THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

How to train your team (and yourself) without damaging your cash flow

In his book “To sell is human”, Dan Pink suggests that we used to strive for “access” to information in a world of scarcity – and that now we are struggling to “curate” information in a connected world of overwhelm. Just how many web, e-commerce and m-commerce sites can we visit? How many social media channels can we follow? How many blog posts/e-books/magazines/newspapers can we read? How many forums can we join? How many tribes? In the last few weeks I have noticed a significant increase in the number of workshops on offer in UK dentistry (me included with Cfast and various association meetings) – it seems that every week there is another broadcast to attend another great day. The graphic design that goes into the invitations is superb (or intriguing) – the breadth of broadcast is huge across multiple channels – the subjects covered are timely, relevant and presented by masters in each footprint of the market – front desk, patient journey, marketing, social media, sales, treatment co-ordination, compliance, business building. Add to that the frenzy of post-graduate courses – and then – the up-coming Autumn season of conferences, trade shows and gala award dinners. The cliche is that we could easily fill our calendars with endless educational, inspirational and B2B networking events – and never get any billable time sold. I have a sneaking suspicion that ticket sales for these events will be lower than in previous years – and that’s a shame because having been in the presentation business myself for 20 years, I know just how much effort goes into event management and delivery. Times are tight – I’m at the receiving end of a steady flow of enquiries from dentists who are having to work much harder to make ends meet. This isn’t a doom and gloom post though – I also work with clients who are enjoying best ever years – and constantly looking at what the differences are between the winners and the losers (Want to know the difference? Quite often its the level of debt servicing required in the business). So the paradox is that just when you want your team to be as well trained as possible, investing the cash and the time off to get the training is at its most difficult. That is THE challenge that faces all workshop and conference organisers – how do I get my client to down tools for a day and bring themselves and their team along, bearing in mind the loss of revenues, the wages and travel bill and the cost of the tickets? So there I was pondering that very question – if I decide to run a workshop for 7connections in the Autumn:

  1. what should we talk about?

  2. are there any footprints available or are all the bases covered by great presenters?

  3. will folks actually give up a billable day in the current economy?

  4. will they travel – and, if so, where to?

  5. and, of course, what nowadays represents a fair price – a win for the client and for the organisers?

I have to tell you that right now I’m not sure I know the answers to these questions (even though I want you ALL to attend my super-value Cfast marketing workshops in September/October!). I would welcome your feedback on these questions as market research – what would get you (and your managers/team) out of bed, tackling the traffic and holed up in a conference room for a day while the surgeries remain empty? Or…….. Is there another way of doing this? A way that involves no travel, no loss of revenues, no loss of wages, no empty surgeries? Yet – ensures that owners, managers, team members and clinicians can enjoy a challenging, engaging, educational, inspirational experience? Help me here – because I need to know what floats your boat:

  1. a series of live or pre-recorded evening webinars?

  2. a series of live or pre-recorded lunch and learns?

  3. a straight downloadable e-learning programme that can be completed at your own pace and in your own time?

  4. a simple telephone conference call?

  5. a video group call (smaller numbers attending) using Skype or equivalent?

It seems to me that the challenge with e-learning is the commitment to actually do the work as “attendance” isn’t compulsory – maybe we could devise a way to hold “delegates” accountable to complete modules by a given date – or take a test on-line by a deadline that would generate CPD? I’d love to innovate here and create learning environments that represent excellent value for money and allow clients to maintain their flow of business income uninterrupted. Please let me have your thoughts.

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