How Mellor Financial grew >200% with Arlo and Candle Digital

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Mellor Financial partnered up with Candle Digital and Arlo to implement blended learning. The result? Engagement is up. Completion rates are up. Confidence of delegates is up. And the business has grown a whopping >200%.

Mellor Financial Training was established in 2016 with the goal of demystifying accounting and finance for non-accountants. MFT provides accessible training to business people to help build the financial confidence and understanding that they need in order to successfully manage and grow their own businesses. Based in the UK, MFT offers a wide range of public and private courses for everyone from small businesses to multinational corporations to government agencies.

Martin Mellor spent 20+ years as a chartered management accountant in big corporations before founding Mellor Financial Training. As well as founder and managing director, he is the lead trainer at MFT, delivering a large portion of the courses.

Rewind a couple of years and Martin was at full capacity for delivering classroom-based courses. He was also taking care of a large portion of the ever-increasing administration – so he understands the pain of manual processes.

Martin could see the limitations of the current operating model. Responsible for business strategy and development, he started searching for a better way to deliver training.

Cue Arlo and Candle Digital.

Partnering with Arlo and Candle Digital

When MFT launched in 2016, like many training organizations they were only offering classroom-based courses. In 2018, Martin began work with Candle Digital to develop a self-paced learning hub. Collaboratively, they created the ‘Mellor Financial Hub’ on Learndash, and began offering virtual instructor-led training courses. By 2019 they were offering self-paced courses.

But the other piece of the growth puzzle was the administration side. Martin was still collecting individual enquiries, engaging with each learner and enrolling them and invoicing them manually. This was still a major constraint when it came to growing the business and Martin was actively looking for a way to automate some of these administrative elements. 

He discovered Arlo through the Xero partnership and quickly saw the potential of the training management system. The first big win being Arlo’s course template feature – MFT could quickly replicate all of the detail associated with running courses. Along with other features such as automated emails and integrations with LearnDash, Zoom, Xero and more, Martin says they immediately saw a massive reduction in administrative time, effort and cost. 

“Since implementing Arlo we have seen a massive reduction in administrative time, effort and cost. And the business has grown >200%.”

Evolving from self-paced learning to blended

But the entirely self-paced, online approach proved a tougher sell than Martin had anticipated. He observed that self-paced learning detracted from accountability and a shared journey of learning – with many learners starting a course, but not finishing it. He also saw that the biggest benefits of instructor-led training – high engagement, accountability and a rich learning environment – simply couldn’t be replicated with self-paced learning.

“There is an energy that you get as an instructor from being with people that is very hard to replicate. Also different people have different learning styles. I might favor a particular delivery method but it’s not about me, it’s about the learner and giving them the best experience possible.”

Never shy of evolving, MFT took their learnings and developed a blended learning approach.

With the help of Candle Digital, they further developed the online hub to support this blended vision. The self-paced content is carefully curated to use characters and scenarios, quizzes and video to help to build knowledge, confidence and understanding. Martin can also track completion rates, collect feedback at the end of each learning block, and execute learner surveys. Learner feedback is then used to tailor each instructor-led training session and improve their future courses. 

Their most popular blended learning course is “Finance for Non-Finance Managers”. With two versions, delegates can take the course as a 5x weekly 45-minute instructor-led training sessions and 1-1.5 hours of self-paced learning between each session. Or, 3x fortnightly 90-minute instructor-led training sessions with 2 hours of self-paced learning between sessions. To ensure engagement remains high in their virtual training courses, MFT uses polls, whiteboards, exercises and interactive tools.

Arlo’s ability to integrate with third party applications means MFT can deliver blended learning seamlessly. Arlo manages the live elements alongside access to the self-paced content as one single course. For online instructor-led training sessions, Arlo integrates seamlessly with Zoom – automatically sending learners joining instructions from the moment they register for a course. The learning hub creates further business efficiencies by allowing sections to be recycled across different courses, creating a streamlined and simple content management process.

The result of this blended learning approach? Engagement is up. Completion rates are up. Confidence of delegates is up. “We went into this trying to deliver something that had impact and longevity and so it means a lot to see the benefits”, says Martin.

“I don’t just want to sell a system, I want to have an impact and create a legacy. With blended learning, I can now do that.”

Even better than that are big wins for the business. Martin says “the resource requirement is lower – we can deliver 3x as many sessions from the same resource. And the positive learner response has resulted in additional private course contract wins. Partnering with Arlo and Candle Digital has been an absolute game-changer for Mellor Financial.”

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