RENTON, WA – On Thursday, Kaitlyn Parks filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Evergreen Cleaning Services after receiving a Valentine’s Day card from them.
Parks is an administrative assistant at a local engineering firm, and contracted Evergreen to clean the company’s offices.
The 22-year-old said she was “triggered” by the pink greeting card, which contained a note from Bob Garcia, Evergreen’s proprietor.
Garcia stated that Evergreen routinely sends out such cards to loyal customers. “We appreciate all our clients,” he said over the phone.
But the card left Parks traumatized by the realization that she had no social life, leading her to sue.
RENTON, WA – Downtown Renton residents and small business owners were shocked to find that a new business was still open after ten whole minutes.
Witnesses identified the entrepreneur as Bill Karlson, who opened an electronic device repair shop just today.
Karlson’s business, “Gizmos,” specializes in repairing and selling old and used computers, cell phones, and other electronics, such as iPods.
According to city hall records, Karlson had obtained a business license two weeks before leasing the storefront last December.
The storefront has been occupied by a string of other businesses which opened before promptly closing. The previous occupant was in business for a record six minutes and forty-two seconds.
As of this report, Gizmos has more than doubled that record, fast approaching the fifteen minute mark.
Karlson stated in an email that he was “cautiously optimistic” about his store’s future.
KENT, WA - East Valley Manufacturing has been unable to access their website for almost three years, stated CEO Carol Martinson.
Martinson has led the family-owned firm since 2004, blaming their lack of activity on the internet on “that darn guy Pete.”
The site’s last update was in July 2013, when their IT director, Pete Gilson, left for another company.
East Valley Manufacturing is thriving, but their website trouble has made it the laughingstock of local networking events.
The company was unable to update its website after Gilson failed to leave behind his backup files and passwords.
“The new IT guy has been trying to contact Pete and get him to help us for months,” said Martinson. “So far, no luck.”
The Puget Sound Business Journal has recently begun to employ "click-bait" headlines in an effort to resonate with younger audiences.
Technology editor Mike Husting stated that PSBJ wanted to boost its physical edition's circulation among Millennials.
"We began noticing that 18- to 25-year-olds just aren't reading reliable, objective takes on professional and industry news anymore," he said.
The editorial change began after management noticed that circulation was shrinking among Millennials. The new "click-bait" strategy was implemented shortly after New Year's Eve in 2015.
"After a strategy session-slash-office party," said Husting, "we immediately began prioritizing juicy, eye-catching headlines, such as 'This CEO Builds Robots that Save People' and 'Why this Exec Says that Charity is a Waste of Time.'"
"You know," he said, "click-bait."
When asked why the "click-bait" tactic was employed instead of sending free papers to influential young startup owners in the area, publishing interviews and articles with such persons, and branching out into other media platforms, Husting explained that the managing editor had been "hitting the brownies pretty hard at the office party."
This last summer, our shop was hired to do a huge job for a certain union.
We had to fill an order of several hundred t-shirts, and we had to make it snappy.
Unfortunately, because we did not mark the boxes prior to stuffing them with shirts, much time was wasted trying to determine just how many shirts were in each box. This small detail threw the entire job into chaos.
Not cutting corners while on the job can save everyone involved a lot of grief. Whether you’re working with an Excel sheet or stacks of paper sheets, this principle applies to every occupation.
Paying attention to the details of your work can save you a lot of trouble, defraying the risk of wasted time and resources.
The shirt job we did last summer was a perfect example of inattentiveness nearly leading to disaster. We had to make hundreds of shirts using a very monotonous process that could easily lead to careless mistakes being made.
But the job itself didn’t produce nearly as many headaches as our lack of a plan leading up to it. This was our first major order involving t-shirts. They’re not quite the same as paper, being harder to stuff into boxes and scale count.
We also had to take into account different shirt sizes, so as to avoid getting different types of shirts mixed up.
But being a tad overzealous in our desire to get the job done quickly, we almost completely ignored the job ticket and start churning out t-shirts willy-nilly. By the time we realized what we had done, it was too late.
We had made too many of one size of shirt, gotten other sizes of shirts mixed in together, and had failed to keep track of just how many shirts in were this or that box.
In retrospect, the smart thing to do would have been to figure out how many of the total order we wanted in each box. Then we could have printed out labels that clearly marked the boxes, indicating how many shirts of what size belonged in each.
As my boss always says, “Set yourself up for success.” By this, he means that when undertaking a long, repetitious task such as the t-shirt job, establish a fool-proof process that’s easy to follow and hard to deviate from.
To any printers in the audience who have done collating, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.
Big jobs and small jobs alike should be approached with the same degree of care. This commitment to craftsmanship will distinguish your product from that of your competitors, thus leading to success.
Such a commitment to creating a quality product by getting all your ducks in a row and not taking shortcuts will help you no matter what your business or trade is.
When I started doing marketing work here at the shop, I got some advice from my dear Uncle Bill, who used to work in advertising.
He suggested I start sending personalized thank-you notes to each customer who made an order. I immediately saw the use of such an action.
By writing thank you notes, we not only show the customer that we care enough to thank them in such a personal manner, but we also encourage them to continue doing business with us.
In other words, being nice sells.
We write thank-you notes to show appreciation for our customers, thus fostering feelings of endearment, which paves the way for future sales.
If your mom made you write thank-you notes after your birthday and Christmas, I’m you sure you have memories of not particularly enjoying the experience. I know I do.
But now I’m glad my mother made me write such notes. They were good practice for my current habit of sending thank-you notes to each customer that gives us an order.
The chief reason for writing thank-you notes is simply to express thanks. It’s the nice thing to do, just as if you thanked someone verbally for returning your wallet after you dropped it.
Bestselling author Guy Kawasaki, former chief evangelist at Apple, opines that being nice also gives you “Good Karma.” Someone, somewhere, somehow, will be affected by your niceness, which will in turn benefit you.
By being nice to your customers, you give them a reason to be nice in return.
For them, being “nice” might come in the form of referring a friend to your business, buying from you again in the future, or talking you up on social media.
Furthermore, people usually want to do business with their friends. What could be more friendly than sending a personalized, handwritten thank-you note?
In today’s day and age, word of your attentive customer relations work will easily get around, earning you the respect and admiration of customers and fellow businessmen alike.
On a slightly more tangible level, writing thank-you notes will help you retain repeat customers.
Repeat customers are your biggest source of income, and being especially nice to them will be extraordinarily helpful for making more sales and raking in the dough.
With all this in mind, the best thing you can do is to compile a list of your top ten customers and personally thank each of them for their business with a handwritten note.
Repeat this with every order you get for the next six months, and then see how you’re doing.
After months of fruitless cold-calling, I finally got in touch with someone who was interested in sitting down to talk about doing business with the shop.
My initial response to any receptive prospect is elation. But as the details of a face-to-face meeting were slowly hashed out, I began to quiver.
I’d never been on a sales call before, and apart from reading a book or two on the subject, I had nearly no knowledge of how to sell stuff.
It got to the point where I welcomed delays and half-wished that the set date would be cleared at the last minute to avoid the impending awkwardness.
Fortunately, my fears never materialized. The meeting went well, the quote was negotiated, and the sale was closed.
Sales calls may sound scary to the inexperienced, but good preparation, coaching from a more experienced partner, and sheer persistence will enable you to overcome these fears.
Before we went to the meeting, we made sure to be as prepared as we could. “We” in this case means my grandfather and I, who worked together on this sale. Grandpa is our Goodwill Ambassador, and an experienced salesman and printer.
We brainstormed questions to ask our prospective client, checking and re-checking them to make sure they were on the right target.
We worked out a basic outline for how we wanted the meeting to go, what we needed to find out, and how we would work together. We agreed that I should do most of the talking while Grandpa worked as backup.
It should be understood that everyone who is just starting out in any field should find a mentor. Your mentor should have several more years of experience than you and have the heart of a teacher.
I found such a mentor in my grandfather.
Grandpa proved invaluable to this sales call. His advice and insight into the matter was essential in the preparation process. During the meeting, he was able to provide valuable product knowledge that cemented our rapport with the client.
The long and short of it is that without Grandpa, I would be quite lost in my pursuit of the sale. I’m glad he’s around.
The final piece of advice that I can offer as a novice salesperson is to be persistent.
Although I was afraid of being seen as boorish and rude by the prospect, it turns out that she was impressed by my determination to secure a meeting, not to mention my courteous manner. This helped us build rapport, which in turn led to the sale.
The lesson here to be bold. Don’t be afraid to pick up that phone start calling. Once you get a viable lead, make sure to not only differentiate yourself from the competition, but to do it nicely.
With the correct preparation, a good mentor, and a plucky attitude, I was able to secure a new client. With luck, I’ll learn from the mistakes we made during this sale (we nearly forgot to bring samples) and to study what we did right.
Having learned all of this from just one meeting, I now hope to apply my knowledge for the purpose of arranging more meetings.
This last weekend, my boss and I helped as volunteers for the Downtown Renton Committee's annual Halloween party.
A public event aimed at kids and families, it was a tremendous success, thanks in part to volunteers from Renton High School and participating local businesses.
My boss frequently involves me in the volunteer work he does for such events, he being a member of the DT Renton Committee. But it was only at this event did I realize the innate benefits volunteering can yield.
At the Halloween party, a series of tents were set up in the empty lot behind St. Charles’ Place. Games and activities were arranged. Prizes were awarded. Food was served.
Having nothing better to do, I went to help at the Cake Walk. The Cake Walk involves several kids walking around on squares with numbers on them on the ground while music is playing, and then all of them stopping right where they are the second the music stops.
The person who stopped on the number I called out got a prize. I soon got the hang of it and began to have a little fun myself.
To the assortment of kids in elementary school or younger, I shouted, “Are you ready?”
They replied weakly, “Yeah…”
“I can’t hear you!”
“Yeah!” came their shout.
It dawned on me that my enthusiasm was contagious, which brings me to a rule I have about salesmanship: If you don’t care, they won’t care.
So I helped the kids march around the cakewalk, operated the music player, handed out prizes to the lucky winners, shooed would-be thieves away from the prize table, and kept them all entertained.
When the crowd began to disperse from my assigned attraction, I knew I had to change tactics.
I immediately went into pitchman mode.
“Come to the Cake Walk!” I shouted. “Win a prize! Get something good to eat!” (Benefits!)
Curious passerby immediately stopped. “Come on, we need people for the Cake Walk!” I said. “The more the merrier!” Soon, we had enough people, and we began to play again.
At another attraction I got to exercise my customer service skills. Here, kids had to throw bean-bags through holes in a giant pumpkin-shaped target.
After taking it over, I made sure that all the kids stood on the right spot, gave some brief instruction on throwing technique, and awarded prizes based on how well they did.
During this activity, I made sure to learn the kids’ names, inform them of the rules, and enthusiastically congratulate them on their progress. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but that’s my idea of customer service!
So if you’re a job-seeker, a business owner, or a regular employee, don’t hesitate to get in some volunteer work!
You’ll not only find it rewarding, but you’ll also get to practice soft skills related to customer service, salesmanship, and leadership.
Also, a belated happy Halloween to you all!
During a business expo hosted by the Maple Valley Chamber, I was flipping through a handout from a certain non-profit.
I noticed that the pamphlet I had been given contained several testimonials singing the praises of the organization.
Then an idea popped into my head.
Why not create a testimonials page for our shop’s website? We had plenty of happy customers who would surely be willing to share how glad they were to do business with us. Thankfully, I was correct.
Our Testimonials page provides a way for new customers to see what of our present clients have to say about the shop.
I’ve heard that the secret to good marketing is to study the methods of those who are doing it best and then copy them. This is how military forces the world over better themselves, the principle being equally applicable to business.
Taking a look at several nearby businesses, I saw that all of the best ones used testimonials from their clients.
One non-profit in Federal Way has a series of blog posts dedicated to relating stories of people their organization has helped. They often carry an emotional tinge to them, meant to pull heartstrings and summon the reader to action.
Elsewhere, a local car dealership has a whole page dedicated to allowing customers to share their experiences buying cars through the firm. This shows that they trust their customer base and that they’re willing to listen to them.
Having resolved to create such a page for the shop, I immediately began sending out messages to some of our most loyal clients in order to obtain testimonials from them.
This was much easier than I anticipated. Several of our clients were more than happy to provide detailed statements explaining how happy they were with our services. This was quite encouraging.
A little later, Kristin, our graphic designer, had a brand new Testimonials page up and running on our website! We plan to add to it as we get more testimonials.
In a nutshell, testimonials are a great way to hype your business because they give you credibility by bringing in a third party, like a witness in a court case, to validate your product or service.
We strongly encourage you to let your customers speak for themselves when it comes to marketing your business. Give your fans a means of communicating their happiness with you, and they’ll do the rest.
As part of my duties at the shop, it falls to me to handle various administrative tasks, such as filing invoices, sorting packing slips, and taking care of billing and payments. Often this last task can be rather frustrating.
Pictured here is a reenactment of my typical posture when faced with difficulties with the order entry program.
If you look closely, you will see that our order entry program looks like something ancient, a relic of the pre-internet age. Indeed, I understand that this particular program dates all the way back to 1989.
You can probably understand my plight when I say that it can be supremely aggravating to enter in deposits and other information into the order entry program. Navigating this nigh-prehistoric contraption is more of an art than a science.
To be perfectly clear, my primary duty related to the program is to enter in the payments for completed jobs. Jobs are categorized within our in-house accounting system as Level 1 (Entered), Level 2 (In Progress), Level 3 (Completed), and Level 4 (Paid).
(Being young in years and having less experience with the program than my boss, I may be mistaken in some of the particulars, but this is the gist of it.)
Problems occur in the order entry program when something gets misfiled. For example, a job that is ordered, printed, shipped, and paid for may still linger at Level 1 or 2. Alternatively, a job that has not been paid for may have miraculously found its way to Level 4.
The explanations for such phenomena are often mundane. They are typically the result of operator-error, either by me or one of my coworkers. On other occasions, this misfiling occurs due to a wonky payment deal that we’ve negotiated with the client. I decline to share further details regarding such instances.
The larger point is that our order entry program is quite archaic and is the source of hundreds of wasted man-hours that could have been spent fine-tuning our product and helping the customer. But until we can afford to invest in a completely updated order entry system, it will have to suffice.
My responsibility, therefore, is to try to make sense of it as much as I can while my boss is busy with other tasks. The better I can understand the program without his aid, the better my chances of continued employment are.
That said, I really wish we had something else. Really, it would be great.
Marketing Director at the Renton Printery. Providing commentary on local and business news, along with notes on the state of the shop.