Choose Professional Development Conferences Wisely, or the Return on Your Investment May Disappoint You!

We all have limited time and resources so choosing which conference to attend each year is an important decision for all professionals. There are several things to consider when making your choice to ensure we make the most efficient and effective use of our precious time and resources. The first thing to consider before clicking the ‘buy now’ button is, does the conference align with your philosophical approach to training and behavior-change and of course your ethical compass? Secondly, you need to ensure that the conference you are considering will satisfy your personal development objectives and thus will ensure a concrete benefit for your clients. So, ask yourself if the conference topics are relevant and pertinent to you given your goals and your current skills and knowledge. Last but not least, will your business reap a financial and/or operational benefit from your attendance. In other words, will your business and your clients directly benefit from your time away from home base thus justifying the financial expense of attending the conference.

For many of us, annual conferences are a busman’s holiday, a short vacation where you engage in business activities, networking and learning your craft. I always find them extremely refreshing and motivating providing an opportunity to be surrounded by like-minded professionals from whom I can engage and learn. However, as a business expense I also need to come away from the conference with the tools and resources I can , in some fashion, use to leverage new business. After all, isn’t one the primary reasons we attend professional conferences is to develop our craft and provide new and improved services to our clients? Of course, I also need a return on my investment of time and money. If this can be achieved, then attending conferences ultimately helps grow my business and profitability giving me additional funds for even more educational and training conferences. Attendance at conferences should be considered not as an expense but rather as an investment in my professional development and in my business!

What Is Your Return?

Let’s look at how you can maximize the return on your investment. A “return on Investment” is calculated by the benefit (or return) of an investment divided by the cost of the investment.

First, we need to understand the financial investment in attending your conference of choice. As an example, if the cost of your investment includes the conference ticket ($500.00), your travel expenses ($300.00) and your hotel and incidentals ($450.00) and the time away from your business (which we will ignore for the purposes of this example). So for our example the total ‘investment’ is $1,250.

So how do we get a ‘return’ on our investment of $1250? By increasing the income from our business using the skills and techniques we gained from attending the conference. As pet industry professionals we can increase our business income in one of four ways (see graphic below). We can attract new customers, increase the spend of the customers we already have or the frequency of what and how they buy from us or we can extend the lifetime value of a client by holding onto them longer and not losing them to our competition.

Probably the most obvious source of new income for your business is the development of a new service or overhauling and improving a current service that is under-performing.  Imagine that as a result of attending a specialized event on aggression and bite safety you are inspired to create a new service.  You have also, from this specialized event, gained the requisite skills and knowledge to implement and provide this new service to your customers. Let’s say, for example, your new service helps pet owners with grumpy dogs. After conducting some important research, you determine given your skills, your business overhead and your market you can ethically charge $90 per hour. You then do some basic marketing   resulting in four new clients in the first month, all of whom are impressed with their first service and have committed to your 6-lesson “Grumpy Dog” discount package. You’ve discounted the package to encourage prepayment and getting the clients commitment.   So now, using this scenario we can forecast that from 4 new clients in the first month you would see an increase in your monthly revenue of around $2196.00

But Wait, Money Isn’t Everything

There are many ways for you to determine your return depending on your goals and mission.  As with all things in life it is important to consider what you and your business or organization value.  For example, in an animal shelter or rescue environment, a return on an investment could be an increase in adoption numbers, both for the benefit of the pets and as income to the organization. Also, if as a result of skills you gain by attending a conference, you and your staff can provide more effective training and care techniques then more pets can find suitable homes as a result, with fewer adoptions being returned.  Your investment return would be reflected in your adopt-ability rates and retention ratios.

At a typical conference we may grab many golden nuggets on a wide variety of topics through attending sessions and interacting with colleagues and industry experts. But it is hard to place a value on these in terms of a “return on investment” since these ‘nuggets’ are not generally presented as a comprehensive program or plan. The practical value in acquiring a variety of new snippets of information and knowledge can be an intangible. Placing a value on those intangibles can be difficult.  However, by attending a conference structured with a very narrow scope of highly focused topics covering a comprehensive subset of knowledge, skills and methodology that merge to form a well-defined and complete domain of expertise can provide you with a very tangible return on your conference investment.

If you attend a workshop, event or summit where you come away with a complete set of tools allowing you to establish a new service for your business, for example, or overhaul a currently under-performing service can be very useful indeed!  Offering new services that you may have previously avoided or referred out because you may have been unsure how to implement them can be hugely appealing to your clients and will help you standout in your market. So yes, choose your next conference based on fun, networking and catching up with friends and colleagues. However, make sure you also choose a conference that can provide you with the greatest return on your investment by supporting not only your personal developmental goals, but will also support your business growth and provide you with the tools to expand your services and increase the number of pets you can reach and help.

Have you heard about our Portland Seminar in April, 2019? The educational focus of this event is on Aggression and Bite Safety. Come join us, pick up the skills and knowledge you need to provide more services to your clients and community. In addition, by attending the Portland Seminar you will be the first to learn about Doggone Safe’s  new  Adult Worker Safety Program that you be able to implement into your  own business. Become your local community bite prevention expert!  Find out more.

Work in Rescue? Check out this special offer just for you!

When you buy one ticket your coworker can purchase a ticket for ONLY $50.00. in effect this is a 50% discount!

 

 

Niki@petprofessionalguild.com'

About Niki Tudge

Niki is the Founder & President of The Pet Professional Guild. Niki is also the founder of DogNostics Career College and The DogSmith a national licensing company for dog training and pet care company

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