Saturday 22 February 2020

Commercial Awareness Programme - "Making it our Business"

A Commercial Awareness Programme for Operational Managers

In the LGiU and The MJ ‘State of Local Government Finance Survey’ published this month 76.38% of responding local authorities cited commercialising council services as a sources of income they are considering.

This modular programme is offered by EMC in partnership with NEREO to operational managers in public services to support them in becoming more commercially aware when looking for opportunities to trade their service both internally and outside the organisation.

There are six modules, which take four days to complete and two half day Action Learning set meetings. They are:

  • Trading and Marketing in Public Services
  • Negotiation Skills
  • Practical Project Management
  • How to Write a Commercial Business Case
  • Customer Relations
  • Presenting Your Business Case
  • Action Learning Set

All of the workshops in the suite consist of a mixture of current theory and practical exercises to apply key learning.

Programme Content

Trading and Marketing Public Services

This half-day module introduces managers to the role of trading and entrepreneurship in a public service environment and some fundamental principles of marketing.

On completing this module participants should have an understanding of the pre-requisites and priorities for an entrepreneurial approach to trading public services in order to generate income.

Using interactive exercises and group discussion participants will be able to focus on their own priorities from the following themes:

  • Why trade? Rationale for trading; rules and responsibilities; types of trading activity; impact of trading on services; risks
  • Developing an Understanding of the Market. What services to offer; finding customers; how to go to market; using social media. Working with the internal Marketing service
  • Costs and Pricing strategies— full cost recovery; direct and indirect costs; profitability; demand
  • Bidding and Tendering
  • Types of opportunity; Capacity; Collaboration; Terminations; Competition; Will we succeed? How and where to seek help.
  • Risk — balancing creativity and risk; types of risk
  • Customer focus—Service Offer Design; Service Quality; Competitiveness

Negotiation Skills

This half-day module will help managers to understand what negotiation is, and is not, in the business world. It will give them practical skills to enable them to prepare for a negotiation scenario, weighing up variables and anticipating challenges along the way.

The skills learnt will not only be useful when working outside the organisation but can also be applied to internal negotiation (and even maybe at home!)

The session will cover:

  • Knowing the difference between Negotiation, Persuasion and Influence and when to use each
  • The different types of negotiation and choosing the right one
  • Getting the fundamentals right, such as processes and variables, trading concessions and money matters.
  • Preparation
  • Tools and techniques for a successful negotiation
  • Getting the relationship right – building rapport and managing one’s own behaviour

Practical Project Management

This one-day learning module will provide participants with the project management approach and governance arrangements that will help any project in becoming successful.

The approach allows flexibility by being both pragmatic and robust enough to cover all typical change management projects. This flexibility is essential to the success of all projects.

There will be a guide containing Tools and Methods which will be referred to and accessed throughout the day and current in-house systems will be utilised, e.g. the job-costing system.

The session will focus on:

  • Project Management Approach
  • Sponsorship
  • Benefits Realisation
  • Developing Financial Savvy
  • Monitoring and Measuring
  • Teamwork
  • Tools and Techniques
  • Documentation 

How to Write a Commercial Business Case

The “Writing a Business Case” half-day module utilises proven local government MSP and Prince 2 based business case templates, as well as the organisation’s own (where available), practical best practice guidelines, and checklists for developing an effective business case.

The session will take the attendees through:

  • What is a Business case
  • What should the Business case contain
  • Developing a Business case
  • Development path of the Business Case
  • Reviewing the Business Case
  • Managing the Business Case
  • Responsibilities for Business Case Management.

Customer Relations

The half-day Customer relations module provides guidance on how companies promote customer satisfaction and, moreover, loyalty. This involves understanding who the customer is, how to manage communications with customers, particularly customer questions and complaints, and how to resolve disputes amicably. The ultimate goal of customer relations programs is to build long-term relationships— those in which the customer keeps buying the product or service and recommending it to others. By attending the session the attendee will gain a working knowledge of the importance of engagement, communication and building working relationships with customers.


  • Who are we producing the outcomes and outputs for?
  • Defining who is the customer - internal and external
  • How do we know when a customer is satisfied with what we are providing
  • And dealing with the dissatisfied customer
  • The voice of the customer and listening to the customer
  • Strategies for improving customer relations
  • Building customer loyalty 

The companies that provide good customer relations are those that have made it a priority throughout the organisation to put processes in place that benefit the customer.

Presenting Your Business

This module, delivered over two half-days, will give managers the skills to present themselves and the organisation well to new clients and to get their business case across as effectively as possible.

The session will be a mixture of theory and practice. Each participant will be expected to do a short presentation to their peers and receive feedback on it.

The module will equip participants with the skills, knowledge and behaviours to deliver presentations in a business environment.

It will help participants to understand how to deal with potentially challenging situations or people and will offer an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to deliver a presentation on any aspect of their business.


  • Planning a presentation
  • Using vocals and posture effectively
  • Using visual aids
  • Dealing with people
  • Handling questions
  • Giving and receiving feedback

Action Learning

In addition to the six core modules of the commercial awareness programme delegates will take part in two half day Action Learning sets. These half day sessions will provide delegates with dedicated time to work on and explore their commercialism project and provide a supportive environment to achieve progress on projects and explore the learning on the way.

Action Learning is a reflective and questioning technique developed to aid in the understanding of challenges and issues experienced in a work environment. Action learning uses questioning insight to explore problems and identify options to deal with issues and actions to be taken. It allows individuals to relate challenges or problems they have in a supportive environment and explore their issue in depth.  

Course Information

Who should attend this Course?

This event is essential for all operation managers looking to become more commercially aware

Programme dates

  • Wednesday 23 January 2019
  • Thursday 24 January 2019
  • Thursday 7 February 2019
  • Friday 8 February 2019
  • April - Action Learning Set
  • June - Action Learning Set

Delegates are required to attend all of the sessions in the programme.


09:30 – 16:30


Local Authority Members £650

Associate Members £750

Non-members £800

(all prices subject to VAT)

Course Registration

To book a place at this event please visit

Or contact Kirsty Lowe, or call 01664 502 637


East Midlands Councils
Pera Business Park
Nottingham Road
Melton Mowbray
Leicestershire, LE13 0PB


Upcoming Dates for this event