Len: To be perfectly honest, it is a hard sell to get people to change. They don’t feel comfortable making those changes. Doing business today is different than it was even four years ago. If you are not out there selling yourself, you are really missing the boat. People who have made changes are the ones who are successful. In the past year, (chamber) seminars, networking sessions have doubled in attendance. It is hard for people to leave the store. They think, “Who is going to run it if I am not there?” Well, who is going to run it if you have no traffic? Cut your hours and go to the place where you need to be.
Tribune: So, you say that business owners need to get out and sell themselves to grow business. How can they do that?
Len: If you think networking is going out and handing out cards, you are wrong. More important than handing out that card is that one person who you clicked with. It is sort of like a friend suggesting a restaurant. You are more likely to go to a place where the (employee or manager) left a good impression on someone. We have moved back to a personal way of marketing. That was the way that business did things 20 years ago. People did (networking) the natural way, like getting together at a place like Scoopers and talking or over at the Rotary club. They did it by developing relationships.
Tribune: What changes can managers make to grow help their business in the new year?
Len: You need to be in the business of providing service. Service is the key word. You have to do it 100 percent and treat each customer as an individual. The hard part is when you grow past 20 to 25 employees. Many business owners fail to communicate their vision to their employees. That person (employee) needs to develop a compassion for what they are doing. They are the front line of defense and that mentality is missing in business today. Business people have a tendency to worry about just today. But when market conditions change, are you ready for it?