I've just finished a call with a client, let's call him Michael.
Michel owns a chain of stores in a large regional centre, employing just under 100 people.
Successful, he has been in business for 20 plus years and while it may be easy to rest on his laurels, he is highly aware that the market in his highly regulated industry is changing.Â Nearing retirement age, Michel still has a vibrant drive toward his business; it is his legacy
Some of the projects Michael is working on is what to do with an aged workforce and his succession plan. In his overall marketing he is wanting to find out how his customers were feeling about the changes he has made over recent time; this project was particularly top of mind as a competitor is setting up a new business in town and he wanted to really get a grip on how much of a threat it may be.
On our previous calls we had discussed putting together an advisory board, a group of business owners, in his location that could provide some feedback on his business. As his business is something that everyone uses it was a given that they would also be customers. Last month he decided it was time to implement this project. His goal was to have organised and held an advisory meeting by our next call todays call.
The experience of Michael is a wonderful lesson in asking for what you want and a study in human nature.
Michael firstly decided what type of person he would respectfully listen to and appreciate advice from. His criteria was that they
- Had the time to participate.
- Were successful in their field
- Had business acumen, and most importantly,
- Were willing
Michael relayed that he was reluctant at first how his request to people would be handled, if they would be keen to participate. He figured he could control 1-3 but not number 4.
Trusting that he could handle the rejection if the "highflyers" he had in mind said no to his idea, he compiled his list, rang them or took them out to coffee. He targeted recently retired CEO's and business executives from billion (yes you read right) billon dollar corporates along with highly successful Business Owners that had Managers in place and locals.
Were these "types" of people interested? you betcha! Not only were they interested they were committed with one even flying back home from a personal meeting they had had in the capital city earlier that day to participate in the evening.
It turned out this group of people, having "finished" their careers, were eager to put their skills and experience (that was now sitting on the shelf in retirement) to use.
So in a quiet country pub over a few drinks a round table discussion took place with Michael's business taking centre stage and particular focus given to his current projects. He learnt what people overseas were doing differently from an ex-global executive, how other organisations are leveraging their aging work force and how each participant, as a consumer viewed his business, and wanted from his industry.
The result - Talent laying dormant coming alive again with a renewed sense of purpose and millions of dollars worth of consulting for free!
How could you use this strategy in your business and recieve millions of consultancy dollars for free?