General

Ramping Up Your 4th Quarter Sales

Ramp Up Your Sales

Recently I recorded a new webinar in our studio called “4th Quarter Marketing Strategies to Implement Now”.  In the webinar, I covered 18 different tools, techniques, and tips that are critical if you want to grow your customer traffic and sales in the 4th Quarter (the final 3 months of the year).

We’re about half into October, and you might be wondering, “Why is Jon doing a webinar on increasing 4th Quarter sales? Everyone already knows this is important!”

Yes, you’re right. Everyone knows that the last 3 months of the year are critical to the profitability of a small business. But what most people don’t realize is that in today’s economy, consumers are very guarded in their spending. Talk to any small business owner and they will tell you that consumers have become much less willing to make frivolous, impulse purchases on a daily basis. But when it comes to special events, like weddings, birthdays, and holidays, they will open their purses and wallets and run their credit cards up!

Put another way: During the last 3 months of the year, consumers want to spend, and have an almost pent up demand to spend. Consequently, if your business isn’t ready to offer consumers value and market to consumer correctly, you as a business owner are missing out on huge amounts of revenue for your business.

If you’re interested in watching my webinar on “4th Quarter Marketing Strategies to Implement Now”, you’ll want to become a member of Destination University, our online training network. My new webinar is part of the more than 150 webinars recorded by over 50 business authors and experts, and for less than $1 a day, you can join the hundreds of business owners who access Destination University to grow their businesses. To learn how to join Destination University, click here.

But for this blog post, I want to share with you tip #14 from the webinar, how to use the new online local marketing tool called Alignable.

Alignable

Alignable is the free social network for local businesses, allowing businesses to connect and collaborate easily and grow their marketing reach at the same time. It’s one of the most powerful, easy-to-use tools available to leverage the power of Facebook’s business pages.

Just to be clear, Alignable doesn’t replace the need for a business to use email marketing or social networking tools like Facebook, Twitter, foursquare, or LinkedIn.  It works in tandem with these tools and gives you more local marketing power.

To get started using Alignable, just click here (Alignable.com) to jump over and get started.

I’m not going to go into a lot of detail on Alignable here (you’ll pick that up as you’re working with it), but here are some tips to get you started:

Begin with Alignable by setting up your Profile page, which is the first impression that a consumer sees.

Alignable tries to auto-populate as much information as possible by lifting the information directly off your business Facebook page, but there are other details that you have to complete. I’ve found that a big part of creating your Profile is selecting a photo of yourself for the image on your page. Don’t put a logo where your personal photo should go, as people are more likely to want to help a person than a logo. Additionally, there is a large graphic at the top of your Alignable page called a banner and I just used the same image from my Facebook business page (it’s called your Cover photo, that horizontal picture at the top).

But here’s why I’m most jazzed about Alignable for small businesses:

Alignable has a “My Neighborhood Area” where you learn what’s happening in your community and your local business neighborhood and where you can promote your business.

On that page, you can create a business Promotion and broadcast it to the world. It’s really simple to add a title, description, upload an image, and provide a date, and like magic, your Promotion is live.

Now, publicizing a promotion for your business might not seem like a big deal because many of you are posting to Facebook all the time, often with pretty good success. But what makes this Promotion area so powerful in Alignable is that when you upload a photo, headline, and description, Alignable’s software automatically creates a search engine optimized web page.

Think about the 4th Quarter of the year and many businesses use promotions all the time to bring in more customers, but imagine the marketing power those promotions will have if a search engine optimized web page is automatically created, targeting local consumers who are searching for your product, service, or city’s name.

Take this further, and imagine that whenever you launch a Promotion in Alignable, your fellow local businesses that you’ve connected to in Alignable were also sharing your information, and on their own, creating their own search engine optimized promotions.

This is such a powerful tool, I suggest creating a business promotion in Alignable at least once a week, if not more!

If there’s one marketing tool that you should be using this 4th Quarter, it’s Alignable.  Get signed up today by clicking here or go to Alignable.com and start connecting with local businesses to boost your marketing reach.

Thanks, everyone!

Jon Schallert

When Buying Local Doesn’t Feel Local

I understand why I should shop local, and I do. I’ve always thought locally-owned businesses add the flair, the uniqueness, the character, and the differences that make a community shine. Without them, one city is pretty much like all the rest.

I also understand the economics and the importance of spending local dollars in local businesses, and the value of those dollars recirculating, rather than spending my money in a superstore where most of my dollars end up in Bentonville.

I get all that.

And remember, I’m also the guy who consults with independently-owned businesses, teaches them how to beat larger competitors by becoming Destinations, and even has a webinar called: “How to Get Locals to Spend More Money Locally.” If there ever was a guy invested in shopping local, it’s me.

But I’ve got a problem: What’s a person to do when there are locally-owned businesses that don’t feel local at all, and national chains that do?

Let me explain.

I buy most of my groceries at Safeway, a national grocer. I’ve always gone to Safeway, even as a child: My first memories of shopping were at the Safeway in Littleton, Colorado in the Woodlawn Shopping Center. Every time my brother and I went with our Mom to shop at Safeway, it was an event. The lady in the bakery always gave us a free cookie. We got to hang on the cart as we were wheeled around. There was a mechanical horse that we got to ride while Mom was checking out, if we’d been good.

Fast forward 50 years, and today, when I walk into my Longmont Safeway, I know most everyone by name. And best of all, they know me. Now, I’m not going to embarrass them by using their real first names (so I’ve changed them), but Bill in the produce section rides his bike to work each morning and we often complain about customers who think they can tell good corn-on-the-cob by tearing it open. His assistant, Roger, shares with me the best craft breweries he’s hit over the weekends. Sam in the deli knows that when I ask for a quarter pound, he better not hit 1/3 of a pound and he knows I’m always going to ask him to slice it fresh.

When I’m done shopping, I know all the cashiers: Miguel has a couple of kids and last year had his home burn down, and everyone in the store took up a collection for him. Jenny loves George Strait and spoils her grandkids. Roberta’s from Kansas, works at the local school as a second job, and always works holidays to get time and a half. Margaret is always there early in the mornings, always cheerful, and totally ignores the sign that says: “15 item limit” when I’m in line.

OK, so compare this to the locally-owned supermarket that came to Longmont last year, directly across the street:

I know who the owners are (they live in Boulder, 15 miles away), but I’ve never seen them in the store. In fact, all of their company’s marketing materials, including their e-newsletter, are for their Boulder store, not the Longmont store. I could care less about the Boulder store. If they’d like me to bond to this store, start with locally-focused marketing materials.

Next, their employees: I’m sure they’re nice enough, but honestly, I can’t tell. Most of the time, they’re talking to each other. Literally, I can walk by, or stand behind them trying to get to groceries, and they are oblivious to my presence. Sometimes, they look right at me, but do not speak. Weirdest thing.  When I walk into the produce department, you have to interrupt them if you want any response, otherwise, they’re hell-bent on pyramiding the apples.

Next, the deli: There’s never the same person in the deli, and I don’t trust their recommendations.  The last time I asked which roast beef was best, they sold me a brand that had the texture of a Croc’s sandal.  Right next door is their meat department which makes great chicken sausages.  But this weekend, I needed a bunch for the football tailgate party, and they were out of every flavor but one.

Finally, the cashiers. I hate to say they’re lifeless and emotionless, and I understand that cashiering is not a glamor job, but honestly, they seem the most excited when I say I don’t want a paper bag.

OK, so earlier I asked for your advice on what to do:  Shop with a chain that feels local? Or, should I spend money in a locally-owned business that makes me feel like I’m shopping Walmart?

Here’s what I do:

I support the independent businesses that value my business, where they know my name and appreciate my dollars. I support businesses that go out of their way for me when I have a special request, and in turn, I go out of my way to spend with them. Bottom line: If a business delivers the products and services I need and I have a relationship with the business, its owners, and its employees, I spend money there.

Since I’m also a shop-local kind of guy, I avoid national chains and superstores whenever possible, unless somehow, they’re able to transform themselves from big and impersonal, into local and familiar (which I have to admit, doesn’t happen very often).

Which brings me to Safeway and the locally-owned store across the street. I’ll shop both, but I’m going to tolerate the locally-owned one that doesn’t feel local, and I’m going to keep spending the majority of my grocery dollars at my local Safeway. That’s because Bill, Roger, Sam, Miguel, Jennie, Roberta, and Margaret do a good job, plus they are my neighbors, and they make me feel like their neighbor, too.

PS:  I’m sure this locally-owned store doesn’t know this, but on top of having employees who are responsive to customers, there are 13 additional marketing techniques that any business can leverage to show its customers that it’s a locally-owned business and that it values local customers.  Would you like to know what they are?  Read on!

Still Time to Save $200

Our final Destination BootCamp of 2014 occurs on October 7-9, only held in Longmont, Colorado.

(And yes, during Day 2, around 11:00 a.m., you will learn the 13 different shop-local marketing techniques that most businesses don’t even think about using).

You will also learn during my 2½ day class the entire 14-step process to make your business a Destination that I’ve developed after 27 years of interviews with thousands of successful business owners. I’ve taken the lessons from North America’s most brilliant independent business owners, and distilled it into a proven system that allows you to attract more customers from a greater distance, keep more local customers buying with you, while attracting the media for free publicity (which means your marketing costs can decrease).

Not only will my Destination BootCamp help you increase your customer traffic and sales, if you register for our October 7-9 Destination BootCamp, you can take $200 off your tuition cost by using the Promotion Code “Escape” when you register (sorry, this does NOT apply to Community Reinvention Program groups from the same city).

Need more convincing? Just click over to our DestinationBootCamp.com Testimonial section where we have the words of actual owners who have been through the same class.

Successful Independent Business Magazine

Wrapping up:  I’ve always wanted to create a publication that would help independent entrepreneurs and show them how to make their businesses more profitable, while bringing more customers in their doors.

I am pleased to announce that our new magazine, Successful Independent Business, will be available soon. Here’s the inaugural edition.

Successful Independent Business Cover Issue 1

Successful Independent Business is designed to tell the success stories of owners just like you, located in large cities and small towns, achieving spectacular success by following the Destination process that I teach.

If you’d like to receive Successful Independent Business, you can read it online or have it mailed to your business. You just have to tell us how you’d like to receive it by going to this link (click here), and signing up for it.

OK, that’s it for this week!  Thanks for tolerating my rambling and I hope to see you in Longmont next month at our Destination BootCamp!

Jon Schallert

What to Do if Your Business is Stuck

We all know what it’s like to personally get stuck in a rut, doing the same thing, again and again. Sometimes, it can take a lot of effort to jumpstart ourselves out of non-productive patterns, in order to accomplish new goals.

Well, businesses get stuck in ruts, too. And it’s easy to know when a business is in a rut because it exhibits signs of stagnation, or as I like to call it, a plateau. The most obvious signs are a slowdown in sales, a decrease in customer traffic, or a failure to reach previous year’s profits, even though the owner might be working as hard or harder than he or she worked the previous years.

Getting out of a personal rut can be grueling, but it can also happen overnight, if one decides to change right now.

Getting a business out of a sales rut can be more difficult: It’s my experience that many business owners think they can jumpstart revenue growth by spending more hours in the business and working harder. There’s nothing wrong with working harder and longer, as that type of effort often caused the business to reach its current success level.

But if you’re trying to achieve larger, double-digit sales growth, it rarely happens by working harder and longer.

As an owner, when your business is stuck in a rut, generating the same revenue year after year, you must be willing to step back and admit that there might be a better way to grow sales, instead of just doing more of what you’ve always done!

It’s time for a change in business strategy. It’s time to look at how other successful businesses broke out of their ruts, and it’s time to admit that there might be an EASIER way to generate higher sales that you don’t know.

Get out of your rut

So if you’re in a business rut, or you just like the idea of double-digit sales growth, here’s my advice:

Attend my next Destination BootCamp on October 7-9. When you come to Longmont, Colorado for my 2½ day class, I’ll take you through a 14-step process that I’ve developed after 27 years of interviews with thousands of successful business owners. I’ve taken the lessons from North America’s most brilliant independent business owners, and distilled it into a system that allows you to attract more customers from a greater distance, keep more local customers buying with you, while attracting the media for free publicity.

And if you don’t believe me, just click over to our DestinationBootCamp.com Testimonial section where we have the words of actual owners who have been through the same class.

Best of all, if you register for our October 7-9 Destination BootCamp, you can take $200 off your tuition cost by using the Promotion Code “Escape” when you register (sorry, this does NOT apply to Community Reinvention Program groups from the same city).

Hope to see you in Longmont next month!

 

Jon Schallert

Free Webinar! 9 Amazing Marketing Resources: Use Them Now and Have a Great Holiday Season

TURKEYYes, it’s the middle of the Summer, but it’s time to think about the 4th Quarter of the year.  Why?  Because there are only 100 days or so until Thanksgiving, and if you don’t focus now during these warm months, you’ll be kicking yourself later when you’re out in the cold.

Here’s a webinar that I conducted on August 11 that might help you.  This webinar shows you 9 different low-cost, high impact marketing tools and resources that you should be using if you want your year-end sales to be the highest ever.

This webinar takes 32 minutes and 5 seconds.  During that time, I explain these 9 amazing marketing resources and tools that you’re probably not using.  And if you are already using some of these tools, you’re probably using them incorrectly.

Once you watch this webinar, I’ve also provided a link to a free report that will help your business stand-out from the crowd in such incredibly easy ways that you’ll go to bed at night wondering why you never used this technique before

Plus, at the end of the webinar, you’ll receive a $200 value bonus.

If you’ve never watched one of our online webinars, here are a few tips:

First, use Google Chrome, Firefox, or Safari as the browser to watch the webinar. Do NOT use Internet Explorer.

Second, when you click on the link below to start the webinar, in the upper right hand corner of the screen you will see a box with an arrow point diagonally to the right. Hover your cursor over it and it says “Pop Out”.

Pop Out

 

Click on that box (it looks like the image to your left), immediately after the webinar starts and it will be much easier to view on your screen.

Just click on the title to watch my free webinar on the 9 Amazing Marketing Resources to Use Now to Have a Great Holiday Season.

Feel free to share this link or this blog with any of your colleagues, friends, business owners, or community leaders who might need a little good karma and some great advice to drive their sales higher!

Thanks, everyone!

Jon Schallert

PS: I’m always open to hearing your comments on my webinars. Send them to Info@JonSchallert.com.  Thanks!

3 Killer Customer Questions, PLUS: My Super-Secret 1-on-1 Consulting, Coming to Kansas next week, and October Events

The 3 Most Important Questions to Ask Every Customer

When I’m traveling to consult with my clients in their businesses, it means eating in places that I wouldn’t normally eat. Last week I spent two days consulting with a new client in Mississippi, and on the way, I grabbed a bite in a fast food restaurant as I traveled to her retail store.

In this restaurant, I ordered a submarine sandwich, and I stood there and watched as 9 people took their time NOT fixing the sandwich. They all looked remarkably busy, walking around and talking to each other. The problem wasn’t their work ethic.  It was that no one seemed to be assigned to the task of actually fixing the food for a customer.

When I asked how my sandwich was coming, the person at the register would calmly reply “They’re making it”, yet there was no sign of activity behind her.

When I finally got my food, it was quite ironic that at the table, there was a complaint card waiting for me, with a host of questions about my meal.  The questions ranged from:

How was the service?
How was the temperature of the food?
Were the restrooms clean?

I looked at the list of questions and what was missing were the 3 most important questions that you have to ask a customer, if you really want to keep that customer coming back.

The 3 most important questions you must ask every customer who has spent money in your business are these:

  1. You just spent money with us. Would you come back?
  2. Why or why not?
  3. What would you tell a friend about our business?

Ever other question is extraneous!  You will learn more from these 3 than any other questions.

Apply this to your business: Do you have any feedback sheets where you can learn your customers true feelings about your business?  And if you do, are you asking these questions?  Have you created a mechanism for customers to give their honest feedback and talk behind your back?  If you haven’t, don’t expect honest responses.

The final step: Once you get honest feedback, take it to heart and make changes!  This is how you’ll get customers returning again and again!

My Super-Secret 1-on-1 Consulting

Last week, when I mentioned to a colleague that I was consulting 1-on-1 with a client in Mississippi, he said to me: “I didn’t know that you did that with business owners.”

That comment made it obvious to me that I haven’t done a good enough job explaining to the world what a Destination Business consultant does.

Yes, I consult with individual business owners, often in their location. It’s not supposed to be a secret!

If you would like to learn more about how I can consult 1-on-1 with you about your business, just click on these words and complete this form and I will personally contact you to discuss your business challenges and your consultation options.

If You are in Kansas or Nebraska next Tuesday, August 5, head to Norton!

Next week, Norton Kansas is opening up registrations to my workshop on Tuesday, August 5.  This was a closed workshop, and they have room now for outside attendees!  Don’t miss this opportunity! If you’re within driving distance, come spend the day with me learning how to increase the sales and profits of your business.  If you’d like to attend, call 785-874-4816 or email NortonED2@ruraltel.net

Norton KS Aug 5

Why You Should Attend Our Final Destination BootCamp of 2014 from 2 World-Class Retailers

We are 70 days away from our October 7-9 Destination Business BootCamp where you can learn my entire 14-step strategy to make your business a Destination.  You can read about all you’ll learn at my workshop by going to www.DestinationBootCamp.com, but it might be easier to let you read what two leading retailers in their fields said about our class after attending:

First, from Larry Edwards, the founder of The Light Center – Lighting Showroom in Fort Collins, Colorado:

“We came away from BootCamp with so many ideas to incorporate in our lighting store that made the experience invaluable…Personally, Jon’s workshop had an overriding theme to help retail owners develop a “self-sustaining” business that makes competitors no factor!  Too many areas to mention, but all subjects and examples of success stories were intoxicating.  Every hour was valuable and every subject thoroughly presented–clearly and with Jon’s unique humor. We endorse Jon’s Destination BootCamp without reservation!”

Second, from Gregg Curtis, owner of the Good Earth Garden Center in Little Rock, Arkansas:

“When I was first introduced to the idea of going to the Destination BootCamp, I thought, yeah maybe there were a few things I could learn and bring back to The Good Earth Garden Center…but most likely, not much since we had our stuff together.  After all, our business was winning all kinds of local awards, we had a solid team and we were growing.  We had a lot going for us and I was focused on those things, thinking we were doing it right.  As it turns out, I was immediately amazed at the opportunities we were missing!  When Jon mentioned other businesses and what they were doing and the opportunities that were being passed up, I realized we had been doing the same.  The BootCamp encouraged me to raise the bar; and I hadn’t been thinking we were below the bar!  

Take something as simple as our logo…I hadn’t thought much about changing it, it was getting the job done.  But during my first paradigm shifting moment, I started re-thinking how it could be utilized.  How something so simple could change the way our customers see us and how we see ourselves.  We now have a fresh, fun, and wearable logo, inducing sales on shirts, hats, water bottles and so much more.  When advertising was discussed, my thinking was shifted away from the traditional specials, sales and coupons to the wow factor.  That would not have happened without Destination BootCamp.  My eyes were opened to a whole world of re-invention…and this was just from the advertising part of the BootCamp.  

I learned that everyone wants to be a destination but I had the opportunity to creatively position my business to actually BE a destination through atmosphere, uniqueness, and attitude.  Without Destination BootCamp, we would not have gone from receiving local awards to national awards such as the Most Revolutionary Garden Center in the Nation as we did last year.  And if that isn’t eye-opening, what is?”

Our last BootCamp of the year almost always fills up early!  Don’t wait to register!  You can do that now by clicking here.

And come next year, I might be using one of your testimonials!

Until next week, everyone!

Jon Schallert

The Ultimate Customer Experience, Part 2

To all my blog readers:  Last week, I wrote about my travels across New Brunswick, Canada and our experience at the Coffee Stain Restaurant in Bathurst, New Brunswick.  Here’s Part 2, as I write about how I discovered another Ultimate Customer Experience in the same province, in the community of Sussex.

Part 2: Food and Friends, Inspiring Your Day

After speaking at New Brunswick’s annual Tourism Conference, we worked our way south through New Brunswick on the way back to Maine.  We got off the highway and drove into downtown Sussex looking for breakfast. We were trying to find a non-chain restaurant where we could get a home-cooked meal, but after driving through downtown, we could only find a little bakery. I ran in to ask if there were any other restaurants in town, and the owner told me, “If you want the best breakfast in town, go over there to the Taste and See.”  She walked me outside and pointed across the road, right where we had just driven past.  “It’s right behind that building,” she said.

Isn’t that great, I thought, that owners in this little town actually refer customers to other businesses!

So we drove back to where we’d just passed, and we found the restaurant the baker had pointed at.  From the picture below, would you have missed it, too?

Taste_and_See_Restaurant

 

 

When we entered, we realized the Taste and See Restaurant is really two businesses in one, as the front side of the dining room has a separate area for those who just want to walk in off the street and grab a cup of coffee. That area of the business is called the Stable Grounds Café.

Stable_Grounds

The Taste and See was a much bigger restaurant than the Coffee Stain in Bathurst, but it was filled with as much warmth and good cheer as we’ve ever experienced.  From our booth, we could see the cooks in the kitchen moving rapidly making the customers’ meals, and when the skillet breakfasts we ordered came out (don’t ask me to name everything in it!), they tasted as amazing as they looked.
Yummy_at_the_Taste_and_See

Here’s something even more amazing: When the regulars came into Taste and See, most of them were greeted by name and often with hugs. It seemed the waitresses knew everyone!

I asked our waitress if they’d mind if I snapped a few photos of their interior décor.  They didn’t mind, so I took a shot of their inspirational quotation chalk board wall, along with Gotta_Gotheir hilarious bathroom signs.

Taste_and_See_WallSoon, one of the owners, Janice Gillies, came over to talk to us about how she and her partner, Joanne Barton, opened up Taste and See.  She talked about how they developed their unique recipes and how they created their imaginative interior (where else have you seen painted shutters used to decorate a wall?).Taste_and_See_Interior

Janice also told us how her staff reaches out to every customer when they come in, like the time she said “Good Morning” to one of her regulars who looked a little down, who came back with a noticeably unhappy response.  Undeterred, Janice told him, “I think you need a hug” and proceeded to wrap her arms around him.  That’s all it took!  He brightened right up and left happy after his meal.

Janice also showed us how every one of her team personalizes every coffee order.  She and her crew write an inspirational quotation on every cup of coffee that goes out of their restaurant. They take a black marker and hand write the quotation on the insulated sleeve that goes around every cup.  Quotations like:  “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass — It’s about learning to dance in the rain” and “The best way to predict your future is to create it” give her customers an uplifting thought as they start their day.

You’re not going to see that at a Starbucks! In fact, I’ve never seen it at any other coffee shop.

Before we left, Janice assembled her crew for a group shot.

Taste_and_See_Staff

I know in the world of economic development, most of the focus goes to attracting and retaining companies that create “primary jobs”, luring in companies that employ greater numbers of people. That’s all well and good, and I understand their importance, but aren’t those the same companies that we read about in the paper who demand tax credits and demand more community dollars, or they threaten to leave the community and move elsewhere?  Sure they are.

Primary jobs are critical, but when it comes right down to it, can you imagine what a community would be like without businesses like the Taste and See Restaurant in Sussex, and the Coffee Stain in Bathurst?

I can’t.

Businesses like these two restaurants convey love and emotion every day to anyone entering their doors.  Businesses like these are our community ambassadors, our most treasured community destinations, and those places where we must take our family and friends who are visiting from out of town.  “Let’s go down to the Taste and See for breakfast,” we say.  And when visitors leave our towns, we know they’ll retell their stories to their friends and say: “You have to go eat at the Taste and See Restaurant when you go to Sussex!”

You’re never hear someone say: “Oh, when you go through that city, make sure you go by and visit that widget factory.”

I’m relatively certain that with these two blog posts, I’ve probably embarrassed the owners by elevating their businesses to this level. I bet they’ll read what I’ve written and not think they’re worthy of my praise.

But make no mistake:  Businesses like these make living in a community worth living in, staying in, and visiting.

If you’d like to learn more about Taste and See, visit their Facebook page by clicking here. I they’re deserving of a Like from all my readers!

Thanks, everyone! Let me know if you enjoyed these last two posts. They’re a little different from what I’ve done in the past.

Jon Schallert

The Ultimate Customer Experience, Part 1

To all my blog readers:  My apologies for missing a couple of blogs these last two weeks.  You see, I’ve been speaking all over North America, but I think I have a story to tell you that will make it worth your wait.  Here’s Part 1.  Next week I’ll wrap up with Part 2.

Part 1: Welcome to the Family

One of the conferences I spoke at was in Bathurst, New Brunswick, Canada, for their province’s tourism association.  If you don’t know where Bathurst is, find Portland Maine on a map and move your finger about 500 miles to the northeast. It’s Canada’s one province that is officially bilingual, so my keynote speech was translated into French, while I spoke from the floor of a hockey arena!  Not many professional speakers get to say that.

Another speaker at the conference talked about Creating a Customer Experience.  The day we left Bathurst, I think we experienced the ultimate Customer Experience in two different restaurants, and here’s my story about the first one.

The day after my keynote, as we were leaving town, we stopped for breakfast at a local downtown Bathurst restaurant called the Coffee Stain.

The Coffee Stain

It’s a small restaurant with local photos, maps, Bathurst mementos, and sailing memorabilia on the walls, and a woman was cooking behind the counter at the grill. She told us to take any seat and soon she brought us menus, speaking to us in English.  As she moved to the next table, she spoke French to them.

Soon it’s apparent that the Coffee Stain is less like a restaurant and more like walking into someone’s kitchen, in the middle of a family meal, with different tables being part of the family. The owner, Olga, takes our order at the table. She brings Peg coffee and I ask her to bring me a Coke when she has a chance.  She returns to the grill, but forgets to ask us something, so she shouts it out from behind the grill where she’s cooking.  As people enter the restaurant she greets them by name, speaks to them in the language they understand, and keeps a constant flow of conversation with all the tables while she prepares all the meals.

Soon Lorne, her husband, comes bouncing in. He brings us our food that Olga’s cooked and asks us if we’d like some of his fresh strawberry preserves. You bet, we say, and as he goes to get it.  I remind him that I wanted a Coke.  Lorne yells to Olga, “Were you supposed to get him a Coke?”  Not missing a beat, Olga says, “Yes, but he said when I had time, and I haven’t had time.”  The restaurant bursts into laughter.

We’re now officially adopted into the Coffee Stain conversation. They ask us where we’re from and we tell them Colorado.  Lorne brings us bright red ceramic Coffee Stain cups for us to take back home.  As Olga and he move from behind the counter to the tables, taking orders, delivering food, running the register, and loading up the truck with a delivery, you realize that every chain restaurant you’ve ever eaten in has less personality, humor, and great food than the Coffee Stain.  And right when you think you’ve seen it all, Lorne yells to a customer as he’s headed to the bathroom: “Be careful in there.” The place erupts again.

And I started wishing we weren’t leaving Bathurst right now, so we could come back for the breakfast routine tomorrow.

Before we leave, we snap a photo of Olga and Lorne.

Olga and Lorne
We’re convinced as we walk out that it will be tough to find as warm a restaurant as the Coffee Stain as we work our way back to the United States.

But two days later, we’re surprised again.

Check out this blog next week for Part 2 of the Ultimate Customer Experience.

Thanks,

Jon Schallert

The Only Comparison You Should be Making

One of the mistakes I see entrepreneurs making is to compare their business to other ones in their marketplace and in their industry.  Though this is logical and natural for us to compare our business with other businesses, I’ve found there are few positive outcomes from doing this.

Let’s say you compare your business to one that isn’t as successful as yours. It’s easy to look at that business and judge it and feel superior to it. This happens a lot in close knit marketplaces where business owners are frequently talking and networking together.  But the downside of comparing yourself to an inferior business is that it gives you a false sense of security, a false sense of importance and worse, a false sense of accomplishment. That false sense of superiority over another business leads to satisfaction.  Once you’re satisfied, it’s hard to make changes to improve, to move forward, and to stay ahead of your competition.  Shoot, you’re ahead of the person next door to you! Isn’t that good enough?

What about comparing your business to another business that is clearly superior to yours?  You’d think this would lead to growth and business improvement, wouldn’t you?  I do think it’s good to have mentors and to study business models that you can learn from, but many owners spend so much time focusing their attention on other superior businesses that they neglect the time to find their own uniqueness and to develop their own superior qualities.

The businesses I talk about in my Destination workshops and my Destination BootCamp are put there to give you examples of success.  You should never try to mold and conform your business into the successful pattern that someone else has created.

Over time, it’s destructive to continually be comparing your business to one that somehow has achieved more than yours.   Comparisons neglect to take into account how the superior business rose to its current status.  For example, I always get a kick out of watching Donald Trump when he starts pontificating on success.  Just once, I want someone to ask him, “Do you think you’d be as successful today if your father hadn’t been a successful real estate developer in New York, built a fortune worth $400 million and passed along a lot of that to you when he died?”

So quit comparing!  Your goal is to create your own one-of-a-kind success, created at your own pace, with your own rules.

The only comparisons you should be making are to your own past achievements, and then, aligning them with your own future goals, all the while, remembering that your success will be dependent on a host of factors, not the least of which is your ability to make your business new, using new techniques and reinventing your business on a regular basis.

This next quote is from an unknown business leader, and though it’s a little extreme, it does make sense:

“If we’re doing anything this year the way it was done last year, we’re obsolete.”

That’s the only comparison you should be making!

_________________________________________________________________________

NATIONAL MAIN STREETS CONFERENCE:

I am speaking at the National Main Streets Conference in Detroit next week, and I’ll be presenting only one presentation at one time:

My presentation will be:  “Once Optional, Now Required:  The New Rules of Business Success”, on Monday, May 19 from 9:00 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. in the Ambassador Salon II room. I suggest you get there early, as I don’t  know how many seats are available.

Hope to see you there!

 

Frank Sinatra was wrong about New York, New York

 

My Dad loved Frank Sinatra.

Let me restate that:  My Dad loved Frank Sinatra’s singing and the words to his songs.

Here’s a thought I had while driving through Kansas last month, as Frank Sinatra’s song, “New York, New York” came on the radio.  I listened to Sinatra sing these lines during the song:

These little town blues
Are melting away
I’ll make a brand new start of it
In old New York
If I can make it there
I’ll make it anywhere
It’s up to you, New York, New York.

Driving through Kansas, all of a sudden, I realized: “This song’s baloney!  Sinatra should have been singing about Kansas, because if you can make it in Kansas, you can make it anywhere.”  When I got back to my office, a little research confirmed my gut feel:

There are 2,893,957 residents in Kansas, which computes to just over 35 residents per square mile (obviously not counting tourists, like me).

But in New York City, there are estimated to be 8,405,837 people, in roughly a 305 square mile area. That means that the population density of residents in New York City equals 27,560 people per square mile.

Do the math, folks, and old New York, New York is 787 times more densely populated than the state of Kansas!  If I’m opening up a business, my odds of success are so much greater in New York City than in Kansas, given that I have so many more potential customers immediately outside my door, with much more disposable income.

Sure, there’s more competition in New York City, but it doesn’t compare to the challenge of having 7,870% less customers.

So, Mr. Sinatra, your song’s wrong.

The most innovative, creative entrepreneurs I’ve met are those who’ve created Destination Businesses in places where demographics say their businesses shouldn’t exist.

And that goes for Kansas, or South Dakota, or Mississippi, or anywhere else that is less populated.

But not New York City.

Until next week,

Jon Schallert

The True Foundation of Your Business

It’s so easy to get busy running your business that you forget that every customer who enters your doors has a need, and they are hoping your business will fulfill it.

Here’s a true story that a retailer in New England told me. This retailer owned a quaint floral and gift store in a busy, historic downtown. It was a store with attractively-themed merchandise filling each of its small rooms, and one could easily shop each of the rooms, as they were connected in a large loop.  Throughout the day, business workers hustled by during lunch hour, students walked by after school, and nurses and doctors from the nearby hospital walked in during their breaks.

It was during one of these busy days that the owner greeted a female shopper walking into her store. She related to me how this female shopper slowly moved through each of the smaller rooms, spending time in each one. After several minutes in the store, the owner walked over to see if there was anything she could help the customer find. The customer thanked her, said she was just looking, and that she loved her store. The owner thanked her, and left her alone. The owner remembered the customer moving slowly from room to room, like she was inspecting each piece of merchandise, eventually making her way through all the rooms, taking the full-circle route through the store without buying anything, and saying goodbye before walking out the door.

The owner then told me how the next day, this same female entered the store shortly after lunch and moved slowly through each room, carefully looking at all the products, walking the entire loop and again not purchasing anything.  It happened again, the following day, and again, the next day. This female would appear like clockwork, and take the route through the store, each day as intently looking at the merchandise as the previous days.

By the end of the week, the owner was convinced that this shopper was being sent by a competitor to snoop through her store.  She waited patiently to see if she would appear again, and decided that on this day, she would confront her about her strange behavior.

Sure enough, just after lunch, the woman entered the store again.  But this time, the owner stopped her and said, “May I ask you a question? Every day this week, you’ve come in and spent time looking at all the merchandise in every room, and you seem to really like my store, but you never purchase anything. Is there something in particular you are looking for, or something that I could help you find?”

The woman stopped and said, “Oh, I do love your store. I love what you do with flowers and all the plants and products you have are so unusual. I love how your store looks, and I love how it smells, and the music you have playing is so soothing.  But no, there really isn’t anything specific I’m looking to buy.” She paused, as if knowing that her answer wasn’t enough to explain her behavior, and then said to the owner, “You see, I’m an out-patient at the hospital around the corner, and I’m undergoing cancer treatments right now. They’re going to continue for a number of weeks more. In between the treatments, I like getting out of the hospital for a break, and your store helps me forget my troubles. I can just walk inside your doors, and I’m somewhere else.”

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a business receive a higher compliment!  For this customer, the store was an oasis from the problems and pains she was experiencing.

I think owners work so hard focusing on their product selection, their services, and their day-to-day operations that they forget that emotion is the foundation of every business, and if it’s lacking, you’re giving up the prime advantage every independent business has over all of its competitors.

The emotion of your business is where it all begins. It’s the first thing a customer feels coming in your doors.  It’s the final piece a customer feels when they leave. And its memory is what they’ll remember long after they forget everything else.

Until next week,

Jon Schallert

Low-Tech Notebook Beats High-Tech Business App

Why I love The NotebookOn to another topic: When I say “I love The Notebook”, I don’t mean that tear-jerker of a movie. This is a different notebook that I think you’ll come to love too.

Recently I was talking to one of you and mentioned the value of using a notebook to keep track of daily events that pop up in your business. Then I realized that this was one of those little business tips that I had learned years ago, and hadn’t shared this technique with all of you. So here you go:

This little technique is easy, but it’s invaluable in evaluating your sales and customer traffic long after it’s happened. I learned this from a card and gift retailer in southern Ohio over 20 years ago and it still works great.

This owner would take a spiral notebook with lined pages (just like what we used in high school), and place it between his two registers at his store. He then wrote the month and the year on the front cover of the notebook. He then instructed his employees to write down any significant comments from customers, thoughts the employees had during the day, and any other events that occurred that might have caused sales and customer traffic to increase or decrease. Some of the employees’ written comments might include:

“Large tree fell across the road when lightning struck this morning. The big storm and the tree kept people away from the store all day until 2:00 when customers started coming in.”

“First day of sun today after weeks of grey clouds. Customers are coming in smiling and happy, and buying lots of Valentine’s Day gifts. The new items from Hallmark are great.”

“3 days before Mother’s Day and already we are out of Mom, Mother, Mother from Both of Us, and From your Husband cards. Really under ordered last year.”

As you look at these little notes and quick observations, they might seem inconsequential. But they provide a daily glimpse of the events that occur every day in a store that can influence whether customer traffic is up or down, and whether sales are truly maximized.

This retailer would post a new notebook between his registers every month, and at the end of the month, collect them and file them. Then, when he was doing his sales projections, looking at his year end sales, ordering for the following year, or just trying to understand his current store situation, these day-to-day notations could provide valuable information on why the store was up or down in sales, and what to do better the following year.

Sure, this notebook is pretty low-tech compared to the multiple organizational apps that you could download into your iPad, but in this case, the simple solution is the best one.

It’s Time to Act Impulsively in Your Business

In the early 1900’s, there was a noted Harvard psychologist named Dr. William Moulton Marston.  You probably haven’t heard of him, and if not for my brain’s ability to capture the obscure, you probably never would. All his psychology writings are out of print.

Dr. Marston is generally known for two important creations. His first invention was the lie detector, which he created after he noticed that there was a correlation between people lying and the physiological changes that occurred in their bodies, including the elevation of their blood pressure.

Secondly, Dr. Marston was also the creator of the Wonder Woman comic strip. Yes, you heard that right. The same person who received a Ph.D. in Psychology from Harvard, the inventor of the lie detector, is also the same guy who envisioned Wonder Woman wearing tights, indestructible bracelets, and her magic lasso which could tie criminals up, make them obedient, and unable to lie.

Old Doc Marston’s brain worked in mysterious ways, didn’t it?

But forget Wonder Woman for a second (if you can), and think about Dr. Marston, the psychologist.  In his studies, he talked about the importance of listening and acting on our minds’ impulses, and how there is a scientific justification for taking rapid action.

The next quote is a long one, but if I shortened it, you’d never get the full gist of it, and you’re likely to never come in contact with the CBS radio interview I found from the 1940’s where he spoke these words:

“For years, as a psychologist, I’ve sought in the careers of great and of everyday people, the inner springs that make for successful living. There are two which seem to me of prime importance. The first is hard work, governed by cool, logical thoughtfulness. The other is sudden, warm impulsive action…”

“Most of us actually stifle enough good impulses during the course of the day to change the current of our lives. These are inner flashes of impulse that light up the mind for an instant. Then, contented in their afterglow, we tend to lapse back into routine, feeling vaguely that sometime we might do something about it or that at least our intentions were good. And in this we win against the inner self. For impulses set up the lines of communication between the unconscious mind and daily action…”

“The person who follows his impulses is not necessarily flighty. The timid soul, however, is fearful, lest impulse lead him into all manner of mistakes. But mistakes are inevitable. We’re bound to make them no matter which course we take. Some of the worst mistakes in history have followed consciously reasoned decisions…”

“The mistakes of inaction flanked by heavy reasoning are likely to be worse than the mistakes of a genuine impulse.  For one thing, they make our inertia worse day by day. We all know people who go through agonies of indecision before taking any important step. There are always arguments for and against, and the more we think about them, the more they seem to offset each other, until we wind up in the state of paralysis…”

“Impulsive action, which originates in a swift subconscious appraisal of the situation, might have saved all worry. And when a painfully thought-out decision proves wrong, how often we remember an original hunch that would have been right. The way to get things done is to bring mind and muscle and voice into play at the very second a good impulse starts within us.”

“The life stories of successful people are full of episodes that have marked turning points in their careers.  True impulses are intelligent.  They reveal the basic interests of the subconscious mind.”

So what does Wonder Woman, a lie detector, and William Moulton Marston have to do with your business?  I’m glad you asked:

As of this blog post, we are nearly one-third of the way into 2014, and my question to you is: Are you achieving what you want in your business this year?

We’re 17 weeks into 2014, if you are NOT achieving the revenue you want or the revenue you need from your business, what is your plan?  Did you have a plan when you started the year?  If not, do you have a plan now?  What is your next step? What actions are you going to take to set the course of your business upward?

And please, don’t tell me that you’re going to keep doing what you’ve been doing.

I believe that most entrepreneurs and business owners know in their gut if their businesses are in trouble or if their businesses are going to be fine.

As you’ve heard before, hoping your business will improve is not a strategy.

We’re at Day 113 in 2014, and whether you get help from me by utilizing my Destination Business strategy, or you decide to reach out to someone else, take action.

Until next week,

Jon Schallert

PS:  Every year, we get business owners who come to our Destination BootCamp, who say to me at the end of the workshop:  “I don’t know why I waited so long to attend this.”  My response:  “I’m glad you took action to attend it now.”