By Pam Wyess, Workplace Results LLC, NSA Michigan Past President & MSA Dean

What happens when a bundle of energy from Miami comes north to NSA-MI to share ideas on building our businesses?  Attendees walk away with ideas and resources for using retreats as a way to gain followers (fans!) and generate ongoing revenue.

From gems like, “The way I work is…” as verbiage for having the fee discussion to suggested best days to host a 3-day retreat (Thursday-Friday-Saturday), Michelle Villalobos ( really delivered in her session on January 11.

A retreat model works well if:

  • You already have an audience
  • You have compelling content
  • Your time is maxed out working with individual clients
  • Retreats sound exciting to you

Michelle reminded us that while the retreats can be profitable, we must go in with an attitude of service—wanting to share our expertise to help our attendees shift mindsets, generate new ideas, master skills, or complete projects.  Chasing the money will leave us—and our clients—feeling empty, unfulfilled, and ultimately, unsuccessful. 

And, while the retreat itself (a small group—5-25 people) can be profitable, Michelle introduced us to the Big Back End (and no, that’s not a slam on your figure after all the holiday eating!).  The Big Back End (BBE) is what you offer your fans who had an extraordinary experience as retreat participants. The BBE offer is a way for them to continue to work with you to reinforce their learning and continue to grow. For instance, your BBE could be a Membership site, a Subscription program, a group Mastermind, premier 1:1 coaching, licensing or certification programs, or a monthly retainer for services you provide.

Michelle’s program was full of nuggets about designing a retreat.  To start, identify your purpose using this formula: 

“My retreat helps (your ideal client) who want to ____________ so they can _____________ (without being _______________.)”

Examples from some of her clients:

“My retreat helps athlete entrepreneurs who want to use email marketing so they can nurture their network and drive leads (without sending spam that people hate).” 

“My retreat helps men having a mid-life crisis who want to find more meaning and purpose so they can feel happiness and joy (without a mistress, Maserati, or mandated child-support).”

Michelle shared several suggestions around venues, from 5-star resorts, to VRBO homes, to co-working spaces, to your own home!  She cautioned us to not get caught up in the party planning (venues, amenities, meals, goody bags), but instead to really think about what is needed for your audience, your message, and creating an experience that will create a reaction of “I want to keep working with you!” so attendees will jump at the chance to enroll for your BBE, whatever that might be. 

Is a retreat model something you could add to your business in 2020?  For more details on planning a retreat, pick up Michelle’s Retreats to Riches roadmap at

Pam Wyess is a Culture and Conversation Coach who works with leaders who want to be more confident and connected so they inspire a workforce that is dependable, productive, and passionate about their work.