Posts Tagged : Creating a Destination Business

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

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
In Praise of Slackers

The last time I wrote in my blog, I wrote about complaining business owners who don’t make changes to improve their businesses.  If you don’t remember what I wrote, you can read it by clicking here.

Looking back, I was wrong about them.  I admit it!

I am now ready to embrace the complainers!  Here’s why:

My revelation on this point occurred when Alisa, our new Business Development Manager, left during the morning for a dentist appointment, but later returned a couple of hours later, resuming her regular duties.  Thinking about my own dentist appointments that are often filled with needles of Novocain shot into my gums, making it impossible for me to talk when I return to work, I couldn’t help but notice that she seemed quite functional.

So, I asked her: “How are your teeth?  Are you in pain?  Are you still OK to be at work?” But Alisa assured me she was totally fine.

She then said to me: “My dentist told me that if all his patients took care of their teeth like me, there’d be no need for her.  She’d be out of work.”  She explained that she took great care to clean and maintain her teeth after being told how important it was, and how her dentist appointments were non-eventful checkups absent of the pain I regularly came to associate with my visits.

We talked a little more and then, my light bulb moment occurred. It came to me in a flash that if everyone with teeth, brushed, flossed, and cared for them like Alisa, what a huge impact that would have on the dental industry! How would these dentist offices stay open, if all of their patients gave them nothing to do?

Let me use my dentist as an example.  I think my dentist’s office employs about 5-7 people, and I’d guess they are all pretty well paid professionals, all doing their work on people who don’t brush and floss as well as Alisa does. What if these people had no work?  For example, my dentist is a great dentist and a great guy, but I bet he doesn’t have any other marketable skills besides dentistry (maybe watch repair, with those tools he’s accumulated and his steady hand). But the rest of his staff? Not so talented.  I foresee “Will clean teeth for food” handwritten signs by the interstate.

Now, take this idea a step further. Multiply the impact if every dentist office in the country closed because everyone took care of their teeth like they should. Think of the massive unemployment problems that would result.  I bet most of these dental workers would be out on the streets, forced to selling their stash of free toothbrushes and mini toothpaste tubes. And think about that loss of revenue that previously circulated in our economy from people paying for dentures, implants, cleanings, oral surgery, x-rays…all of it gone!  What an economic downturn our country would experience, if everyone cared for their teeth like Alisa!

And that’s when it dawned on me that I’ve been looking at this the wrong way.  All those business owners who don’t attend my workshops, who don’t make their businesses unique and distinctive…these are people I should be thanking!  The owners who complain all the time and do little to help themselves while remaining stagnant, I should hug!  These owners are the ones who are maintaining the below-average business standards that allow the rest of my clients to stand out.  These owners are the people who set the low bar! These are the entrepreneurs who make it possible for any other company to look so good, by them being so bad at what they do.  These are the people whose poor service gets anchored in the minds of customers, so when my clients’ employees go just a little above and beyond the call of duty, their efforts seem Herculean.

I am the first one to admit when I am wrong, and I was wrong about the slackers.  It was wrong for me to have berated them.  The slackers, malcontents, and complaining business owners have done nothing wrong.  Granted, they haven’t done anything particularly right either, but they don’t deserve to be flogged into changing.

I’ve changed my mind!  Immobile owners like these should be praised. They should be encouraged to “Do nothing, move nowhere, change not!” Their businesses are perfect, in their most imperfect states, and the rest of the proactive business world needs them to maintain their business inertia.

So to all owners out there who are constantly working to improve yourself and your business position, do this: The next time you see one your business peers who fits this slacker/complainer description, don’t avoid them. Don’t look away. And certainly don’t berate them with those positive suggestions of change you typically heap on them. Next time, give them a hearty pat on the back and a cheery “Carry on!”

Their mediocre business is crucial to your creation of the Destination Business of your dreams. Without them, your challenges would be much more difficult.