Small Business Success

Everyone Wants You to Grow, but Who Really Wants You to Thrive?

Thrive not Survive

To all independent business owners!

Here’s something to think about:

I once received a call from the sales vice-president of a well-known national franchise who wanted me to speak at their annual convention.  He’d heard about me from one of his independent franchisees, and he knew that I helped businesses grow their sales, customer traffic, and profits as a Destination Business.

We seemed to be the perfect fit, but then he said:

“One thing: I can’t have you mention anything about that Destination-stuff you speak on. These are franchisees. They have set territories.  You can’t say anything about becoming a Destination Business because I don’t need a bunch of franchisees leaving that convention, all half-cocked, thinking they can pull customers from anywhere they want.”

And with that, I politely declined speaking for them, and referred him to another speaker.

Now don’t get me wrong. I understand his concern.  I know how franchised businesses work.  A well-known franchise (like a McDonald’s), wants their locations to deliver brand-uniformity: The same image, the same products, the same promise.

Consistency, not differences.

But here’s the thing: Consumers don’t always want the same.  Most of the time, they actually want uniqueness. They want one-of-a-kind.  They like individuality.  And they especially love Shop-Local, independent businesses run by local owners.

Who knew Mom and Pop were gonna be so Hot?

But the good news is: The principles of being a unique Destination can be merged with franchise systems. But you need a franchise management team that’s willing to grow and learn, like the Real Deals on Home Décor franchise. When I met with the Real Deals on Home Décor executive team, they hired me to help their franchisees grow their businesses.  Period!  No conditions. No limitations.  They wanted me to teach their franchisees and their management team all about my Destination strategy and they wanted me to give their independent owners all the tools they needed to bring in more customers and sales! We took the Real Deals franchise model and incorporated the most powerful parts of my 14-step Destination process and blended them together.  Then, they had me teach the strategy to their independent owners.

Real Deals on Home Décor wanted their franchise network of independent business owners to thrive, not just survive.

Now think about your company’s manufacturers who supply your business with products.  I learned there’s a difference in manufacturers when I spoke at the American Lighting Association.  No sooner had I left the stage when I was approached by the management team from Kichler Lighting, one of the largest lighting manufacturers in North America.  They liked what they’d heard and within 2 weeks, they had me design an entire 12-month training plan for their lighting showroom customers that included workshops, 1-on-1 consulting, and monthly Destination webinars, all designed to drive more customer traffic into their businesses.

Kichler Lighting created a program that took the strengths of their product lines and mixed it with the Destination Business process to help their retail store owners grow. Not just plod forward.

They wanted them to thrive.

Why do I tell you these stories?  Because I want you look closely at the companies, resources, and programs that are integral to your business, and then, decide if your company is receiving what you deserve.  Are the people who manage these entities just helping you maintain your business, or are they giving you all the tools to accelerate your business to its greatest potential?

Some of you know that James Cash Penney, the founder of the JC Penney chain, was a fellow Longmont, Colorado entrepreneur. His first business was located just 2 doors down from our location at 321 Main Street in downtown Longmont just 119 years ago.  I’m going to end this blog post with a quote from my former neighbor:

“Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.”

It’s time for you to insist that those forces start working towards your company’s maximum growth.

Destination BootCamp update:

I wanted to update you on our remaining 2016 Destination BootCamps:

  1. We have three (3) remaining Destination BootCamps in 2016 that have space in them. Their dates are:
    1. June 7-9
    2. July 26-28
    3. September 13-15

The October 25-27 class is full and can take no more participants.

Here are three workshops in my schedule that are open to the public:

Thursday, May 19: 8:00 to 9:30 a.m. at Hutchinson Community College, 1300 N. Plum, Justice Theater in the Shears Technology Building in Hutchinson, Kansas, Increasing Sales & Profits as a Destination Business. To register, call 620-665-8468 or email dukartd@hutchcc.edu.

Tuesday, May 24: 9:00 to 10:15 a.m. in Milwaukee Wisconsin at the National Main Street Conference, Room 102C in the Wisconsin Center.  The 7 Steps to a Memorable Main Street: Capturing Today’s Customers as a Destination Downtown. Join me for my 1 and only session, and then, stick around and let’s talk about your Destination Downtown challenge.

Tuesday and Wednesday, June 14-15, Austin, Texas at the Real Places 2016 Conference, sponsored by the Texas Historical Commission. Go to RealPlaces.us for more information.

Thanks, Everyone!  Let me hear of your successes by emailing me at Info@JonSchallert.com

Jon

The Dangers of Using 5-Legged Cow Marketing

Prairie Dog TownWhile you’re contemplating the title of this post, let me tell you a quick story.

When I was 22 years old, I drove from Colorado to Connecticut to start my first job following college. If you’ve ever drove east out of Colorado, you know that most people end up taking Interstate 70, which stretches for over 400 miles across Kansas.

For those of you who’ve driven this highway, no sooner are you over the Kansas border motoring east when you start seeing signs like the one above proclaiming that if you stop in Prairie Dog Town in Oakley, Kansas, that you’ll get to see a Russian Wild Boar, an 8,000 pound prairie dog, and a live 5-legged cow.

For a 22 year old like myself, starting his first career job and feeling very free and adventurous, the first time I saw this sign, I knew I had to stop. I mean seriously: Who doesn’t want to see an 8,000 prairie dog and a cow walking around with 5 legs?

Once you cross the border at Kanorado, Kansas (yes, that’s its name, and think about how few cities really have names that tell you their exact location), it’s about 75 miles to Oakley. And just to make sure you don’t forget that there’s an 8,000 pound burrowing rodent waiting for you, the owner of Prairie Dog Town placed hand-made-looking signs all along the interstate.

Now, some of you who are Kansas experts know that the Prairie Dog Town attraction is now closed, but let me clarify that their business closure happened fairly recently. For decades, this interstate highway tourist attraction remained open, so much so that any time I drove through Kansas, in my 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and nearly all through my 50’s, this place remained open, beckoning me with their signs to stop.

But let’s get back to when I was 22, and first decided to stop and see Prairie Dog Town. If my memory is right, it cost me $15 to get in. There were several rooms filled with stuffed animals (stuffed by taxidermists, not cuddly teddy bear stuffed animals), and many cages with animals stuffed in them. I remember one glass cage filled with rattlesnakes, and I do remember asking to see the Russian Wild Boar, which looked more like a small pig that had very little wildness about him.

Honestly, the cages didn’t interest me. I wanted to see the massive rodent and the 5-legged cow. I can share this with you now that the attraction is closed: The 8,000 pound prairie dog was actually a concrete statue. I remember protesting to the owner of the business that I had expected a massive live prairie dog, but he just kind of laughed me off as a City Boy that didn’t understand animals and pointed out that he never had said it was alive.

Which brings me now to the LIVE 5-legged cow: There were several cows out in the nearly-all-dirt pasture, but none that had 5 legs. It was easy to look at their legs from afar and see that every cow I spotted only had 4 legs on the ground. When I again protested that his signs had misled me, he took me out to a cow in the far pasture. We approached it together, and he told me that this was his live, 5-legged cow. Well, it really didn’t have 5 legs touching the ground, but it did have 4 on the ground and one long appendage hanging off its shoulder. Genetically, yes it was a leg that was horribly deformed that had sprung from this cow, but without his pointing it out, I would have assumed it was just some elongated shoulder growth, City Boy I was.

I left Prairie Dog Town a little disillusioned, feeling cheated out of $15, but moderately pleased that I had at least seen an animal oddity that I’d never seen before.

So here’s my question to all of you: In the 35+ years following my visit to Prairie Dog Town, do you think I ever stopped again to see how these animals?

Nope. Definitely not! I never stopped at that place again, even though I drove past it scores of times over the decades. One time, being conned and misled by this attraction, had caused me to decide that I’d never stop again.

My lesson to all of you is probably obvious, but I must say it: With today’s customer, you can ALWAYS get them to come in once. That’s not the problem. Getting a consumer to come into your business ONCE is NEVER a problem! It’s actually quite easy to run a nifty ad, place a creative Facebook ad or post, or use any of the myriad of social media tools that are available to your business today and it is EASY to get the consumer to come to your business. One-time!

But if you ever convince a consumer to come in your doors and you’ve conned them, or deceived them, don’t expect them back. It will be a one-time victory, but the negative ramifications of your one-time success will be devastating to your business, especially in this world of viral social media.

The sad truth is that there are business owners every day relying on 5-Legged Cow Marketing to lure consumers in for a one-time hit.

Don’t be one of them!

That’s all for this week, everyone! Have a great weekend!

Jon

It’s a New Year: Stop to Change Direction

Stop to change direction

It’s New Year’s Day, 2015, and you might be wondering why I’m blogging today.

Well, I know a lot of you are home, with family, maybe relaxing for the first day in a long time. You’re probably checking your emails because you might have been up dancing a little too late, or you did a bit too much celebrating.

Whatever the reason, I have a thought for you.

I can think of no other single event that will be more important to your business this year than setting a large goal, a lofty Resolution, for you to achieve in 2015.

The reason this is so important is when you set a huge goal, it makes you stretch and step outside your comfort zones.  A goal like this will help prod you to achieve something you never thought possible.   When we set a goal like this, it will pester us in the morning, jump-start us from the moment we get out of bed, and when we go to sleep, it will recirculate in our dreams

Jim Collins called them Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals, but I think of them more as goals that when I focus on them, I say to myself: “Can I really do this?”

Setting a goal like this at the beginning of the year gives all of us a starting point, from Day 1, to make the most of this new year.

But here’s the thing:  In order to create a goal like this, you’ll have to make time to pull yourself away from your day-to-day operations. You will have to carve out some time from your normal routine to think, plan, and dream.

I know most of you have been going full-speed over the holidays.  You must put on the brakes now. It’s the time to schedule some down time, and the creative time you need. You must give yourself permission to slow down and be introspective, to think about all that is possible for you, and this is especially important right now if you want to take your business to some higher goal, or in an entirely new direction.

I love the quote by Erich Fromm: “You have to stop in order to change direction.”

Today is that day. This is your time, the time of the year to stop, if you want to be somewhere else this time, next year.

That’s all I got! Happy January 1.

Now stop and make this your happiest New Year ever.

Jon

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 Power of Mom and Pop Businesses

The other day, a friend asked me: “Don’t you worry about the future of Mom and Pop businesses?’

My answer was: “Nope, not at all. The future’s bright for small businesses.”

Group Chaos

 

Here’s how I know this to be true:

3 times a year, I get to witness something amazing that confirms to me that Mom and Pop businesses can overcome any challenge that’s put in their way.

Let me share with you what I get to see:

Most of you know that I conduct a workshop in Colorado called our Destination BootCamp, where for 2½ days, I teach owners and community leaders how to make their businesses and communities irresistible to consumers.

At each BootCamp, owners of retail stores, restaurants, service businesses, professional practices, and even online businesses attend. To paraphrase Forrest Gump’s life’s like a box of chocolates quote, with every BootCamp, “We never know what we’re gonna get”.

Unlike typical association conferences where everyone is from the same industry, our BootCamp mixes business owners from different industries and different parts of the world and puts them together in one room for 2½ days. Most aren’t competition to each other and most have never met before. It surprises me, but I’ve also learned that even business owners from the same city or town who attend together often don’t know each other very well. But it makes sense: Who has time for friendship when you have your business to run?

But here’s what happens when you put this diverse group together and show them new ways to grow their businesses, everyone (regardless of their type of business, their sales volume, the physical locations, or the number of businesses they own), starts percolating together.

Goshen County Wyoming Group

It’s not enough to say that there’s an energy that spreads between the participants or a synergy that occurs when you mix these owners together. It’s more than that. When one entrepreneur meets another one, and they start discussing their challenges, I’ve found there is a natural inclination for owners to reach out when someone needs it.

“You’re an owner, just like me. You have a problem?”

“Here’s an idea that’ll help.”

Sometimes I just stand at the front of the room watching as one owner voices a concern she’s having, while another owner chimes in on how he overcame that same problem in a different industry. I watch as owners grow in confidence as they realize that regardless of their business-type or business sales volume, they have information that can help someone else in that room. And in just a matter of hours, I can watch owners who previously didn’t know each other start freely sharing their expertise with the person sitting next to them.

There are moments during every BootCamp where I just stop teaching and as I look out over the room, and I’m amazed at how such different businesses come together, learn together, and honestly share their success stories and business setbacks with each other.

Here’s one of the best stories from our March BootCamp: On the last day of class, Sarah, a retailer from Kansas who owns two retail stores, told me that she had met with Christi, a retailer from Texas who owns a chain of women’s clothing stores, and they had sat up talking until 11:30 at night, as they shared ideas, buying tips, and product sources with each other.

Forney Texas Group

Here’s my challenge for you if you’re a business owner or an entrepreneur reading this blog:  Starting today, look around and be aware of that owner down the street who might need some help or advice, who probably doesn’t know how to ask for it.  Be aware that one single suggestion from you to a fellow business owner might be the breakthrough that an owner is looking for.  From this day forward, instead of just saying hello and walking by a fellow business owner, take some time to engage. To share. To show you’re around, if help’s needed. And when you’re in need of assistance and you’re at wits end, the law of reciprocity will work for you, too, bringing help back your way.

The future of Mom and Pop businesses is extremely bright, especially when independent business owners take time to lend each other a hand, an ear to listen, and have each other’s backs.

Until next week,

Jon