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In America small towns are cherished for quaint small businesses, unique merchandise and a guaranteed smile followed by a giant thank you. Is that still the case or have we as small business owners been so concerned about surviving in a Dog eat Dog environment that the Giant Thank You has been lost? The Business News Daily ran this story about "Thank you, is thanks enough", I say we train our employees to smile and thank customers bringing back the sense of small town pride not only for visitors to Helena but for the local customers that focus on Support Local, Shop Local.
Montana has a very short and glorious summer. That means everyone wants to take advantage of the weather and get out and enjoy the season. And, they all want to take vacation time to do so. It can be a challenge when all your employees are trying to squeeze in their vacations all at about the same time. What is a small business owner to do?
by Ann Snortland
Summer is upon us and that means your family vacation is not far behind. Hang in there, your time away from the office will be here before you know it. Anticipation and planning are often a big part of the vacation experience. We all love to think about how much fun we are going to have on the lake, at grandma’s house or at the big amusement park. You find someone to water the plants and ask the neighbors to watch the house. You also take precautions and put your newspaper and mail on hold so it doesn’t pile up indicating that you are away.
When customers enter your store you want to engage them on all levels. Sight, smell and sound. You know that is it important to have a clean and well lit environment. The dressing rooms should be free of clutter. Shelves should be neat and clothing folded nicely. No dust or cobwebs in the corner. But have you thought much about the way the store smells and sounds?
by Ann Snortland
Spring seems to have sprung early in Helena this year. The temperatures are forecast to be in the 50s and 60s all week. Could it be here for real? Only time will tell. What is here though is the beginning of spring fever. The time when a Montanan’s fancy turns to thinking about getting outdoors. We relish in the idea of shedding our winter coat cocoon and venturing out into the world without the hassle of bundling up, warming up the car, scraping the windshield and avoiding icy spots on the road.
One of the great things about living in Helena or any other smaller city is that most people know each other and know the town very well. This can leave business owners with a false sense of security and the feeling that “Everyone knows where I am.” That is not always true and can mean missing out on potential new business.
You’re probably like the rest of us. You spent an appropriate amount of time thinking about your New Year’s resolutions and may have even gotten a bit excited about them. Call it hysteria caused by the holiday mood. Unfortunately, you have also probably given up on them already.
Congratulations on making it through another hectic Christmas selling season! Before you hang up your smock and settle down for a long winter’s nap to recover from the craziness, there are a few things you want to do first. You obviously understand the importance this time of year has on your business. And, you have learned a lot of what worked and what did not work anecdotally. Now is the time to take a moment and capture that information and learning before it fades away.