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Navigating the CPF Program in France: Challenges, Opportunities, and Expert Tips for Language School Owners

To successfully teach English in France, you need to know about the CPF Program. Sometimes it can be impossibly frustrating for leaders who run language schools because the rules are many and keep changing. But the best part is that French students can learn new languages for free, thanks to the government paying for it.

Alex Asher, CEO of LearnCube, spoke with Catherine Aygen, founder of Aygen Training, an online language school owner based in France, who shared the challenges and opportunities of the program and how you can comply, and even benefit from the system. 

This article will discuss the benefits, challenges, opportunities of CPF and everything in between. The same ideas and tips are just as relevant to similar training subsidy programs available around Europe such as FUNDAE in Spain.

If you'd like to listen to the full podcast with Catherine, Herbert and Alex, watch that here.


Getting Into the Nitty-Gritty of the CPF Program

Navigating the waters of the CPF Program isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, but we want to be upfront about the challenges you might face. With the help of Catherine, we’ve narrowed our list down to 5 key challenges to look out for to make the most out of the program:

1 Endless paperwork and bureaucratic procedures

First up, the administrative process can be a bit of a headache, especially for small business owners. You see, the program has strict standards and ever-changing regulations, which means that language school owners have to stay on their toes and constantly update their internal systems to comply with the latest requirements. It's like trying to hit a moving target - frustrating and exhausting, to say the least.

Yes, the administrative process may seem like a daunting task, but it's a necessary one if you want your students to have access to funding and training. Don't worry though, there are ways to make it less of a headache.

For instance, you could hire an administrative assistant or outsource some of the administrative tasks to a third party. You can also use an online school software that can help you comply with requirements like automatic and verifiable attendance records that don't require chasing electronic signatures from students or teachers.

This would allow you to focus on what you do best - providing high-quality language instruction to your students.

2 Difficulties in keeping up with (poorly communicated) changes

Staying up-to-date with changes in the program can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Information can be hard to come by, and navigating the CPF program can sometimes feel like you're lost in a maze. 

Because the program's rules are constantly evolving, it can be difficult to stay on top of the latest updates. This means that owners must constantly monitor the program's website, stay in touch with program reps, and make sure their internal systems are up to snuff. All of this can take a lot of time and energy away from what they really want to be doing - running their business and providing quality education to their students.

3 Extra work on top of an already-demanding job

Balancing your responsibilities is another challenge that you might face. As an online language school owner, you're no stranger to wearing multiple hats. You're not just an educator - you're also a marketer, a salesperson, and a manager. And adding the CPF Program's administrative process to the mix can feel like one hat too many. The personalized training process required by the program is quite time-consuming, and that's not even taking into account the mandatory documents like contracts and attendance sheets. It's like having to do a bunch of extra homework after a long day of teaching - not the most appealing prospect, right?

But here's the thing - as time-consuming and overwhelming as the CPF Program's administrative process may be, it's absolutely essential if you want to provide your students with access to funding and training opportunities. And in the end, it'll be worth it. By creating personalized training programs that meet your learners' needs and following the program's requirements for documentation, you'll be providing your students with the best possible language education - and that's what really matters.

4 Navigating the daunting process of audit 

Accuracy is key when it comes to documentation. The CPF program requires Qualiopi certification, which involves an intense audit process (and a few thousand euro). Auditors review every piece of paperwork, so having accurate and complete documentation is crucial.

Think of it this way: when it comes to documentation for the CPF program, accuracy is everything. If you want to be Qualiopi certified and make sure your students have access to funding and training, you need to have your paperwork in order. The audit process can be intense, and auditors will go over every single piece of documentation with a fine-tooth comb. That's why it's important to make sure your paperwork is accurate and complete. You don't want to find yourself scrambling to fill in the gaps during the audit process! So take the time to double-check everything and make sure you have all the necessary documents in place. Trust us, it will save you a lot of stress and headache in the long run.

5 Cash flow challenges 

Now, let's talk about cash flow. Invoicing can be a tricky business when it comes to the CPF program. You only get paid at the end of the program and you generally are required to enrol your student in an end-of-course third-party Qualiopi-approved test (for example TOEIC or Linguaskill) which the student does not necessarily attend but the provider needs to pay for or charge for. All of these nuances mean you'll have to keep track of your finances throughout the duration of the program. Managing dossier numbers and keeping tabs on official start and finish dates is essential to ensure that you get paid on time. After all, nobody wants to be left high and dry when it comes to cash flow!

As a language school owner, cash flow is crucial to keeping your business afloat. It's important to plan ahead and have a solid financial strategy in place to avoid any hiccups in payment. Additionally, it's a good idea to communicate with your students and make sure they understand the payment process as well. You don't want any surprises or misunderstandings that could lead to payment delays. So, stay on top of your finances and keep those invoice numbers organized!

Alex Catherine Herbert CPF Program

Using the Program to Your Advantage

1 Embrace “Admin Zen”

When dealing with everything that comes with the CPF Program, it’s important to keep calm and manage your time and expectations. Catherine describes this as “admin zen”, which means finding a sense of inner peace and calmness while dealing with administrative tasks. 

It’s easy to get all worked up and stressed out when dealing with these tasks, but trust us, you gotta figure out which tasks are super important and need your immediate attention, and which ones can wait a bit. This way, you're not trying to juggle everything at once and you can focus your energy where it really matters.

Another key thing is to set realistic expectations for yourself. You can't do everything at once, and that's okay. Take breaks when you need them and don't forget to reward yourself for a job well done.

Keeping all your CPF docs and info in one place is also a lifesaver. It'll save you a tonne of time and stress in the long run if you can easily access everything you need.

And if you're feeling overwhelmed or stuck, don't be afraid to ask for help. You can get advice from friends or family who know what's up.

At the end of the day, taking a calm and organized approach to CPF stuff will help you avoid unnecessary stress and stay focused on your financial goals. Just take things one step at a time, and don't forget to celebrate your successes along the way!

2 Create robust systems

If you always find yourself busy with creating programs, here's a cool way to save time and make things easier. It's all about standardization and having systems in place.

Basically, if you systemize the process, it means you have a set way of doing things that works every time. That way, you don't have to reinvent the wheel every time you need to create a new program. And, if you hire an admin assistant who loves process and can follow the system, you'll have a super helpful asset on your team. They can help you with all the details and make sure everything runs smoothly.

Implementing standardization and establishing efficient systems can significantly boost productivity and save valuable time. This approach not only streamlines processes but also promotes consistency and accuracy, which are crucial for success. And if you're going mad trying to maintain a dozen excel spreadsheets, a centralised online school solution can be a real help.

3 Find (or build) a supportive community

When you're running a language school, it can often feel like there aren't enough hours in the day. You might have a never-ending to-do list and find yourself struggling to keep up with all the demands on your time. But the truth is, you don't have to do it all alone.

By building a supportive community, you can find a group of people who understand exactly what you're going through. They know the challenges of running a language school, and they can offer you advice and support when you need it most. Whether it's help with marketing, dealing with difficult students, or just a shoulder to lean on, having a community of like-minded language school owners can make all the difference.

But how do you build this community? One option is to join an existing group. Catherine founded Independent teachers, trainers & formateurs in France and has a vibrant, welcoming community waiting for you if you'd like to join.There are many online communities for language school owners or people looking for corporate language training, such as Facebook groups or forums. These groups can be a great way to connect with other people in your industry, share experiences, and get advice.

Alternatively, you could create your own community. This could be a local group that meets in person, or an online community that you create yourself. By taking the initiative to create a group, you can tailor it to your specific needs and ensure that you have a supportive community that truly understands what you're going through.

4 Shorten the time frame for clients

If you're looking to get the most out of your training hours, consider shortening the time frame and taking advantage of early bird specials. It's a win-win for everyone involved!

Here's why: When you have a more intensive teaching schedule, your students are more likely to get better results overall and you, as an online language school or training organisation, will be paid more quickly via CPF. That can help with cash flow and make it easier for providers to manage their finances.

But how do you encourage clients to use their training hours more efficiently? One way is to offer early bird specials or by making intensive courses more affordable. Plus, offering specials can be a great way to attract new clients and keep existing ones happy.

5 Don’t discard customers

Are you tired of losing touch with clients after their initial training program ends? If so, we've got a great tip for you.

While many clients view training as a one-time event, offering programs that keep them engaged beyond the initial program can be a game-changer. By offering low-cost group classes, discounted lessons, or webinars during breaks between funding periods, you can keep clients engaged and maintain top-of-mind awareness.

Not only does this help maintain relationships with clients, but it can also be a great way to attract new clients. By offering continued training opportunities, you're showing your commitment to helping clients succeed, which can be a powerful marketing tool.

So, don't let your relationships with clients fizzle out after the initial training program ends. Keep them engaged with ongoing opportunities for growth and learning. Your clients will thank you, and you'll see the benefits in the form of improved client relationships and increased business.

To Sum Up

By taking the time to understand the complexities of the program and implementing expert tips, you can optimize your operations and fully harness the potential of the CPF program. So don't be intimidated by the challenges - with the right approach, you can turn them into opportunities for growth and success.

Whether you're just starting out or you've been in business for years, there's always room to improve and grow. So why not take advantage of the CPF program and see where it can take you?

With a little knowledge and some expert tips, the sky's the limit for your language school business.

If you're looking for an all-in-one system that can help you comply with the reporting requirements of CPF, and other European training subsidy programs, schedule a discovery call with us here about our all-in-one Online School solution.


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