By Tony Parra
There may have only been two business owners who attended a small business workshop in Portales Thursday, but those two owners say they learned something they could take back to improve their businesses.
Dave Hunton of Dave Hunton Insurance in Portales and Rosemary Metcalf of Windrush Alpacas in Clovis gained some ideas from Jon Schallert, a consultant for independent business owners. Schallert discussed ways Hunton and Metcalf can use marketing, appearance and the Internet, among other things, to help their businesses.
“It was extremely beneficial,” Metcalf said. “It was a wonderful thing provided by Portales.” Ric and Rosemary Metcalf raise alpacas and sell them along with alpaca products like alpaca feed, clothing made from alpaca wool and alpaca toys.
“Jon clarified showing how to bring people to this area,” Metcalf said. “Showing them directions to Clovis and Portales and the business Web site. He changed my focus on how to market.”
Metcalf said the Windrush Alpacas farm has been operating for eight years. Schallert advised her to have a map on her site with directions from all over the United States to her business. Metcalf wanted to attract people from Texas, Albuquerque and Santa Fe to her business.
Hunton was concerned about what his customers were listening to while they are on hold for a Hunton Insurance agent. Hunton said customers hear advertisements from his competitors on the local radio station while they are on hold.
Schallert advised a good remedy for the problem was to have a recording about Hunton’s Insurance agency in place for customers. Schallert said the recording could have a conversation between two people which would answer questions about the business.
Schallert said business owners have to make their business different from others whether it be through ads, appearance or description.
“You don’t want to be considered the best of the best. You want to be the only ones that do what you do,” Schallert said quoting from the late Jerry Garcia, lead singer of the Grateful Dead.
Schallert used an example of owners from a grocery store who had huge photos on their walls over their products. They were historic photos of the owners and past generations giving the impression that it is a family-owned business that has been in the community for a long time.
Schallert pointed out there are many benefits to a business Web site on the Internet: A new user comes online every 1/4 of a second; the group that is the fastest growing is age 70 and older. Highly-targeted personalized e-mails carry a 32 percent response rate compared to .4 percent by direct mail, according to Schallert
Jeremy Sturm, economic development director for the city of Portales, said he wasn’t sure what caused the low turnout and could only speculate that perhaps business owners in Portales are doing well or some are limited in the amount of employees they have so they can’t leave the store. But Sturm added, still the owners would have benefited from the advice Schallert gave during the workshop.
Schallert advised business owners in Clovis Wednesday. He said there were approximately 55 people in attendance.