all sizes of international companies in need of language and culture training, document translation, interpreting and destination services. It is an industry that is not largely known, but runs at the heart of any multinational company looking to bring expertise to locations around the world while sharing and upholding true and original company culture. As you can imagine, this industry is heavy on customer service, which means a lot of people dealing with a lot of people!
Building CORE has been one lesson after another, each accompanied by many wonderful and talented individuals who I have had the pleasure of working with. I started out as a ESL and German instructor myself, and one of the biggest lessons I learned through my experiences as a teacher was: you have a responsibility to your student! If you are a service provider, you get hired for what you say you are good at, so you better be able to deliver! I started the business with two things: a $5k loan from my parents (which was paid back a month later) and the opportunity to work with one of the worlds most respected brands, BOSCH. You can imagine that having such a brand as your first client was exhilarating (it still is), but it was also humbling and so very rewarding. Our clients demand (and deserve) the very best, and as they face the same global economic fluctuations that we do, they want competitive rates! They want good service that is cost-effective and proves successful, and that means we have have to hustle and learn to be responsive and predictive. After all, client satisfaction is key! While working to better understand the mindset of our clients, we bumped into the Kaizen Process as well as Lean Six Sigma. Integrating these mindsets into our process brought laser focus to setting goals and expectations. And of course that leads us to OKRs… The good news is that over the years we have built some fantastic processes. The better news is that we are just getting started and there is still so much more to do!
Working with these big clients means that they expect data delivered through meaningful metrics and they want it live. For a small company, that is a very tall order, but when you are already in the middle of the “friction”, you learn to say YES a lot. We wanted to provide our international clients an opportunity to experience a language program that is tailored to the needs of everyone involved in a course: the associates, the instructors and the training managers/HR-managers. Our continuing goal is to modernize and standardize corporate language training using a platform that keeps track of key metrics and data, and makes them available for analysis in real time. So we delivered www.coreconnect.com and the CORE score.
What this means for students is that attendance is tracked online, feedback is regularly requested and appropriately implemented, progress is regularly assessed, and engagement with our learning material is tracked and rewarded, creating a unique metric, which we call the “CORE score”. Instructors benefit from this by being able to assess student needs directly through our platform, while training managers and HR-managers can access this data, in addition to a detailed cost breakdown for each individual, class and course. Our goal is two-fold: transparency and efficiency.
As we move into our 13th year of business, we have grown from a local presence to a national one with trainers in all 50 states and a grouping of some of the world’s most respected brands. We have never received external funding to push our growth, we have had to support our growth with technology and a lean administrative team. I personally have had to learn and continue to learn how to lead our group as we grow into new technologies as well as new markets around the world. It is certainly an exciting time for us as the struggle of the last decade has prepared us to move forward to better support our clients. Yes, the allure of investment is enticing, but the metaphor is true. A hungry lion is much more nimble than an overfed one… Plus, isn’t life all about the journey? And running a business basically takes over your life, so you might was well prepare yourself for the long haul.
Stephen Sovenyhazy, GMS