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
In light of the increasing utility costs, expanding schools needs, and deminishing revenues, schools across the country should consider (if possible) a new and forward-thinking solution with countless benefits: renewable energy from wind power. By harnessing the wind that blows across playgrounds, school buildings, and parking lots, the administrators and communities could realize the immediate rewards of a community-sized wind turbine brought to their facility.
From lower energy bills to hands-on energy education, schools win when they implement wind power.
- Educational opportunities: Having a turbine in your backyard – and even the process of planning for it – adds an experiential dimension to your school’s science, math, and civic classes. What better way to train the technicians, engineers, and leaders of tomorrow?
- Lower utility bills: Your electrical costs drop the second your blades start spinning.
- Taxpayer benefits: Lower facility costs for your public schools can help balance budgets and lower the tax burden on community residents.
- Stable cost of power: You’ll know what your wind-powered electricity will cost you for 20 years or more so you can safeguard your school’s budget against the volatile and increasing costs of energy. In a way, making your school financially independent from most of your energy costs, if planned out.
- Green economy: Your school-based wind turbine – and each new installation it fosters – will bring high-value jobs to your community.
When considering which turbine to purchase, schools should think about their setting, local permitting regulations, and economics. Here are some of the issues that schools consider in making their turbine choice.
- Load matching: All else being equal, schools will want to choose a turbine – or 2 or 3 – that can support as much of its electricity needs as possible so it can gain the greatest benefit from site-based generation.
- Aesthetic fit: The turbine’s height profile and operational sound levels will be a consideration if it will be located near neighbors and/or classrooms.
- Educational support: Educators will often create their own curriculum around their turbine, but it can be a big help if the turbine supplier can provide supporting materials and ideas.
- Technology: Not every wind turbine is created equal. A turbine’s technology and design can affect many things including energy capture, maintenance requirements, and sound performance.
- Proven operation: Like any major capital investment project, you will want to know that your wind turbine is not a concept waiting for a test site. Proven results are very important.
The first step of project is difficult. Wind projects take funding, and in today’s economy that can stop most decision makers in their tracks. Though, if nothing is done now to help, we will probably be dead in tracks in the future. Proactive thinking is the solution. Kansas now has a grant program provided through the Kansas Corporation Commission to assist with ONLY State agencies, counties, cities, and unified schools districts for upgrading to green energy, such as wind, solar, and geothermal. This grant has many requirements and will not pay for the entire project, but it definately is an avenue consider. More information can be found at KCC’s website.
The end of the year is very quickly approaching. Have you considered a business donation toward a local community foundation? It is a great way for a business to get some tax deductible benefits, while helping out the community. Most of the community foundations in Phillips County have specific projects they are currently working on. A business or individual donation can be given directly to a specific project “designated” or given to the foundation in general. Both types of donations given by the business/individual is tax deductible, the only difference is how the community foundation can utilize your donation (specifically or generally). In any economy, the more dollars a business or individual can keep locally, the stronger the economy is. In the case of giving to a local cause through a community foundation, the benefit is expanded. The donation actually is used toward a project which improves the atmosphere (business or community environment), which in the long run helps bring more people and businesses to the area.
The community foundations in the area, which are currently working on projects are the Phillips County Community Foundation, the Logan Community Development Foundation, the Huck Boyd Community Center, HOPE Foundation, and the Kirwin Community Foundation. Make contact with these foundation’s board members and see if their projects may be something that you may be compelled to support. If they are not currently working on a project that you may have interest in, make that project suggestion to them and a donation to that specific cause. Projects take a while to complete or even start working on; especially since all these foundation’s enlist volunteer time to raise the funds and work on projects. Al-in-all though, they are very excited when businesses and/or individuals suggest ideas with donations of funds and volunteers to get the job done.
The overall point is: Giving to a local community foundation helps the community, its residents and YOU!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. This is the season of giving. There is nothing quite like shopping in a rural town with the perfect Christmas atmosphere. Local retail shops offering hot cider to people walking in the door. Music playing in the street. Local residents smiling and talking to you as they shop. Always a parking place nearby and never having to wait in line very long, if ever. There are many reasons for shopping in the small town and having a GREAT experience is definately the first thing that comes to mind.
Additionally, we need to keep in mind the economic support given to our small entrepreneurial businesses. By shopping local, we keep a larger portion of our money in the local economy and support jobs through these businesses. The business owners and the salaries toward their staff allow for those families to continue living and surviving in our area. It is understandable that from time to time, some items need to be purchased from stores out of town, BUT many of those goods we need or even want for Christmas (or during the year) can be found or ordered locally. Sometimes the item price will be same, higher or even (yes!) lower, than purchasing out-of-town goods. Also, when you figure gas and incidental spending (food, movies, other), more often than not, a trip for buying out-of-town goods can cost a resident more than shopping locally. Yes, there are exceptions. I will not list them all, but the primary reason used seems to be the “I just want to get out of town! ” . Although this is the most used reason, it usually equates to the most expensive trip for the resident and/or family (due to unexpected and unneeded goods/services) and also takes away critical, financial support from smaller local businesses.
Because of the economy and challenging times, many residents have been very frugal and pro-active in their shopping this year. Buying earlier in the year through payments at a local store. Utilizing some of the out-of-home entrepreneurial businesses, such as candles, home decor, quilts, or other items, for stocking stuffers has been more popular this year. Gift certificates toward local grocers, fuel, or essentials have been talked about a lot this year as well.
Christmas is definately the time for giving, as we are reminded by “the reason for the season!” As we all look at our neighbors across our towns, consider giving gifts acquired from those local and small town stores, which in turn support the local community and families. In these challenging times, we should also focus our attention toward supporting our local non-profit organizations, who work diligently toward improving our way of life and the basic needs those in need in our area.
Thank you all for supporting our local businesses! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Mid-America Arts Alliance, in partnership with the Kansas Arts Commission, seeks communities and artist-apprentices to apply for a community mural-making project led by Kansas artist David Loewenstein. One Kansas community and one-to-two artist-apprentices will be selected to participate in the July — September 2010 project. For more information and to apply, visit www.maaa.org/muralproject. This information was acquired through the Office of Rural Opportunities Director, James Foster.
Murals are a fantastic way to improve the atmosphere of your community, while at the same time encouraging youth and residential involvement. Walk through your town and see what walls are available for the posibility for painting a mural.