Back in the Black!

Using training to increase business revenue during slow periods.

Business is slow. We all hate this sentence. Sometimes we don’t see it coming, and before you know it, you have to make some tough decisions to adjust to your new economic situation. All business owners, department heads, and managers have been there. There comes a time when we don’t meet our budget projections and something has to give. I know when these things come up, I get a lump in my throat, my palms get sweaty, and I want to get out of the office early and head to my local bar. That after-work cocktail might help drown my sorrows, but it doesn’t solve the situation that is waiting for me tomorrow.

In many organizations, when trying to decide where to make cuts, we go straight for the training line item, but is that really what we should be cutting when the economy is kicking us around? I think not! Training often can be thought of as a luxury, but I am here to tell you to adjust your thinking. Training is essential, and even more so when you need to strap on your running shoes and hit the pavement to sell your services. Here are four of the top reasons why I think you should focus on, rather than phase out your training during difficult financial times:

1. How will you motivate your staff? Training can be motivating for your team. They meet on a regular basis, have some fun, learn something new. When the vibe in your business is all doom and gloom, you need to ensure that there are some “rays of hope” with your team. If you require them to work harder, smarter, and more efficiently, then training is crucial to delivering this message in a motivating way.

Let’s not forget those team members who are used to receiving training on a regular basis. If you cut a program that helps their growth, that they take pride in and is a part of their development, will it send the message that you don’t care about them? It just might.

2. Time to refine, refine, and then refine again. If your coffers are starting to empty, then it is time to up the ante. Get creative in your training and learn new skills to refine the way you do things. Can you be convincing in your sales strategy, can you overcome price resistance better? How about “wowing” your customers with some new service standards? Attract new customers and keep them loyal by continually training and refining your business to stand out. If you work with a professional educator, he or she should be able to work with you to customize something to work with your new constraints.

3. Now you have the time for training. Getting everyone in a room to do some training or even time to sit and take some e-learning can be impossible when you are running at full capacity. Now that you don’t have “being busy” as an excuse anymore, you can take the time to focus on what you have been trying to achieve all along. More time focusing on training means increased skills, which affects, in a positive way, your revenues.

4. Draining your efforts. You have spent a lot of time, effort, and resources training your team, and now you are going to let this go. We all know that consistent, ongoing training gets the best results. Without an ongoing reminder of what we need to go and why we need to do it, things can revert to pre-training. Everyone has some bad habits, and it is easy to go back to what we find more natural when we don’t have regular training to keep us focused on our goals.

It is like being stuck between a rock and a hard place, but keep your training budget there! Just use your training efforts wisely to help bring your business back in the black.

Kevin James Saunders is a trainer and the Chief Company Culture Director for Oculus Training, a British Columbia-based corporate training and mystery shopping company offering sales management, reservations, sensitivity, and customer service training programs for a variety of service-based industries throughout Canada, the U.S., and the world. For more information, call 888.OCULUS4 or visit You also can connect with Oculus on Twitter @oculustraining, via e-mail at or visit it on Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube.