Destination University News

Eric Chester, Reviving America’s Work Ethic Expert, Speaking in Longmont, Colorado on Thursday, November 15

Eric Chester, a leading expert on the emerging Generation Y workforce, will discuss “The Declining Work Ethic in America and How to Fix It” from 9 to 10 a.m. November 15 at the Left Hand Brewery Tap Room at 1265 Boston Avenue in Longmont, Colorado.  The event is part of Destination University’s “Tapping the Experts” series on topics vital to business owners and entrepreneurs. The event is free and open to the public.

Chester, is the author of five books, including his most recent best-seller “Reviving Work Ethic: A Leader’s Guide to Ending Entitlement and Restoring Pride in the Emerging Workforce” published this year. He is the founding CEO of the “Bring Your A Game to Work” program.

The talk focuses on restoring the traditional workplace and instilling it into younger frontline workers in order to increase productivity and performance. Chester will answer questions from audience members following the interview.

Destination University, the online training network for small business owners operated by The Schallert Group of Longmont, will record the event and make it available online ( on-demand for members.  Jon Schallert, President of The Schallert Group, will interview Chester during the hour.

The live event seating area has a capacity of 50 participants, so reservations are necessary to reserve a seat. Reservations can be made by calling (303) 774-6522, by clicking here, or by going online to and clicking on the “Tapping the Experts” tab.

This event is co-sponsored by the Left Hand Brewing Company.  

You’re Invited to a Free Webinar: Your Organization Could Win a $1000 Scholarship to our Destination BootCamp By Watching

Your organization could win a a $1000 Scholarship to our Destination BootCamp, just for watching our free webinar!

This invitation is for you if you are a President, Director, Board Member, or leader of any of these organizations:

  • Business Association
  • Downtown or Main Street organization
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • Economic Development organization
  • Private company

You are invited to join me for a free webinar on Tuesday, November 30 at 8:00 a.m. Mountain Time when we introduce our new Destination University Partner Program.  Just by watching, you might also win a $1,000 scholarship to one of our 2011 Destination BootCamps.

If you know business owners who are struggling in this economy, you owe it to them to attend this webinar. It’s taken us 5 years to get Destination University to this point.  Destination University is a one-of-a-kind, online learning, social network of progressive business owners who are growing their sales, their customer traffic, and their profits.  Owners can access the network on their own, 24-7, from any computer or their mobile smart phones, making DU the first totally mobile, online learning program exclusively for small business owners.  (My consulting competitors hate to admit it and they’ll say I’m hyping it up, but no other company can offer your organization a business improvement program that is this comprehensive.)

It doesn’t matter how large or small your company, organization, or community is.  During this webinar, you will learn how you can become part of this world-wide business-support network, add huge value to your organization, while offering your members this cutting edge technology, all for a minimal investment of less than $1 per day.

I know you are busy during this holiday season, so as an incentive for participating, every organization who takes the 35 minutes to attend this free webinar will receive a certificate for $49, which can be applied to the Destination University registration fee.  Additionally, one organization will win a $1,000 scholarship to one of our Destination BootCamps in 2011. What a great prize to give to one of your business owners in your organization!  To have a chance for this scholarship, you must register and be watching, as the drawing will take place at the end of the presentation.

To register, click here.

I look forward to telling you about our new Partner Program on November 30.

Jon Schallert

PS: Feel free to share this post with any of your peers or other directors of organizations that you think could use this.  They will thank you for it later.

Destination Business BootCamp Starts Today: Owners Come to Longmont to Reinvent Their Businesses and Communities

I’m going to be posting short excerpts from our Destination Business BootCamp that is happening today over at the Marriott Hotel Complex here in Longmont, Colorado.  We have owners flying in from Australia, Newfoundland and British Columbia Canada, and groups of business owners coming from New Jersey and Ohio as part of our Community Reinvention Program.  We also have attendees from many other states.  We have one business owner from Longmont, too!  Imagine that!

As part of our program, we also let every attendee consult with advertising guru, Rich Carraro ( and he’s flying in from New York City.  He creates great Shop Local campaigns, and he’s done several for other communities.
If you are reading this, you aren’t attending, but you can get a feel for what’s going on as owners understand that they can create Destinations out of their businesses and bust out of this sluggish economy.
Running a Business: Much Tougher than Becoming a Destination

When I work with owners who want to turn their businesses into Destinations, they often ask me if I’m going to help them write a business plan.  And I say “No.” Or, they ask me if I’m going to help them with their business operations.  Again, “No, that’s not what I do.”

So what exactly do I do?  To simplify this, I basically teach a 14-step business differentiation process that pushes your targeted customers’ hot buttons where they feel like they know what they have to do.  Your company becomes the only choice for them!

The process of becoming a Destination to the customers you are targeting isn’t hard.  But it takes work.  Could your competitors do it?  Sure, but most won’t.  They are too busy focusing on running their businesses rather than creating points of difference that cause consumers to purchase.

The good news is that it takes less work to position your business as a Destination than it took to build your business to where it is now.  In fact, everyday owners work extremely hard to do all the things that keep their businesses up and operating, and take very little time to learn what a consumer really requires to say these words: “That’s the only place for me.”

Think of this analogy:  Building a house isn’t hard for a home builder who has a set of blue prints that he or she can follow.  But try to build the house without the plan, and you’re going to make a lot of errors in the process.

Creating a Destination Business takes a 14-step plan.

Remember: Running a business is the hard part.  Creating consumer insistence is the easy part.

The Economy and What’s Coming, I Think

With summer in full bloom, not many people are thinking about what’s going to happen to small businesses in the 4th Quarter of this year, on into the 1st Quarter of next year. But I am. And though I am not a fortune teller, I do believe that many businesses, both large and small, are not prepared for the possibility of a second plateau in sales and consumer spending, even though the economy is stronger than it was last year.

Here are some things we do know about today’s economy:

We know for certain that bad news travels fast, and everyone’s a little jumpy about more bad economic news. We’ve seen it several times when a job report, or an earnings report, comes out and if it’s not what the economists are predicting, the media starts focusing on this bad news. Unfortunately, this news might not have anything to do with your business or your community, but it doesn’t matter because people are still a little jumpy these days. Consequently, when good things do happen in your business, you must be prepared to retell the good news to your customers and the media, and to focus on those things that you CAN impact in your business (which I will remind you, is NOT the national news).

We also know for certain that this economic recovery is uneven. It’s not just that different areas of the country are improving or stagnating at different rates. Different businesses in the same marketplace and the same industries are unevenly improving. Go to your local chamber of commerce meeting and you will find business owners talking about how sales are fine or even good, and then, walk across the room and you will find someone saying that their revenue is horribly off. The net result of this uneven recovery is that there is not one thing that can correct everyone’s woes. So if you have grown accustomed to not looking for Big Brother to save your city or town, you will not be disappointed now; Big B is still not coming.

So what do I recommend? Here are a few thoughts:

I think that these summer months give all of us a great opportunity to look at the weaknesses in our businesses, start correcting them, and to start planning a comprehensive, multi-pronged marketing plan for the 4th and 1st Quarters that magnifies our true business differences, as compared to our competitors. Look at your overall business position and assume that consumer spending and customer traffic is going to decline in your marketplace, and decide right now how you’re going to capture those who have money to spend.

For many owners, their first inclination is to focus on tactical marketing steps, like using Facebook and other social networking tools, and to gear up their use. Well, there’s a downside of focusing primarily on business tactics.

Let me explain: During our Destination Business BootCamp, I work with business owners to help them magnify 24 different aspects of their business uniqueness. If owners work through those 24 points and find that their business is average or below average in the majority of the points, no matter how much you Facebook a customer or tweet them to death, if your strategic business differences are not superior in a consumer’s mind, your primary point of business difference will have to come down to price.

Let’s talk about price discounting for a second: I just read an article the other day that suggested that it’s a good idea to give happy hour discounts of 20%. That might sound really inviting to customers and it might even draw customer traffic to your business, but if your business doesn’t operate at a 20%+ profitability level to start with (or if the products you are discounting 20% don’t have an above average profit margin already), you as the owner are just slitting your throat using this tactic. Better to focus on magnifying your uniqueness and use discounts to reward customers who you’ve previously identified as being the most profitable.

With my prediction that the 1st and 4th Quarters could be a little rough, here’s one thing that you should NOT do right now: Now is NOT the time to clam up, quit communicating, go into a shell, get depressed, fear the future, and retreat into your own mind to single-handedly contemplate how to improve your business. Now IS the time to network with others, find out what works with others, learn from others, create strategic alliances, and start making changes to your business that will cause consumers to say: “That’s the place I’m spending money this coming holiday season.” That means, becoming a Destination business (a strategy that’s available to you if you are trying to attract consumers and you are a retail store, a restaurant, a service provider, or a professional practice.)

Just a reminder: one resource that all of you have at your disposal is our new Destination University Student Center. There are some amazing learning opportunities popping up inside those online walls! In the coming weeks and months, through the 4th Quarter of this year, through the 1st Quarter of the next, we’ll continue to fill the DU Student Center with more resources, Experts, and tools to help you get through this sputtering economy. Don’t underestimate what this tool can do for your business, all for the cost of less than one dollar a day.

Click here if you want to learn how to join the DU Student Center.

The Secret to Staying Smarter than Your Competition, When You Have No Time

How do you stay smarter than your competition and learn the newest techniques to grow your business, when you barely have time to take your kids to their swim lessons, and you just forgot your spouse’s birthday?

Here are two realizations you must make:

#1:  As an independent business owner, you cannot keep up with the newest tricks, tools, and techniques on your own.  It’s just not going to happen.  In the game of acquiring knowledge, you are on the losing side.  Remember when you used to say: “If it’s going to be done right, I’m going to do it myself?”  Well, that attitude, that maverick go-it-alone determination that got your business to where it is, isn’t going to keep it there.

I hate to break it to you, but it’s time to face facts and recognize that your industry changes daily, your competition changes while you’re sleeping, and your customers are learning new things by the minute that are being adopted by the mainstream, and no one’s calling to tell you ahead of time!  Just watch your customers one day coming in your business.  They are walking in with their Droids and IPhones accessing information about your business, and the products and services they want (often from your competitors), and all of a sudden, you have one of those epiphanies and realize that you just aren’t up-to-speed anymore.  Didn’t running a business used to be simpler? Ahh, yeah, it was.

#2:  So here’s what you have to do:  You must find people to help you sort through the clutter.  You need “summaries” of information you need to know.  Short, mini to-do’s.  That’s the ticket!  No dissertations; you need CliffsNotes.

In your world of people who can cut through the clutter, here’s how I can help.  I look for people who can help my clients grow their sales. For example, this week, I interviewed a retailer who used Facebook to grow her business and ended up capturing almost 20% of her town as a Facebook Fan.  She’s a brilliant owner who used Facebook posts to generate traffic and online sales to her business, and she took time to tell me exactly how she did it. I recorded it, and it’s going to be in our Destination University Student Center. If you’re a member, you can listen to her tell you exactly what to do first, and how to make it work.  Forget trial and error; listen to Katie tell you how she did it, and do what she did.  And do it now!

I find experts all the time who can help.  Just yesterday, I interviewed Jamie Licko for the Destination University Student Center.  You probably don’t know Jamie or her company, Centro, a consulting firm focusing on the future of city centers. I heard Jamie speak at the Downtown Colorado conference last Friday.  She spoke on new social networking tools that consumers are using that are way beyond simply using Facebook.  When I heard Jamie, I thought, “Owners need to know what Jamie knows.”  And so, in 45 minutes, Jamie allowed me to pick her brains, record the conversation, and let everyone in DU’s Student Center listen to it.  Take 45 minutes to listen to Jamie, and you’re off and running on new social networking tools that are free, and finally, you’re ahead of the game.  And your competitors.

Whether you use our Destination University Student Center to find important information that can grow your business or whether you have another network of people you can turn to, it doesn’t matter. Just understand that you can’t do it alone, and falling further behind in your learning curve isn’t the path you should be on.

As Cities Cut Back, Some Communities Step Up to Help Their Local Small Businesses

Recently I spoke in Port Angeles, Washington to help their business community.  Their community was split between whether it was worth it to bring me in to conduct a workshop.  Some thought they could find someone locally to do the same workshop at a cheaper price.  All I can say is:  I love it when I get letters like this after I’ve spoken to a group!

The following is the email that Barbara Frederick, the Executive Director of the Port Angeles Downtown Association in Port Angeles, Washington sent me on June 11, 2010:

“Jon, I just wanted to tell you how much our community enjoyed your workshop. The participants left enthusiastic, and energized. The sparkle and dream was back in their eyes. I haven’t seen that in a long time. There wasn’t one person who left the workshop regretting they had been there, they all got something out of it that will transform the way they do business.

Our city manager and economic development director both had expected to leave at noon to be at other meetings. They cancelled their attendance at those, opting to stay at the workshop because they were so engaged and learning a great deal from it. They have both commented to our board of directors and to the city council that this was well worth the cost and one of the best uses of economic development funds in a long time.

One woman, who was skeptical of the amount we spent to bring you here, and that we could have had any number of local people do the same thing for a lot less, leaned over to a city council member during the workshop and said “This guy’s magic!”

Thank you for taking a group of people who have been beaten down by the economy and giving them back the belief that it is possible to be prosperous again by empowering them to take charge of their own business in ways they never thought of before …  Thanks again.  Barbara Frederick”

It’s all sunny outside now, but the next 6-9 months are going to be make it-or-break it for many small businesses.  Trust me:  there are coming ups and downs no one is anticipating!  Groups can either help businesses learn what they need to know right now to survive in this economy, or they can lament the errors they made later.

Click here to read more about workshops that could help your community, and call me directly if you want to learn what I presented to this Port Angeles group.

How to Free Up Your Dominant Wall and Boost Your Retail Sales

I enjoy watching business owners depart from our Destination Business BootCamp and return to their businesses with ideas that they immediately put into practice.  That’s just what happened to Brad Hamlett, co-owner of Bradley’s, a great store in Knoxville, Tennessee which carries a full gift assortment and their one-of-a-kind handmade chocolates.

One of the things you learn at the BootCamp is to magnify your product differences in key areas where a consumer is going to look.  One critical area is the dominant wall, which most of the time is the front 12-20 feet a consumer sees when they enter any business.  Most of the time, a consumer looks to the right, which is why many dominant walls are on the right wall.

Brad and his wife, Joy, worked hard to tear out their extra large cash register area that was located in the area where the dominant wall should have been more visible.  Joy then took photos of Brad destroying the Starship Enterprise-sized register area, and the subsequent transformation into both new, productive floorspace and a consumer attention-getting dominant wall.  (Gotta love that Brad’s wearing his BootCamp hamster-escaping-his-wheel t-shirt in the construction.)

You can see the changes here by jumping over to Joy’s blog,  You can also see more of this great store by going to website.

Our last Destination Business BootCamp of this year happens on September 21-23, if you’d like to learn all the things Brad learned when he was here.

Don’t Let Customer Negotiators Erode Your Profit Margin

It’s become a new fad in this economy for consumers to try to beat up any retailer and negotiate for price discounts, even when the merchandise is fairly priced.  Part of this trend comes from discount-gurus and price negotiators who “teach” how to ask for better deals.

I’m all for getting the best price in a product, but most independent business owners are operating on single or low double digit profit margins anyway.  Giving up extra profit margin to a negotiating customer might fill the cash register temporarily, but it’s the fastest way to run your business into the dirt.

If you are a business owner, it’s important to know the techniques of a bargain buyer.  Please take some time today to read the tips from this negotiating guru, as seen in the Washington Post.  Click here to read the article now.

What are your best answers to consumers who are asking for discounts, when you have already priced the product competitively?   Share them with us!

Large Cities, Small Towns, and Business Success

13 Generalizations on Large Cities, Small Towns, and Business Success

I’m approaching my 25th year of consulting with business owners.  After working with tens of thousands of them, here are thirteen (13) small business principles of which I am certain.  For instance, I know why many small business owners will go extinct, why small towns are better than large cities, how Frank Sinatra was wrong, and where you can find the worst marketers in the world.

1.  It’s easier to generate more sales with a business in a large city than in a small town. But, it’s easier to create a more profitable business in a small town than in a large city.

2.  The most innovative businesses in the world are found in small towns and small cities.  They do more with less.  Unfortunately, they are often not as good at telling their stories, so they often go unnoticed for long periods of time.  Sometimes, forever, when owners don’t learn to market themselves.

3.  The success of a retail business has nothing to do with the amount of drive-by traffic.  Thank, Blockbuster, for again validating this.

4.  Location, location, location doesn’t have to matter anymore. Every true Destination Business continues to validate this.

5.  Owners who have businesses in tourist destinations are the worst marketers.  Since they are spoon-fed customers everyday, many forget how to aggressively market themselves, and they neglect learning about complex marketing concepts that businesses in out-of-the-way places have to learn to survive.  Groups that aggressively market for them and feed them customers actually are enabling their marketing backwardness.

6.  For most average business owners, the level of your business performance will rise to the level of your nearest best competitor, unless that competitor is a national Destination Business, and then, you’ll likely just be puzzled with the customer traffic they’re generating.  Unfortunately, some owners get jealous of the success of a Destination Business which is really silly because other businesses could be capitalizing on their traffic.

7.  Really smart people with multiple college degrees do dumb things when it comes to opening and running a small business.  It’s too bad that when they hand out degrees at college, they don’t come with transferable guarantee that can be applied to running a small business.

8.  Owning a franchise, rather than starting a business from scratch, neither insures success nor happiness.  But it will insure that you have bought yourself a job, though.

9.  An extremely passionate business owner with little money will kick the butt of a well-financed business owner with little passion, with all other conditions being equal.  Better yet, give me any business owner who is willing to change and learn new techniques to be successful, and that person will beat out both a passionate owner and a well-financed owner when both aren’t willing to learn.  (And if you’re an owner who really wants to learn, you should be in our Destination University! Click here to learn more.)

10.  Small business owners who don’t become small business CEO’s will become extinct in the coming years.  ‘Identify your weaknesses’, ‘question your business model’, and ‘delegate if I can’t learn it’ will be the new mantras for Mom and Pop businesses that want to survive.

11.  Don’t ask your nice customers what needs to be improved in your business because they will lie to you.  They want to be nice, and they won’t tell you about the parts of your business that disappoint them.

12.  If a customer says that your parking is bad and that’s why they don’t come in your business, most are using this as an excuse.  This really means that your business is interchangeable with someone else’s business, and that your business isn’t special and unique enough for them to want to expend any effort to work their way to your business.  Using the parking excuse is the easiest way to not go into a business when you’ve found someplace else that is just as good.

13.  When Frank Sinatra sang: “If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere” about New York, he was wrong.  With over 2,800 people per square mile there, it’s one of the easiest places.  Show me a multi-million dollar business in northern Maine, central South Dakota, or in eastern Oregon, and then, you can sing about it.

That’s it. That’s what I’m sure of.  Agree?  Disagree?  Let me know by posting your comments.