I started the first weekend Cisco training course format in the UK back in 2002. It was all going well until some other guys saw what I was doing and decided to copy me – badly.
I am all for competition by the way. I don’t have the sole rights to teach Cisco courses. In fact, anybody can set themselves up teaching Cisco courses. All you need is a room, routers and a website and off you go. In fact many did just that.
After about four years in business I saw one guy copy exactly what I did. He even copied what I was saying on my site. Same course format, same guarantee and same proposition. I heard from some of his students after they had been and was told it was a letdown.
Classrooms stuffed full of students. Cisco press manuals instead of self produced notes. No after course support (even though it was promised). Poor quality instruction. Little time with the instructor.
The list goes on.
The guy who copied me was copied by others, or they were copying me again, who can say? Suddenly there were about five ‘Original Home of Cisco Training’ companies out there. All promising what I was:
Free support before and after the course Come back for free No sharing equipment Expert trainers
Along with all the other ‘we are the best’ and ‘we care’ crap. They even made snide comments about other training companies.
But none of them had worked for Cisco as I had. None had written their own Cisco manual and none had been in business more than a matter of months.
When a thing comes down to a commodity then the only factor left to compete on is price. If it comes to this then you will always lose because there is always somebody who is prepared to charge less than you do. Even if this means they are running courses at a loss.
At the moment there is a price war going on in the UK for Cisco courses. Good for you but bad for business.
Cheap or Good?
They say that you can either have something cheap or good but not both. I do believe in getting the best value for money you can but at some point you will have to decide what end result you want. When I handed my old company over to Stuart Juggins I knew it was in good hands because Stuart had over 15 years hands on IT experience and had just passed his CCIE.
He wasn’t a trainer in fact. He had done a little but he was 97% a Cisco consultant designing and installing IP networks for the UK government.
There are not many companies run by CCIEs I can tell you. The other companies copying us were in my opinion letting their students down. They were not really experienced IT consultants as they claimed and some were actually run by CCNA’s!!
Here are a few tips if you want to research a course.
Find a company who can run courses up to CCIE level. If they can’t do that then they can’t teach below to any level of proficiency I feel.
Speak to former students who attended and ask their honest opinion.
Sit in during a class and see what they do.
Check out their manuals. Are they easy to understand or are they fobbing you off with Cisco press or Lammle?
Ask on forums if anyone attended the course and what they thought of it.
Talk is Cheap
It frustrates me when I see the rhetoric on many of the training web sites. ‘We are the best’ ‘we give you the best course’ ‘we care.’ When you speak to their former students the truth is that none of the above is true.