Posts Tagged : Destination BootCamp

Testimonials from Destination BootCamp Attendees: April 9-11, 2019

On the last day of our Destination Business BootCamp class, we ask every attendee this question:

“If another business owner asked you why they should attend the Destination BootCamp, what would you tell them?”

Here’s what our class from April 9-11, 2019 (pictured above) said:

  • “If you want to save yourself years of struggle—go here first to start out with the right tools.”
  • “It has been eye-opening for me. I’ve learned a lot and feel hopeful about the future, but it also confirmed a lot of ideas I’ve had but have not implemented.”
  • “I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t gaining the customer base I wanted, and this BootCamp helps clarify how to gain it.”
  • “The knowledge and guidance you get is beyond anything I ever imagined.”
  • “Taking 3 days to reimagine your business is the best investment you’ll make this year.”
  • “You’ll get specific, actionable steps—and resources to help you do them—to get your business noticed!”
  • “It just opens my mind to so many things that I know I can do to improve sales.”
  • “It is a good experience. It’s great to see all the business stories and transformation examples.”
  • “It is very informative. As a new business starting out, the 1-on-1 information is truly priceless.  I felt I had no clue.  Now I feel like we might be able to survive because another failure is not an option.”
  • “Gained valuable insights into methods on spreading a wider net, and gain customers for a little effort and money, words matter when targeting customers and retaining customers.”
  • “I would tell them [business owners] that even though this course is tailored towards retail, and I don’t have a retail store, I am still taking away very valuable skills to apply to my business. Jon’s a wonderful teacher and has a unique ability to reach the different attendees on a very personal and relatable level.”
  • “Simple package of Top Gun business tactics.”
  • “This camp has made me stop and think about details of my business that I hadn’t already thought about.”
  • “I’ve gained so much insight and knowledge in how to promote my business. Tons of new ideas to implement.”
  • “As a hospital CEO, I think we get bogged down in the pure financial and regulatory component of our business and spend less time on product development, marketing, and growth strategies. This BootCamp has opened my eyes to some areas that sorely need attention.”
  • “Information is invaluable and [business owners] must attend to build business.”
  • “This course has shifted my outlook on my next phase of marketing and outreach. It has also provided tools to take tasks off mu plate and still be more effective.”
  • “You will learn ways to promote your business on a larger scale.”
  • “You’ll gain insight into the importance and impact that various marketing tools have on growth of your business.”
  • “GO!! Jon gets you thinking in every aspect of your business.  So much info but given in a fantastic, memorable way!”
  • “This class is packed with information. I am a very visual person, and all the examples from other businesses trigger thought processes for my own business.”
  • “Very informative and educational. I’d do it all over!”
  • “You must learn something new every day and be willing to change, innovate, and learn 21st century skills and strategies.”

Need more information on attending the Destination BootCamp?  Call me directly at my office and we can talk about how the BootCamp class can grow your sales, increase your customer traffic, and put your business on the map.

Thanks!

Jon Schallert
(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.

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

What We Absolutely Know Will Happen to You and Your Business in 2016

Happy New Year 2016I don’t generally make business predictions, but here’s one thing that’s going to happen to every one of you, if you’re an entrepreneur or a business owner, in 2016.

Seriously, I can read the future.  I know you’re skeptical, and you might not believe me right now, but keep reading, and you will!

But before I get into that, let’s talk about 2015: For many of you, last year was a year to remember. All around the country, many of you told me that your business was never better. You had higher sales, better profits, and most importantly, more peace of mind than you’ve had in years.

As my accountant says: “Sales cure most things.”

But unfortunately, some of you told me that 2015 was the year you’d most like to forget. If your business is especially prosperous right now, it’s probably surprising to you that there are parts of the country that aren’t reaping the full benefits of our growing economy. If you travel and interview entrepreneurs like I do, you’ll soon learn that there are entire industries that are floundering and stagnating.

But thank goodness for January 1st. I know it’s really just another day, but I have to admit that when it rolls around, I do love checking off the date on my calendar, symbolically hitting the reset button, and looking forward to the year ahead.

Now, back to what I know is going to happen to you:

I’m writing this blog post on January 15. 351 days from now, on December 31, 2016, every one of you will take a moment to reflect on your successes or failures of 2016. You might be at a New Year’s Eve celebration, or you might still be working at your business, or you might be exhausted with your feet up on the couch. Wherever you’ll be, it’ll happen, and you’ll think back at the year it’s been and the achievements you’ve had, and the disappointments in your business that never came to fruition.

As writer Gregory Maguire so eloquently put it:

“I hate New Year’s Eve.
One more chance to remember that you haven’t yet done what you wanted.
And to pretend it doesn’t matter.”

Well, it does matter. There’s nothing worse than the feeling of regret when an opportunity has been missed. There’s nothing worse than having a vision of where you want to go, a dream of where you want to be, and falling short of the goal.

Here’s the good news about independent businesses: Nothing is written in stone! An independent business owner has the power to change and redirect their future any day they decide to change course.

Do not wait to exercise your ability to change the trajectory of your business. If you want it to be different, make it so. If you want it to improve, it can be done. Thousands of owners do it every year.

Will 2016 be as good for you as you hope it will be?

Don’t hope. Decide this will be your year.

More importantly, start taking the steps right now that will lead you to say (351 days from now), on New Year’s Eve, 2016: “This was my best year ever!”

Now, for those of you who like to save money:

By popular demand, we are extending our 1-time Destination BootCamp discount for an extra week: Register for ANY of our six (6) Destination BootCamps scheduled for 2016, and save $300 off the regular tuition price. This discount is extended through next Friday, January 22 until 11:59 p.m.   Sorry: This does NOT apply to Community Reinvention Program participants.

Check out the dates for our 6 BootCamps and save $300 in tuition costs. You can look at our upcoming dates at our Destination BootCamp website, and then, click over to the Register page.

Thanks, everyone!

Jon Schallert

The 2014 Holiday Season: The Strongest in 10 Years!
2014_Is_Going_to_End_Great

You can write this down and take it to the bank.

Yes, I can see the future.  Your 2014 year is going to end surprisingly strong and on December 31, you will be screaming with excitement!

If you’d like to learn how I know this, jump down to the end of this newsletter and you can learn why 2014 will finish so amazingly strong and why you’re about to have the best Christmas selling season in a decade.  But first…

Registration is Now Open for our 2015 Destination BootCamps, with an Early-Bird Discount

I’m going to keep this short: If you’re thinking about attending one of my Destination BootCamps in 2015, we’ve now have the dates posted and registration is now open for all 4 of our 2015 classes.  Best of all, IF you register by December 31, 2014, you will save $300 on the BootCamp tuition price.

This discount will NOT be repeated in 2015. This is the only time we will be offering this.

Sorry, this does not apply to our Community Reinvention Program participants. This offer is good for independent business owners who are registering on their own.

If you aren’t sure about attending our Destination BootCamp, take 2 minutes and click here to read about the 81 different business lessons you’ll learn when you attend my class.  Then, jump over to the registration page to take advantage of our $300 Early-Bird pricing.

Why 2014 will be the Best Holiday Selling Season in 10 Years

If you are a business, you are going to have a great holiday season. There are two reasons why:

Here’s #1: Right now, there are 34 days to Christmas, counting today. You might not have thought that far ahead, but I have. This is important to your business, your business district, your shopping center, and ultimately, to your town or city.

Christmas falls on a Thursday this year. Honestly, that fact, by itself, isn’t significant at all, EXCEPT that most businesses will allow their employees to not come into work on that Friday, December 26.

Why is that important? It means that post-Christmas sales will experience a 3-day weekend. That hasn’t happened since 2008, when the economy was going down the toilet. That will mean that the smart businesses that moderately reduce their prices after Christmas will have an extra day of crazed shoppers in their stores.

Then, look ahead to the following week after Christmas. There are 3 work days, the 29th, 30th, and 31st. Most people slack off on that Wednesday, the 31st. Most employees won’t be working on Thursday, January 1. Then, there’s another Friday. Want to bet that a lot of people don’t work on that Friday, January 2?

I bet they won’t.

What all this means is that the last two weeks of 2014 will have two unofficial 3-day weekends where consumers will have more time to spend. This pattern of shopping days hasn’t occurred like this since 2008 when money was tight, and then, it happened before that in 2003. If you were in business in 2003, go back and look at your sales numbers for those last two weeks.

I’ll wait while you do it…

See? I told you.  That was a really great holiday season, wasn’t it!  Well, the opportunity is here again, over a decade later.

This is the Second Reason Your Sales will be Better in 2014

I have a free webinar that’s going to help you have the best ending to 2014.   I’ve posted it online and it’s called “4th Quarter Marketing Strategies to Implement Now”.  In it, I explain 18 different tools, techniques, and tips that you can use to make your sales better than ever. It’s free, and you can watch it by clicking here. Do it now, while you still have the time to put some of my ideas into play.

Thanks to all of you

That’s it for this newsletter, except for one thing:

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to reflect on all the blessings we have in our lives. And with that, I want to thank all of you for being readers of this newsletter. I left my safe corporate job 18 years ago to start my consulting firm and to try to start a career teaching business owners how to make their businesses stronger by becoming Destinations.  I hoped to one day teach what I knew in front of audiences as a public speaker.  At first, no one knew what I was talking about. But because of readers and supporters like you, lots of people now know what I’m talking about when I say you can reinvent your business and community into a Destination.  But without you reading this newsletter, spreading my advice and putting it into practice, I’d just be talking to myself.

Thank you all for being part of my adventure!

Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone!

Jon Schallert

3 Killer Customer Questions, PLUS: My Super-Secret 1-on-1 Consulting, Coming to Kansas next week, and October Events

The 3 Most Important Questions to Ask Every Customer

When I’m traveling to consult with my clients in their businesses, it means eating in places that I wouldn’t normally eat. Last week I spent two days consulting with a new client in Mississippi, and on the way, I grabbed a bite in a fast food restaurant as I traveled to her retail store.

In this restaurant, I ordered a submarine sandwich, and I stood there and watched as 9 people took their time NOT fixing the sandwich. They all looked remarkably busy, walking around and talking to each other. The problem wasn’t their work ethic.  It was that no one seemed to be assigned to the task of actually fixing the food for a customer.

When I asked how my sandwich was coming, the person at the register would calmly reply “They’re making it”, yet there was no sign of activity behind her.

When I finally got my food, it was quite ironic that at the table, there was a complaint card waiting for me, with a host of questions about my meal.  The questions ranged from:

How was the service?
How was the temperature of the food?
Were the restrooms clean?

I looked at the list of questions and what was missing were the 3 most important questions that you have to ask a customer, if you really want to keep that customer coming back.

The 3 most important questions you must ask every customer who has spent money in your business are these:

  1. You just spent money with us. Would you come back?
  2. Why or why not?
  3. What would you tell a friend about our business?

Ever other question is extraneous!  You will learn more from these 3 than any other questions.

Apply this to your business: Do you have any feedback sheets where you can learn your customers true feelings about your business?  And if you do, are you asking these questions?  Have you created a mechanism for customers to give their honest feedback and talk behind your back?  If you haven’t, don’t expect honest responses.

The final step: Once you get honest feedback, take it to heart and make changes!  This is how you’ll get customers returning again and again!

My Super-Secret 1-on-1 Consulting

Last week, when I mentioned to a colleague that I was consulting 1-on-1 with a client in Mississippi, he said to me: “I didn’t know that you did that with business owners.”

That comment made it obvious to me that I haven’t done a good enough job explaining to the world what a Destination Business consultant does.

Yes, I consult with individual business owners, often in their location. It’s not supposed to be a secret!

If you would like to learn more about how I can consult 1-on-1 with you about your business, just click on these words and complete this form and I will personally contact you to discuss your business challenges and your consultation options.

If You are in Kansas or Nebraska next Tuesday, August 5, head to Norton!

Next week, Norton Kansas is opening up registrations to my workshop on Tuesday, August 5.  This was a closed workshop, and they have room now for outside attendees!  Don’t miss this opportunity! If you’re within driving distance, come spend the day with me learning how to increase the sales and profits of your business.  If you’d like to attend, call 785-874-4816 or email NortonED2@ruraltel.net

 

Why You Should Attend Our Final Destination BootCamp of 2014 from 2 World-Class Retailers

We are 70 days away from our October 7-9 Destination Business BootCamp where you can learn my entire 14-step strategy to make your business a Destination.  You can read about all you’ll learn at my workshop by going to www.DestinationBootCamp.com, but it might be easier to let you read what two leading retailers in their fields said about our class after attending:

First, from Larry Edwards, the founder of The Light Center – Lighting Showroom in Fort Collins, Colorado:

“We came away from BootCamp with so many ideas to incorporate in our lighting store that made the experience invaluable…Personally, Jon’s workshop had an overriding theme to help retail owners develop a “self-sustaining” business that makes competitors no factor!  Too many areas to mention, but all subjects and examples of success stories were intoxicating.  Every hour was valuable and every subject thoroughly presented–clearly and with Jon’s unique humor. We endorse Jon’s Destination BootCamp without reservation!”

Second, from Gregg Curtis, owner of the Good Earth Garden Center in Little Rock, Arkansas:

“When I was first introduced to the idea of going to the Destination BootCamp, I thought, yeah maybe there were a few things I could learn and bring back to The Good Earth Garden Center…but most likely, not much since we had our stuff together.  After all, our business was winning all kinds of local awards, we had a solid team and we were growing.  We had a lot going for us and I was focused on those things, thinking we were doing it right.  As it turns out, I was immediately amazed at the opportunities we were missing!  When Jon mentioned other businesses and what they were doing and the opportunities that were being passed up, I realized we had been doing the same.  The BootCamp encouraged me to raise the bar; and I hadn’t been thinking we were below the bar!  

Take something as simple as our logo…I hadn’t thought much about changing it, it was getting the job done.  But during my first paradigm shifting moment, I started re-thinking how it could be utilized.  How something so simple could change the way our customers see us and how we see ourselves.  We now have a fresh, fun, and wearable logo, inducing sales on shirts, hats, water bottles and so much more.  When advertising was discussed, my thinking was shifted away from the traditional specials, sales and coupons to the wow factor.  That would not have happened without Destination BootCamp.  My eyes were opened to a whole world of re-invention…and this was just from the advertising part of the BootCamp.  

I learned that everyone wants to be a destination but I had the opportunity to creatively position my business to actually BE a destination through atmosphere, uniqueness, and attitude.  Without Destination BootCamp, we would not have gone from receiving local awards to national awards such as the Most Revolutionary Garden Center in the Nation as we did last year.  And if that isn’t eye-opening, what is?”

Our last BootCamp of the year almost always fills up early!  Don’t wait to register!  You can do that now by clicking here.

And come next year, I might be using one of your testimonials!

Until next week, everyone!

Jon Schallert

The 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!

 

The True Foundation of Your Business

It’s so easy to get busy running your business that you forget that every customer who enters your doors has a need, and they are hoping your business will fulfill it.

Here’s a true story that a retailer in New England told me. This retailer owned a quaint floral and gift store in a busy, historic downtown. It was a store with attractively-themed merchandise filling each of its small rooms, and one could easily shop each of the rooms, as they were connected in a large loop.  Throughout the day, business workers hustled by during lunch hour, students walked by after school, and nurses and doctors from the nearby hospital walked in during their breaks.

It was during one of these busy days that the owner greeted a female shopper walking into her store. She related to me how this female shopper slowly moved through each of the smaller rooms, spending time in each one. After several minutes in the store, the owner walked over to see if there was anything she could help the customer find. The customer thanked her, said she was just looking, and that she loved her store. The owner thanked her, and left her alone. The owner remembered the customer moving slowly from room to room, like she was inspecting each piece of merchandise, eventually making her way through all the rooms, taking the full-circle route through the store without buying anything, and saying goodbye before walking out the door.

The owner then told me how the next day, this same female entered the store shortly after lunch and moved slowly through each room, carefully looking at all the products, walking the entire loop and again not purchasing anything.  It happened again, the following day, and again, the next day. This female would appear like clockwork, and take the route through the store, each day as intently looking at the merchandise as the previous days.

By the end of the week, the owner was convinced that this shopper was being sent by a competitor to snoop through her store.  She waited patiently to see if she would appear again, and decided that on this day, she would confront her about her strange behavior.

Sure enough, just after lunch, the woman entered the store again.  But this time, the owner stopped her and said, “May I ask you a question? Every day this week, you’ve come in and spent time looking at all the merchandise in every room, and you seem to really like my store, but you never purchase anything. Is there something in particular you are looking for, or something that I could help you find?”

The woman stopped and said, “Oh, I do love your store. I love what you do with flowers and all the plants and products you have are so unusual. I love how your store looks, and I love how it smells, and the music you have playing is so soothing.  But no, there really isn’t anything specific I’m looking to buy.” She paused, as if knowing that her answer wasn’t enough to explain her behavior, and then said to the owner, “You see, I’m an out-patient at the hospital around the corner, and I’m undergoing cancer treatments right now. They’re going to continue for a number of weeks more. In between the treatments, I like getting out of the hospital for a break, and your store helps me forget my troubles. I can just walk inside your doors, and I’m somewhere else.”

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a business receive a higher compliment!  For this customer, the store was an oasis from the problems and pains she was experiencing.

I think owners work so hard focusing on their product selection, their services, and their day-to-day operations that they forget that emotion is the foundation of every business, and if it’s lacking, you’re giving up the prime advantage every independent business has over all of its competitors.

The emotion of your business is where it all begins. It’s the first thing a customer feels coming in your doors.  It’s the final piece a customer feels when they leave. And its memory is what they’ll remember long after they forget everything else.

Until next week,

Jon Schallert

The Power of Mom and Pop Businesses

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

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

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

A New Attitude Beats a Positive Attitude

You’ve probably heard motivational speakers talk about the need to have a positive attitude.

With all due respect to Norman Vincent Peale, a positive attitude for independent business owners isn’t enough.

Today’s entrepreneurs need a New Attitude.

When business owners tell me they are dissatisfied with their business performance and they want more customer traffic and higher sales, I tell them this:

When you step into your business this morning, take a look around and realize that the business you occupy is entirely your own creation. Sure, maybe someone passed it down to you through the family, or you bought someone else’s business, or you’re running a franchise that has limits not of your own design, but the bottom line is:  The business that surrounds you is what you’ve built, with your money, hard work, and vision.

You, as the owner, are the only one capable of changing your business in any significant way, and it begins with singular NEW moments of vision. These moments will only happen if you are willing to question what you have in front of you, and come up with something better. Something totally NEW.

As the owner, you cannot focus on all the reasons you feel your business hasn’t succeeded. You must focus on what you can control. It might be absolutely true that your city isn’t as business friendly as somewhere else, or that your Mayor has never spent a dime in your business, or that your downtown doesn’t have the parking garage that you feel it should have.  But you must ignore these things!  You are going to focus on what you can do right now that will increase your business performance and you are going to quit focusing your energy on areas that are out of your control. Doing so is a waste of time, and when a business needs help, time is a critical commodity.

Let me take a step back for those of you reading this who don’t know me:  For the last 12 years, I’ve conducted a Destination Business BootCamp where business owners spend over two straight days with me, learning techniques to reinvent their businesses. And while the owners in that BootCamp class are as diverse a group as you’ll ever find sitting together for two days, there are two things these owners have in common:

#1: A willingness to learn, and

#2: A nagging dissatisfaction with their businesses.

And #2 is critical:  For owners to move forward, they must reach a point of discontent where they want change to happen now, not sometime in the future.

If you’re a business owner, developing a NEW attitude is easy. Just look at those concrete components of your business that make you unhappy. Your store interior.  Your front windows.  Your advertising. Your marketing message.  Your website.  Your energy-sucking, waiting-to-be-told-what-to-do employees (I’ve heard some owners have these). You name it.  Look at these tangible components and decide how you would like them to be.  See them NEW and don’t compromise with your NEW vision.  Be demanding!  Be unreasonable!  Be unrealistic!  See it in your mind like you want it to be, and don’t settle for what you have.

Notice that I said look at those concrete components that you want to change.  Don’t look at your sales growth and say, “I’m dissatisfied with my business sales and I want more revenue.” Wrong!  Sales are a function of the concrete components you’ve created that aren’t operating effectively, and a reflection of the strategy you’re using to draw customers to you.

When owners change their components and change their strategy, guess what happens? Owners start walking in their doors every morning with a positive attitude.

But seeing your business NEW is the first key and this demands you bring some creative thinking to the table, taking a step back, and not settling for the business that’s in front of you.

You brought this business into the world. If you’re unhappy with the results, reimagine it as the business you’ve always wanted.

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.

 

 

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