Scary statistics for our youngsters

June 19, 2009

With boredom being one of the chief causes of petty vandalism, and youth unemployment at an all time high for fifteen years, this is a combination for disaster. And the situation’s going to get worse!

Official figures show that only two thirds of youngsters aged 16 and 17, that have already left school, have gained work in the three months to April and one in six of those aged 18 to 24 are unemployed – the most since July 1994. And job prospects for students leaving school this summer and there are tens of thousands of them, look equally bleak.

So with unemployment on the increase and companies cutting back on recruiting staff, to keep their existing workforce in place, this just adds to the youth dole queue misery, with the number of young people claiming benefits soaring by 80%; that’s nearly half a million people. And of these, young men are hit by far the hardest.

This is a social scandal on a par with politician’s expenses – creating long term unemployed before people have their first job.

So what can be done?

I think it’s been clear, for some time, that what’s taught in school has pretty much zero connection with the work place (unless the desire is to pursue academia), so I think that there is a huge opportunity for a job shadowing programme as an ongoing part of a school’s curriculum. Unlike ‘Work Experience’ this would provide youngsters with variety, following different job functions; from ‘CEO’ to ‘Post Room’, in different industries.

Hence they would pick up valuable all round knowledge and understanding of what happens in the working world. It could be organised through local Chambers of Commerce or Business Link and provided at no cost to the business world. The carrot would be their social contribution and an opportunity to meet youngsters that they may at some stage consider employing. And for all the youngsters themselves, give them something practical to discuss at interview.

Seems like a win, win scenario to me and hopefully it would also reduce boredom and hence the potential for increasing anti-social behavior and that downward spiral.


A better way to generate creative solutions

June 18, 2009

Who likes brainstorming? Most find such sessions hard going. With the pressure on to come up with a ‘good idea’- minds go blank. Did you know that there is a proven technique for producing ideas?  Ad agency J Walter Thompson used it to great effect.

I have developed the concept into a teambuilding workshop – essential learning for anyone who wishes to progress creative problem solving.

Would you like your team to develop better ideas?

My workshop explores five key stages of the process:

1.    The information you need to collect relevant to the problem

2.    Techniques to effectively ‘Mentally digest’ the issues – to help view the information from all angles

3.    Ways to incubate this information

4.    How to capture the ideas that arise from these thoughts

5.    Application of a ‘Reality check’ to test and develop the ideas with colleagues

The key to success is to work through the process – most people jump straight to steps 4 & 5 missing the early stages.

Ideas can be generated as part of a team process – they don’t have to be a collection of individual ideas.

We can help you incorporate the process into your team communication strategy.

The start point is a two hour workshop, which can be either standalone or incorporated within an existing team meeting.

This workshop is informal, challenging and provides essential information to improve the creative problem solving abilities of your team.

For further information please call me on 07971 006446 or email

“Half my marketing is wasted….the trouble is, I don’t know which half”

June 17, 2009

… these immortal words were uttered by pioneer retailer John Wanamaker nearly 100 years ago. For many organisations, they still ring true today. 

To help organisations identify the 50% that works best for them, FCG Consultancy have developed a marketing analytical called Check-it™.

Check-it™ works by enabling an organisation to overlay an analytical flow chart model onto their business, which is used as a framework to identify trends and benchmark success. It encourages teams to work more closely together with the overriding goal of moving the business or organisation forward because it is a positive and constructive process.

Check-it™ has been developed from many years’ experience gained from working within franchised organisations, to assess their sales and marketing capabilities.

FCG Consultancy has published a free e-book describing how the process works, which includes the model. It can be downloaded free from

Understanding customers

June 17, 2009

When CEO’s and business owners get back to basics, roll their sleeves up and visit  customers the knowledge learnt is immense often contributing towards considerable additional business.  FCG Consultancy’s Jonathan Wainwright explains why using a third party organisation to facilitate this brings dividends……

The first thing to appreciate is that, despite what they may say, customer facing teams are generally wary about this kind of customer survey. 

They are perceived as of little benefit to them and they will become wary as they have a habit of highlighting to the senior team their shortcomings.  This means that if they are involved in the process they tend to be highly selective, including ‘Pet’ customers who will support them or alternatively try to drag the activity out stalling progress. 

Furthermore, to protect their interests they may also wish to join the meeting which then means that the likelihood of anything meaningful coming out of it is practically zero, apart from a nice warm feeling. 

The truth of the matter is that this exercise is only fruitful when skeletons come out of the cupboard and can be addressed.  All things being equal on the product or service stakes, these are generally the reasons why customers don’t repeat purchase, stop buying additional products or place bigger, more lucrative orders with competitors.

These are the key areas to explore……..

  1. Outline SWOT to identify purchase triggers and lost opportunity within the customer base.  This gives an unbiased snapshot and change indicators to put to the test
  2. KPI’s and sales audit to identify the accounts, which on paper, present the best opportunity
  3. Help select the organisations to include within the process
  4. Prepare questionnaire/discussion document for use at meetings, to make sure that no stone is left unturned
  5. How to positioning the process to customers, so that they see it as a benefit to them, helping improve their perception of their business
  6. Meetings/telephone appointment logistics/transport
  7. Pre-qualification of customer prior to the visit to identify any information that would be of help to them prior to the meeting and to place the event
  8. Support during the process as an independent research organisation which means that difficult questions maybe asked without sidetracking the conversation into a complete can of worms
  9. Provide a follow-up report amalgamating the data and creating an ‘Action’ list for follow-up activity as required
  10. Customer follow-up communication and offer to thank them for their time, for example free additional product with an order.

They are relatively inexpensive and quick to complete and in an unsettled market place can provide invaluable customer information and competitor intelligence.  And also achieve orders!