Technology is becoming more and more advanced each day and people have grown to be accustomed to using technology on a daily bases. Businesses need to utilize technology that fits the business. Utilizing technology helps each business compete with other competitors and will create definite benefits. It is impossible to utilize every type of technology, but the more you know about what is available, the more it will help you in deciding which technology to implement in marketing your business.
A QR code is a neat technology tool that was created in Japan about a decade ago but has only been in the United States for over a year. A QR code resembles bar codes that are on retail products which are used to track their merchandise. This QR code holds more digital data than a bar code. The digital data could be a link to a website, video, or email address. There are a number of things you could use a QR code for. This could help get people to visit your business website because they are curious what the QR code connects to. You can learn more about QR codes on www.qrstuff.com.
Sheila Roberts from Sign Solutions states, “They really work. You can put whatever information you want in them. Possible media ideas: direct mail, newspaper, flyers, email, T Shirts, caps, signs, business cards, text messages, mobile apps, facebook, twitter, linkedin, vehicle graphics, promotional items. If you have a QR code, it can be placed almost anywhere. Smartphones read them and store the information!”
The Discover Phillips County Semi Trailer wind skirt is receiving a QR code that links to the PCED website and the Track the Trailer Facebook page!! Be looking for this addition!
You have maybe heard local teens say, “I can’t wait to graduate and leave this place.” I might have thought this at one point in time during my teen years; however I have a great love for this area and wanted to make it my home again. I grew up in Almena and graduated from Northern Valley. I enjoyed growing up in a rural Kansas community very much. As a kid, my friends and I could ride bikes and play basketball all day in the summer and our parents would not worry about our safety. I liked knowing everyone who lived in the community and being able to say hi to everyone I pass. This area is known for their kind and hospitable people. In times of hardship, people come together to help each other out. I would not change one thing about growing up in rural Kansas; it has made me into the woman I am today.
After graduating high school, I went to FHSU and earned my degree in Business Education. During college, I enjoyed coming back to visit family and to be in this area. So when trying to decide where to do my student teaching at, I choose Norton because I could live with family, be back in the area, and knew the teacher who would be my mentor teacher. After graduation, decisions needed to be made on what to do and where to live. In making this decision, I knew I wanted to stay in this area because I really enjoy the rural lifestyle and want to raise a family here someday. I like the friendly people, the values they have, the culture and traditions.
Living in Phillipsburg and working at Phillips County Economic Development for over a month, I have enjoyed it very much. I was surprised at the progressive attitude the community and PCED have. I feel like community members and leaders have passion for this town and county which leads to constant improvements. I feel improvement is very important because if you are not improving you are probably dying. There are so many great projects going on that will help the community greatly. Some of these projects I have noticed are: Majestic Theatre Renovation, Wellness Center, Aqua Park, Discover Phillipsburg Main Street, Community Reinvestment Program and Discover Phillips County. Phillips County has great businesses and commerce. If Phillipsburg and Phillips County continue to have passion and being progressive, it will continue to be a big success.
-Andrea Lowry: Office Manager
The PCED received the following information about the summer classes of Rural Kansas: Come and Get It. We want to pass this information forward to community leaders that may be interested in attending. These are great classes teaching how to attract tourism to your rural Kansas town. We all know that each community has something unique to offer! Even though we may fine these attractions to be normal, visitors to our area may fine them inviting and extraordinary. We feel it could strongly benefit your community. Consider sending one or two of your community leaders.
It is always good when visitors to our community are impressed with the people and activites in Phillips county. We often do not get feedback directly. Rarer still, have articles written about Phillips County and then have them published in national magazines. Well, here is one such article, we would like to share with you.
Jon Schallert, the founder of Schallert Bootcamp, was fortunate to have got to know seven (7) individuals from Phillips County last year that attended his camp. The knowledge and expertise shared during the bootcamp was quickly applied by the business owners from Phillips County upon their return. The Discover Phillipsburg Main Street organization with financial assistance from Phillips County Economic Development (PCED) last year sent these seven individuals, including Michelle Jacobs (the community coordinator) for the Community Reinvestment group of Phillips County.
The growth and impact by Schallert bootcamp on these businesses was so great, that the PCED made the committment to the Schallert Group to reserve a place each year for six businesses for the next three (3) years. This was a $45,000 dollar committment for the Bootcamp by paying for business owners boot-camp reservation fees. This type of committment was the first ever for Schallert across the entire nation. It was because of this involvement with Phillips County, that Jon had a special article created to put in some national magazines.
Payback to the community comes from the growth of these businesses (because of the application of the education learned at Schallert). Every business is different in what it does and the impacts received. One of the business owners stated it helped increase their revenue by at least 400%, another 100%, another was seeing 50% increases, where others forecasted future growth potential. These impacts are all great, but vary depending on the business and its involvements in applying ideas it has learned.
The biggest challenge most businesses see upon returning (if they are making large expansions or changes) is financial. Phillips County, Kansas is very unique as the PCED has a local grant program, called the EBEP. It is one of only about 4 counties in the State of Kansas which has a true grant program for entrepreneurs. Along with the grant, if approved, they can apply for a low to no interest loan up to 60% of the cost of the project. If they happen to fall into the Discover Phillips Main Street district in Phillipsburg, they could as for additional zero interest loan funds. This pro-active atmosphere being created and fueled by businesses attending Schallert, is one of many reasons which lead Phillips County to be designated an Entrepreneurial Community (E-Community) by Network Kansas in 2010.
Every business is unique, just like every person is, that runs a business. The key to growing our communities is through visionary concepts created by our entrepreneurs. Stepping out of the box (mindset) from our rural mainstreet (traditional marketing) into creating a place (business) that visitors and shoppers will travel more than 200 miles to purchase items because it is (a destination). This concept may sound strange, but consider what you (everyone) does for a vacation. They make a special trip to go somewhere unique.
Phillips County has had it challenges, but as residents and businesses we have great potential. Jon Schallert and many other visitors which shop here as a regional point, see this. If we are to continue to stay strong and grow, we must be pro-active and postitive, and see ourselves (our county) as a regional point, just as many people across the state and nation see us already.
Let’s Discover Phillips County’s potential!!!!
Posted by Jeff Hofaker
The history of community leadership in Phillips County to encourage development has been very strong over the decades. The official history of economic development started in 1971 with a volunteer group working under the auspice of Phillipsburg Area Industries Inc (PAII). Over time PAII changed its name to PCED, Inc. and some its focus, but was still led by community leaders. In October 2005, the configuration and look of economic development changed with the passing of a county-wide economic development sales tax of 1/2 cent to encourage projects, programs and ensure a strong establishment (office) to provide continual technical expertise.
Although the PCED 5-member board is appointed by the county commissioners, these individuals are all community and business leaders. Well, it is hard to believe, but the County Department of Economic Development in Phillips County, a.k.a. (PCED) has been established for more than five years now. Passing through an invisible time benchmark of 5 years on October 24, 2010, PCED board and staff have been continuing their efforts toward making Phillips County a better place to live and to establish businesses. This economic improvement and stability has been done on many fronts. PCED has created (piloted) many local programs which exist in very FEW other places in Kansas, let alone the nation. These programs include the EBEP, SRP, and GAP. They have sponsored a new agreement with Jon Schallert for Destination Business Boot Camp training for interested local (Phillips County) business owners. Registration for six (6) businesses per year for the next (4) years will be paid for via this agreement on a first-come-first-serve basis. Jon Schallert stated this is the first time ever (nationally) that a county has committed in an agreement for more than one year. With that being said, Jon stated,”He is continually impressed with the activity Phillips County businesses that attended his 2010 classes are conducting, leadership for entrepreneurship in the area and always tries to mention these Phillips County businesses as examples during his on-line discussions, seminars, and university.”
Although PCED board and staff have worked behind the scenes in many respects, some of the most notable attributes in assisting the economy and businesses over the last five years have been put together in a short summary, which was recently shared during their 2010 open house. As I stated to everyone at the open house, many thanks has to be given to our nameless, volunteer community leaders (commissioners, city councils, mayors, foundation representatives, business leaders, community organizers) and especially the citizens of Phillips County. Development occurs because of teamwork, willingness to change, and good communication. No system is perfect, but community’s knowing and wanting to make improvements for the future helps the entire process. Thanks to all for your support and continued encouragement for a stronger Phillips County in the future.
Posted by Jeff Hofaker – 12-29-2010
Customer Retention is critical to every business!
Today, more than ever before, it’s critical to get and keep customers! Most of the businesses in the United States generate the majority of their revenue by maintaining and cross-selling to their existing customers. Having a website makes you an international company, so keep in mind you may have customers anywhere in the world.
Studies show that a mere 5% increase in customer retention can result in minimum profit increases of 20% but could be as much as 80% for most businesses. Using these increases in your projected cash flows, this should help everyone understand that customer retention is very important.
Here are the seven keys to customer retention and cross-selling.
1. Know your customer’s world: What makes them unique? What are their specific needs? What causes them to take action, to buy? What would keep them from buying?
2. Deliver flawless results: To establish long-term customer relationships it is critical that you flawlessly deliver every benefit and value you promise. That is the key to a customer’s respect, trust and loyalty.
3. Develop a proactive plan: Understanding your customer’s world and doing first-rate work are essential for creating a loyal clientele. In addition, you must develop a proactive, customer-specific plan that implements how you will retain and grow your customer base. Without a plan, you’ll drift from project to project, relying mostly on luck.
4. Uncover “needs”: To retain customers, you must focus on driving customer satisfaction. Rather than just making a sale and then moving on to the next customer, savvy salespeople are turning themselves into “account managers” in addition to being salespeople.
5. Manage expectations: You need to manage expectations. This means from both a positive (proactive communication) and negative perspective. Let me give you an example. Customers with unrealistic expectations with regard to what they want and/or what you can deliver will never be satisfied. They’ll just waste your time and then ultimately take their business elsewhere.
6. Keep your name in front of your customer: Maintain communications. Reach out to the customer four times a year at a minimum. Send them a note, call them, drop by, take them to lunch, etc. Make sure you use technology (i.e., email, social media, etc.) to proactively manage your customer contact.
7. Assume nothing: No matter how good you are, never assume you’ve got a loyal client. Complacency never fosters loyalty. A client’s trust and loyalty can be lost, if a salesperson gets over confident or lets performance slip . . . even on just one interaction.
Remember: “You don’t need to provide excellent customer service to all your customers . . . just the ones you want to keep!” American author
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Information provided by Barbara Wold International International Speaker, Author and Business Strategist Global Retail & Consumer Expert
Phillips County has been actively encouraging individuals to start their own businesses. This is a big step for many individuals after being taught in most schools to become a full-time employee in a particular field. We have encouraged this business start-up by providing technical assistance and financial assistance through local and regional programs. We see this as entrepreneurism. There are other levels of being an entrepreneurial business, which is creating growth within the company to expand. This is an area of entrepreneurialism, which many times gets overlooked by development professionals and this process is figured out over time by the business. This atmosphere for our businesses has been changing in Phillips county over the last few years, and especially with the participation of several businesses within the Schallert Bootcamp. This training has inspired its businesses to look at marketing and their businesses in a different way.
In the same manner, a new idea (tool) has been forming over the last year for Kansas. It is new to Kansas, but you will be hearing a lot more about. It is called, “Economic Gardening”! Economic gardening embraces strategies that help grow existing “Second Stage” businesses. Second stage businesses are commonly defined as having these traits: 1) five (5) or more to 100 employees, and 2) gross reciepts of $750,000 dollars to 50 million dollars. Economic Gardening is an innovative entrepreneur-centered economic growth strategy that offers balance to the traditional economic practice of business recruitment, which often is referred to as “economic hunting”.
Phillips County has seen the loss of employees from corporate layoffs and a closing of a major corporate business in 2009 which employed 208 people. Most recently, an out-of-state business wanting to hire at-home employees asked Kansas Commerce to conduct a survey across 33 counties to investigate the availability of workforce. There were four counties (including Phillips) out of 33 counties, which stood out with having a large amount of viable workforce, but for what the corporation needed immediately, the total amount still fell short of the desired application to hire (4 to 1) ratio of which most corporations diligently follow before making a move. This shows a very important point toward development leaders in rural areas. The focus of our time, energy and resources should be spent on start-ups and expansions of existing businesses. This happens when the an entrepreneurial atmosphere is nurtured. Just like a garden needs prepped, tended, watered, and fertilized; so does our businesses need this type of nurturing. Historically, rural businesses feel it is the SMALL vs. LARGE businesses; but this growth method (tool) provides businesses the concept of SMALL into LARGE businesses. When this happens the entire economy is lifted higher and increases in size.
The economic gardening concept was pioneered by Chris Gibbons in 1989 in the city of Littleton, Colorado, a community that is the ensuing 15 years saw a 136 percent increase in new jobs. Whileit was introduced as a demostration program to deal with the sudden erosion of economic conditions following the relocation of the largest employer in the city at that time, it has emerged as a prototype for a rapidly expanding movement to generate truly sustainable economic growth for communities, regions and states.
Network Kansas has formed a statewide economic development task force to assist with the development of a Kansas pilot economic gardening program for businesses in rural communities. If you think you might be interested to be the first of forty (40) chosen to participate in this tool through Network Kansas, fill in the on-line application at the Network Kansas website. If you want more face-to-face information before applying or you want more of your questions answered, consider attending the Kansas Economic Gardening Entrepreneurship Forum on November 15, 2010 at Dodge City, Kansas. The forum agenda has Chris Gibbons and Mark Lange (Edward Lowe Foundation) discussing the particulars on this subject. Otherwise, you can call Steve Radley at Network Kansas or the PCED office directly.
Wind development can be a BIG benefit to you as a landowner, BUT be careful NOT to sign land-lease agreements immediately. Phillips County Economic Development (PCED) encourages landowners to seek their legal counsel’s advice prior to signing any land-leases agreements offered by a wind development company. With “green” energy development, such as wind, solar, and biomass projects, on the rise across western Kansas, it is more important than ever for landowners to take precautionary measures in protecting their landowner rights before making long term commitments to any development company. A typical pressure tactic by some questionable company representatives visiting landowners in person has been, “If you don’t sign now, your neighbor may get the development and not you.” Because of the potential for additional income, sometimes it’s hard to wait for the agreement to be reviewed. But in the long run, your decision to make a “pause” may save you a lot of heartache. Tapping our local wind resources as a commodity will be positive for our county. It has the potential to help our landowners, create development activities, create jobs and create potential financial resources for our school districts. The PCED committee and its staff look forward to having wind development within Phillips County. Our intent and goal for providing this notice is to protect Phillips County landowners from speculators or inexperienced representatives of newer wind development companies. For more information visit our website at www.DiscoverPCED.com or call our office at 785-543-5809.
Posted by: Jeff Hofaker – PCED Director
Everyone is talking about wind development nowdays! Well, Phillips County has been for a while, as well. There continues to be activity for wind development in our area on several fronts. The most noteworthy is the Pleasant Ridge Wind Project. Pleasant Ridge Wind, LLC is an organization formed out of a collaboration of landowners across portions of 8 townships in the northern section of Phillips County. Roughly 33,000 acres cumulatively through these landowners have agreed to utilize Bannister Capital Advisors, LLC as a direct liaison and negociator for wind developers to be recruited into the area. Bannistor Capital Advisors, LLC is a private consulting business which has experience in negociating in legal terms with wind developers. At the present time, Mark Bannister and his three brothers (Joel, Grant, and Ted), have started the process of soliciting wind developers through an offiical RFP (request for Proposals) process. This process includes all the specifications wanted and agreed upon from all the landowner members of the Pleasant Ridge Wind organization (landowner group).
While this process continues, the PCED staff has continued to create tools which may help with the marketability of Phillips County for wind development. Letters were sent out in late 2009, to all landowners in Phillips County, with an “Endorsement of Wind Development” committment sheet. With the return of these “endorsements”, a map of landowners “for” and “against” their land being considered for wind development has been constructed and updated daily. This provides a ready-to-use tool (information) for wind developers. Out of the 1700 letters orginally sent out, we have recieved 264 “endorsements” back to the PCED office. The majority of the “endorsements” have been positive. There was no deadline for returning this information, but we have recieved about 15% back after two months; we would encourage all Phillips County landowners that have not sent in their “endorsements” to please do so.
Most recently (within the last three days), we have had two inquiries for this information. It is exciting to know, we have most of the information readily available to immediately scan and send out to a possible wind (green) developer. This does not necessarily mean development will happen, but it does allow the developer to have additional information abuot the county to help make a more informed decision. PCED will continue to work with these groups toward the end result hopefully becoming wind development in our area.
As a business owner, one of your first priorities should be customer satisfaction. This is a very broad area. It is not just … for the customer to get my product/service TODAY. Yes, the customer is usually interested in something you have, or they would not be there, but creating a communication with the customer is very important to know how they feel. Hopefully, they will not leave your business without having made a transaction. But, the real questions a business owner should want to know are: Was the customer’s experience in my store a pleasant one? Will the customer come back again? Was there customer satisfaction with the entire shopping experience? Will this person recommend the business’s services to another? Receiving the answer to these questions are sometimes very obvious. Though keep in mind, in this modern day setting, having a courteous smile returned from a customer doesn’t always mean their experience was a positive one. Most local business owners have their own unique ”saying” to invite the customer to share their experience. Training of your employees in public communication is very important . As your employees , they are a strong reflection of your business and “you”. If there is communication training or other employee training provided in your region, encourage your employees to attend. Help pay for their training, if possible. The long term, positive impacts on your business will far outweigh any short term costs. The type of service given is always remembered by the customer, especially if it is negative. Think of the service satisifaction issue “you” personally had as a ”customer” at a business other than your own. How did that business react to “your” issue? If they did not react in the best way for you as a customer, I bet you had several “ideas” you were ready to suggest to them … “That they should have done”. These are the same answers you can implement in your own business, either by you personally or by instructing your employees, which will improve customer satisfaction. The Kansas Small Business Development Center has classes throughout each year that cover many areas of interest for businesses, including customer service. Also, the E-center located in the Fischer building of Phillipsburg, Kansas has periodic classes for different business development activities, if enough businesses have a particular educational interest.
Posted by Jeff Hofaker – PCED Director