2017 VDTA Convention
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Integrating Business & Personal Goals

Are you someone that has goals in life? If you don't have goals, you're like a ship without a rudder. You're going somewhere, but the wind and the current decide your course; it is not your hand at the helm.

It's always good to have a plan. The times I have failed to plan lead to floating aimlessly, not get much accomplished, and sometimes failure.

For the last few years, my plan in business has been to "simplify." In other words, if it doesn't make money or make customers happy and fit in with our goals, we are probably not going to do it. With this plan, we have been able to focus more on doing the things that really matter for our customers, our staff, and ourselves. To our store, this includes a couple of larger, off-premise sewing events each year, concentrating on having the best sewing owner's lessons in town, as well as having the best customer service.

It also leads to profitability. Being busy has very little to do with being profitable… Sincerity and treating your customers and staff well are the bigger part of what makes a store successful.

Other factors creating a successful vacuum and sewing store include selling exclusive, quality-built products and advertising so people know what makes your product better and where to buy it.

Over the last few years, I have been working on integrating business and personal goals into our advertising program. This includes more small donations to charity efforts. Hardly anyone who asks for a donation is turned down. We give away a lot of Riccar Gem Hand-Vacs to charity auctions and sometimes a full-size vacuum or a sewing machine. What goes around comes around. Be prudent but generous with your money and you will be blessed.

Having customers feel
good about the store they shop at is a big part of a successful business.

An ongoing program I have mentioned in previous articles is our Help-us/Help-others Charity Vacuum Program. Customers are given a $50 to $200 trade-in allowance for their old vacuum towards the purchase of some of our more profitable brands.
We then take their trade-in, recondition it, and donate it to a needy family through social services or similar organizations. Our staff feels good about the program, customers feel good about it, and the community loves it. To date we have given away over 2,500 vacuums!

The Personal Goal: A year ago, I had a vision for a 7-day-a-week free meal open to anyone who wants to attend. The meal would be for senior citizens, single parents and their children, lower income families, someone who is lonely, homeless, or just likes connecting with other people. We have been working with others to see how this might look, and it's now coming together. Cindy and I are really excited about the Community Meal Project we have been working on and how it fits in with our store.

The Business Goal: Great customer service, more repeat customers, and increasing sales and profits. Great customer service and more repeat customers will lead to increasing sales and profits. Having customers feel good about the store they shop at is a big part of a successful business.

The Answer: For quite some time, I have been asking myself, "How can I tie my business and personal goals together to do something really good in our community?" On my own, I have limited time and limited resources. The business also has limited time and limited resources. But…how about if we address the Community Meal Project goals through the business, devoting a percentage of our sales to this effort?

Last November we hosted an Anita Goodesign embroidery event. We posted signs letting attendees know that 5% of their purchases would go to the Community Meal Project. We also announced it as part of our promotion during the event, and we had a great event.

After making more progress on Community Meal goals and pondering direction, we decided to try it again in January. This time 5% of all machine sales would go to the Community Meal Project. We had small posters on our doors advertising this new policy, and included the information in our newspaper and radio ads as well as on our website. We also have pamphlets in our store outlining the program.

While it took a couple of months to take off, it's been a definite win-win situation for both the Community Meal Project and the store. Customers feel good about what is going on. The staff feels good about what is going on. AND most of all, the tens of thousands of dollars being generated are helping people in our community get together over a free meal and connect to each other. In a world of cell phones, social media, and texting, it's great to see people actually getting together and socializing.

Can you guess who gets some of the recognition for doing good in our community? Part of it goes to our store. This justifies using 5% of our sales to support it. Did I mention we are taking 5% of what we used to spend on advertising and spending it on helping people? Rather than writing a big check each month to "Media Advertising," we are making a commitment to giving that still gets the word out about our store. We are helping lots of people and at the same time building our store name. It's a partnership of community, churches, and businesses working together. It's integrating business and personal goals for a win for all concerned!

REMINDER! If your store is doing something similar to our Community Meal Project please share! We would like to acknowledge you and spread the word. Your business should be a part of making your community a better place to live. E-mail your comments, ideas, and suggestions to jimbarnhardt@msn.com

Jim BarnhardtJim Barnhardt,
J & R Vacuum and Sewing
VDTA•SDTA Board Member

Reprinted from Floor Care & Central Vac Professional & SQE Professional, July 2017