Thursday 19 September 2019

You must pay new staff and make a profit from them

Send your small business questions to (Stock image)
Send your small business questions to (Stock image)

Feargal Quinn

Q: I run a medium-sized training business and find myself on an endless cycle of travelling around the country, delivering workshops etc. I am keen to grow my business but unsure as to whether to take on other trainers. Can you offer any advice?

A: IT sounds like you are successful at what you do and the challenge you describe is not unusual. There is always only going to be a limited number of people in any one area who will want to avail of your services and therefore you have to be national.

I would caution about taking another trainer. It may well work but you have to pay this person and make a profit. Your tenders also have to be competitively priced. You could find yourself not making a lot of profit on the second trainer.

As an alternative, can I suggest you look at the feasibility of an e-learning school, with your content in the form of videos, templates and other downloadable content?

This would allow the trainees to be upskilled in their own time and not have to attend formal workshops.

You could have a contract with an e-learning platform to host your school.

This would enable you to deliver more training to more people, without all of the travelling.

It certainly isn't as simple as throwing a couple of videos up on line and you would need to take advice from some of the e-learning experts. It would also cost to have videos etc produced, but the benefits in the medium term could be significant.

There may even be an opportunity to promote the service in other countries. Don't forget that once you put the content up on line, you will need to work hard through your digital media platforms to promote it so that people know it is there.

Q: I run a butcher's shop and face stiff competition from supermarkets. Have you any ideas on how I can improve my marketing?

A: I firmly believe that independent food shops, like butchers, fishmongers, etc., can all make a healthy living, even if located near a supermarket. There are many attributes that your business will have that a supermarket could never claim to have.

First of all, identify why your business is different. Have you any special sourcing arrangements for your meat? Are your staff more knowledgeable and able to provide cookery advice? Are there services you offer which the big guys can't?

Once you are clear on why you stand out, you need to start using all of the tools like digital media, text marketing, the occasional door-to-door leaflets to drive your message to customers. Of course, you will need some value messages mixed in with that but really your focus should be on getting customers to understand that the offer you have is dramatically different to a main stream supermarket.

I see many of the butcher shops now focusing on health and having an extensive range of turkey and other high-protein, low-fat products which appeal to gym-users. Many of these target gym members and local slimming clubs with their marketing initiatives and achieve good success.

Be clear on why you are different and be proud of this. Constantly call out these messages, so that the customers recognise over time that you are offering something unique.

That will help you carve out a niche.

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