James H. Haller, executive vice president and CFO at Harper Engraving & Printing Co., thought hed negotiated pretty well for his companys package shipping.
After all, his prior experience of 17 years working for UPS enabled him to find an 8 percent discount for the West Columbus company.
Soon, however, he discovered he could do even better.
Working with Brett Febus, managing partner of ShipSave Consulting LLC in Hilliard, Haller received a total discount of 18 percent an additional savings of about $25,000 a year for his company.
By me not knowing what the market would bear, I only knew the UPS guidelines, Haller says. I really didnt know what kind of incentive I could get.
Febus discovered Haller was receiving some of his rates from the wrong rate chart. He also found Harper Engraving wasnt shipping as many packages as anticipated when the UPS contract was written.
I was able to lower his commitment to UPS, Febus explains. He hasnt promised them so much, but he is also getting a bigger discount.
Febus also helped Haller with a client, who wanted packages delivered regularly to Canada, by working with the UPS Customshouse Brokerage to set up paperwork with customs.
Ultimately what it does is customs is notified further in advance than they normally would be about the product youre preparing to ship up to Canada, Febus says. As a result, theres less of a chance for that package to be held up in customs.
In addition, the process should help Haller reduce his brokerage fees because instead of customs having to deal with individual packages, its going to deal with groups of his packages.
Febus, whose company is in the process of being acquired by Intrepa LLC, an Indiana-based warehouse and transportation management company, says much of his work involves making unique changes to each customers contract so theyre receiving the most benefit. He consults with clients via his Web site and sometimes works with carriers on their behalf.
Febus, also a former UPS employee, works with small package carriers including UPS, FedEx Corp., Airborne Express and DHL Airways Inc., but generally customers want to stay with their current carrier.
When you switch carriers, theres just so much internally thats involved, Febus says. Sometimes its just not worth the headaches.
For Doug Byorth, president of Focus Logistics Solutions LLC, ShipSave fulfills a niche for managing small package delivery allowing him to bring more services to his customers.
It solidified us with our clients in that they know we are addressing all their logistics modes of transportation regardless of our in-house expertise, he says.
Febus got the idea to form his company about a year ago when a customer suggested an unbiased consultant would help him understand the rates carriers were offering.
In cases like Hallers, where the client currently receives a discount from the carrier, Febus splits the savings he finds with the client for two years. So Haller, who got an extra 10 percent discount by working with Febus, will pay Febus half of that discount. In cases in which the client does not currently have a discount, Febus charges 25 percent of what he gets for them. That fee also lasts two years.
The factor of not having to find the discount on his own was a benefit for Haller.
Im a small business $10 million a year, Haller says. In my position, I dont have time to go chasing down all the answers.
How to reach: ShipSave Consulting, www.shipsave.com, 921-9091
Joan Slattery Wall (email@example.com) is associate editor of SBN Columbus.
Mitch Lynds business wouldnt survive without migrant labor.
It would be impossible to function without them," says the co-owner of Lynd Fruit Farm in Pataskala, a facility that employs more than 100 migrant workers each year. I need practically no workers until its time to pick apples. Then, when its time to pick, the apples dont wait on anybody.
In fact, theres only a window of about 10 to 12 days during which all the apples must be picked.
Lynd says his family-owned business realized the importance of migrant labor early in its 80-year history, and he's able to keep workers coming back each year to pick apples, pumpkins, gourds and peaches because he offers good pay and good conditions. In addition, word of mouth among the workers keeps all his positions filled year after year.
The single toughest thing has been to truly understand them and their needs, what they like and what they fear, says Lynd, noting the majority of his migrant labor pool speaks Spanish, while he does not. When you dont understand them and they dont understand you, there are all types of myths and misunderstandings that are fostered.
There have been several occasions in which workers misunderstood what Lynd was saying, then were concerned for days about what was being discussed. Lynd says he had no idea there was a misunderstanding until a worker brought it to his attention.
Taking down the language barrier is so important to Lynd and his partners that they hired someone fluent in Spanish and English to interpret. That man, John Kammeyer, is now part owner of Lynd Fruit Farm, a company whose annual sales total about $1.5 million.
A lot of our friends have tried to hire migrant workers. But because they cant understand the culture and language, they have a difficult time, Lynd says.
Lynd hires migrant workers rather than high school and college students to pick his fruit because, while students are normally only available during the summer and winter months, migrant workers are able to work longer hours during the months Lynd needs their help most. In addition, he says, migrant workers know the importance of long hours and hard work from working on several farms each year.
Tom Dutton, co-owner of Eastside Nursery in Columbus, set up his migrant labor camp five years ago with the help of a $2,500 state grant. His business, which boasts annual revenue of more than $12 million, employs 60 migrant workers each year.
Dutton says he might not be able to get by without full-time employees who speak both Spanish and English, since most of the migrant workers he hires dont speak English.
It is a bit of a problem at first, he says of communicating with his seasonal work force. But weve been here long enough that weve got one migrant worker who speaks pretty good English.
Both Dutton and Lynd say migrant workers hear about the jobs they offer via word of mouth from other seasonal workers.
The Ohio Revised Code defines a labor camp as one or more buildings or structures, trailers, tents or vehicles ... established, operated or used as temporary living quarters for two or more families or five or more persons intending to engage in or engaged in agriculture or related food processing ...
Dutton and Lynd say meeting initial state housing requirements for migrant staff is challenging. According to the Ohio Department of Healths Rules for Agricultural Migrant Camp Workers, these requirements include:
- Meeting set criteria for water and sewer systems, electricity, plumbing, noise and pollution levels, and insurance.
- Providing sleeping facilities for each occupant.
- Having effective and sanitary cooking and eating areas.
- Installing fire extinguishers in each building.
The main problems come in when [business owners] try to convert a farm house to a migrant house, says William Stamper, sanitarian for the Ohio Department of Health. The farm house didnt have to meet any codes, and they have to upgrade and put some money into it sometimes.
Stamper and his crew inspect each of Ohios 143 migrant camps four to six times a year. If the camps aren't in compliance, the business is written up and told to fix the problem. Lynd insists it's not the legal requirements for using migrant workers that worry him most, however.
If you dont keep them happy, theyre on to somewhere they will be happy really fast, he says. Employees quit and go somewhere else at the drop of a hat.
Darrel Richter (DRichter01@aol.com) is a free-lance writer for SBN.
Heres the scoop:
- Labor camp owners may receive grants of up to $25,000 through the Agriculture Labor Camp Improvement Program.
- For every $1 of state funds committed, the applicant must match at least $1.
- Applicants must develop a three-year plan for addressing the housing and infrastructure needs of the camp.
- The deadline for grant applications usually falls in January each year.
- To apply, contact the Ohio Department of Developments Office of Housing and Community Partnerships, 77 S. High St., 24th Floor, Columbus, 43216-1001.
It was a simple equation of supply and demand.
Organizers of the Peter Lowe business seminar, held in Columbus last April, expected nearly 14,000 people to attend their event at the Jerome Schottenstein Center.
However, the Schott only had parking spaces for 2,000 vehicles. Sure, the campus itself has 28,000 spaces, but almost all were filled with faculty, staff and students on the regular class day.
To balance the equation, Michael Gatto, director of event services and administration at the Schott, and Beth Kelley, associate director of transportation and parking services for The Ohio State University, sought the help of Royal Livery Service Ltd., a $5 million, 70-employee East Columbus ground transportation logistics company.
“We had to be looking at off-site locations,” Kelley says regarding the parking needs. “Because there were none adjoining the university, we had to start looking at shuttle services.”
Communication was key.
“We put out a mailer and press release and used the local media to get the word out” about the parking, Gatto says.
Royal Livery shuttled event attendees to and from the Ohio State Fairgrounds and provided communication and management at both sites.
“Although the Schott, of course, was of a massive scale, it really depicts what we do best here, and that’s management of logistics,” says Gail Thompson, president and CEO of Royal Livery Service. “We do that on a daily basis for one passenger or 1,000 passengers or 10,000, depending on the clients and their need.”
The company’s fleet includes sedans, which carry one to three passengers; minicoaches for up to 35 passengers; and larger coaches to accommodate 49 or 57 people. The company also has pickup trucks to help passengers, such as trade show staff, who arrive with big packages.
Thompson says 98.5 percent of his business is from Central Ohio corporate clients such as The Limited, Nationwide and Sterling Commerce.
Pricing, he says, is based on vehicles used, but he also writes specific contracts with a lump-sum fee for larger events.
“Some of our groups we do can approach $100,000 or more, whereas you’ve got simple sedan runs we do for very important people for $50, so it’s all over the board,” he says.
His challenge is to educate potential clients that No. 1, his company exists, and No. 2, that there’s a need.
“[Columbus] is not a New York or an L.A. But it needs to be thinking in terms of New York and L.A. because it’s too big to take for granted any more,” he says, also urging consideration of the human resources aspect.
“You don’t want a prospective team member driving around the city blindly trying to find your office when there’s a better way to do it,” Thompson says.
Woody King, who is owner and president of Destination Management & Marketing Ltd. and coordinates events such as the Ohio School Boards and Ohio Florist associations’ conventions, subcontracts his transportation needs to Royal Livery Service.
“They get to know how we operate, and we know all their people,” King says. “First and foremost is the success for our client; that’s the bottom line. If they don’t have a successful convention or meeting or conference, why, we don’t get additional business.”
King offers advice to business owners on finding a service to fulfill transportation needs:
- Find out if the service, in fact, has experience.
- Make sure the vehicles are new and clean.
- Make sure the drivers are good quality.
- Find out if the company has an emergency plan.
- Check whether it provides support such as radio communication and management staff.
Joan Slattery Wall (firstname.lastname@example.org) is associate editor of SBN Columbus.
Ohio is the most recent state to come under attack for references to God. A challenge to the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to remove the phrase With God all things are possible as the official state motto for Ohio, suggests just one more step in the process of removing any mention of deity in our lives.
The first step is removing God from our government and schools. Will the next step be to remove God from our businesses? Will faith be outlawed as a guiding principle in our daily affairs as religious references are erased from public view?
In our rapidly changing, high-tech culture, we are so crowded with our own inventions that we have no need for dependence on, nor accountability to, a Supreme Being. But can success, material wealth and power give ultimate meaning to our lives? In our shift from the spiritual to a more secular world view, our appeal to higher standards of love, virtue, compassion and positive traits in general have lost their point of reference.
There is a growing sense of frustration that achieving The American Dream does not fulfill our deeper longings. We spend years building businesses, growing market share and watching the bottom line. After years of struggling to climb a mountain of obstacles, we get to the top, only to realize that success can be an empty feeling.
We have it all, but we are not satisfied.
Peggy Noonen, former speech writer for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush, spoke about our national spiritual crisis in the Sept. 14, 1992, issue of Forbes magazine: ... We are beginning to lose God banishing Him from the scene, from our consciousness, losing the assumption He was part of the deity drama or its Maker.
And it is a terrible thing when people lose God. Life is difficult and people are afraid, and to be without God is to lose mans great source of consolation and coherence.
From Moses to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn have come dire warnings of the consequences of a nation that forgets God. Without God, our business endeavors have no reason or meaning. It becomes a game of wealth accumulation and power struggles.
Some will demand evidence before allowing God to guide their daily affairs, but there are compelling reasons that a belief in a Supreme Being is not so farfetched. Consider:
- The outer evidence. Look at the order, beauty and intricate design of nature. Could all of this happen by chance or accident? I think not, any more than an explosion in a print shop could result in a book of poetry!
Abraham Lincoln said, All that I see teaches me to believe in a God that I do not see.
- The inner evidence: The inner longing of every human being to be loved and to express love, to know truth and the desire for peace where do these come from? A higher being? To come to the realization that we are created for a purpose will influence our personal, family and business worlds. The more we seek to be in a right relationship with God, the more we come into right relationships with our fellow human beings.
It will pervade every area of our lives as we remember that in all matters however, great or small it is In God We Trust.
Fred Koury (email@example.com) is president and CEO of SBN.
While many business partnerships fail when oversized egos get in the way, Gooseberry Patch owners Vickie Hutchins and JoAnn Martin say partnering is what makes their company work.
I dont know that either of us would have hung in here this long if we were by ourselves, says Hutchins.
Sixteen years ago, the duo started the Delaware mail order business from a mutual love of country decorating and antiques. With an initial investment of $5,000 apiece, they took no income for three years. In 1990, they hit the $1 million sales mark, and the company grew at about 30 percent a year after that. They expected sales to reach nearly $15 million at the close of the fiscal year last month.
As in most successful partnerships, Hutchins and Martin have complementary skills. Hutchins handles the creative aspect of the business, particularly catalog design and cookbooks, while Martin manages more of the day-to-day operations. Yet each crosses over from time to time, and neither is territorial when it comes to getting things done.
We can divvy up the crummy jobs and the fun ones, says Martin.
And neither gloats over a good decision nor plays the blame game over a bad one like the time they tried to sell the bowl with the floating candles.
Weve still got quite a few of them, says Martin with a chuckle.
Maybe it was because the candles were shaped like rocks, adds Hutchins. Weve been trying to donate the bowls to schools to use as terrariums, but you really cant donate them because theyre so breakable.
But the pair thinks theyre on target most of the time when it comes to picking just the right products for their customers typically well-educated women between the ages of 35 and 55. And they contend theyre selling more than simply products in their whimsical catalog pages.
I think the catalog is about comfort, family, friendship and sharing, says Hutchins. It brings to peoples lives a little something theyre missing.
The duo also has a shared commitment to providing extra-friendly service to their customers. Gooseberrys personal shoppers, telephone operators whose numbers swell to 25 in the months before Christmas, are given extensive training not only in taking orders in a chatty way, but also in becoming experts in Gooseberrys cozy product line from layered cookie mixes to bubble lights. Each year, the catalog features about 200 new products.
The pair, winner of Ernst & Youngs Columbus and Central Ohio Retail Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 1995, says the newest challenge is finding enough creative people to add to their in-house staff of illustrators, copywriters and graphic designers. They say Gooseberrys laid-back atmosphere, replete with scented candles and potpourri, may be difficult for those who prefer a corporate ladder.
A lot of people cant go with the flow and be flexible and spontaneous, says Martin. The lack of creative talent is determining our growth, which gets frustrating because we have so many ideas and so much we want to do.
But Hutchins and Martin are confident that theyll continue to build their business in the relaxed, non-competitive way they always have.
I dont think weve ever lost sight of what it is were here for and what it is we want to do, says Hutchins. I dont think its ever changed; its evolved.
Muntaqima Abdur-Rashid is a Columbus-based free-lance writer.
You frequently mention that you should avoid telling prospects about the features and benefits of your product or service and focus instead on asking the right questions. Can you tell me what types of questions to ask early in the selling process?
I am frequently asked by clients to spell out the questions they should be comfortable asking on a sales call. This is a dangerous task, because it presupposes that every prospect is the same and every sales call is going to go perfectly.
Good salespeople have a system for selling that encompasses a specific strategy and set of tactics designed to further that strategy. However, the manner in which that system is implemented is more of an art than a science.
Most entry-level salespeople are taught a set of scripted or canned closes. While they are easy to learn, they are often ineffective. Effective selling strategies and tactics are more difficult to learn, but they are far more powerful than canned scripts and closes.
Remember also that how you ask is often more important than what you ask. Questions by themselves can be abrasive. Make sure you sprinkle your questions with plenty of nurturing statements and have an empathetic tone in your voice.
With these precautions in mind, here are 24 fundamental questions which you need to be comfortable asking during the early stages of the sales process to begin to master the art of selling. The questions are part of what I call "Lewis' Essential 44" -- the 44 fundamental questions you need to consider asking.
The initial phone call
1) Does my name or company sound familiar? (To be used when making a sales call to get the prospect to disengage from what he or she was doing before you called.)
2) I know you weren't waiting for my call and you're very busy, but if you will give me 30 seconds, I can tell you why I am calling and you can decide whether we should continue this conversation. Will you give me 30 seconds? (To gain permission from the prospect on a cold call before delivering your 30-second commercial.)
3) I am a (fill in the blank) specializing in (fill in the blank). Typically I work with successful (fill in the blank) just like you, who are basically very happy with (blank), but they are frustrated or concerned that (blank, blank or blank). I don't suppose you share any of those concerns?
This is your 30-second commercial, designed to describe what you do in terms of the problems you solve to determine if you can do anything for the prospect.
4) And you've never had a problem with (fill in the blank)?
5) Nobody is perfect, not even us. If there was one area in which you would like to improve on your current situation, what would it be?
6) Would it make sense for you to invite me in to talk with you about these issues in greater detail to see if I can help you in these areas? (To get the appointment.)
7) How much time have you set aside for our meeting?
8) What would you like to accomplish during our time together?
9) Would it be okay if I asked you some questions first?
10) If, in the course of our meeting, you don't see a fit between what you need and what I offer, would you be willing to tell me "no?"
Uncover pain and create a sense of urgency
11) Why am I here? What caused you to invite me in?
12) Tell me more about that ...
13) Can you be a bit more specific? Can you give me an example?
14) How often does this happen?
15) How long has it been a problem?
16) What have you tried to do about this?
17) Did that work?
18) What impact is this having on your company?
19) How does this affect you personally?
20) How does this make you feel?
21) What were you hoping I could do?
22) Is there anything else you would like to tell me about these problems?
23) How important are these issues?Are you really committed to fixing these problems?
Next month, Larry Lewis will address the remainder of the 46 questions. Larry Lewis is president of Total Development Inc., a Pittsburgh-based consulting firm specializing in sales development and training. Send your comments and questions via fax at (724) 933-9224 or see his Web site at totaldevelopment.com. Reach him by phone at (724) 933-9110.
The Himalayan Mountain range between Nepal and Tibet includes the world’s highest elevation, Mount Everest, at 29,028 feet.
Climbing it is considered one of the world’s greatest challenges. For many businesses, getting their computer systems and databases to work together is almost as difficult of a challenge.
I have worked with businesses on this Herculean task for more than three decades, first at industry leaders IBM and Xerox and now at my own company, Everest Data Research Inc. Since 1988, our firm has been developing databases and computer systems for Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 companies.
Although our company specializes in the technical side of business, our focus is on people: our customers and employees. We realize that if a person cannot use a database or an operating system, it is not helpful. Additionally, we work to foster creativity in our employees through their workspace and their hobbies. We have musicians, artists and white-water rafters on staff. This creativity is reflected in the work we do for our customers.
Our office workspace is considered nontraditional for computer companies. It is not rows of boxy cubicles, but more open, with higher ceilings and other features. We’ve been in our new building on Dorchester Square off Schrock Road in Westerville for almost two years and have more than doubled our space.
We secured financing for our building with a Small Business Administration 504 loan through Columbus Countywide Development Corp., the area’s largest nonprofit small business lender. Columbus Countywide worked on the loan with our bankers at Delaware County Bank. We made a 10 percent down payment, a lot less than what is required with most other loans. Delaware County Bank financed 50 percent of the loan and Columbus Countywide the remaining 40 percent.
The SBA 504 loan program is designed for healthy, growing small businesses like ours that need long-term, fixed rate financing to buy real estate or construct a new building. Columbus Countywide also has several other loan programs for small businesses, with financing from $1,000 to $1 million.
Because of our new building, we were able to expand our business, offering on-site training for customers to learn more about their new systems and programs.
Our goal at Everest Data Research is to help your company climb to the top and reach the summit of success. Columbus Countywide is helping us and many other businesses do just that.
Since 1981, Columbus Countywide has helped more than 1,100 small businesses obtain financing and has approved more than $190 million in loans, which have created more than 11,000 jobs and stimulated more than $500 million in new investments in the 13 counties it serves.
For details on Columbus Countywide’s loan programs visit www.ccdcorp.org or call 645-6171 in Franklin County or (888) 756-2232, toll-free, from elsewhere. Margaret Fenton is president of Everest Data Research (www.everestdr.com) in Westerville.
In reality, some may be checking out what perks you offer before they even walk through your door and using that information to decide where to shop.
If you already participate in the Golden Buckeye Card program, the Ohio Department of Aging now has your company and your discount listed on its Web site, www.state.oh.us/age/Buckeye.htm.
If youre not participating but want to, the site tells you how.
It might be worth your while. Consider the following, courtesy of the Web site:
- Americas older adult population will more than double between now and the year 2050.
- By that year, as many as one in five Americans will be older than 60.
Looks like seniority really does rule.
When WNCI-FM disc jockeys talked on-air earlier this year about which celebrities they looked like, the station asked listeners to call in their own stories.
Callers made what the DJs thought were outrageous claims about looking like some of the big stars of today. So one DJ asked a listener to e-mail him a photo.
That viewer complied as did many others.
The response to the radio bit grew so extreme, the DJ decided to post each of the photos on the World Wide Web. That way, the radio audience could check out other listeners first hand on the WNCI Web site (www.wnci.com).
Thousands of people went to the Web site to see if people really looked like [the stars], says John Potter, general manager for WNCI-FM. What mainly drives traffic to our Web site is when our personalities talk about whats on the site.
Drawing radio listeners to the Web is increasingly important for stations like Potters. A PC Data Online Reports poll shows 16 percent of people spend less time listening to the radio now and are surfing the Web instead, says Will Poole, vice president of digital media for Microsoft Corp., who discussed this issue at a National Association of Broadcasters convention this spring.
But recapturing those listeners is only part of the goal in setting up and promoting a Web site. After all, the more traffic an organization can drive to its Web site, the more money it can make down the road.
Although Potter says WNCIs Web site is profitable, I think theres an opportunity for it to be more profitable. After all, as listeners visit the stations site more frequently, there will be a greater opportunity to sell advertising at a higher price with the same amount of overhead, he explains.
Thats why WNCI puts everything from school closings to news stories on its Web site. When the station posts school closings, Potter notes, it gets such a response, the server practically shuts down.
WNCI, like many companies with an Internet presence, makes money through banner advertisements on its Web site. The Center of Science and Industry, commonly known as COSI, is among WNCIs Web advertisers. Larry Meyer, public relations director for COSI, says the general marketing exposure his organization gets through the Web can increase interest in COSI and translate into increased revenues.
When Internet surfers visit a companys site and see that it either improves their lives or entertains them regularly, they are more likely to do business with that particular company, Meyer explains.
Our on-site Web visits have tripled since we opened our new building, he says. People want to come visit.
To build upon that excitement, Meyer says COSI will be launching a new online exhibit this year which will showcase information available only on the Internet. He hopes this will create a more active interest in the center and be a reason for people to return to the site.
According to Microsofts Poole, any business looking to make its Web page more effective should:
- Create compelling content.
- Team with other organizations to create a more powerful and dynamic site.
- Interact with customers.
- Use Webcasting to complement the companys services.
- Effectively post the companys logo or brand on the site.
Darrel Richter (DRichter01@aol.com) is a free-lance writer for SBN.