A handshake. Such a simple gesture, and yet it can say so much. Beginning as a symbol of peace in the 5th century BC, the handshake quickly evolved to mean a greeting or parting, good sportsmanship, a business deal, trust, respect and so much more.
Sadly I have noticed a lack of handshakes (or at least heartfelt ones anyway). This has been painfully obvious when dealing with 'youngers' in business situations.
Why is that I wonder? Is it because we've become so 'social' that we no longer interact like we once did? Is it because as some doctors claim "we shouldn't because you may get sick?" Is it simply that this next generation isn't being taught the value of a handshake? I do not know the answers, I just know that it is not as common as it once was and I miss it.
Most recently I witnessed an exchange between a 20-something and an older ‘boomer’- The Boomer was arranging to do business with XYZ company and would be parting with Ten’s of thousands of dollars. The 20 something managed nearly the entire conversation with his hand in his pockets and not even a handshake by way of introduction, thanks or it’s a deal.
I was actually embarrassed for the gentleman when his extended hand was ignored.
(Had that been me, I may have reconsidered my options and taken my business down the road)
(Nearly every single person I went to grade school learned the value of a handshake at a very young age. It was taught at home as something you do.)
Experts at the University of Iowa have declared handshakes “more important than agreeableness, conscientiousness, or emotional stability.” Other studies show that a handshake improves the quality of interactions and produces a higher degree of trust almost instantaneously.
It doesn't matter how expensive your clothes, your watch, phone or car are. If your handshake is bad or non-existent, your customers first impression will be diminished.
-A good handshake will do far more for you any day of the week.
A handshake is the number one, cost free, most powerful tool in marketing anything. It costs you nothing to smile and shake someone’s hand. A handshake is the beginning of a relationship in business. Hopefully a relationship that will continue for years!
**Let me just say right here that while us girls were also taught the importance, it was not necessarily expected. In some countries shaking hands with women is frowned upon. It is not personal- simply a cultural difference. Many women my age and older will shake, but we tend to do it with two hands- a ‘hand-hug’.
I was brought up that a deal requires a handshake and everything else is a hand hug.
Your handshake is your word. It means something.
Shop Small Saturday is Nov 24th.
If you haven't already taken advantage of all the FREE marketing materials offered by American Express, now is a great time to sign up!
The Shop Small Saturday campaign was first launched in 2010 as a way help small businesses gain more recognition and to change consumers mindsets back to supporting 'local'.
Since then hundreds of thousands of businesses have taken advantage of the Shop Small / Shop Local movement. Whole communities and individual stores have special events. Everything from tying it in with an annual Santa Day Parade, to moonlight madness. The ideas are endless your imagination!
Annette and I have been "Community Champions" since the beginning. Each year we receive a giant goodie box from ShopSmallSaturday and distribute the items around to local businesses and help them with creative planning to make the most of the day. It is a pleasure and privilege for us to help other businesses. This year is no exception.
FREE! FREE! FREE!
FREE online listing for your business or community.
FREE ready made marketing materials- signage, banners, bins, pens, doggie bandanas and more
FREE customizable marketing materials
FREE inspiration!- Check out the ShopSmall Blog
FREE event flyers and check list
Have FUN with it! Make it a community event... Yes- we know, small businesses have to be particularly creative in holiday marketing. Trying get your slice of the available dollars isn't always easy. Partly, by clinging to the perception is that "everybody" goes to XYZ town to shop, some small businesses hamstring themselves.
Be Crazy! Be Creative! Involve everybody! Start spreading the word. Shop Small CAN easily be used year round and customized to suit the season and your particular needs.
And remember- Shop Small applies to ALL businesses. The local café/bar, the hardware store, plumber, barber, accountant, gas station... well- you get the idea.
Who says small towns don't have anything to offer? Certainly not us! For years, we have championed small towns across North Dakota and beyond.
We had nominated Regan- pop 44- as a Main Street Community over a year ago. (Regan is where part of our farm is) And... Drum Roll.... The Governors office called and said they would LIKE A TOUR! Now what?
I can tell you it would have been great to have still had a party line! It would have made contacting people so much faster.
When Governor Burgum took office he implemented a Main Street Initiative. This is based on three 'main pillars of success'- Smart Infrastructure, Skilled Workforce and Vibrant Main Streets.
This effectively ruled out nearly all the micro-sized communities- because the above requires a population!
We never felt that a lack of people made any of these small towns in North Dakota any less important to the health and greatness of the state.
In just a matter of days we had most things up and ready to go. The tour was organized, food and coffee lined up, phone calls made.
There were some funny moments- like the stunned silence when it was mentioned that 'they' were bringing a passenger bus for the tour... (keep in mind Regan only has 44 people)
Are you wondering what we showed the good folks from the state??
Regan does have more than meets the eye! Read all about it here: Everything but a Starbucks.
Mayor Gillig led the tour talking about the history of Regan and wants and needs. The visitors were shown the historic jail, the school house turned event center, Old Main Street and more.
The locals shared many fabulous ideas. One of the best ideas was to someday have a local sporting center/gym. This would be ideal because Regan is centrally located between two towns with schools that need somewhere to train for sports. Other good ideas were listing Main Street on the Film Makers Association site for a location site and using the commercial kitchen in the old school as a business incubator.
The listening session was awesome! The ideas, and the information available was perfect for Regan. Many (ok most) had no idea there were so many programs offered through the state to help with start-ups, funding, building , expansion, housing and more. A personal Thank You to Emily at the Department of Commerce for bringing a printed copy of ALL the resources for Mayor Gillig who is NOT online at all.
Regan has survived over 100 years a community and is an example to other small and micro-sized communities that every community, no matter how small, has something to offer. Regan has also shown tremendous small town pride and a willingness to not settle, to not be complacent, but to continually try to find ways to reach to the future.
We would say Regan's Main Street Summit was a roaring success!
Read the full AgWeek Magazine version here: "Where there's a will"
Ever heard the old adage, “One to start it, one to grow it, one to lose it”? We’re guessing it was meant to represent the generations of a family business.
Normally “succession planning” means having a buy-in (or maybe a buy-out, sweat equity, inheriting or whatever) plan. But along with the plan comes the hard part -- the part where, like it or not, we must accept that our successors will do things differently than we did.
They’ll have new ideas and want to try new things.(gasp!) My father-in-law had different ideas about how to farm than his father, as did my husband from his dad, and now it’s our son’s turn to vex us. (Paybacks, eh?)
How we achieve the goal of handing off the family business -- no matter what kind of business it is -- is part of the equation.
Dude’s Steakhouse and Branding Iron Bar in Sidney, Neb., was opened by Dude and Florence Julinek in 1952. Fast forward 65 years -- yes, you read that right – Sixty. Five. YEARS in business, run by the same family. That’s a danged impressive feat.
Now Sarah and Joey, and Jenni (Joey's sister)the third generation, run Dude’s.
We had the pleasure of visiting with them on a stay-over in Sidney a while back. While they freely admit it hasn’t always been easy, they also acknowledge that taking over the legacy and putting their own touches on it has been rewarding.
(Read more about Dudes here)
During our visit, we talked about their school-age children, and if those children were poised to take over from Sarah and Joey. Their answer? “Time will tell...”
They want their children to “want it” when they’re old enough, and not take over because they think they “have to.” Want to vs. have to -- that’s another part of graciously handing over the reins
What IF kiddos don’t want it? Or if they’re only doing it because they feel obligated? Will resentment build because they feel forced to follow your path instead their own stars?
In a small community the decision may be even harder.
The pressure is on, because no one wants to disappoint the people who depend on that business to continue to be there -- all the people who watched you grow up working in that business.
Which brings us back to the point -- succession means different things to different people. Perhaps Sarah’s and Joey’s children may have different ideas of what works for them and for Dude’s. Maybe they’ll decide it means only being open for dinners. And who knows? That may work for them.
Spelling aside, “succession” and “success” are two different words. Just because one buys into or inherits the family business, there’s no guarantee of continued success.
When we hand off “our baby” that we nurtured and watched grow through trials and triumphs, it’s hard to step back. It’s hard to relinquish control, to not dictate or say “we’ve always done it like that.”
And it’s doubly hard to not step on toes as our successors make their own mistakes and learn from them. We made our own mistakes and they need to make theirs, no matter how much we’d like to save them from the experience.
Each generation has its own idea of what will work and what won’t, and how to achieve their goals. And it’s up to us -- the ones handing off -- to accept that there will be changes.
We may not like them any more than our folks liked ours, but accept them we must. After all, those changes may be what stops the next one from “losing it.”
~Katy and Annette~
**This article will appear in an upcoming AGWEEK Magazine. - On a personal note- My husband and I LOVE this place. The history, the vibe, the incredible food. Dudes truly embraces the spirit of the west.
Ahhhh- Sharkndao.... That ultra riveting, undeniably fake monster shark series of movies...
It's like an accident, once you see it, you can't look away. You have to continue watching just to see what craziness comes next.
Yes. I dig cheezie sci-fi movies. The cheezier the better. And yes- I watched ALL the Sharkndo's … multiple times.
There are marketing lessons to be learned from Sharknado!
1- If you're going to use cheeze- The Cheezier the better. Like we already said, undeniable fake and at the same time riveting, ultra cheeze SELLS! When it's that unrealistic, we keep watching. We get sucked in by 'what's next?'
2- Keep 'em hanging. At the end of each Sharknado, there was a little teaser to keep you hoping there would be another. You can easily do that with your own marketing... a little something to let your customers wonder what will come next.
3-Have FUN! Might as well have as much fun as you can with it. Take advantage of it, and bring your crazy to life. Doubly so when you can make someone laugh. -Make it memorable
One of the 'new' buzzwords is "Walkability".
What does that mean exactly? Basically it means the ease of getting around on foot, or how pedestrian friendly is your town. There is a nifty site you can use to determine your own towns score- Walkscore The scoring is 0-100.
Remember back when - when folks walked to the market? Or to the pool? Or the DQ?? That was 'walkable' Entire neighborhoods and towns were designed so families could walk from one end to the other. We have gotten away from that as a norm, but it's making a comeback!
I just used Walkscore to determine the walk-ability of the five closest towns to us. (we're within 25 miles of all) The results were 39, 21, 0, 27, 38 and 0. Those are all on the low end.
I was thinking about this today when we were discussing our mythological retirement. (Do ranchers really retire?) I now understand why so many retirees want to head South- Walk-able neighborhoods and ease of use.
Two of our nearby towns are, in my opinion, more walk-able than their scores suggest. However, I know that isn't the norm in rural communities. For many, the reality is that the folks who live there need to be mobile- meaning they need to drive or get rides for everyday tasks like groceries or going to the doctor.
Which leads to more questions.... Are these communities using walk-ability as a means of attracting new families or retirees? Are they using it to retain the people they have? Are they creatively promoting their walk-ability?
I know several are. Yes, it's still many miles 'to town', but Washburn, ND is doing a good job promoting how quickly you can walk downtown from anywhere, or right to the river.
WHY is walk-ability important? Walk-ability has many facets. Everything from health benefits to retention. Having good walk-ability can mean that retiring 'outlyers' or city folk may want to move to your small town. That translates into more dollar tax dollars, tourism dollars, retail dollars and so on.
Good walk-ability is also healthful. We've become so health conscious as a nation and environmentally friendly - a walk-able town is a very marketable asset. It is also great for recreation opportunities like nature walks, photo strolls, coffee shop walk...walk to the pop-up dog park. The ideas are endless really.
Walk-ability is a good marketing tool for retaining or finding residents and attracting new employees or businesses.
While many small towns do not have the amenities of the city, I do know we can raise our 'walk-able score'- Cheaply, easily and nearly free- We can start by highlighting fun or interesting walking places like an architecture or garden walk, or start talking about how quickly we can walk (or bike) to the local pool/gym/baseball diamonds. We can showcase how easily people walk downtown (or up town) for fun events. Just by thinking creatively and TALKING about it... better yet- people could share their ideas on social media.
The best perk of Walk-ability? It builds community. We tend to stop and chat, or at the very least smile and wave as we hurry on our way. When people talk- community happens.
So, how walk-able is YOUR community?
Take a stroll around your neighborhood or town and get inspired!
Annette & Kate
If it involves small towns, rural, business or people, we write about it. Both the good and the bad. Part of our passion is helping you be the best you can be.