UK: A Tea-Break Secured A Client
Last Updated: 19 November 2003

A ‘live’ case study at the University’s Toolkits course

VALENTINE Tomin was so impressed with what he had just learned on a University of Luton business course, he got on his mobile phone during the tea-break and used the knowledge to secure a new client immediately.

"It was a great ‘live’ case study for the course," said Valentine, Managing Director of a design and marketing consultancy.

With that kind of success, Valentine is now sending his colleagues on some of the free training courses and his company has recently had an on-site "masterclass" with the Head of the University’s Centre for Competitiveness, Professor Colin Coulson-Thomas.

Valentine, the MD of The Finer Detail, a consultancy based in Harrold, Bedfordshire and with offices in Milton Keynes, is not the only delighted customer for the University’s Toolkits for Competitiveness courses.

Other business leaders have said:

"A revelation..it’s given us the direction and confidence to implement the changes."

"It has become an important part of my business life."

"This has ranked with the best."

"Its made us change the way we look at and do business."

Praise indeed for the programme, which provides free training for small and medium sized businesses in Beds, Herts and Cambridgeshire.

The Toolkits courses, funded by the European Social Fund are aimed at making a real difference for the decision-makers in these companies by helping to improve their profits.

Valentine who has been on courses such as Intelligent e-Marketing and Pricing for Profit, said: "Some of them have been excellent, hitting the right buttons at the right time. The course on website useability, for example, really helped us talk with more authority to our clients on this subject.

"Pricing for profit was also excellent. My company were in negotiations with a new client, a really serious piece of work. I used what I picked up from the course immediately. During the tea-break I got on the phone, and we secured the client. It was a great live case study for the course!"

Gary Sturrock, Account Director at Network Automotive Management Ltd in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, said he’s been attending the courses to help him understand his business better.

He enjoyed them so much he’s now considering doing a two-year e-learning MBA at the University of Luton.

"I left school at 18 after doing Highers in Scotland and didn’t go on to University and even though it hasn’t stopped me, I felt I should have.

"On the Toolkits courses I’ve learned more about the structure I need to put in place in the business, especially how to structure a team to put a bid together using people’s different skills. I’ve learnt more about finance for small and medium sized business as well as employment law.

"I have been doing the courses for self-growth and interest but I feel as though I have been able to pull some of the people in our management team with me, getting them to understand some of that knowledge.

"I would recommend the courses to other companies, not just for getting a better understanding of how to run and operate a company, but for the networking opportunities it offers too."

The Toolkits project has only two months to go with its original European Social Funding coming to an end but because of the success of the project, there is a real possibility there will be more funding to continue next year.

The courses are run as a series of short workshops over a six week period around a variety of business competitive themes such as Winning New Business in Management Consultancy, Sales, Marketing and Negotiation, Intelligent e-Marketing, Competitiveness Through Winning Teams, Finance for the Non-Finance Manager, and Employment Law for SMEs.

A range of course presenters with practical knowledge and experience in their fields run the workshops aimed at company’s directors, owners and senior managers.

So far the project has brought real benefits to businesses in the area, 259 delegates from 115 companies who have taken part.

Gary Kirby, the Project Manager, said: "Because of the our success there is a real possibility the ESF will provide further funding to continue the project again next year."

If your business would like to take part in any future workshops please contact Gary Kirby.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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