by Emily Olson, Guest Blogger, Saratoga Jewelry Co. on May 16th, 2016

​As both employers and employees we are all prone to loosening our grip on how well things run in our work environment. Here are 3 quick tips to get a better handle on small issues that will yield big results in no time. Most take less than 5 minutes. Are you ready?
 
Number 1: Show Gratitude
The late Randy Pausch stated, “Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other.” Think of it like this, if you were to buy the same item  from two different stores but only one of those stores showed gratitude by going above and beyond to thank you for your business, wouldn’t you be more inclined to shop more regularly at that store? To put it simply, gratitude yields powerful results. May I suggest that you gather your team together and decide on how you can best show your clients or customers how grateful you are for them? Above and beyond means different things to different people, that’s why it’s important to collaborate as a team. Some ideas would be; sending a handwritten card, follow up with a personal phone call, remember your customers or clients by name and speak to them with interest when they come see you, or simply thank them in person. Remember, including them on your business newsletter list doesn’t count. This is genuine gratitude, not a thank you laced with marketing.
​Number 2: Freshen Up Your Social Skills
While I think it’s always a fantastic idea as a professional to have mints handy to pop in before speaking with someone, this is not what I mean. I’m talking social media skills. And if you have no idea what I’m talking about please stop reading this and refer yourself to the nearest teenager before continuing on in business. For the rest of you, I don’t need to tell you how important it is to have a social media presence. It’s vital. And it’s ever changing. Are you? Do yourself a favor and take 5 minutes to check your website, your latest email template and your social media feeds. Are they interactive? Do they reflect your business’s true personality? They don’t need to be run of the mill or boring but they should be keeping up with today's trends. Still need help with inspiration? Two pieces of advice; check your competitors sites and take notes then check the top 5 sites you visit on a regular basis and take even better notes. What do you love about them? What would you change? This goes way beyond keeping up with the Jones’s, this is making sure you are Mr. or Mrs. Jones.
 
Number 3: Take It Outside
This tip is a bit like number 2 in that it forces you to look at your business through your customer’s and client’s eyes rather than from behind the scenes. Pro sports teams watch hour after hour of game footage for a reason. It gives them a bird's eye view approach to not only what they are doing but what those around them are doing. During your next lunch break, take a step outside and view your work environment from the perspective of others. Step out from behind the counter and into your customer's shoes. Watch and listen to what people say as they approach your business. Observe how your employees or co-workers are engaging with potential customers. Take it all in and then again, take notes.
​One of my first ‘real’ jobs was working as a team member and eventually a manager at a Baskin-Robbins in central Idaho. Aside from the obvious perks associated with this job, (Jamocha Almond Fudge and Mint Chip, thanks for asking) I learned a valuable lesson in how even the smallest tweaks can have the biggest effects for business. Obviously, cleanliness was a must for the store as was the cheerfulness of the staff. No one wants to buy ice cream, the happiest food in the world, from a grimy store or a grumpy person. One day I took this ‘Take It Outside’ approach and noticed how many hand prints were constantly on our front door & display cases. We immediately implemented new routines to our cleaning which resulted in a cleaner environment, happier staff taking pride in their surroundings, and thus, happier, more frequent customers. As managers and owners of stores, we routinely spend a lot of time behind the real scenes of our own business. Take a break and step outside to get the view of those you’re counting on to help your business tick.
 
Now, take a deep breath (and breathe out an extra two seconds, seriously, this helps reduce stress) and choose something to discuss during your next team meeting and implement it into a regular routine. Let’s not over-complicate things, let’s just do more of what works!
 
​Emily Olson is Co-Owner of Saratoga Jewelry Co. in Lindon where she focuses on marketing and making sure there are few fingerprints on the door and plenty of drinks and snacks for everyone, including customers. Emily has volunteered as a board member of the Pleasant Grove Chamber of Commerce since 2014 and would recommend joining the chamber as tip number 4 for things you can do now to improve your business. Signing up for that also takes less than 5 minutes and yields big results.

http://www.plgrovechamber.org
 

by Pleasant Grove Chamber of Commerce on May 4th, 2016

We constantly hear the title of "Strategist". We may even know a couple of people who hold that title. We know that it is important for a company to have a strategist because strategic planning will put the company in a better situation and will retain and bring more customers to the company. Some people may even be afraid of doing that job because they do not want to screw things up.

Yes. We get it. Being a strategist is hard, and we do not want to mess with it.

However, most people do not realize that everyone is a strategist.

Wait. What?

Well, I am going to rewrite it. Everyone should be a strategist.

Most people do not know what strategic planning is, which is the process of defining the company's direction and making decisions on using resources available to reach a desired objective. Moreover, we can apply strategic planning principles into our lives, define our direction, and make sound decisions that will improve our current state, leading us to achieve our goals.

Based on this, everyone should be a strategist. Everyone should have a strategic plan for their lives.

The question would be, how do we apply strategic planning?

Set up goals. Goals are our north star. Goals are what we want to be or do in 1, 5, 0r 10 years. Goals give us purpose and give us hope when things seem not to go the way we wanted.

To set goals, we need to recognize some areas on which we need to work, or things we want to achieve. When we set our goals, we need to have SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound).

Know your external environment. In the same way companies research the economic environment, threats, competitors, etc, we should be aware of the things that can prevent us from achieving our goals or can make us delay reaching them.

Knowing the external environment can help us come up with ideas to tackle the difficulties that will inevitably come. Knowing the external environment helps us see what were are facing.

Knowing the external environment is to recognize the opportunities we have that can motivate, lead or help us achieve our goals.

Know your internal environment. This is about knowing ourselves. Knowing ourselves is to come to recognize our weaknesses as well as our strengths. After identifying all these, we will be able to use our strengths as leverage to achieve our goals more quickly.

Likewise, after identifying our weaknesses, we can make plans for improvement, keeping in mind that those weaknesses can become strengths with the proper care and attention.

Analyze your current state. One thing I always do to know and analyze my current state is to ask myself, "what else can I do?" At this point, we should give honest feedback and responses. By doing this we see what we are missing in our lives, what we can do to be in a better situation, and what we can do to avoid crisis and problems and to take advantage of the opportunities we have.

When we know our current state, it is easier to know how far we are from reaching our goals.

Set up strategies. Strategies are specific activities we need to do that will take us to get our goals. For example, if my goal is to lose 20 pounds in 6 months, my strategies should be eating and controlling my calorie  intake, working out 4 times a week for one hour, drinking 2 liters of water every day, etc.

When we establish our strategies, we should commit to them and do our best to follow them.

Once we come to understand that we can indeed be a strategist, we will see that everything we had hoped for is possible to achieve. We may have been already working hard in achieving our goals, but our efforts should be intelligently managed and canalized to better use our resources, time and energy.

So, next time someone asks, you say you are a strategist!

Photo by Highway Agency via all-free-download.com

by David J. Larson - Executive Director, Pleasant Grove Chamber of Commerce on April 28th, 2015

David J. Larson – Executive Director, Pleasant Grove Chamber of Commerce

Are you so busy working “in” your business that you are unable to work “on” your business? Why then should you join your local chamber of commerce when it might mean more time away from the office? Here are six reasons chamber participation is not a fruitless burden on time, but a true benefit to your business and your life.

1.     Relationships
This isn’t about networking – this is about gaining friends, associates, and even advocates. The people you get to know may or may not do business with you, but the social and emotional return in building meaningful, lasting relationships can be more meaningful than the financial return you seek. As you attend events, serve on committees, and interact with people outside your normal routines you will have the opportunity to interact with all types of people. This in turn will create better relationship building skills that can crossover to improve non-business aspects of your life as well.

2.     Visibility
The age-old adage applies here – “out of sight, out of mind.” While many companies are looking to make be seen in the cyber world, and are doing a very good job of it, there is nothing that sells your business better than being in front of people face to face. Business is so much more than simple transactions of money for goods/services with its root in relationships. You are the business; the business is you. The client is so much more likely to buy when they know you are the brains behind the operation and have seen you regularly participating in non-transaction based functions. Chambers provide so many opportunities to spend time with potential friends (read: potential clients) in non-transaction based functions that you will be top of mind when they or someone they know is looking for your product/service.

3.     Promotion
Chambers offer a wide-range of advertising options and sponsorship packages. Typically, for a similar cost of a few minor ads in traditional advertising mediums, a business can sponsor entire programs or events through a chamber. Beyond the paid advertising options, chambers also have ways to provide additional business promotion for free through monthly and annual awards, social media, regular newsletters, and even printed materials.

Amazingly, even some member businesses do not take advantage of the free marketing opportunities provided through chambers of commerce. Most chambers have weekly or monthly newsletters that will include “member news” sections or flyers from local businesses advertising sales, discounts, or special events. Our chamber even has an ability to provide a free landing page online for your business with any level of membership. Chambers are always looking for member-related news to share with the community through their own advertising networks and social media. Chambers rarely spend money advertising the chamber as an organization; they spend on advertising opportunities that members can utilize.

4.     Community Connection
Some business leaders in large companies have expressed the feeling that they’re too big or not local enough to need local chambers of commerce. One flaw in that thinking is that they and their employees are very much a part of the local economy, regardless of the number of franchise locations they have in other states. Chambers are not-for-profit organizations desired to lift the economy. They work very closely with governments to provide a representative business voice when needed. Participating in a chamber provides business with an avenue to express their legislative policy questions directly to the legislatures. Sometimes being a good “corporate citizen” means being the community partner that all the “little guys” expect you to be. If a major player in the local economy isn’t involved in discussions about the local economy, then the conversations (and potentially decisions) are missing a key point of view.

5.     Ongoing Training & Education
For companies that do not have a large training budget, getting to national conferences or bringing in experts is out of the question. Luckily, chambers provide an inexpensive way to bridge the gap between no training and topic-expert training. There may not be better organizations at providing relevant speakers and guest trainers in a timely manner than chambers of commerce. Based on member surveys and ongoing member communication, chambers can provide speakers at events or links to expert articles through emails and newsletters that members specifically request. For the bargain cost of membership, business leaders are essentially enrolled in an continuing education course in business management provided through the chamber, they simply need to attend.

6.     Programs and Events
Membership in a chamber of commerce provides access to all of their programs and events, which are many. As a chamber director, sometimes I feel like all I’m doing is event planning. Chamber events include business training luncheons, networking specific events, awards banquets, golf tournaments, city celebration events, and many others specific to each chamber.  All of these events are designed to build your business in some fashion, whether through training, promotion, networking, or community service and can the perfect addition to the other methods a business employs for building their business.

Because of these six reasons, and many others, chambers are known to stimulate business-to-business commerce in the local economy. Research shows that a major part of small business typically comes from business-to-business services, so participating in local chambers of commerce as a small (or large) business is an easy way to increase local visibility, build credibility, and expand your contacts.

​I must point out the importance of the word participate. Joining a chamber is great. A business receives many benefits online and behind the scenes. However, joining only gets you so far. Participating is the true key to receiving the benefits of chamber membership. It is similar to sitting in a college algebra course for an hour posting to social media. You are no better off than if you didn’t attend. Only through attending events, talking to members you’ve never met before, serving on committees, and taking advantage of the advertising opportunities presented will your membership become more than another calendar item you will avoid to create time for “more important” or “more urgent” business and become the benefit to your business you’ve been searching for. It’s up to you.