Once we decided to expand our service for 2009, we had three areas to focus on and decided to expand in this order.
- Vancouver Island
- BC Interior
The best news is we are having fun and evolving the business.
Today Sandy and I flew over to Nanaimo on Harbor Air Seaplanes.
Harbor Air has been a customer for many years, but we had yet to fly with them. The weather was a perfect sunny day and it was an amazing flight at only about 800 feet off the water. The scenery of the North Shore, Stanley Park and across to the Island was truly spectacular. We were in the air for only 20 minutes or so, and it felt more like a tourist sightseeing flight than transportation from point A to B.
The plane we flew held about 16 people and was full to capacity. A bit of a tight squeeze, but it's only for a short flight, and if you sit on the left, it's a single window seat with a bit more leg room.
Service at Harbor Air was fantastic with very helpful staff. They booked a rental car for us and it was waiting just steps from the Nanaimo dock for us to pick up. Well done crew!
CALVIN'S CORNER TIP: The sea planes only have a pilot and not a co-pilot, so as you are boarding you can ask to sit next to the pilot.
How are sales? How's business? Are ya feelin' it? Seems the last few months everyone is asking me the same questions.
We serve over 3200 customers, and almost every day I hear stories from our sales staff. Customers we have had for years just close up shop and are out of business. We had a large customer let 800 staff go in one day. Or another had just expanded a year earlier to 3 floors in an office tower, but now only occupy less than one floor. The rent may actually put them under, since there are no sub-lease tenants wanting that much space. If our customers are hurting, they are not buying, and we feel it.
One positive the downturn in an economy brings to business is a chance to really examine your operations and get up close and personal with how it operates. We hired a business consultant in January and she has helped us really streamline operations. I have personally taken a very active role in sales and marketing, and the hands on experience in invaluable. So much so that I hired a Business Development Manager, and together we analyze new opportunities and underdeveloped customer segments. She gets me the appointments, and I close.
Prospects and customers seem to like that the owner is meeting them. I like it also, since I can move very quickly making offers, prices and decisions. Being on the front lines making presentations and visiting customers has been invaluable in directing the company through these turbulent times. As a team, we have opened 82 new accounts and some are Fortune 500 size. Sure, we have lost a few customers due to the recession, but won back just as many new ones.
Am I feelin' it? Yeah I am, and having more fun selling than ever.
This weekend was the BC Children's Miracle weekend. I have been part of the Retail and Wholesale Commitee for three years now. Our group includes such heavyweights as Costco and Overwaitea, and donations throughout the year came from both grass roots campaigns like BBQs and the recognizable ones like the popular Buy a Balloon you see at Costco.
Last year, we raised $3.2 million, and due to the downturn in the economy we set a stretch target this year of $3.2M. Basically, if we could match last year, we felt it was a win. Tonight at 7:30pm, a group of us from the council met outside the Hospital front entrance to start the Miracle Weekend broadcast on Global TV. Only the chair of our council knew the amount, so when we did the cheque flip and the number was announced, someone next to me said "Hey, why so glum?" I said, "We missed the target, only $2.9 million." They said "No silly, it is $3.9 MILLION!!!!!!" Amazing. Thanks BC for your generosity.
Later, I donned my mask and hat and, dressed as Zorro, I sat on the Miracle Maker Panel in studio to raise money. Our Committee decided to embrace the SUPER HERO theme and dress up for our turn on the panel. The idea is to call all your friends, family and business associates and ask them to pledge money. We actually started several months prior with our own fundraising web pages. Overall, the Miracle Weekend was a huge success, with a record breaking $15,607,607 raised!