Posts Tagged : Destination Boot Camp

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.

When Buying Local Doesn’t Feel Local

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

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

I get all that.

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

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

Let me explain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s what I do:

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

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

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

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

Still Time to Save $200

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

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

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

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

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

Successful Independent Business Magazine

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

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

Successful Independent Business Magazine

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

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

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

Jon Schallert

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.

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.