How to develop and deliver an education program
- Identify environmental issues, organisational and community needs
- Set program objectives
- Understand the sector in your area
- Identify target businesses
- Establish a Reference Group
- Research existing materials
- Research Business Practices
- Consult business stakeholders
- Educational approach and material development
- Draft/trial materials
- Marketing and distribution
- Areas for future development
Identify environmental issues, organisational and community needs
In developing an education program for mobile businesses, it is important to understand the environmental issues in the local government area, how these issues relate to the organisational needs of the Council and the needs of the community.
- identify the environmental issues or problems affecting the local government area and prioritise them according to each industry sector
- identify the environmental impacts of the targeted sector and consider if they can be reduced by a change in industry/business behaviour.
- clarify council's current understanding of the cause/solutions to the environmental impacts and what activity has already taken place to address them
- look for opportunities to draw on the experiences of other councils or work in partnership with other councils on a joint education program
- identify whether the program is consistent with the mission and priorities of the council and provides opportunities for integration with other council programs
- determine how the program will be integrated into the priorities, structure and business planning cycle of the council
- determine whether sufficient funds are available to effectively research, implement, disseminate and evaluate the program
- identify a process for securing approval within the council to proceed with the program.
- determine the level of complaints about a particular mobile business sector through discussions with council staff
- consult with council's social planner and/or community service staff to identify community issues and appropriate ways to communicate with the community and mobile businesses.
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Set program objectives
In setting the program objectives give consideration to:
- the issues identified by council staff in relation to the activities of a mobile business sector
- the attitudes that you want the program to impact upon
- the type of knowledge/information you want to communicate
- the behaviours/activities you want to change
- the activities that have already been undertaken
- the level of financial and other resources available.
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Understand the sector in your area
Mobile businesses broadly fit into two categories 'traditional' and 'new'.
- Traditional mobile businesses offer services that have always been site based, such as carpet cleaning, painting and decorating, pest control and gardening.
- New mobile businesses such as mobile mechanics and dog washers, offer services that were once only available through a workshop or trade outlet.
Mobile businesses usually fall into one of three categories:
The operator buys a franchise share from the central company. The support a franchisee receives from the parent company varies enormously, but may include a business model, initial training, shared marketing, a telephone answering service, and ongoing support and training. Some master franchises have very little ongoing contact with the operators once they have purchased their franchise, while others such as VIP Gardening and Yates Gardening provide regular training evenings.
- Owner operators
Examples include lawn mowing and carpet cleaning businesses that advertise in the local papers. These people may or may not be trained. Many are not members of trade associations.
- Mobile service units
These businesses have a central depot that services mobile units such as Lube Mobile and NRMA Battery Service. The sphere of operation of a mobile business depends on the service the business is offering and the population base.
Types of business that require little or no training to operate (such as carpet cleaners) are likely to have a higher turnover of operators. In smaller towns and cities, the number of businesses is likely to be more stable, making them significantly easier to locate and a target for education materials.
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Identify target businesses
Several approaches can be used to identify businesses for targeting under a program.
Searching the Yellow Pages
This has mixed success depending on the type of business being targeted. In some types of mobile business activity (e.g. gardening) relatively few businesses advertise in the Yellow Pages. Businesses that offer a service likely to be used on a one-off basis, such as pest controllers, are more likely to advertise. Business advertisements in the paper version of the Yellow Pages also frequently display logos of trade associations, licences and qualifications held by operators.
Searching the free papers
Regular checks of the small advertisements in the local papers can help identify small-scale operators.
Collecting junk mail
Small-scale operators often use letterbox fliers to advertise their services. Ask some local residents to save their letterbox fliers.
Business sightings and usage reports
Encourage council staff to report the sighting of mobile businesses operating in the area.
Other ideas for finding businesses
- Collect details of businesses from waste transfer stations. If you can gain access to the waste transfer/disposal station records this is an excellent way of reaching businesses that dispose of waste off-site, e.g. garden businesses.
- Using a database such as Australia on Disc, which allows you to search by location, Australia and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANSIC) codes, postcode, etc. This database can be accessed through selected university libraries or purchased from http://www.australiaondisc.com
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Establish a Reference Group
One of the most effective ways of developing and implementing an education program is to obtain feedback from council staff and stakeholders with an interest in its outcomes. These stakeholders could be members of neighbouring councils, local businesses, representatives from industry associations/franchises/chambers of commerce and representatives from other government agencies. Council representatives could include environmental health officers, rangers, operational staff and social planners. Establishing a formal mechanism for feedback, such as a reference group, which meets regularly during all phases of the program, will ensure that the program receives timely and quality input.
The reference group can provide input to:
- program objectives
- priority environment issues
- identifying and engaging businesses and other stakeholders
- minimum standards businesses should meet
- environmental best practice
- barriers to compliance and best practice
- the approach to education
- appropriate tools and their delivery.
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Research existing materials
Good sources of information for investigating your target businesses include:
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Research Business Practices
Developing a profile for an industry sector and understanding business operations in that sector is essential to identifying the direction an education program should take.
Research on four levels is required:
1. Environmental issues and possible solutions
Use the environmental issues/checklist provided in the manual to identify issues that should be considered when developing an education program. This checklist will also assist in identifying the current level of environmental knowledge of businesses.
2. The operating framework and business practice
Identify relevant legislation, licences, codes of practice and Australian Standards. Using the Business Sector Profile Form provided in the manual will help identify the work practices and operational framework of any business type. An example of a completed form is included in the manual.
3. The education framework
Undertake comprehensive research into the business sector to determine stakeholders, existing education and training materials, trade association etc. Also determine a business's capacity to participate (e.g. time constraints and possible literacy issues).
4. The target audience
Any education program must be appropriate to the target audience. It is important to talk to operators and to spend time onsite to observe work practices and to get an understanding of what type of educative/regulatory tools are likely to achieve desired outcomes. Understand what motivates businesses to improve their environmental performance and what their attitudes are to the council in its regulatory/educative roles. These attitudes will determine the partnership building and delivery approaches used.
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Consult business stakeholders
Once businesses have been identified in the council area, it is important to engage them in the process of developing and delivering an education program. Businesses can be a valuable source of information about current work practices and challenges faced in improving environmental performance. They can also provide useful technical information on relevant new technologies.
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Educational approach and material development
Determining the type of education program and the type of education/regulatory tools required depends on what approaches have been previously tried; available resources and the length of time available.
Some examples of tools include:
- education materials (pamphlets, brochures, leaflets, booklets, stickers)
- training resources
- training delivery (on-the-job training, training outside working hours)
- environmental assessments
- regulatory tools (on-the-spot fines, notices etc).
An education program should be designed to suit the particular needs of the mobile business. For example, educational materials, training resources and training delivery, workshops/demonstrations and presentations should be designed with the operators in mind. They should be easily accessible and communicate simple messages. They should also avoid duplication with previous approaches which have not achieved environmental outcomes. Often this requires a mix of tools.
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Where possible, get industry input and feedback on the preparation/editing of any education materials. Where there is no industry association, trial draft materials with companies or franchises who are representative of the mobile business sector. Draft materials should be reviewed by the Reference Group.
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Marketing and distribution
Give consideration to how the materials are to be marked and distributed and whether they will be officially launched.
Prepare a distribution plan for the materials. Bear in mind that the materials are seeking to increase awareness of environmental issues and to change behaviour in relation to environmental performance. Key distribution outlets outside the council should include industry associations, trade councils, individual businesses, equipment and product suppliers, equipment hire outlets, training providers, franchises and registration bodies.
Council staff who interact with mobile businesses can assist with the marketing and distribution of materials.
Also look for opportunities to promote the materials in industry association and council circulars and newsletters.
It may be appropriate to display the materials at a local trade show/industry display trade night. Where possible, engage the local media by preparing press releases linked to special events involving the mobile businesses. Consider distributing the materials to other councils.
Consider opportunities for training businesses in the use of the education materials. Training can be delivered either through specially organised training nights or on-the- job. On-the-job training is easier to organise if the businesses are part of a franchise or if they are represented by an industry association who can assist with coordinating a venue/training delivery. Training can be cost prohibitive unless it is subsidised by the businesses, an industry association or a franchise.
Options for distribution of materials include:
Through industry associations and franchises
Good approach where there is association membership.
Good for franchises as the central franchise company can contact their operators.
Industry associations can influence their members.
Some areas have poor industry association membership.
Some areas of business have no industry association.
Effective with businesses that need to pick up regular supplies.
Good for small owner-operated businesses that cannot afford to buy in bulk.
Less effective for large businesses that have supplies delivered.
Only suitable where businesses can readily access suppliers.
Very effective if you can locate businesses.
Good for long-term businesses.
Locating businesses is a challenge. Therefore this should not be relied on as the only method of delivery.
Through manufacturers of materials
Good to reach a mass audience.
Persuading large producers to participate is a challenge.
Through equipment hire companies
Good to reach occaisional users of equipment who are less likely to be aware of environmental best practice.
Getting hire companies to participate can be hard.
Through business clients
If you have an effective line of communication to the community, educating clients on the environmental standards to expect from businesses is relatively easy.
Only suitable for businesses that are widely used.
Difficult to measure effectiveness.
Industry training days
Good for areas of business where operators have little training or where new trade practices have come out.
Increases general knowledge of issues in the community.
Good for areas of business where ther eis a large number of do-it-yourself people.
Apathy from businesses means few may attend.
They might not be able to afford the time to complete the training.
You have to be able to reach businesses to notify them of training options.
Industry trade displays
Audience is keen to know about industry developments.
Relies on goodwill of the businesses running industry trade days.
Increases the gneral knowledge of issues in the wider community.
Industry trade magazines are an efficient avenue for reaching businesses and are available for most industry types.
Can be difficult to secure free media coverage.
Readership may be low, particularly among the on-ground operators.
Waste disposal/ recycling outlets
Good for reaching businesses that regularly produce waste.
The companies that run waste dispsoal plants might not want you to talk to their customers, particularly if you are seeking to reduce waste.
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Evaluation is fundamental to measuring the success (or otherwise) of an education program.
An evaluation framework, stating the intended products, activities and results of an education program should be prepared at the beginning of the project. This will give the program direction and enable progress to be tracked and decisions to be made about its effectiveness. Where possible, engage the Reference Group in the process of preparing an Evaluation Plan.
Sometimes a professional evaluator can be used to design an evaluation framework which ensures that all project activities have monitoring components and that the quantifiable objectives of the project can be measured through feedback from customers, telephone surveys of mobile businesses, independent observations of activities and participation rates.
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Areas for future development
The results of the evaluation can be used to determine future directions in education programs with mobile businesses and other individual businesses or industry sectors. It is therefore advisable to prepare an evaluation report which outlines the type of education program undertaken and the results of the evaluation. This information can also be useful to other councils.
Page last updated: 27 February 2011