[Case Study] How SFIEC Increased Efficiency With CourseKey

Cosmetology schools can improve efficiency by using software to streamline attendance and practical operations tracking.


The San Francisco Institute of Esthetics and Cosmetology (SFIEC) was founded in 2002 as the very first Paul Mitchell affiliate partner school. Located in San Francisco, they offer barber, cosmetology, and esthetics programs and also provide licensed professionals with programs that support the lifelong learning process to stay current in the rapidly changing environment of esthetics and cosmetology. They’ve successfully graduated and placed thousands of professionals and counting.


SFIEC has maintained their status as a leader in cosmetology by consistently and successfully educating their future professionals and constantly striving to improve operations. Deedee Crossett, Owner and Founder of SFIEC, and her team continuously seek out ways to push the boundaries for what’s possible through technology.


In the fall of 2019, Deedee and her staff were looking for cutting-edge ways to track student theory hours and students’ proof of services much more accurately and efficiently.

Time Consuming Process To Track Theory Hours

Before adopting CourseKey, SFIEC’s Operations leader would spend hours per week manually adjusting student records to make sure student theory hour records were accurate.


Students clocked in and out each day using the server-based time clock solution Millennium. Millennium required students to specify the nature of their clock in (i.e starting a break, returning from a break, clocking in or clocking out of class, etc.) and students would not always hit the correct button for their action.


At the end of each week, SFIEC staff wouldn’t be able to close out the week’s record of student hours unless each student’s record was accurate. If a student made a mistake, SFIEC staff had to go through that student’s record to identify the issue and make the appropriate manual adjustment.


Because Millennium is server-based, not cloud-based, adjustments to students’ records could only be made on a specific computer at the site. Only the Operations leader had access to the software and the information was not available for students to view until 48 hours after it was uploaded.


The Operations leader with access to Millennium had to spend hours at a time adjusting student records to make sure they were accurate. Because they weren’t in the classroom themselves, the Operations leader would need to contact learning leaders to ask how to adjust the record from days ago. Once they figured out what record updates to make, they needed to fill out time correction forms for each adjustment, creating even more administrative work to complete.


Not only was Millennium forcing the Operations leader to spend hours completing tedious tasks making sure student records were squared away, but it also caused students to be unclear about their standing.


Because students weren’t sure how many hours or practical services they had accrued, they would contact staff members to ask them for progress updates. Sometimes, after students did get an update on their standing days later, they could contact staff to point out discrepancies in attendance data. In those cases, staff and students were forced to try to remember exactly who was where at what time and on what day. This draining process caused unnecessary stress on staff members and uncertainty for students.

Transitioning To A Streamlined Attendance Process

SFIEC adopted CourseKey to simplify the process of tracking student hours. CourseKey is more user friendly for students because its mobile app has just one button for attendance that encompasses all check ins and check outs for class time and breaks. In addition, it makes it much easier for the Operations leader to pull attendance reports and upload them to the SIS.


As Learning Leader and Future Professional Advisor Alicia Anderson puts it, tracking hours is now done lickety-split. “I can get an entire week of [student] hours done in not even an hour, and that’s [including time to make] all the edits. The amount of time being spent on punches and hours is a fraction of the time of what it used to take,” she explains. Alicia and her fellow staff members are even able to manage student attendance from home through the CourseKey platform.


Learning leaders also gained the ability to quickly and easily make adjustments to their students’ attendance in real-time instead of having the Operations leader make adjustments hours or days after the class finished. Not only does this process spare the Operations leader hours of time, it allows learning leaders to spend more time with students in the classroom instead of being asked to do administrative work.


Because CourseKey’s platform automates the collection of attendance data and enables learning leaders to quickly upload data into FAME, students can see their up to date hours shortly after class instead of waiting days for a clock-hour report.

Speak with a CourseKey team member to learn how the CourseKey platform can drastically increase efficiency at your school.

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Inefficient Tracking Of Student Services Through Worksheets

In addition to seeking a more accurate and efficient way to track student theory hours, SFIEC wanted a more efficient way to track student completion of practical services.


Before implementing CourseKey, on day one of new modules, SFIEC gave their students all of the digital worksheets they needed to complete throughout their program.


Using PDF worksheets came with its own list of complications. Students would line up after sessions to get their worksheets signed-off, which could be very time consuming for learning leaders. When students turned in their worksheets at the end of the program, the Operations leader would need to make sure all of the boxes were checked and signed off and that the correct documents were all attached. Once that was squared away, the Operations leader would then spend time manually entering the student data into FAME.


In some cases, when students would forget to email the worksheets to staff or didn’t save their worksheets to the cloud, the file was lost. This would cause students to have to restart that worksheet, meaning the progress they had made up until then did not count toward graduation.

Efficient Tracking And Real-Time Insight Into Progression

By implementing CourseKey, SFIEC effectively eliminated the digital PDF worksheets. Replacing them with interactive CourseKey assessments enabled SFIEC to streamline their practical service tracking and provide students with real-time insight into their progression.


Instead of having students line up after each session to get services signed-off by learning leaders, the learning leaders are now able to use the CourseKey platform to quickly sign-off for each student present. Through integration with FAME, worksheet specialists are freed of hours of manual data entry per week, letting them do other valuable work with their time such as assisting students who need additional help.


Students no longer have to wait two or three days to figure out how many practical services they have left to complete. Now they can see their standing in real-time. Each student even has a percentage associated with their progression, helping them know at all times how much they have left to complete. Students only have access to their own data, not their classmates’, keeping operations FERPA compliant.


SFIEC did not have to make any changes to how their courses operated, just how the data was collected and managed. The significant boost in efficiency and real-time transparency into records resulting from digitizing their data process enabled SFIEC students to know exactly where they stand at all times and spared staff members hours of manual data entry per week.

Improving Cosmetology School Efficiency to Focus On Student Development

By simplifying and streamlining critical aspects of operations around tracking student data, SFIEC has drastically increased their efficiency when managing student hours and completion of practical services. The simplified process has spared staff and students headaches brought on by manual tasks and out of date student records. Instead of working to resolve issues around past hours and service records, staff and students can now focus more on honing their craft and following their passion.


SFIEC has become a leading CourseKey partner in identifying which parts of school operations can be digitized or what other solutions can be created to modernize operations in career education programs.

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