Bi-weekly blog from the N.C. Retail Merchants Association
By: Jeanne Eury | April 13, 2016
On April 7th, NCRMA held its first Retail Tangible Actionable Practical (TAP) Talk in Morrisville. You’ve all received our emails, seen our Facebook posts and read our references to the TAP Talks in our quarterly newsletter and in our last several blog posts, but I want to give you the story behind their creation.
Each year, our membership survey asks you, our members, what you would like to see us provide to you and each year ‘education and training’ and ‘networking’ are two answers that receive the highest rates of response. Meet-ups offering people information on social media marketing and ‘business operations’ are heavily attended and there are no shortages of opinions, from friends and family to expensive on-line ‘gurus’, on how you should be or could be running your business. We realized that not only were our members asking us for assistance but there were a lot of other people who were seeking help as well.
We also have a running list of questions from folks who called us and from those we met when we were traveling and visiting members and prospective members that we sought to answer.. Over the last year I have had the privilege to teach workshops in Community College Small Business Centers around the state, hold presentations for many of our Chamber of Commerce partners, and work one-on-one with members. Throughout this journey we were met with people eager to learn as much as possible to start or better their businesses. All of these things led us to create something of value for North Carolina retailers.
It was obvious to us that training was needed but we struggled with finding a platform of delivery that would be most advantageous. While our surveys and our own experiences proved that education was needed and desired, we also knew that the average retailer wore multiple hats and often couldn’t attend the training they sought. Their time was valuable and we had to provide them with a true visible return on their time investment if they were to attend an event. We committed ourselves to the idea of TAP-Tangible, Actionable, Practical-and vowed to make everything we offer to our members could be immediately or easily implemented in their businesses in a tangible and achievable/practical way. The popularity and genius of the TED Talks platform inspired us to name and fashion our delivery as TAP Talks.
Our attendees were given thirty minute presentations from nine speakers on topics ranging from merchandising to intellectual property. Each speaker provided a one page hand-out with the top points via checklists, charts and tip sheets. They were encouraged to introduce themselves to each other and to eat lunch with those they hadn’t yet met. When they arrived, the card at each chair gave them a fun list of ways to maximize their day including taking notes, asking questions and meeting fellow business owners. And it worked!
Every single session had more questions asked than the speaker had time to answer. Every attendee literally took pages of notes. Each speaker was eagerly sought out by attendees over lunch, in between sessions and in our networking time at the conclusion of the event. We had over 60% of our attendees respond to our survey, an incredibly high percentage. We are excited that 100% of attendees are eager to attend another NCRMA event and every attendee felt the event met or exceeded their expectations. We have already had calls from folks who have now heard about TAP Talks from a friend or colleague and want to attend an upcoming event.
Our blog post from March 9th found here talked about finding the balance between working IN your business and working ON your business. Each one of our participants learned something that was worth the time they took to attend. This is one of my favorite comments from a respondent to our survey:’ As a service oriented business, I was hesitant at attending what, at the outset, appeared to be strictly geared toward retail. WOW….I was wrong. I learned something from each talk. Thank you NCRMA for doing this!!’
One of the many benefits of membership in NCRMA is our training and education. We have many subject matter experts among our staff and access to many more through our Allied partners and our member service providers. The calendar on our website lists our upcoming training and we update it weekly so get in the habit of checking to see what is coming to your area. If you don’t see training convenient to your location, or would like us to make sure to visit with you on our next trip, please email me,firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know. You’re our member and we’re so appreciative of that and urge you to maximize your membership with us by taking advantage of our training opportunities and let us know what topics you’d like us to address. We are here for you.