One Size Fits All......

15th Aug 2015

I'm a bit of a sucker for a good book on management and recently I was reading one of Richard Branson's books.  Richard describes attending a promotional event where he was given a Virgin logoed cap to wear.  He tried it on and it wouldn't fit.  When he asked for a larger size he was told they were one size fits all and he presumably had to cram it on his head for the day. One size may sometimes be seen to fit all - but that doesn't mean it will give a good fit.......
When I was preparing for my assessment as a mountain leader I decided to invest in a refresher course to fine tune my skills and highlight weaknesses.  On the first morning of the 2 day course the instructor sat the four attendees down and explained that she was keen to tailor the course to suit our requirements.  So, she asked, what areas of the syllabus did we want to cover?
My main weakness was navigation and I would have preferred to spend both days covering this.  Unfortunately for me, the others all asked to spend as much time as possible on steep ground and rope work skills.  I was confident enough in all these areas but, being seriously outvoted, I had no choice but to spend 3/4 of the course feeling my time was being wasted.
Last week I was looking for a course suitable to refresh my skills for an upcoming expedition where significant river crossings and managing people near water margins is very likely.  I could certainly find courses designed for paddlers and others tailored towards rescue personnel, but it was surprisingly difficult to find one that matched my personal requirements.  It was also difficult to find suppliers with websites that actually had clear information on what their courses did and didn't cover.
At Peak Mountaineering we certainly have a range of 'one size fits all' courses but, by supplying detailed information on course content, we hope that when people are deciding if these will suit their needs they have the information they need.  We also pride ourselves on keeping course client to instructor ratios as low as financially viable which allows us to cater as much as we can to individual participant needs.  The last differentiation on these courses is the quality of our staff.  As much as we give them a guide to the course content we also trust them to identify the clients needs and ensure that the content is, as much as possible, tailored to their personal requirements.
Having said that, we know from experiences like those described above that one size definitely doesn't fit all and that may explain why we sell an increasing number of bespoke training events.  We also anticipate the demand for them increasing further as people plan for more individual adventures or see the benefits of tailoring their training.  In a busy world people that are 'time poor' want, above all else, training that meets their needs in the time they have available.  It may be more expensive, but sometimes it's worth spending more to get the course content you need.  It's a round about version of the old 'buy cheap, buy twice' adage.
Having an instructor dedicated to your training means lots of things.  All our instructors are experts in their field which means they can assess your needs and move you on from the point you are at without having to account for others in the group.  If you have a particular objective in mind then sharing the training with your partner or getting your team together also makes sense - better to share the training and then you can share the adventure knowing you all have the skills to deal with whatever gets thrown at you.
Individual training means you won't cover old ground that you don't need too but also means you will start at the right point.  If you know how to tie a clove hitch then there's no point in waiting while others in your group learn (although a good instructor will hopefully get you doing something else while they show the group).  Similarly, if you find something tricky then you don't want to be rushed on by others who are waiting - you want to spend as much time as is needed to master it before moving on to new things.  
Having individualised training also means you'll cover more (and potentially in less time).  If you were preparing for something like mountain leader assessment then one day of private instruction could easily equal 2 days with a larger group (or maybe more if you had the experience I described above from my own ML Refresher course).  It is also less intimidating for some people to ask questions and discuss things openly when it is just them and the instructor.
We have far more flexibility on dates for private bookings and we don't need a minimum number for the course to run.  This can be really useful for anyone trying to fit a course in at short notice, or for those with limited availability.  It also means that if you want to do 2 days but split them between weekends or certain dates then we can accommodate that.  In summer you could even do a few evening sessions or maybe arrange a one off night navigation session if you wish.
A days private guiding costs around the same as one of our standard 2 day courses and, if you have a partner to share the cost with, then private guiding is the same price.  We know one size doesn't fit all and it doesn't have to.  Just email us via our contact form here or call us on 01433620283 and we'll always find a solution that works for you.
Posted by Paul