Becoming a Destination Business

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 myDestination 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

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.”

The World’s Tallest, Best-Kept Secret Boot

A few years ago I spoke in the little city of Red Wing, Minnesota.  If you’ve never been there, it’s located southeast of Minneapolis, right across from Wisconsin, separated by the Mississippi River.

Before I went to Red Wing to speak, I did research on the city, and learned that Red Wing shoes and boots are still made in factories there in town, and that they had a corporate Red Wing Shoes store in their downtown. That point was reinforced as I was driving in, as I spotted several signs about Red Wing Shoe’s “Corporate Flagship Store”.

But imagine my surprise when I walked into their corporate store and found looming above me the world’s tallest boot, size 877, stretching from the first floor to the second. And this giant boot wasn’t even mentioned on the billboard.

 

As all of you know, I look for oddities like this boot, and in fact, encourage business owners to think about creating something so one-of-a-kind that customers will come to see it.  Sure, customers come inside and stare at it, but then, they go around the store and buy. Plus, they end up talking about it, which spreads your message via word-of-mouth marketing. We also know that in addition to being a huge customer-traffic generator, it can also be a media magnet for reporters who want to write about the unusual.

Clearly, the Red Wing Shoe company took a lot of time, effort, and expense to create a leather 2,300 pound, two-story boot. So when I was in the store, I asked one of the Red Wing employees why the world’s largest boot wasn’t on the billboard that advertised their flagship store, and why it wasn’t right up front on their corporate website. His answer: “Everybody already knows that The Boot’s in the store.”

I’m sorry, but I had to tell him: Most of the world, including many newcomers walking into the Red Wing Corporate store, did NOT know that this store had the world’s largest boot.

Here’s the lesson for all of you: Businesses have the mistaken belief that their marketing message has already been absorbed by the majority of their customers. This is one of the most damaging misjudgments any business can make, large or small.

I’ve said this before to some of you: There will always be more potential customers who know nothing about your business than those who have spent money with you.  And of those that have heard about your business before, most won’t understand it completely, most will have forgotten some aspect of it, and most will have not internalized your marketing message, even if they’ve heard it before.

There is someone new, every day, walking in your business, experiencing it for the first time.  Every day, you have the opportunity to amaze someone who has never heard of your business before, and bond them to your business for life.

Remember: Your very best customer of all-time might be the next person through your door. Don’t make the mistake of assuming they know what’s unique about your business.

Until next week,

Jon

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.”

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.

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.

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

Making the Ordinary Extraordinary Again

If you’d like to witness something spectacular that you’ll remember the rest of your life, you should make your way to Kearney, Nebraska within the next 2 weeks. Here’s why:

There is a great bird migration of lesser sandhill cranes that annually comes to Kearney, for just one month, from the first part of March through the first part of April, and there, on the Platte River, half-a-million lesser sandhill cranes stop on their migration to the north. This migration happens annually at the same time, and has been happening like this for millions of years.

If you didn’t catch that number, it’s 500,000 birds, all in one place. I don’t know about you, but I had never been up close to 500,000 of anything at any one time, and the opportunity to see half a million birds, all in one place, intrigued me.

I know you’re skeptical. There’s a business lesson here.  Keep reading.

The cranes spend their winters in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Mexico, and then, around the end of February, start their migration north. On their trip north, they stop in Kearney on the Platte River where the Rowe Sanctuary has been created.

A typical sandhill crane day in Kearney goes like this: 500,000 of them sleep together in the middle of the river every night (they use the water for protection from predators) and every the morning, they all fly off together to feed in the corn fields (there is no corn growing at this time of year, just chopped off stalks). Though I’d starve out in those fields, these birds feast during the whole month, increasing their weight from 6 pounds to 7.2 pounds, a 20% increase!

At sunset, after eating all day, they all fly back in huge swarms and land back in the river.  Cranes from different parts of the world all reconnect with their crane friends, jumping around squawking at each other. Then, they depart all at once, in early April, and off they go to northern Canada, Alaska, and some to eastern Siberia.  There the females lay their eggs, and then, the eggs hatch.  As winter approaches, the sandhill families all fly south back to those warmer places.  And so it goes, year after year, repeating the process, always ending up in Kearney at the beginning of March.

When I heard about this migration in Kearney for the first time, I doubt you’ll be surprised when I tell you that my wife was less than enthusiastic to grab the car keys, pack a bag, and drive 367 miles to go see a bunch of birds in the winter in Nebraska. But after some convincing, we reserved our spots for a Saturday morning and evening viewing at the Rowe Sanctuary, where you pay $25 per person to be part of a group of 60 people who are allowed to watch the birds from a camouflaged blind, right next to the river. There you can look out through a hole in a brick wall and take pictures of the cranes, sight unseen.  The morning viewing lets you see them when they wake up and fly off to the corn fields, and an evening viewing has 500,000 of them flying back and landing en masse in the river.

A couple of years ago, we drove to Kearney one Friday, and when we got to our hotel, here’s what happened:  The front desk clerk asked us what we were doing in Kearney for the weekend.  We told her.

“We’re here to see the sandhill cranes.”
“You drove here to see birds?”
“There are 500,000 of them here, the largest migration of its kind.”
“Birds huh?  If you drive out to that bridge, you can see them.”
“No, we’re going to the Rowe Audubon sanctuary next to the river.”
“Where’s that?”
“It’s right next to the Platte, 7 miles east of here.”
“Never heard of it.”
“People come from all around the world to see the cranes, you know?”
“No kidding.”

It soon became apparent that many people we met knew little about the Rowe sanctuary, and though all of the people we met were very friendly, they seemed somewhat bewildered that we would spend an entire weekend in their city to watch birds.

So it probably won’t surprise you that in our group of 60 that went out to the blinds the first morning, there were only four Nebraskans, and they had driven almost 200 miles from Omaha to get there. The 56 other people were from all over the United States (a group of 11 bird watchers came from Delaware), along with visitors from Denmark, Germany, and England.

Yes, the Rowe Sanctuary is a Destination!

Now that you are likewise fascinated, here are the lessons you can apply to your business:

  1. Is there an extraordinary part of your community that you and others have come to take for granted?  There usually is in any city or town. What attractions, historic features, natural beauty, or other components of your city or town have you become “immune” to seeing?  Put yourself in the role of a visitor, and make a list of the places that people must see if they come to your area.
  2. Why not start telling the stories about these “attractions” through your marketing materials?  Describe, market, and promote these parts of your community, and your business will benefit from the attention that occurs with your cross-promotional efforts.
  3. Target the visitors who could be coming to see these attractions.  A passive business waits for someone else to bring customers to their area; a proactive business looks at opportunities that no one else is taking and capitalizes on them.
  4. Here’s one final slap-upside-the-head point to remember: If you have a business that provides a good product or service, there are more people who don’t know about your business than those who do.  Are there aspects of your business that are extraordinary, but you no longer tell the story because you think everybody already knows about it? Every day, I see businesses incorrectly assume that everyone knows what they sell and what they offer, and every day, new people walk through your doors, and they HAVEN’T HEARD YOUR STORY. Now’s the time to look at your business anew, retell what you’ve come to take for granted, and watch as new customers come to your business because of it.

Now we regularly go and see the sandhill cranes during our winter trip to Kearney. But it never fails that when we’re there, we run into business owners who have let the extraordinary around them become ordinary. When I ask them about their business and ask them about their sales, I listen as they complain about the economy and customer traffic.

And all the while, hundreds of new visitors are coming to their city from around the world, walking around, trying to discover something to do, trying to spend their money.

Until next week,

Jon Schallert

PS: Can’t make it to Kearney this year? Watch the cranes on the Rowe Sanctuary webcam by clicking here.

It’s a New Year: Quit Running

I’ve spoken and consulted in more downtowns in the United States (over 500), than any other business consultant , but one of my most memorable workshops happened in downtown Stamford Connecticut in April, 2003. That morning, before I addressed an audience of business owners, I decided to insert an image of a hamster running in its wheel. That image seemed to me to be similar to what I had seen owners doing, working extremely hard, endlessly repeating the same tasks, even though those tasks never helped them achieve the progress they wanted in their businesses.

When I flashed the image on the screen, an owner of a baby specialty store (where Katie Couric shopped, I remember him telling me), rose out of his seat and shouted:  “That’s me!”

The audience roared. That little hamster resonated with owners.

Fast forward a few years. On a whim, I decided to see if anyone knew why hamsters ran endlessly on their wheels. And to my surprise, I discovered Dr. Chris Sherwin of the University of Bristol, School of Veterinary Sciences, who had published a paper on “Voluntary wheel running”.

Who knew there was an actual expert who studied why hamsters run on their wheels! Intrigued, I downloaded and read Dr. Sherwin’s 40+ page treatise and I’ll summarize it for you:

Dr. Sherwin found that hamster running occurs when a hamster is part of a “captive environment”, and it has an “urge to remove itself from its immediate area”. As they run, they perceive their activity as being “important”, and the running itself becomes “self-reinforcing”, causing them to continue spinning in circles, going nowhere. Finally, their running is “a result of feedback dysfunction”. They think they’re getting somewhere, but they aren’t.

So how does this apply to you and your business?

If you’re in business today, you have your own hamster wheel, and no owner (including me), has mastered how to escape the wheel completely. We all have a hamster wheel because our business models (the process by which companies provides value to customers and they, in turn, provide company revenue), doesn’t always operate correctly, efficiently, and at its optimum level of profitability.

My guess is that most of you have never looked at how you can alter your business model.  You’ve just been doing it, day after day, week after week, and for some of you, year after year. It’s actually fascinating how an owner can create a business that year after year, generates about the same revenue as the last, and even more fascinating to me, how an owner can be annually as displeased with the results as the previous year, and still not change!

Want to change your business model. Here’s how to start, by asking yourself these four (4) key questions:

  1. What parts of your business model are still operating efficiently and profitably, and meet your expectations? (Think of the parts of your business that you’re satisfied with.)
  2. What parts of your business model are dysfunctional, inefficient, don’t create the revenue you want, or don’t make you happy?
  3. What changes would have to happen in question #2, that by the end of 2013, we can list it under question #1 next year?
  4. Finally, what would have to change in you for your business model to start working more efficiently and profitably?  (By the way, if you have a spouse or partner who is also a decision-maker in your business, this includes the changes they would have to make, too).

2013 is gone, it’s a New Year, and you have a choice: If you’re not generating the revenue in your business that you want, it’s time to look at your business in its entirety and question everything that doesn’t produce the results you want. You built this business, you created your business model, and frankly, you’ve built your wheel. And you have the choice to change it.

You’re not a hamster. 2014’s the year to quit running on your wheel.

Registration is open for our March 4-6, 2014 Destination BootCamp. if you’re unhappy with your current business results, check it out by clicking here.

This New Year: Back to Zero

If you’ve never watched the show “Iconoclasts” on the Sundance Channel, here’s a business tip:  Start watching it. Each episode takes two successful celebrities, usually from different fields, and has them spend time together, discussing how they rose to the top of their game. Though the celebrity might be talking about acting, music, anthropology, running a restaurant, or mountain climbing, their success lessons are applicable to any business.

My favorite episode of the series put Robert Redford with Paul Newman. The Redford/Newman episode ran in the first year of Iconoclasts and even though this episode first aired in 2005, and Paul Newman died in September, 2008, this episode is often re-run on Sundance, and can also be found on YouTube (“Redford Profiles Newman: Iconoclasts”).

This episode is amazing as you hear Redford and Newman discussing their roles as actors and entrepreneurs, and talking about what they created outside of the world of acting. Newman created Newman’s Own food products company which started with him making salad dressing for his friends. Over time, Newman’s Own grew into a multi-million dollar brand that has donated over $300 million in profits to charities.

Redford’s non-acting venture took him to Utah where he bought the Sundance ski resort, started the Sundance Film Festival which led to the Sundance retail stores and catalog. But during this part of the interview, Redford remarks that focusing on Sundance helped him grow as a person because in acting:

“You can get in danger of falling in love with your work…
It’s important to stop, and take yourself back to zero,
and rethink what you’re doing, and get a fresh look at it.”

This New Year, make it a point to take yourself back to zero. Take time to rethink what you’re doing in your business. This might mean reinventing the tired components of your business, or embarking on a new business model that generates the revenue you’ve always been wanting. Taking yourself back to zero also applies to refocusing your life goals, your fitness goals, your relationship goals, and any other aspect of your life that currently dissatisfies you. The process of taking a fresh look is critical to seeing what you really want to achieve.

For all of you: Is there a new area of your business where you’re ready to jump in and look at it anew?  If so, let me hear about it. Our company loves helping entrepreneurs embark on new adventures and achieve success.

Reminder:  Registration is now open for our March 4-6 Destination BootCamp. Spend 2½ days in Colorado reinventing your business with other passionate business owners. For more details: DestinationBootCamp.com

This Independent Shoe and Boot Retailer Beats Zappos Every Day

Pick up any business book. Read any business article on innovation. Chances are you’ll find the name Zappos, the online shoe and apparel e-tailer, mentioned there.

For example, just this month, Donna Tam, a writer for CNET wrote the article: “Can e-tailer Zappos demolish the brick-and-mortar model?”

Sam Lewis, Associate Editor of Integrated Solutions for Retailers, wrote a similar article: “Can Zappos Bulldoze The Brick-And-Mortar Shopping Model?”

Ummm, Donna and Sam.

Here’s the answer to your question:

No.

Zappos is good. Really good. But let’s not get crazy.

Let me introduce you to an independent, brick-and-mortar, shoe and boot retailer that will never lose a customer to Zappos and gains quite a few from online shoe retailers every day.

Meet Kevin and Deb Durken, owners of The Boot Shack in St. Cloud, Minnesota.  The Boot Shack is a Destination Business. Kevin and Deb took what they were already doing well, attended our Destination BootCamp, applied what they learned, and now customers willingly fly to Minnesota from all over North America to buy footwear from “The Shack”.

Could these customers buy from brick-and-mortar retailers who are much closer?

Could they go online to e-tailers like Zappos and buy from them?

They could. But they don’t.

Up above is a photo of Kevin in the rarely seen position of him sitting in the store.

The photo below is a device that you might remember if you’re old enough. It’s called a Brannock Device. It’s what they use at The Boot Shack to measure a customer’s foot, to insure that the boots and shoes they sell to customers are the right size.

When I was a child, the Brannock Device was used in every shoe store in the country. My mother never purchased a pair of shoes for me from any store without the salesperson measuring my feet with the Brannock Device.

What makes Kevin and Deb’s business different from every other shoe and boot store, including Zappos?  It’s really simple:

The Boot Shack is the only store in the country that measures feet like they did in the old days, carrying Work and Western Boots in every size from 3-18 and widths 4A-4E.

Why is measuring a customer’s feet like they did in the old days so important?  Kevin said it best to me:

“People come in with stuff they’ve bought off the Internet, and what we see are unhappy customers after the purchase. Everybody thinks they have to get a deal, and then they call us, and they say, ‘I got a pair of boots and can you fit them? I’d like to come in and try on other sizes of this company.’”

Kevin reminded me about basic physiology when we were talking:

“Three things get longer as you get older. The feet, the nose and the ears. That happens with even our regular customers who come in. We’ll have people who have changed one full size in as little as 4 months.”

“On the Internet, it’s a small, medium and large world. But if you really want shoes and boots that fit, that don’t hurt your feet when you wear them, that fit correctly, you use the Brannock device because the arch is what you fit, and then, you fit the width…”

“Two-thirds of all people have narrow feet, and people are shocked by that. But as we tell people: If your toes were so important, why are those $400 orthotics that are prescribed by doctors designed to fit under the arch of the foot?”

“When you spend a day in The Shack, and you see some of these people come through here, and you hear about the tens of thousands of dollars they’ve spent with the medical profession, in the doctor’s office, in the chiropractor’s office, with surgeries, and you listen to all the pain and suffering people go through, and all the issues they have. Their hips wear out, and their knees wear out, and their ankles hurt.  That’s because the shoes they’re wearing don’t fit the arch properly and don’t fit the width properly.”

“Twenty or thirty years ago, you never heard these stories or saw these $400 orthotics that you do now, and now everybody’s got them because nobody wears anything that fits properly.  It’s like an epidemic that gets worse every year.”

“Our wonderful repair shop that we’ve done business with for years has said that the Internet is the best thing that’s ever happened to his business because people are in there constantly with crap they bought on the Internet that doesn’t fit and they’re in getting it altered or stretched.”

The Boot Shack is a one-of-a-kind shoe and boot Destination store.  When you go to The Shack, they’re going to measure your feet correctly, and then, they have a selection that allows them to fit your feet to shoes and boots that don’t pinch, rub, and hurt you when you walk.

Is there any question why people fly and drive from all over North America to buy from The Boot Shack, instead of buying from Zappos?

It’s pretty clear to me.

Oh, one last thing: In Donna Tam’s article, Zappos Lab Director Will Young wonders aloud, “How do we get people out of brick and mortar?”

I’m sorry to break it to you, Will, but you won’t get them out of this brick and mortar store.

The final 2013 Destination BootCamp is on October 1-3 and it’s for independent business owners who want to learn what Kevin and Deb are applying in their business. You can register at www.DestinationBootCamp.com.

 

 

Coming to a Town Near You: Destination Business Mobile Office

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Coming to a community near you: the new Schallert Group Destination Business Mobile Office.

Now when you bring Jon Schallert to your town or city to help your business owners, Jon’s going to be bringing his entire office with him. This allows you to have access to all of Jon’s resources right in your town!

Look for this little powerhouse coming to your city in the future months!

Quit Worrying About the Size of Your Marketplace

When I consult in communities around the country, I often hear business owners say things like: “My marketplace is too small”, or “There aren’t enough of my type of customers around here to support my type of business”, or “When more people move here, my sales will improve.”

When I hear words like these, I realize that the owners I’m talking to have not embraced the idea that their business can become a Destination. Instead, they are running a business that is location-dependent.

The truth is that no one can accurately measure the financial potential of a community today, and where your business is currently located does not have to limit the sales your business generates.

As for measuring the potential of your demographic area, an accurate measurement of its potential cannot be done. Sure, I know that there are really smart people out there who can run demographic numbers that show the statistics of a marketplace. But the problem is these statistics then are correlated to the potential dollars that can be spent in that same area.

Unfortunately, these studies do not take into account the potential impact of a business that makes itself a Destination, a business that is so decidedly different that it consistently pulls consumers from outside its marketplace.  In fact, every analysis of every marketplace focuses on who is living there, not the potential spending power of everyone who could buy there.

Here’s why any analysis of a marketplace falls hopelessly short of the real potential of an area: Let’s start with every shopper who is walking around with a credit card, giving that customer exponential spending power. Do you accurately know the spending power of the customers who walk in your doors? You can guess, but you’d be wrong. Even in today’s economy, some of those credit cards are still tied to home mortgage lines-of-credit, and even though credit card spending has declined, some consumers still have gargantuan impulse- buying power.

Then, there are the tourists, who also carry credit cards, who visit your area, and these consumers are never measured or factored into traditional statistics. Plus, studies don’t take into account consumers from cities outside of the traditional 15 miles who don’t think they can possibly find what they are looking for in their city, so they drive somewhere else, thereby participating in Road-Trip Retailing. And studies don’t take into account the spreading of the wealth that occurs when consumers in your city, who logically should buy from your business, drive illogically away to spend their money elsewhere.

Now, I haven’t mentioned consumers who spend money over the phone, via catalogs, with infomercials, on the Home Shopping Network, or via the Internet. Those numbers cannot be accurately measured; they can only be guessed at.

And let’s not forget those consumers in your city or town who walk in, and say, “We’ve lived here 20 years and we never knew you were here.” Suddenly, your business has discovered incremental business in your backyard.  And remember:  Don’t slap that walking-around-in-a-daze, advertising-avoiding, living-in-a-vacuum consumer. This person is your neighbor!

Add all these groups up and even the smartest statistician can’t tell you the potential spending power that you can capture from the consumers who you could lure to your business, IF you were marketing your business as a Destination.

Here are 5 simple tips that should give you piece of mind about the potential of your marketplace:

  • Worry less about the limits of your immediate demographic area.
  • Focus more on creating a business that is so different, that you literally remake the demographics of your marketplace, and the share of it that you claim for your own.
  • Don’t simply focus on the consumer walking down your street, or driving by.  Focus on a consumer hundreds of miles away, and make your business so different that this distant consumer longs to visit your business in person. If you position your business to capture  that person and keep him or her interested, the ones walking down the street will be easy to pull in.
  • Think about attending our Destination BootCamp and learn how to reposition your business into a Consumer Destination.
  • And one last thought: Your “marketplace” is always larger than you can imagine, and most of us don’t imagine large enough