By Patricia Roberts
“Give a man a fish, and you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish, and you have fed him for a lifetime” – Author unknown
We have all heard this proverb and have probably used it many times. It is one of my favorites and I personally utilize it with my family when I am sharing my thoughts on the importance of learning.
Whether you are a business owner or an individual, continuous education and training improves your return on investment. The key is to have a plan that can be implemented and measured.
The Comprehensive Business Plan
Everyone who owns a business should have a plan that encompasses goals and the strategies and tactics to achieve them. They should include education and training not only for product and process, but for the softer side of the business.
Does your plan include sensitivity training around gender, diverse cultures, and age stages of life training? How are you preparing your work force to interface with the ever-changing demographics in the marketplace? For that matter, does your work force reflect the marketplace in which you do business? Do you have an advertising agency that understands diverse relevant messages with an effective media plan that also includes social media marketing? Do you know the language preferences and ethnic characteristics of your market?
Have you analyzed your strengths and weaknesses with respect to both your business and your employees? What do you know about your competitors and how do you compare with them? What can you do to make your products and services relevant to the market or for that matter how are you differentiating yourself from the rest of the competition? With all of the various communication avenues available, reputation management is the issue in today’s environment and having a workforce that treats everyone like “mom” is critical for repeat business and building consumer loyalty.
Included in your business plan should be an objective evaluation of your enterprise. Utilizing mystery shoppers to gain a third party vantage point of your brick and mortar store, to understand the employee handling of your customers, and to evaluate your messages in the marketplace is a very inexpensive and accurate way to get a true appraisal of the face you are presenting to the public.
The Personal Improvement Plan
If you do not own a business, you still need a plan. Today’s world is more competitive, more fluid, and changes very rapidly. Continuously upgrading and improving skills is a must to stay in the competitive arena.
Are you prepared for the field in which you currently compete? Are you prepared to change fields of interest? What does your personal educational plan look like? How will you know if you have met your plan? What are you doing each day to co-exist in today’s society?
Most importantly track and measure your plan. Everyone must support the plan to make it work and if it is not measured and course corrected as required opportunities will be lost to grow the business and thus improve your ROI.
Today’s marketplace and workplace is not like yesterday’s. There is more consumer and employee diversity, more product diversity, and a much more informed consumer. In today’s environment, everyone can be an expert on the product or service they want to buy due to the accessibility of the Internet.
Give consumers a reason to buy from you with employees who are educated and trained in product knowledge as well as in people skills.
The Value Proposition
The business training and education value proposition is, “To have an educated and trained workforce who can successfully attract, sell, retain and increase the loyalty of consumers who are diverse in culture, age and gender.”
In other word, teach your people how to fish and your entire company will be fed with profits for a long time.
Patricia J. Roberts is the director of business development for AskPatty.com. She has nearly 40 years of experience in the automotive industry, which includes increasing the number of women who own and who work in auto dealerships.