Speaking for low fees

Friday I drove from Bristol to the Holiday Inn, Doncaster to spend the afternoon presenting to 100 people for a fee of £147.00!
Why would I do that when I can pick up speaker fees as high as £3,000 a day in the UK?
When I am asked to speak at a conference I normally take a look at “who is behind it.”
If the conference is arranged by:

  • A supplier of services to the profession or
  • An independent group of practitioners who are pooling their resources or
  • a large trade of professional association

Then I will ask a much higher fee (closer to the daily rate I achieve when coaching my clients) – because I know they can afford it, because I know they will get fantastic value for money and because I know I’m worth it!
But when the “gig” is organised by a much smaller and less affluent group, I’ll “do my bit” and ask them what they can afford. I’m putting something back into a profession that has been very kind to me – and exposing myself to the risk of picking up some new clients.
And then there are the talks I give for the National Health Service.
So yesterday’s “gig” was organised by the South Yorkshire and East Midlands Postgraduate Deanery.
In fact, the real reason I was there is that my client, the very excellent and enthusiastic Bev Harston, Practice Manager of Glendair Dental Practice and DCP Tutor for the whole Deanery recommended my services as speaker and, with the help of Kathryn Woolass, Postgraduate Dental Tutor for Doncaster, Barnsley and Rotheram, made it happen.
So the money is lousy – but the rooms are always full of very open-minded teams. Doncaster was no exception.
I arrived after my long drive to pick up the tail end of Ashley Latter’s presentation on ethical selling and communication and, once again was reminded of what a great speaker he is.
It was good to take lunch with Ash and catch upon what we are respectively doing – I’ve known him for 7 years and as our businesses have grown we see each other less and less. Ash is also arranging for me to coach a group of his clients outside of dentistry and there is a very lucrative Strategic Alliance developing.
Ash has worked with a group of franchise owners for a couple of years and has realised that they are all “Lattered” but need/want more. He has recommended that they get “Barrowed-up” next. I think it’s a forward-thinking business owner who reaches the limit of what he can do for a client and then recommends them to a “competitor” for further coaching. Hat’s off to Ashley, who hasn’t asked for a “bung” for doing that – he just knows it’s right and knows I will compensate him with many client referrals in the future.
Then on to my presentation on “Team building and Communication Skills”.
Well – it was a Friday afternoon – so I decided to have a laugh with them.
After Ash had warned them that the “Robbie Williams” of dentistry was speaking in the afternoon (!) I had to live up to the introduction – so I adopted my “bold, outrageous and provocative” stance and had them laughing in the aisles – great show if I don’t say so myself.
The icing on the cake was that Paul Nelson met with one of the dental principals present after the meeting and agreed for him to take a full-day practice audit AND to join The Dental Business School.
So my 200 mile drive for £147 turned into an afternoon of great fun, a strategic alliance that could bring in over £30,000 of new business in 2007 and a new client who will invest £5,500 in coaching with us in the next few weeks.
That cloud had a very silver lining.


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Chris Barrow

Chris Barrow has been active as a consultant, trainer and coach to the UK dental profession for over 20 years. As a writer, his blog enjoys a strong following and he is a regular contributor to the dental press. Naturally direct, assertive and determined, he has the ability to reach conclusions quickly, as well as the sharp reflexes and lightness of touch to innovate, change tack and push boundaries. In 2014 he appeared as a “castaway” in the first season of the popular reality TV show “The Island with Bear Grylls”. His main professional focus is as Coach Barrow, providing coaching and mentorship to independent dentistry.