If, like many of today's businesses, you find that you need to book an external training company, the sheer number of different options available can be confusing. How much should the training be? What discounts should you look for? How can you tell you're getting value for money? These are all questions that should be at the forefront of your mind before you commit to a booking. For reference, here are some ways to recognise the better pricing policies when browsing for a training provider.

No hidden charges

It sounds obvious, but looking for a training provider can be looking for a no-frills flight ticket - it looks cheap at the outset, but before you know it, things you regard as essential are charged for as extra. Make sure that the courses aren't cancelled on the company's whim. It may not cost you anything in cash, but it will certainly cost you in time and rescheduling your workforce.

Check if additional post-course support is free or not. It should be offered as part of the training package, not something you have to pay additional fees for. Nor should you have to pay for materials, refreshments, or anything else that should be an integral part of the course.

Bulk Discounts

If you're sending 200 employees for several training courses throughout the year, you shouldn't have to pay the same as a firm sending three people on a one-off course, but that's exactly how some of the poorer training companies price their wares - it's a 'one size fits all' pricing policy that won't benefit you as a bulk customer.

Do you get a discount for being a regular client? How about booking more than one course in a block booking or voucher system? The best training providers will offer these - look out for them. It will save you admin costs and the fact you don' have to hunt for different trainers to provide different courses to suit your needs. If you find a good provider and stick with them, they should reward you for your repeat business.

The Competitive Edge

If a training company are quality and proud of what they do - then they should offer to beat a quote for like-for-like courses you've seen elsewhere. If they shrug and refuse to lower their price, then ask yourself why. The same goes for someone asking an extortionate amount for the same course offered cheaper elsewhere... many training providers want your business, and will cut you a good deal rather than see you go to a competitor.

These are just some of the ways that some training providers will stand out above the rest. More importantly, they should make it easy for you to see the prices upfront, and you should know the total you'll be charged before the training takes place, not when you get a ramped-up invoice that shocks the accounts department. When you've found a good provider, stick with them, and it can be a mutually rewarding relationship, for both your business and your bank account.