Posts Tagged : Community Reinvention

the Hartville Hardware Store: The World's Largest Hardware store
Retail Isn’t Dying & the Retail Apocalypse Isn’t Coming

In the last 2 months, there have been multiple articles written about the “Retail Apocalypse”, the term journalists use to describe the many retail stores and malls that are closing.

One article in Bloomberg magazine by Matt Townsend and others was titled: “America’s ‘Retail Apocalyse’ Is Really Just Beginning”.  The article detailed the debt that major chains are carrying and the history of chains going out of business.

My favorite article was written by Bart Higgins in the Wall Street Journal that showed the Rolling Acres Mall in Akron, Ohio with the headline “What to Do with Dead Malls?” Bart wrote: “Brick-and-mortar stores are closing at unprecedented rates”.  To drive home the point, the WSJ used a photo of the mall at center court showing boarded-up stores, dying trees in the planters, and broken lights and tiles dangling from the ceiling.

All of these articles sure make it sound like the end is near for retail.

But nothing could be further from the truth.  What we’re witnessing is not the end of retailing. We’re witnessing the results of years of rapid retail growth of copycat stores who thought the way to grow profits was to add more locations, adding their stores to developer-created clusters of additional copycat stores in any city or county that seemed viable.

What we’re really witnessing is retail reinvention in a massive way. And the winners will be those proactive retailers that make themselves true Destinations for consumers, complete with one-of-a-kind product, services, experiences and surprises.  These retailers will continue to grow and thrive, despite any competition that comes from Amazon and other online retailers.

Want an example?  Look a mere 17.2 miles away from where the Rolling Acres Mall in Akron stands as a wreck of its former self and you can find the Hartville Hardware store, the world’s largest hardware store at 305,000 square feet, thriving in a city of 3,020 people.

What?  The world’s largest hardware store profitably exists in a city of 3,020?  Yes!  And though this store is unusual because of its size, there are hundreds of Destination retailers in North America whose locations are even more demographically-challenged, not nearly as large, with often lower populations, that are attracting both local customers and shoppers from miles away.

All of these stores are living proof that Consumer Destinations are avoiding an Apolcalypse and proof that as Destination retail thrives, so can small towns and urban areas prosper when a developer would never have considered their marketplaces viable for a mall of any kind.

So, when you hear someone say that “retail is tough”, remind them that it’s never been an easy vocation, and when someone says that Amazon is going to kill all retail stores, just smile and walk away because retail isn’t dying. It’s simply morphing. And those smaller communities, savvy developers, proactive downtowns, and retail entrepreneurs who recognize that ‘location, location, location’ is no longer the key to retail success will be the true beneficiaries of this retail shift.

That’s it for this post. Feel free to call if you’d like to talk more about your business becoming the most powerful version of itself, a Destination Business.

Jon Schallert
President, The Schallert Group, Inc.
(303) 774-6522

Opportunity for 18 Grand County Business Owners to Participate in Community Reinvention Destination Business Program

Grand County Economic Development will pay for 18 Grand County business owners to participate in Jon Schallert’s Community Reinvention Program which begins with a 2½-day Destination BootCamp in Longmont on October 25-27. The organization is accepting applications for the grants until September 15.

Last year, 18 county business owners took advantage of a similar opportunity to participate in Schallert’s Community Reinvention Program that included his 20-hour Destination BootCamp workshop, 4-months of follow-up training, and a 1-on-1 on-site visit from Schallert to provide specific marketing advice to grow their businesses into “Consumer Destinations” (see photo below).

October late 2015Schallert, who has taught tens of thousands of entrepreneurs how to make their shops irresistible to both local and tourist customers, started developing his trademark 14-point strategy during a decade at Hallmark Cards where his model was called “The Schallert Method”.  Schallert’s firm, The Schallert Group, started in 1996 and is based in Longmont, where he holds six Destination BootCamps a year.  Over the last 14 years, over 50 counties, cities, and towns have participated in the Community Reinvention Program.

“I learned so much,” said Rachel Rayburn, owner of Altitude Jewelry in Winter Park, who attended last year. “It really feels like I’m now starting to see the benefits of that. It just took me a while to sift through all that new information. I was letting everything go on autopilot, and I wasn’t doing anything to market, and that was a mistake. He said, ‘Do lots of little pivots, do little low-cost things, see what works for you. We’ve had a lot of success with that.”

Rayburn implemented Schallert’s shop-rearrangement suggestions after his visit – putting a signature jewelry line on a dominant wall rather than by the door, for example – with immediate results.

“We flipped all of the cases and moved everything around,” she said. “We started seeing the sales of what we make increase almost immediately.”

To apply the BootCamp ideas to her Mountain Grind Coffee & Bistro in Winter Park, Susan Volk displayed her unique positioning statement on her most visible wall, promoted local food on a Wall of Fame behind her counter, and installed a copper replica of an old-fashioned expresso machine as the coffee shop’s “monument.”

“It was great to be able to put some of those things to use,” Volk said. “I was also able to use some of that information to create a new brochure that did a better job at telling my story. I think it’s generated a little buzz as well.”

Steve Kudron, owner of Quacker Gift Shop in Grand Lake, said the tips helped his personal business approach as well as his marketing. The store, which specializes in unique tourist-related items like rubber duckies, hand lotions, and fresh fudge, has online and wholesale components, along with his storefront on the boardwalk in Grand Lake.

“During the BootCamp, one of the things I learned was having the right kind of balance as a leader and what were some of the tools to be able to do that,” Kudron said. “That was a good refresher for me and an opportunity for me to make positive changes in our business.

‘I was able to take our understanding as a destination type store and really turn it using his unique positioning concepts. I was able to drill down and find the right blend of marketing as well as uniqueness in our store to really make a difference.”

Last year’s event also provided business owners in the county an opportunity to meet and start sharing ideas.  Business owners from Winter Park, Fraser, Granby, Grand Lake, and Kremmling all attended last year.

“It was great to meet people from other parts of the county,” said Volk, who later took a four-day trip to meet fellow participants in their own shops. “I met with a lot of those different business owners and got a chance to check out their businesses. I was struck with the creativity and energy they had there. Hopefully that raised some awareness for businesses in other parts of the county.

“It’s very challenging, particularly in small and rural areas where it can seem very competitive at time. The more of us that are succeeding, whether we have competing businesses or not, the better it is for all of us. I came away from the BootCamp and the Community Reinvention Program with a really strong sense of that, and I’d like to see that carried on to businesses across Grand County.”

Small business owners may apply to participate in this year’s Community Reinvention Program by submitting a letter of interest. Grand County Economic Development received a $27,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant with a token $290 investment from the County for the program. Eligible businesses must have fewer than 50 employees and less than $1 million in gross sales to qualify.

For more information and to apply for the program, call Grand County Economic Development at (970) 531-1343 or email: dbutler@co.grand.co.us.

Can Your Business Change its Course like an Aircraft Carrier?

Sinking Ship“No matter how far you have gone on a wrong road, turn back.” Turkish proverb

Let me tell you a story that a friend of mine, a retired Navy Commander, told me. One night over a couple of libations, I asked him what he did in the Navy, and while he was listing his different jobs, he mentioned that he had piloted an aircraft carrier, the largest sea-going vessel in the world.

Do you wonder just how large it is? A Nimitz-class aircraft carrier is 1,000 feet long (approximately 3 times the length of a football field), and as wide as a football field, 100 yards wide. Each one weighs 100,000 tons, which sounds large, until you do the math and realize that it’s tremendously heavy at 200 million pounds of metal floating on the ocean.

The more we talked, the more I asked questions. Seriously, this friend of mine had navigated an aircraft carrier! Finally, this question came to my mind: Just how long does it take to turn an aircraft carrier completely around to head in the opposite direction? Not just a small turn, but a complete 180-degree turn in the opposite direction? Here’s what he told me:

When he was “driving” it, he could make a 1 degree change in the direction of the ship every couple of seconds. That meant that in roughly 3-5 miles, depending on the speed of the ship, the current of the ocean, and the wind, he could completely turn the vessel around in just 3-5 minutes.

Think about that: A 200 million pound ship that can go from one direction, to the total opposite direction, in 3-5 minutes.

So my question is:

Why does it take entrepreneurs so long to change the direction of their business,
when they know they’re going the wrong way?

Seriously, I meet business owners all the time who confide in me and admit that the revenue they’re bringing in from their business is inadequate. They admit to me that their business has changed into something that is unrecognizable from what they dreamed of creating. And finally, they tell me how their business no longer gives them the joy and the thrill of owning it. It’s a burden, or worse, it’s turned into a really bad job.

Shoot, if you wanted a job, you could have stayed in the one you had before you started your business.

Listen to me: You CAN change the course of your business for the better, and you can do it in a short amount of time. Yes, it will take time to get it to where you want it to be, but it all starts with a simple decision: Admitting that you don’t like what’s happening and deciding that you will no longer steer your business in that direction.

Trust me on this: You ARE more nimble than a 200 million pound aircraft carrier. You have a brain to move your business forward, and it only has propellers. But if it can change its course in 5 minutes, don’t you think you should be able to change your course in even less time? I think so.

I’m going to leave you with this quote from Jim Rohn:

You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.”

Don’t wait another day to do it!

33 Days from Today

Just 33 days from today, you could be sitting in my Destination Business BootCamp learning an entirely new way to bring more customers in your door. It took me almost 30 years to learn this 14-step strategy, but it’s all available to you when you make the trek to Longmont, Colorado to be part of one of my classes.

If you’d like to read about what you’ll learn at my Destination BootCamp, just click here.

You are also welcome to call me at any time, if you’d like to learn if my class can help your business. Just call our office line below.

As I said above: Don’t wait another day to do it!

Thanks, Everyone!

Jon

What’s Your Business Potential?

Is_Your_Business_Living_Up_to_its_PotentialIf you recently watched the Super Bowl, you heard a word used repeatedly during the game, and during the pre and post-game interviews. That word was Potential.

The dictionary defines Potential as: “latent qualities or abilities that may be developed which lead to future success…”

That sounds very positive, but in the world of sports, when Potential is used, it’s rarely used in a positive context. I’ve never heard an announcer say: “We are watching a world-class athlete right now performing at their peak potential.”
Why is that? It’s because with athletes, we just don’t know how good someone can become. We can tell when they’re at the top of their field, like Usain Bolt, the Jamaican sprinter who is the fastest person ever timed in track and field. But what we don’t know is: Has he really reached his potential? Or is there still another new 100 meter record just waiting to be set by him?

Consequently, when we hear the word Potential in sports, it’s used negatively:

“Once Joe moved to Colorado and started hitting the marijuana dispensaries, he never reached his potential as a football player.”

But in this blog post, I’m going to challenge you to think of the word Potential in a new and positive way. Let me ask you:

Have you maximized the Potential of your Business?

Why am I asking you this? Because as I travel the country speaking at conferences and in communities, it’s troubling when I hear business owners say:

“I still haven’t paid myself a salary since I started my business and I made more money at my previous job.”
“We opened our business 5 years ago, and we still haven’t hit our initial projections.”
“If our location was different, we’d do so much better.”
“I don’t want to do this forever, and I’d like to retire and sell this business someday.”

All of these owners are talking about their businesses not having reached their Potential.

Here’s something I’d like you to consider:  If you’ve tried everything you can think of, and you’re still not happy with the revenue your business is generating, isn’t it time to try something new to realize the Potential of your business?

Stick with me on this: I’ve consulted with entrepreneurs for nearly 30 years. I’ve interviewed over 10,000 business owners in over 500 towns and cities.

I know a little bit about business success.

Businesses that become Consumer Destinations MAXIMIZE their Potential.  They EXCEED the sales and customer traffic numbers of businesses around them.  They do so well, they defy the demographics of the area in which they are located.

I know this is true because owners who have created Destination Businesses make comments like this to me:

“Our business pulls customers from hours away.”
“I didn’t know it would be this easy to get free publicity.”
“I had no idea our sales could be this good.”
“I never dreamed our business would be this successful.”

The Potential of your business: You haven’t maximized it, but you can.

Let me leave you with a final thought from Bo Bennett:

Every day, people settle for less than they deserve.
They are only partially living or at best living a partial life.
Every human being has the potential for greatness.

And so does your business.

Registration Now Open

We have five (5) Destination BootCamps scheduled for 2016, with our first one coming up in 8 weeks.

If you’d like to learn the Destination strategy that I’ve taught nearly 1,000 independent business owners, attending our Destination BootCamp is the only way you can do it.

Go to Destination BootCamp.com to see our 2016 dates, and read about what other owners have said after they’ve completed our class.  (Seriously, you should go read what they said; just click here to do it.)

If after looking it our information, you still have questions, call me directly at 303-774-6522. I’ll take some time to talk to you about what kind of Potential your business can achieve!

Thanks, everyone! Until next time, let me hear of your successes.

Jon

Moving Forward and Avoiding Anchors

Normally when I get done with one of my Destination workshops, I get owners in the audience wanting to pick my brain on specific steps to make their businesses grow. They want to talk in greater detail about the 14-steps to become a Destination.

But recently in one audience, there was a small, vocal group of owners (clearly in the minority), who wanted to talk about all the things their city hadn’t done to help their businesses grow. They wanted to rehash stories of what it was like ten years ago and the mistakes the city had made. How the city didn’t have enough parking spaces, enough of a marketing budget, enough people to keep the sidewalks clean, and enough people thinking about small businesses. According to these owners, there wasn’t enough of anything.

I politely answered each question thrown at me and told this vocal minority that today, you have to be a business that is so unique, that consumers will come, regardless of your parking situation. I pointed out that if your business isn’t one-of-a-kind, you can have all the parking in the world and it’s not going to matter. I pointed out that people will avoid what they are bored of seeing, and people will not take a minute out of their day to revisit an average business. I emphasized that I was talking about Right Now, right here, today, not back then, ten years or even ten days ago.  I told these owners that we were moving forward, focusing on what they could change today, not revisiting the actions of prior groups.  I emphasized that I was giving them the opportunity to pick my brain and learn how to reinvent their businesses into Consumer Destinations, right now.

But these owners kept it up. They kept asking the same questions, and it suddenly dawned on me that most of the people in the room wanted to move on and change their community and their businesses.  Obviously, the city that had brought me in to speak wanted to move ahead. They were the ones who were forward-thinking enough to put me in front of this group.

Here’s my point in telling you this:  There are businesses located near you who will do anything they can to keep your business at the same level as their business. These owners do not want to move forward because it is easier to rehash the past, and complain about it, than it is to move ahead and face change. The future is a scary place for them. It is simpler to look backward and analyze what went wrong.

It’s important for you to understand that these owners are more content to scream about the changes that are happening, than to gear up their thinking and competitiveness and relearn what needs to be learned in order to make their businesses viable again. They scream because they are in a state of paralysis, not knowing how to change the business they have created, nor willing to fold it up and admit that they can’t compete anymore.

Most importantly, these owners are trying to pull your business down, not because they knowingly want to hurt your business, but because they sincerely believe their way is the only way. They don’t understand what you are trying to do with your business, and explaining your goal of creating your business into a Destination will be as foreign to them as learning Swahili (which I’ve heard is tough to learn). As they try to help you, they are working to keep you from pulling away from them, just like an anchor. Despite your best efforts and optimism, it’s more likely their negativity will suck the energy and enthusiasm out of you.

It is my advice that if you want to move ahead at rapid speed with your business, these types of people need to be avoided. Instead, you should seek out others who hold a similar belief in what you want to accomplish.  Find someone who is more skilled than you are, and learn from them. Understand that once you are successful, these negative neighbors of yours will not celebrate your success.  Instead, you will become a business that they will envy, and that’s a whole different kind of negativity. These owners see you in a smaller role than you imagine for yourself.  Insist on being as large as you want to dream.

You might wonder what happened with these owners during this discussion.  I agreed to disagree with them and I told them that we weren’t going to rehash the past. And with that, I focused my attention on of those who wanted to improve.

And that’s how it has to be done in your community:  When the train is pulling out of the station with most everyone on board, you never hit the brakes because a few didn’t hear the whistle.

Such a Big Change: A Letter from a Destination BootCamp Business Owner

This week I received a letter from a business owner who had attended my Destination Business BootCamp in 2011.  Normally, I just keep these letters for myself, but this one, I’m going to share.  When you read it, you’ll see why. There are parts of it that hit the emotions that every business owner in the world has ever felt.

By the way, I asked the owner who wrote this letter if sharing it was OK with him. He gave me permission to do so.

Our Destination BootCamp is a two and one-half day workshop. It takes me that long to cover my 14-step strategy for making a business a Consumer Destination. It’s not like when I speak at a conference for an hour. In the days I have with the owners in attendance, I can show them a different way to position their businesses to be successful.

Here’s a photo of the class. The business owner who wrote the letter was Louie Colosimo, owner of  Red Glass Oak in Central Point, Oregon. To see Louie’s amazing business, go to his website here: http://RedOakGlass.com.  His creations are amazing!

Louie had come to our Destination BootCamp with five other business owners from Central Point and with Tom Humphrey, the Director of their city’s Community Development Program. Tom had organized the group and Louie was one of the participants he had asked to make the trip to Colorado, as part of our Community Reinvention Program.

That’s all I’m going to say. Here’s Louie’s letter to me, in its entirety. I haven’t done any editing.

Thanks, Louie, for letting me share your letter. I hope it helps other owners realize that they can make changes to their businesses and turn a poor situation around.

Here’s Louie’s letter:

Dear Jon,

Short version: I want to thank you for all you’ve taught me.

Longer version: Last year, when Tom Humphrey asked me if I wanted to attend your Businessman’s Boot Camp, I was about a week away from quitting my business and throwing in the towel. Deep in debt, out of energy, and my best sales person was seriously drifting away, the future looked bleak at best. I’d even begun to ask around if anyone knew of a good bankruptcy lawyer. It was either quit or try one more time. Finally, I decided to go see you and give it one more shot. The least that would happen would be that I’d get a free trip to Colorado and escape the shop for a few days. I’m so glad that I did. You absolutely turned my life around. Not just my business life but my regular life (?) too.

But not at first.

On the first day of Boot Camp, or rather in the first two hours of the first day, my ass hurt from sitting. I kept shifting from side to side… left bun, right bun and back again. And you were so indefatigably cherry and positive. I kept thinking, “Christ, I should’a quit. At least with bankruptcy it’d be over and I won’t have to think about it.” But then, you showed “problem/solutions” and order began to creep in. My butt began to hurt less, then I forgot about it.

By the end of the first day, I was mostly a convert. I did my homework that night and woke to face the second day. You got better and so did I. By the end of the last day, I wanted to stay and stay and listen. You never wore down. You kept believing that we all could do it. And finally, so did I.  Not only were you telling me how to market better, but what I finally realized was that you were demonstrating how to do it in real time. I was your customer. You took care to treat me special, give me all the information I needed to understand your product, and see how many others managed marketing. You were able to define your business (on an elevator ride between the 3rd and 4th floor); you had your monument-al achievements, and best of all, you were proud of your accomplishments.

I knew that to stay in business, I had to market my product. But knowing that it isn’t the same as knowing how to do it. To me, marketing was like trying to grab a hold of a sand storm. There was no handle. No place to start. What do I do first, second, etc? And what you told us wasn’t the answers I wanted to hear.

Instead, you asked questions. Being asked a good question was so much more valuable than being told a general something, a fortune cookie solution. Right off the bat, you asked the hardest thing of all, for me to define my business in one sentence. I always thought that I had done that, until I really thought about it. Now that I think about it more, what you did wasn’t asking for a definition, but more like you challenged me to look at myself and my business the way the world does, from the outside looking in. I always looked at myself and what I did from the inside out. I was a glass blower! Now, I want the world to see me as a glass artist that creates hand blow art glass pendant lighting and inspiring standing chandeliers. So that’s how I define myself and it fits how I see myself. It was and is such a small shift in perception. Such a big change! I understood what I needed to do to keep on going. I’m still slipping and sliding, but now it’s in the general direction of where I want to go.

One last thought about trying organize a sand storm: I’ll be shoveling with the Taj Mahal in mind and realize that all I’ve got is a mud hut and it’ll come to me again that I can’t do it all at once no matter how I try. But, I can do something every day. And I do. Plus, I could bring some hot dogs, beer, a kite and enjoy the beauty and flow of it all.

The other day, I was talking to Tom Humphrey about you and I said that I’d like to hear Jon talk about stress relief, when business gets scary. Without a blink, he immediately gave me a “Jon” answer. He said, “Market better.”  Dorothy had a yellow bricks to guide her, but we’ve got Jon, which is a different kind of brick. When in doubt of the direction to City of “ahhs”, all I have to do is ask myself (or the Central Point team) what would Jon do to get there? When I left Colorado, I felt like all three of the clunks from the wizard of Oz all rolled into one: I needed to get a brainy plan, the heart to keep on going and the courage to stick it out. And I can. After all, Jon believes I can.

With the utmost sincerity and thanks,

Louis Colosimo
Art glass pendant manufacturer
Red Oak Glass.com
234 N. Front St.
Central Point, Or. 97502
541- 326- 8836

Handling Your Great, Good, and Bad Ideas: A 3-Step Process, Part 1

Here’s something that’s critical if you are going to build a better business: learn to act on your great ideas, nurture your good ones, and discard your bad ones.

But this is easier said than done, especially for most owners of businesses.  You see, most owners are extremely creative people with ideas constantly popping up in their heads every day.

Do you recognize yourself?  If so, this blog post is for you.

I see it all the time.  Most owners keep lists and pages of their ideas.  Owners are great note-takers and list-makers. The problem comes finding time to act on those ideas.  Rather than devoting time to work on them (what companies call innovation time, or research and development), most owners work in their businesses and will do anything to NOT work on their ideas.  For example, some owners read trade publications, talk to business owners in their same field, and attend industry conferences, and when they return, they are thoroughly overloaded with more ideas, piles of notes and scribbles of thoughts, and magazines where they’ve highlighted every word in yellow.

Face it. You have more ideas than you need!  And I’m including the bad ideas you get from people who come up to you, knowing very little about your business, who say: “You should do this, if you want to make more money.”

Do the math, and collectively, you have some great ideas mixed in with a bunch of good ideas, about half-a-ton of not so good ideas, and a couple of hundred ideas that you don’t know if they’re good or not, and a few that you wrote down or heard that you don’t understand.

Then, I come around and tell you to reinvent your business as a Destination which really puts you in overload (it shouldn’t; my stuff’s the easiest).

Here is the first step in the process to help you handle your great, good, and bad ideas.

Today I will share the First Idea.  #2 and #3 will appear in this blog in the next two days.

#1 Step: Remember that there is only one you.

“There is only one you”.  What does that mean?  It means that you are limited in what you alone can accomplish as one person.  Your parents used to say “There is only one you” but they meant that you were like a shining star or unique like a snowflake.  And though you might have been and maybe are now, I don’t mean it that way.

Put another way: You are just one person trying to handle too much.

But, you might say, “Wait, it’s not just me!”  You might say this because you have a supportive partner or spouse or good employees who are likewise focused on your business.  Yes, this support is wonderful, but that makes a few more “kind-of-like yous”, and even though your spouse might be infinitely more talented than you and right on the same page, that only means there is at most, just one more than you.

And yes, some of you have brilliant people working for you.  They can take some responsibility for handling different ideas.  But deep down, you know that there is a reason your employees work for you and don’t have their own businesses.  They are not you, and some aren’t even like you. They don’t wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, thinking how to make payroll the next day. They sleep at night while you are up thinking of the hundreds of ideas that caused you to sit up in bed.  They don’t agonize over that customer your business just lost, and that sale that just walked out the door.  Deep down, they are less committed.

Granted, there are other possibilities to have more people help you with your ideas.  You can delegate responsibilities to others (though most owners don’t do this real well because you have a tendency to be a little controlling, oh, snowflake that you are).  Yes, delegation is a possibility.

But let me come back to what I said: There is only one you.  And you know it, and for the most part, the really great ideas that are percolating around up there will have to be put into practice by you.

Tomorrow, we’ll cover the reality of having too many ideas, and what to do about it.

How Croghan Colonial Bank is Helping Small Businesses

I talked about this briefly last month, but I wanted to go into more detail here.

Angie Morelock, the Downtown Director for Downtown Fremont, Inc. in Fremont, Ohio, has wanted to bring a group of business owners to my 2 ½ day Destination Business BootCamp for years. She’s applied for grants to help fund the trip, but the grants never materialized.

But towards the end of last year, Michelle McGovern, the Marketing Director for the Croghan Colonial Bank called me, and we talked about the value of bringing a group of business owners to the BootCamp. Michelle’s bank office is located in downtown Fremont, and she was considering using part of her bank’s marketing funds to sponsor a group of business owners to attend my 2010 Destination BootCamp. I told her about cities that had sent groups of business owners, like Hanford, California (that sent their first group in 2009); Rockwall, Texas (that had sent 2 groups), and Lafayette, Indiana (which has sent 3 groups of businesses over the years). We’ve had groups attend from small cities, like Arkansas City, Kansas; Skowhegan, Maine; and Worland, Wyoming, and from large cities like Seattle, Washington.

You might wonder why communities keep sponsoring and paying for independent business owners to attend a workshop that will improve their businesses? It is because when those businesses improve, their improvements impact the entire marketplace where they reside. Plus, when a group of business owners return from over 20-hours of learning, they share their ideas with their neighbors and help them improve. Financially, it’s a great deal for a community because they receive extra services that we don’t otherwise provide for small business owners, including a free workshop in the sponsoring community and onsite visits with all the businesses that attended the BootCamp. When I go and speak in the city, more business owners are educated, and some communities end up turning that small group of six owners into a group of hundreds of owners, learning together, changing all of their businesses using what they learned at the BootCamp.

You might know where this story is going. Michelle went to Angie and decided to pay for the costs to send a group to our March BootCamp. When I asked Michelle what convinced her to take some of her bank’s marketing dollars towards this cause, here’s what she told me:

“The Croghan Colonial Bank is a recognized leader in community banking throughout Northwest Ohio. Their business model is based on the understanding that when the company’s clients, employees and communities are financially strong, the company is too.

As the Marketing Director for a small regional bank, I have the responsibility to make sure everything we do measures up to the mission of the bank. That includes how we spend our marketing dollars. In that regard, our mission is to support the financial well-being of the clients and communities we serve.

It costs $11,563 to run one ad in all our market papers telling people how much we support our local community. It costs $10,500 to send 6 businesses through Jon’s COMMUNITY REINVENTION PROGRAM. So, do we run an ad telling people how much we build our local communities or do we actually build one? I think the choice is clear on which is actually more aligned with my company’s mission. So, I created the “Croghan Colonial Bank Small Business Reinvention Scholarship”. In this tough economy, is there really any better way to grow my company than to help others grow theirs?”    Michelle R. McGovern, Marketing Director, Croghan Colonial Bank

To read what the local papers are saying about Croghan Colonial Bank’s small business scholarship program, click here to read the Toledo Blade.

You can also read the excerpt from the North Coast Business Journal by going to this address: http://ncbj.net and clicking on page 23 of the article.

Now, let me put my “Marketing Hat” on:  Not only has the Croghan Colonial Bank done a great thing for the business owners there and the Main Street Program, what do you think will happen when business owners start associating the Bank with its pro-small business stance?  Let’s not forget that written articles are also seen by readers as being 12 times more believable than advertising.  The sponsorship of these business owners will have more collective marketing power than any ad, while also doing more good.  That’s a true Win-Win scenario for the Bank and the community.

If you’d like to bring a group to our next Destination BootCamp from your community, but don’t know where to start, either call our offices at 303-774-6522 or download our application information by clicking here.