Croydon Good Employer Charter - Initial Business Discussion Paper
What follows is an initial discussion document which aims to highlight a number of areas where the Charter might seek to produce income. There will be more and each will require individual plans. I have already provided frameworks and background information for some of these. Others hopefully are self-evident and I will have missed some. Any comments in this regard are welcomed.
This will be a learning process. Some things will work and some won’t. My recommendation would be to take elements of what I have identified and make them work and become cash generative. When they are start working on a few more! The elephant in the room however is how much of a budget in terms of funding and resources are the Council committing to this project. If we know that then we can start deciding how best those resources might be channelled.
To help and encourage the business community to generate well paid employment for the residents of Croydon using a model that is self sustainable in the medium term.
Opportunities and Threats
The Charter represents a golden opportunity for a number of different groups to gain benefit whether that be local businesses earning money or Councillors having a platform to engage better with local businesses etc. It also has the potential to be a white elephant. For it to succeed will require a number of “sells” which will encourage the business community to engage. Identifying what would be in it for them should be in the forefront of our minds as it would be very easy to be viewed as the Council preaching from the pulpit that business owners should simply pay more attention to their staff. In this eventuality the Charter will fail.
The Charter can be viewed as helping local business do better. I view the key areas as being:
- Providing Income (using Council Contracts)
- Providing Education ( ensuring they gain skills to run their business better and apply for Council work with a chance to succeed)
- Access to local service providers with similar goals
- Facilitating access to finance.
I believe the expertise available can allow progress to be made in all four areas, however I do have a concern that the Council has a number of credibility issues that it will need to accept and address if we are to achieve a positive outcome.
- Council grants, (This is the only funding at the moment: we need to know what the budget is and how long it will last!)
- Sponsorship, (Whether it be of individual events or of the Charter in general)
- Event attendance fees, (If people see a benefit, they will pay)
- Training fee, (My paper on a link up with the IOD refers. Others will be available)
- Tendering assistance fees, (If you gain training on how to win and deliver tenders, then you could charter a fee based on tender value as recompense)
- Group Purchasing savings (You have my paper on this already)
- Dispute resolution service, ( You are aware of my views and conflicts in this area)
- Membership fees, (Again, if Business Owners see a benefit they will pay)
- Fines, (For those who are shown to not comply with the Charter’s aims and still wish to be members.)
- Financing fees. (If Charter members gain finance utilising a charter introduction then a introductory fee would be recoverable).
- Political / Lobbying meetings (are on here as a activity centre. I am struggling a bit to see what benefit the business community would see from paying for them but am happy to be proved wrong)
- Recruitment fees.
- General administration labour costs,
- Property costs,
- Marketing spend,
- Event costs,
- IT/ office costs,
- Third party licencing fees/ commissions,
- Directors expenses (fees)
- Membership Compliance and investigation costs
To achieve a self-sustainable model will require a number of interim steps and associations. I have mentioned the IOD as a potential partner to provide credible training programmes etc. and I believe there is a desire from both sides to engage, but not necessarily yet on this project. Networking events (whether they be breakfast clubs, evening events or other) will need to be an income stream in the future, however it is accepted that a number of groups will, as a gesture of good will assist in the short term. We should not view these relationships as anything more than this. I would certainly encourage the Charter to treat each provider in these circumstances as a sponsor, allow them time to speak as a Sponsor would and place a value upon it which would fit with normal marketing principles. Without such an approach it is very easy to simple view everyone’s time and efforts as being for free! Again such an approach is likely to lead to the failure of this project.