Dec 27

Spa Services

Recently I had the opportunity to interview Sarah the owner of Elegance spa services of Davenport Iowa. Sarah and her husband Jason have been longtime friends and recently have decided to open up their own spa services and Rental booth building.

Sara and my wife met at the school as a massage therapist and quickly became friends. About 10 years ago she decided to become a part-time massage therapist for some income. This quickly gained through the income she was hoping for but taking a lot of her time. A couple of years ago her and her husband Jason decided to start looking for a piece of property to renovate in a commercial area of Davenport.

Jason has been in heating and air conditioning in the Davenport area for now about 15 years so he was always on the lookout for property that made sense to purchase. A couple of years ago they had their eyes on a piece of property that might be the ideal Elegance spa location. This particular piece of property was easy for them to build out and make into individual rooms. Sarah said her idea originally came to mind when she saw how many people were renting booths for hairstyles cuts and colors.

She felt like it might be a great small business incubator first someone just like herself when she first got started. Her location has several small rooms for people that might be looking to rent them month by month.

This particular business model is going to give someone a nice location to come and perform their services. This particular location that they have built out will have several spaces that people will be able to grow their clientele. If you’re a small business owner and looking to expand your business in the Davenport area. It might be a good idea to have a conversation with Sarah.

I understand after looking at the location that this area will fill up quickly and then it will definitely have a high demand. Sarah says her idea also stemmed from the fact that when she initially got out of massage therapy school she never had a real place to go and perform her service period the idea of going to In-Home Care is something that as a young woman just did not seem very safe. Sarah hopes that this answers the question for a lot of people on how to perform their services whether it be massage therapy or energy work like Reiki. even kinesiology. Sarah looks forward to helping out others that are small business owners in understanding what might make sense for them. As someone that has gone through some of the same struggles and questions I’m sure the information that Sarah has to offer is invaluable.

One of the things that Sarah is looking for in partners that become renters at her space is someone that is very like-minded. Sarah mentioned that not only our service is important but residual income like having a product to sell. She mentioned that Young Living and essential oil that is something that has become very important in our modern culture is a great product line for her to sell.

She’s looking to coach some of the other renters to become more thoughtful and mindful about building residual income and not just renting a room or servicing a client for your time. It seems to me that Sarah has a really good idea on how to create a stable business for herself and even a growing business for the ones that could be renting from her. I really enjoyed our conversation and I wish her a huge success in her Endeavor with building this small business in Davenport Iowa.

Nov 16

Pest Control

 

A week ago I had the opportunity to interview John Kuiper the owner of a pest control company in the Quad Cities. He’s a very friendly man with a lot of knowledge in his industry. He has been in business for over a decade and has some amazing stories and some creepy stories as you would imagine involving creepy crawlies.

I asked him how he got in the business and he said it all started with his own personal problem of having termites in his home. He tried every home remedy he could afford and couldn’t do it and was forced to hire a professional. After seeing how they were able to really help him out, he was so grateful. After all having a bug problem in your own home really does affect you on a deep level. He thought it was a great way to help others, and soon found he could support his family as well.

I asked him what was worse, pest control or animal control. He said definitely Animal Control. Pests are ultimately of one mind and they operate with one function, survival of the colony. They are a colony and you have to get to the source. Animals however are an entirely different matter. Not only can they be way more dangerous and pose a threat to the technician, but they are very good and crafty at finding their way into places they shouldn’t be.

John expressed that over the years the problems are the same but the techniques and tools to solve them are becoming much safer and much more efficient. He vows to use his professional expertise to help you solve your problem quickly, safely, and affordable.

Oct 28

Sauk Valley Massage Therapy

Recently I had an opportunity to interview Sauk Valley massage therapies owner Angie Wyatt. Angie is someone that has worked very hard over the years at a nine-to-five job at a local Deli. Over the years she’s seen people that have decided to get in the services industry like massage therapy and hair styling. During her years of observation she seeing people like this do very well and earned excellent wages. In the last three years she has finished her massage therapy license and opened a small massage therapy at a tea place in downtown Dixon Illinois. Her long-term goals are to slowly work away from her nine-to-five job and build her clientele list for Sauk Valley Massage Therapy.

One of the things that she’s enjoyed is connecting with people that are in pain and giving them release through techniques that she has mastered too. What are the challenges that she has found is finding new clients. One of the way that she said she is finding new clients is by creating a good social media platform that she regularly updates. Also by participating in giveaways for local charities she’s been able to create quite a Client List. Currently she’s looking at expanding and taking on a partner to fulfill some Daytime shifts that she is currently not available for. She is looking forward to growing her business and is on track to be full-time as a massage therapist in one year. Her other focus in building the massage therapy business has been creating residual income as well. How she is focusing on creating residual income is by creating products that she uses during the size therapy. What are those products that she currently uses on her clients is a Young Living essential oil product. This particular oil can be used for a number of reasons pain relief, stress relief, or just plain relaxation.

By creating these alternative revenue streams she’s hoping to create more residual income. So even when the person is not there or coming for a massage on a regular basis if they value this particular product then she will be able to create more Revenue. I was very happy to hear that residual income is certainly a part of what she is looking to create.

Small business owners are certainly savvy when it comes to their bottom line. Ultimately in the next year Angie is looking to sponsor either a soccer or a basketball team so she can get some more publicity on a local level. She understands the importance of advertising and plans on effectively marketing herself in as many venues that makes sense as possible.

Sep 29

Schafer Fisheries

Recently I’ve had the opportunity to do some consulting work with Mike Schafer the owner and operator of Schafer fish. This particular fishery is located along the Mississippi near Lock and Dam 13. In the city of Fulton Illinois this particular fishery has been there since 1955. Its history is steeped and embedded in local heritage.  Since 1955 Michael’s father originally opened the very first fish stand along Lock and Dam 13. This particular fish stand included a small 700 + square foot fish stand that included a small batch smoker. His small-batch smoker quickly turned out some of the top quality smoked maple wood fish along the Mississippi. Over a period of time is customers came to him and his small business grew into a relatively booming fish market. Throughout the years the river changed in small Fisheries started to go away. However Mr. Shaffer senior continue to grow and expand and his business became healthier. Over a period of time they started not only sending this domestically but internationally as well.

Since 1955 they’ve been able to service countries as far away as China and Iraq. Curly they’re serving 16 countries throughout the world with fresh frozen throughout the years the industry has changed and the small Fisheries have completely gone away. Schafer fish continue to serve the Upper Midwest since 1955 with fresh and frozen fish. Over the years several things have changed Michel’s stated that the invasive species call the Asian carp or the Silver Fin has created quite an opportunity for his business. In a later interview Michael talks about Schafer fish idea for the Asian carp. However for the purpose of this interview Michael wanted to stay on topic and discuss his future with his marketing plan. Michael discussed in some detail the future of Schafer fish being more monetized domestically and less focused internationally. Michael stating that the reason their focus once to be more on the domestic Market has more to do with the dollar fluctuations that happen internationally.

He said the same amount of work that we do for our International companies are the same amount of work that we do domestically in Austin for a quarter of the price. So it really comes down to his return on his investment being more focused on the domestic Market. In a later interview Michael discusses new products and new opportunities in the fish invasive species Market.

Schafer fish Michael Schafer small business interview continued she flew fish Michael Schaefer small business interview continued in this particular interview Michael and I talked about the invasive species call the Asian car for Silver fin. This particular fish with introduced into the Mississippi several years ago. It is approximate in that this fish landed in our water is around 1994: siding with a large 100 year flood that has happened here consistently throughout the Geographic time span of the Mississippi area.

When this flood happen it happened to overflow some septic areas that contain these species of fish to help me LG and maintain control naturally. When the fish was introduced into the river it started multiplying because if its ability to eat over 40% of its wait daily. This created a situation of it out competing our natural fish. This has been a real problem and the government has stepped in to help out. Michael has been an innovator in creating a product to use the Silver Fin. One of the products that Michael has created his Benny mint product that tastes like taco meat. This particular product has been designed specifically for institutions like schools and prisons. The flavor profile is very good and taste much like real taco meat would. This particular product is being  sold in the wrong format the University of Chicago with great success. Any place in Asian population is will have more particular success with this potential product.

Sep 26

Newspaper Editor

In my years of sales I have the opportunity to work for a newspaper in the Sauk Valley area. I spoke with the owner Joan about how she got into the industry.

She told me she used to live in California and enjoyed receiving a small newspaper at her home. She really enjoyed the recipes that the paper provided however quickly found out they were not good. An easy way to lose readership is to provide recipes that make the reader feel like they don’t know how to cook.

She contacted the paper about this issue and then began creating easy to follow and successful recipes for them. After a short while she was asked to do some basic editing and help grow the newspaper over a few years.

She moved to the Sauk Valley area to stay near family and had the amazing opportunity to purchase a small newspaper. It had had a very strong start but the owners have several businesses and wanted to give it to someone with experience so that it wouldn’t die out. Joan jumped on the opportunity and still runs the paper today.

 

Apr 29

Mike Davis Towing Davenport Iowa

A day ago I had the opportunity to have a phone interview with Mike Davis the owner and proprietor of Mike Davis Towing out of Davenport Iowa. Mike Davis told me that he now owns a fleet of 5 Towing trucks. One of those vehicles is able to move large semis as he is located off a main Interstate of traffic. Mike and I had an opportunity to talk a little bit more about his long-term business goals and where he’s coming from. Mike said he started off working as a mechanic and learning basic things like oil changes at a local Quick Lube.

Mike said he was an avid reader of those Auto Trader magazines that you see in those General Casey’s stores or gas stations. He found an old fixer upper tow truck for $500 and purchased it. After a couple of weekends in the garage he put his name in the yellow pages and was soon getting telephone calls from people that needed all junk yard cars picked up and delivered from one place to another.

Soon it became evident that the volume of phone calls he was getting was going to keep him away from his Quick Lube $9 an hour minimum wage job on a more daily basis.

After a couple of months Michael explained that he was able to find another old junk tow truck and fix it up again just replicating his success that he had with the last one. Soon after that he was able to find an old Fixer-Upper tow truck for cheap and he purchased it. After fixing it up over a weekend with his friend it was up and running.

The phone calls kept coming in and so he was able to hire away one of his friends from Quick Lube to drive a truck for him. This same process repeated itself over a five-year period.  Soon his old employer Jiffy Lube was having to recruit new candidates to come and change oil. At this point he is now a company that’s been around for a solid 15 years.

He said year after year all he’s done is upgraded is tow trucks and added one or two more. The type of service that he’s offered over the years has been one that has been consistently used by locals from Davenport and the Quad-City area. He said he’s enjoyed working with the general public and any time he can help people that are broken down along the road and get them from a distance he just thinks of his own family in that same situation.

Apr 08

Lawn Care and Snow Removal

Recently I had the opportunity to interview Michael surgeon of ABC lawn care in Davenport Iowa. Throughout

my travels I have the opportunity to interview small business owners in various locations not only nationally but internationally as well. As any good reporter interested in this story I try to ask the 5 W’s who what

where when and why.

 

Michael is a second-generation landscaper and has owned a small family business now for 20 years. The

where the what and the why are all things that are completely intertwined when I had this conversation with

Michael. The work for him started when he started off at 15 years old pushing his small lawn mower around the

neighborhood picking up small jobs for ten and fifteen just for his need for extra spending

money.

 

Today Michael says that his business grew from a very young age to now over a $500,000 a year business. He

said that his attention to detail and taking care of customers has been one of the things that has served him

well throughout his customer oriented service career. I asked Michael what was one of the most important

things that he’s learned as a small business owner over the years? Michael said the most important thing to

him or the most important lesson that he has learned is do what you’re going to say you’ll do.

 

He said often people will offer these contracts or agreements and tell you about the service that they will offer

you. But often contracts and agreements aren’t even worth the paper they’re written on. Michael stayed at

being a man of his word and just doing what you’re going to say is something that’s worth its weight in gold. I

have to tend to agree with Michael I believe in all the small business owners that I’ve had the opportunity to

meet they operate with that same basic understanding. If we could all just honor our word Michael said we

would move much faster and have a much higher level of trust.

 

I asked Michael what his biggest challenges are in his business. Michael stated that one of his biggest

challenges is having to live in the Midwest and basically shut his business down for 3 months out of the year.

So nine months out of the year he has to really hustle and work hard in order to have a business that still in the

black and making money. Michael said having those three months of not being able to work can be a real

blessing and his family and him will go down to Florida during that time.

 

Michael said that he is also trying to find ways to supplement his income as he does not like to be off during

this time period I asked Michael what would be a natural area that he would focus on and he said that the area

he would focus on would be snow removal because he already has connections in landscaping and a lot of

these cross over.

 

I asked him what his intentions were and how he intended to grow. Michael stated that growing for him means

knocking on doors and just letting his customers know that he has this new service. However one of the

uncontrollable factors is we may not have snow or we may have a very big snow year. I asked him how he

would deal with that and he stated that he’s trying to get his customers to go on a flat rate fee. It’s a good

gamble for hand and some years are going to be worse than others but if he keeps on the long term he can get

him locked into a contract much like energy companies do with stabilizing your energy rates throughout the

year.

 

I really enjoyed my conversation with Michael and I learned a lot about his philosophy of business. It doesn’t

surprise me that he’s had a successful business for this long and his customers obviously like him. I would

highly recommend that if you are ever looking for a great landscaper to contact Michael directly. His 35 years

plus experience definitely speaks volumes about his character.

Mar 04

Hardware Store Owner

When you’re working in a small town you get the opportunity to meet several different types of business owners. However small business owners are my absolute favorite ones to interview because they’re very aware of their business overhead and profit, here are two words that follow them around every single day.

5 months ago I had the opportunity to meet a gentleman that owns his own hardware store and a week ago I had the opportunity to interview him over the telephone. During the interview he explained to me and that in the last 25 years he’s worked in Hardware. Hardware specifically for things around your house cabinets, screws, nuts, bolts, anything that you can possibly bolt down to or attach to your home or in some cases, farm equipment.

I asked him “what are your biggest challenges in the hardware industry?”

David stated that as an owner of a hardware store that the big box stores give him the most trouble when it comes to pricing.

David let me know that the way that he has successfully kept market share is by offering extreme levels of customer service that are completely uncompromising.

I had to agree with David that Customer Service when I come into a hardware store is very important to me. As I know very little about Hardware or all the components that go in with it and it can be a sea of confusion for someone like myself. When I asked him how he effectively spreads his employees throughout the business he told me that he often will do seminars that teach specific skill sets. Each weekend he offers a specific training. Last weekend it was a training on how to hang a door. This draws attention and brings in customers he stated.

David feels like this unique marketing has helped him gain new customers and help him to build his business organically throughout the community. During the winter months on Saturdays he offers a hobby building class. This hobby building class can be anything from a bird house to a breadbox. Still it helps and engages customers and makes new friends.

David said his small business is one that will continue to grow and hopefully one day he will be able to pass it on to his son and his daughter.

 

Feb 19

Ice Cream Shop

Last summer I had the opportunity to interview an ice cream shop owner in a small town of about 22,000 people. During the interview I had a unique insight into an area that I had never worked in before.

I spoke with the local owner Tricia Karas about the dairy dream that she owned for now 15 years.

Trisha has been a small business owner for several years prior to owning the Dairy Mart. Trisha stated that she was involved in multi-level marketing for Mary Kay as an individual retailer. She says she learned many valuable lessons on how to take care of a customer during those first few years that she really struggled to make ends meet. Tricia told me that the game changer for her was understanding that she needed to provide a product that the consumer had great desire to get.
Tricia also stated that during this. She was able to save money and take vacations with her family during the winter months while the dairy Mart was closed. This type of lifestyle was very desirable to her as she wanted to spend as much time with family that was aging in Florida. This flexibility and her schedule an ability to run a business that was naturally open only during the summer months added to her happiness. She says that during the nine months that she’s actually working she’s working several hours and able to make up financially what she would be making if she was opened the full 12 months out of the year. She says the secret of that though is constantly cross selling. As well as effective advertising dollars in the local newspaper as well as in sponsored Google ads and other forms of advertising that she does through sponsoring local soccer baseball and football teams.

I ask Tricia what her biggest challenge was when it comes to the business that she’s in. Tricia stated to me that the biggest challenge she has is just getting the type of staffing that she needs to have for coverage. Often the staff that she has typically tends to be very young. Tricia stated because the price points that she has to meet to be competitive do not allow her to pay much more than minimum wage. Trisha said one of the ways around these challenges by offering simple rewards for employees that do extraordinary work she said that by tracking her up sell and cross sale abilities she is able to give small bonuses to employees so they learn the value of being able to cross sell. Simple things like making it a banana split as opposed to just a Sunday float adds another $2 to the kitty which is always healthy when you’re thinking about up sale abilities and opportunities.

Tricia stated the overall she’s very happy with the type of work that she does and hopes to pass on this business to her daughter one day. She said the greatest advantage of owning your own business is you get to teach your kids how to run a business and not work for someone else but work for yourself. Tricia believe that being self-employed is the only type of employment she will be able to keep for the rest of her life and feels extremely satisfied with how she’s continuing to grow her business.

 

Feb 04

Heating and Air Conditioning

In my travels I often get to run into several different types of people daily. During these journeys I run into small business owners, medium size and very large entrepreneurs managing millions of dollars.

I recently had a conversation with a small business owner from DeWitt Iowa who owns a heating and air conditioning company in the area and services to Davenport in the Quad Cities area. He recently told me that one of the challenges with his business is keeping a pipeline of new business coming his way. He said often he finds himself working on new jobs and it is very difficult to be working on these proposals and selling his next job. He says it’s one of the things that with being a small company not being able to hire additional help really puts the squeeze on him for his time. New technologies and ways of doing business that his father wasn’t able to buy are becoming more efficient.

One of those technologies that he has been able to leverage has been the utilization of just simple things like Google Documents and being able to share a better proposal that can actually been manipulated and changed in almost real time has been a huge benefit to him in gaining new business.

He said with tools like this he’s been able to follow up with customers in a more timely fashion and then close much quicker on sales. This high level of satisfaction that comes from his customers has led to more referrals and more business for him in the end.

Jason said he’s constantly looking at ways to innovate and make his job easier by the utilization of Technology. That’s probably been one of the biggest changes that’s happened in his Industry in the last 10 to 15 years. Again Jason looks forward to and invites new technology into his life every single day and by doing so he’s been very open and receptive and these tools have helped him get time back throughout his day.

Jason said if he had one bit of advice to offer another small business owner it would be to take the time to invest in yourself. Meaning get involved in some technology, take the time to sit down and really understand where you’re at. Sometimes the tornado around us has a way of affecting us in a way that wouldn’t be so significant if we took the time to create peace and time to read.

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