If a training provider is established and also of good quality, then they should be endorsed, either by happy customers or other recognised areas of industry. Of course, it's fair to say that if a training provider is new, they may not have any recognised endorsements yet, but they should at least have feedback from their first customers. This is a brief overview of what you should look for when choosing a training provider.

Feedback from Customers

A testimonial is a piece of positive feedback from a satisfied customer. It is useful if the feedback gives the delegate's name, the name of the company the delegate was from, and the course attended. This would give you an idea of the companies that use the training provider, and the comments on the course you wish to attend.

A caveat though - anyone can write a fake review on a website, so it's worth asking the training company if some of their previous customers would be happy to speak to you.

If a customer is satisfied, the chances are is that they will be willing to provide positive feedback. If a company who avoids putting you in touch with satisfied clients (and not because of the data protection act), then this should be a red flag - what have they got to hide?

Although some online reviews can be taken with a pinch of salt, excessively negative comments should put you on alert - after all, there's no smoke without fire. Some providers will not include negative comments, but of those who do, look to see what they have done with that feedback. If they have used it to improve the quality of the service, then negative feedback can be a demonstration of transparent business practices.

Have a look to see if you recognise any of their former clients - who have they trained? Anyone in the same field as your business? If a company is only used to training small, local businesses, then although perfectly competent, it may be a stretch to expect them to cater to big blue-chip firms.

Recognised Commendations

Whether it's "investor in people" or being featured in a magazine such as 'Which?', always look to see if a recognised consumer body has also given the training company the thumbs-up. There are also industry-specific institutes that may also endorse a training provider when they are recognised or approved to certain standards, for example, the Institute of Leadership and Management, or the Institute of Information Technology (IT) Training, or a company related to the training - for example, Microsoft will certify trainers that they believe can competently train in their products.

The Best Reference: Word of mouth

All businesses know that word of mouth is the most powerful form of recommendation - because it's personal, and because people won't ever recommend a bad company to a friend - it's the best kind of testimony. Ask around in your industry sector - who has done their training? What were they like? Can they be recommended to train you, too? Word of mouth is the best way of finding out information even the reviews won't tell you!

It's not just the business, but the staff

It's all well and good seeing that a training company is accredited, but are its staff qualified too? You should always check this, since there are also ways of gauging the expertise of the trainers. Sometimes they have to pass exams (for example, the financial services industry has certain qualifications you have to have before legally giving financial advice). Are there any particular qualifications they have alongside their experience? The more, the better.

Overall, most training providers are 'kosher', and you shouldn't go into a search for a provider with suspicion about who isn't qualified. The key is to find out who is most qualified, recognised and able to meet all your training needs and demands.