Thursday, December 12, 2013

How a New Business Packed it's Store this Holiday Season

It has been three long months, hundreds of brain twisting decisions, and finally the store is open, just in time for the upcoming holiday walk sponsored by the Downtown Business Association. Each year the Downtown Business Association advertises a holiday walk through town to local residents, which crowds the streets each year.

Clair is a managing partner in the company.  For the past year she has been taking her life's savings and investing it in the store.  She is determined to take advantage of the holiday walk by generating foot traffic into the store.

The store specializes in two areas, kid's haircuts, and a Blow Dry Bar for adults.  The goal was to lure parents and mothers into the store.  Clair sat in the plush salon chair and slowly spun in a circle, until she felt dizzy.  "Champagne, we'll give out glasses of champagne, and maybe some wine!" Clair blurts out to her partners across the room.  We can get somebody to play music, make the store festive. That should draw people!" chimes in an employee who is busy placing the last of the holiday decorations.

Later that afternoon, Clair is on the phone with an entertainment agent going through their roster of talent. Some sound interesting, others just did not fit the bill.  One act that did sound promising was a balloon entertainer who has worked Grand Openings, has experience with holiday walks, and can give a sales pitch while performing.  Something Clair never considered; using a professional pitchman to help promote the store.

After several meetings with fellow partners, and going back and forth with the entertainment agency, Clair settles on a musician and a promotional balloon entertainer.

Like clockwork people slowly started to fill the streets, and Clair was ready.  She schedules the entertainer for 1.5 hours, and the musician for the full four hours.  Clair was taking no chances and placed both entertainers in the store windows, positioned the Champagne/wine bar in a direct path with the open door so passers by could see.

As Clair oversees the activities she noticed that the promotional balloon entertainer was not in his window, but instead was outside gathering a small crowd of kids.  A minute later, like the pied piper, he walks in with a parade of kids in tow.

She watched. The kids do not have any adults with them, but he is making these outlandish hats. The group of girls are giggling and pointing at each other and seeing who can take the best selfie with their entire hat in the picture. It was comical to watch these girls.

Off the girls go, and Clair hears her entertainer say; "Now when asked where you got the balloons, you are going to say.....and in unison they shouted out the store name. Clair instantly knew what he was doing and applauded his willingness to help draw the crowds.

Minutes later, Clair was busy pouring champagne, and talking with mothers as they filled the store to capacity.  Apparently, the word had spread.....the balloon guy is down the street, in the beauty salon.

Clair had to make the decision to let the balloon guy go and risk losing a big attraction, or using the remaining budget and keep it going.  Clair had retained some of the budget for emergency and extended the entertainer's time. Not once, not twice, but three times she extends the end time, until the partners agreed, the balloons are a massive draw and we keep going as long as people are coming.

Clair shuts the doors an hour after the holiday walk ended. She had spent her entire budget, passed out hundreds of fliers, and was overwhelmed by the turnout.  She even learned something new, that the balloon entertainer was attracting families from the family restaurant across the street.  Something she will have to keep in mind for future events or maybe work out a mutual marketing program with the restaurant.

Take Away Points

  • Take advantage of any community events to advertise your company
  • Commit to professional entertainment, they are the ambassadors to potential clients
  • Do not hide the talent; make it easy for people to find
  • Keep a small reserve in your budget for emergencies
  • Build working relationships with neighboring businesses

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

How HR Planned an Employee Appreciation Party

"The Human Resources Department is the dumping ground for management projects," announces Betty to her husband over dinner.  "This afternoon the VP walked into our office and announced that we are going to have an employee appreciation party next month and wants all departments to interact. Then he tells me that I am in charge, and it is for the entire office. Plus, it needs to be fun and interactive. Then he told us he was late for a meeting and left.

He doesn’t release we have over 500 people and I need to find a location off-site, transportation, food, and entertainment…arrrg, I hate it when these people just drop their work on me and now it my responsibility!"erupts Betty.

The next day, Betty's first goal is to find a venue that can accommodate 500 people.  After spending the entire morning searching the internet, making phone calls, and asking friends on Facebook for ideas she nails it down three venues; the Science Museum, Shedd Acquire, and the Odyssey Cruise Chicago at Navy Pier.  These three venues have dates open, activities, meals, and are all-inclusive, making the planning easier for this last minute event.

With all the information gathered, Betty marches into the VP's office and presents her findings. The VP is a yachtsmen, and so he selected the Odyssey Cruise at Navy Pier. He then selected the one food option that Betty wisely presented to him.  She knew better not to give management a list of food options.

Make the decision process simple and quick. Betty learned this from working with other managers who "needed to survey" the employees taste buds and eventually fell on Betty to question, tally, and, after days and weeks of gathering information, do what they wanted.

Betty's next concern was trying to figure out how to get the various departments interacting at the event.  What can we get that would have people interacting and socializing?  Betty went back to the Internet googling for entertainers when she found an entertainer who used balloons as an icebreaker for hospitality entertainment. She had been looking at websites all day long and this one was the first site that spoke to her needs.

Betty stared at her monitor looking at colorful balloon art, when it popped into her head.  "Theme the decks!" The Odyssey has three different decks, and she could theme each deck with different music, different acts, and have entertainment that could be moved between decks seamlessly and interact with employees throughout the four hour cruise.

Betty now had a goal.  Each deck had a theme, and entertainment was selected based on that theme, and yes, the person that sparked her ideas was hired.

With minutes to spare the first chartered busload of employees were disembarking.  HR staff were putting the finishing touches on each theme deck, entertainers were positioned and waiting for employees to embark on their day of fun.

Betty was beside herself that she accomplished so much in so little time. Now it was time to sit back and wait for the boat to push off and set sail.

Take Away Points 

  • Define a list of priorities – what must be accomplished ASAP – Venue - Transportation
  • Find All Inclusive Venue – Food, drinks, rest rooms, and parking all in one location
  • Limit Options – when seeking approval and keep control over the project
  • Establish a Theme –  Themes are the glue that give purpose for all activities
  • Avoid repeating past mistakes, learn from each event planned
  • Hire professionals who have experience and can address your needs

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