Month: September 2015

10+ Retail Holiday Boot Camp Takeaways

Our Small Business After Hours series is proving to be a hit! Nearly 30 people representing a wide variety of retail shops throughout Fort Collins attended our September 22nd event.

Alyson MacMullan of Peak Retail Group gave us some great takeaways for retailers to remember as they enter their holiday planning period.


1. Lay all your key dates from November through January (yes, January) on a physical calendar

• Sometimes you may see correlations on paper that aren’t obvious in a digital format.• Small Business Saturday is November 28th this year!

2. Determine your goals for the holiday season

• Do you want more sales in dollars or in transactions? Do you have targets for how much inventory you want to move? Are you aiming for less January markdowns?• If you don’t have data from last year to drive your goals, make sure you begin collecting it this year! What works? What doesn’t?

3. Pick a color pallet for your store displays and stick to it!  

• Highlight high margin inventory in your displays.• Hint: It doesn’t have to be red and green, in fact, your store’s brand colors work very well! 

4. Consider all elements for the in-store experience: Sights, sounds, smells 

• Offer extras like a free stocking stuffer, free gift wrapping and bounce back offers with every purchase.• Do everything you can to keep shopping stress-free and easy for your customers. 

5. Proper staffing is a challenge for retailers during the holidays

• Signs are your silent salespeople. Make them informative and interesting so customers can answer their own simple questions.• Arm your salespeople with mobile payment options so they can help customers avoid lines at the register.

6. Social media is your friend!

• Post every day! Use a planning/scheduling service like SnapRetail, Hootsuite or SproutSocial to help you plan out several days in one easy shot.• People love contests and flash sales, utilize these techniques!• An image is worth 1,000 posts. Show your staff decorating the store!

7. E-mail is your friend too, but be cautious

• Find an e-mail template and stick with it for the season. It will make your life easier and your customers will recognize your communications.• ONE offer per e-mail only, and keep it clean and concise. People are already stressed during the holidays, your communication should make it easy for them.

8. 12 Days of Christmas Promotions are very effective!

• Drive traffic into your store by offering serious discounts (50-75% off) on a high margin, highly stocked item each day.• These are top secret deals! Resist the urge to reveal the promos early. Pre-schedule deal communication to save yourself a headache.

9. Your merchandise assortment shouldn’t vary dramatically during the holidays; the majority of your stock should be tried and true items 

• NEVER run out of your top sellers, that’s a missed opportunity!• Don’t accept late deliveries from your vendors. Communicate clearly and directly when you need your merchandise by and if they can’t meet your deadlines, don’t accept deliveries.

10. Restock key items for January and mix up the look of your store
Sound like a lot of information? We assure you, this was only the tip of the iceberg! 
Thank you Alyson for all of the excellent information you provided!

If you’re a retailer and need help digesting and applying this information, we encourage you to schedule with a Larimer SBDC consultant now to help with planning out your holiday strategy!

Restaurant & Food Industry Workforce Issues Panel

Restaurant & Food Industry Workforce Issues Panel

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

4:00 pm – 6:00 pm

No matter what business you’re in, attracting and retaining top talent is always an issue. How do you retain and reward good employees? How do you successfully recruit qualified employees? What workforce issues are you dealing with now? What works? What doesn’t?

Just for our restaurant and food businesses, we’ve assembled a great panel of professionals to address these workforce issues. Come prepared with your questions and get answers from people who have been there and done that!

Our Panelists:

  Ryan Houdek moved to Fort Collins in 1995 to work as a Computer Engineer for Hewlett-Packard Company. In 2004, Ryan decided to change careers and open The Melting Pot restaurant in Old Town. Then, in 2008, he opened Rodizio Grill in the historic train station. Later, in 2013, he opened Social with his business partner Ty Fulcher. Ryan currently lives in Rist Canyon with his wife Christine and dog Frodo.

 
  Carolyn Reed is president at Silver Bloom, LLC, a restaurant management company, since
October 2012. She has experience with multi-unity restaurant management with an
emphasis on restaurant design and construction management. As a restaurant
franchisee of several Silver Mine Subs locations stretching from Cheyenne to
Denver, her knowledge spans all aspects of restaurant management and
operations.
 
  Josh Skow is the co-Founder and CEO of Canyon Bakehouse, a dedicated gluten free bakery located in Loveland, CO. The business was started in 2009 after seeing a need in the market for quality gluten free breads that were nutritious and tasted good. Canyon Bakehouse branded products are now sold in over 10,000 stores across the United States and Canada. Josh is a graduate of Kansas State University. In addition to owning and operating several businesses, he has held operations and sales positions with several major US and International food ingredient companies. Josh and his family reside in Colorado.

 
   Mark Havens is a Fort Collins Native, and after traveling the US in different capacities in the service industry returned home in 2009. Hired as the general manager he reinvented Café Vino taking a staff of 16 to 60 in a few short years. His passion for Café Vino is seen in the staff’s morale, his innovative ideas and providing an exceptional experience for his guests every night of the week. Mark is one of the hardest workers in Fort Collins, if you don’t see him at the door, he might be serving your dinner, making your drink, working as our handyman or possibly washing dishes in the kitchen.

 

Sharing the Blessings of Success

Ragamuffin Organizing & Cleaning Success Story

Owner: Kami Bowker
Story: Kat Rico
Photography: Courtesy of Ragamuffin Organizing & Cleaning

Not all entrepreneurs start with goals of grandiose riches; in the case of Kami Bowker, owner of Ragamuffin Organizing & Cleaning, she just wanted to be able to make her $300 per month car payment. Just three years later, her cleaning business has grown so rapidly, she has chosen to invest the unexpected growth in her vision of a Christian women’s respite ministry.

Originally from Burlington, Colorado, Kami moved to Fort Collins for beauty school and then owned a salon for four years. Life’s twists and turns led her to being a stay-at-home mother who homeschooled her children for 13 years. These experiences helped her hone the Organizing skills that are essential to her business success today. At the suggestion of a friend, she started Ragamuffin Organizing & Cleaning in 2012, her first shot at business ownership in over 20 years.

The business grew rapidly, which led her in to the Larimer SBDC to help manage the growth. “My SBDC consultant’s help was essential,” said Kami, “She encouraged me to dream bigger.” Over the first year of working with the SBDC, her business saw 1,100% growth, and the following year an additional 226%. Now the company employs 4 part time employees, including Kami’s daughter. 

Even though the business is a cleaning service, Kami’s goal for Ragamuffin Organizing & Cleaning is to bless her clients and become part of their family. “Twelve hours a month can be invaluable to a mother,” she says. Her employees become part of her client’s extended family by building a deep relationship of trust, as evidenced by the business’ success, which relies solely on word of mouth advertising. After they clean a house, Ragamuffin staff leave muffins for the family to enjoy. “We hope to bring sunshine into our clients’ lives!”

Kami’s personal mission extends beyond just blessing her clients, and the expansion of her dream with Ragamuffin Organizing & Cleaning will be to support the Ragamuffin House. Her larger vision is to create a Christian women’s ministry where women can have a week-long respite to rejuvenate, reconnect, and then reengage in their spheres of influence. “That is why I get up in the morning, dreaming of the Ragamuffin House,” says Kami. Currently she is working with the Larimer SBDC to further define and support this vision, which is planned to launch in 2017. 

“The biggest thing the SBDC gave me was confidence and encouragement when I felt like I couldn’t do it.” Kami is happy to be able to continue her mission of blessing those around her through both the cleaning business and ministry that she has been called to. Her best advice for other entrepreneurs seeking their calling is, “Surround yourself with people who believe in your vision, and talk to as many people as you meet about it, because you never know who’s going to cross your path.”

See the full photo gallery on the Ragamuffin Organizing & Cleaning Success Story Page!

10 Signs You Need Better a Better Understanding of Your Business Finances

      by Brian Cathcart, CPA, MS

Larimer SBDC Consultant

The Financial Lab

You are probably really good at providing the products and/or services of your business. But you might not feel so competent or confident about the accounting and financial analysis part of your business. Maybe you need to change your mindset regarding your financial reporting as something to get excited about. 

Don’t you get excited about things that make you money?  Financial reporting and analysis makes you money!

10 Signs You Need Better a Better Understanding of Your Business Finances
  1. You don’t know the role of accounting or what accounting means. 

  2. You are not using financial information regularly to make better business decisions.
  3. You don’t know how to calculate your break even or how to calculate sales necessary to achieve a desired level income.
  4. You don’t know what accounting infrastructure means.
  5. You don’t know what accrual based accounting means.
  6. You don’t understand why the balance sheet is the most important financial statement.
  7. You don’t understand why it is necessary or how to perform monthly reconciliations and close the books.
  8. You have a large accounting role without adequate training and education.
  9. You are a business owner or manager that would like to freshen up on all this accounting stuff.
  10. You are not excited about monthly financial analysis.
Do any of those strike a chord with you? The good news is the Larimer SBDC is here to help! We have free, confidential, individual business consulting with professionals like myself who understand the impact financials have on your business growth, as well as several upcoming training options. 
Check out the following helpful classes that are coming up soon:
Thursday, November 5  1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
QuickBooks: 3 Part Series
Friday, November 6 8:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Basics of Bookkeeping: Know Thy Numbers
Wednesday, November 18 8:30 AM – 12:00 PM  

TAXES – Get Informed and Organized Now!

Need help sooner? Classes don’t fit your schedule? 

Click here to request an appointment.