Rob Taylor had decided to take his three-location Stafford’s Chocolates business to a higher level, so when the Central California Small Business Development Center offered a 2-week class conducted by Jon Schallert, Rob signed up immediately.
“Jon really helped me to re-evaluate my entire business,” said Taylor, who bought Stafford’s in Porterville, California ten years ago and added new locations later in San Luis Obispo and Solvang. “I was looking for something to help guide me to that next step. I needed a class I could take for some guidance and information without flying somewhere for two weeks. This class was just perfect for a small business guy who can take a couple of hours in the evening three nights a week for a couple of weeks.”
Rob and more than 20 other business owners participated in Jon Schallert’s “The New Rules of Business Success: Becoming a Destination Business” training earlier this year. By sponsoring the training, the SBDC was determined to help owners position themselves for a rapid recovery and agile pivoting in the post pandemic world.
Taylor had already invested $150,000 in retooling equipment to expand wholesale opportunities. Now he’s reviewing his media strategy, he’s refreshing his website, and more – all because he spent a few evenings watching Destination Business expert Jon Schallert via Zoom.
“We’re really prepping the businesses for 2021,” said Rick Liebowitz, the Assistant Regional Director for the Central California SBDC. “Jon’s workshop delivered results. He gives owners the tools to keep them engaged with him. He recognizes the need to keep people going.”
Liebowitz, who attended Schallert’s Destination BootCamp in Longmont, Colorado in 2012, recruited him to create a customized, virtual version of his long-proven strategy for California businesses. The SBDC provided scholarships to owners who participated in six 2.5-hour long evening sessions. The SBDC will offer scholarships for another training session with Schallert later this year.
“It was just so engaging,” Liebowitz said. “Jon has those real-world examples. He personally connects with different people, different ways to approach success, different ways to talk about positioning with a retail business versus a service business.”
“The program was extremely well-organized,” agreed Cy Cerro, a consultant who attended with a client who owns the century-old Malibu Fashions & Posh II retail stores in Fresno. “Jon has a very unique approach which pulls people in. His approach is very direct, very informative, very warming, very engaging. There was a long-term benefit to this program.”
Schallert’s teachings, which includes increased online and social media presence, greater media coverage, and other marketing skills, trains owners to develop a Unique Positioning Statement that sets them apart from competitors and makes them irresistible to consumers, even when the businesses are located quite far away.
“The biggest takeaway for me was the importance of the Unique Positioning Statement, which I immediately implemented and put on my website, says Wendy Mosgrove, owner of Best Yoga Studios. “I like that he gave us the time to really think it through. Some of us wanted to give our positioning statements in front of the other participants, and we got great feedback from the other participants. He gives you exact step-by-step instructions – ‘This business did it this way, this company did it this way.’ You get a lot of great ideas from the diversity of his participants.”
Schallert, a onetime marketing professional for Hallmark Cards, devised his 14-point Destination Business approach over decades of interviewing successful small business owners across North America. Last year, after years of holding his 2½-day Destination BootCamps in Colorado, he launched a customized, online version of the training. The California training participants received follow-up meetings after the six evenings of class and were able to download other resource materials online through his Destination University app to sustain their progress.
“We decided to make this more broadly available early last year, just before COVID-19 closed down in-person meetings,” Schallert says. “The online delivery turned out to be more important than we could have imagined. I was excited to see so many businesses in California participating in this class, our first SBDC partnership. The owners now have the tools to position themselves for rapid growth in 2021 as businesses comeback from this pandemic.”
This blog post was written by writer Gene Stowe, whose book “Inherit the Land” is being made into a major motion picture.