Small Business Success

California SBDC Brings “New Rules of Business Success” Training to California Entrepreneurs and Business Owners

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.

Kansas Department of Agriculture Hosts Destination Business Workshops to Assist Rural Towns and Business Owners

The Kansas Department of Agriculture is partnering with Jon Schallert to present his two-day “New Rules of Business Success” workshop in Abilene on October 7-8, focusing on his strategies for making independent businesses and towns irresistible to both local consumers and long-distance visitors.

“Our big push right now is how do we help our rural communities?” says Russell Plaschka, Agribusiness Development Program Manager for the Kansas Department of Agriculture.

Schallert’s approach addresses the leading concern of agriculture – how to help the economic health of rural areas where farmers, ranchers, and most businesses depend on each other to thrive.

“It doesn’t have to be an agriculture business to benefit from Jon’s workshop. If they’re in any small community, they’re dependent on agriculture in that community.”

Schallert’s workshops are part of a continuing effort by the Kansas Department of Agriculture to address issues raised in a major canvass of agribusiness-related industries several years ago that included some 500 interviews and revealed the broad needs of rural communities. These interviews led to the creation of an annual Kansas Governor’s Summit on Agricultural Growth.

“How do we get a larger audience for agritourism?” Plaschka says. “How do we expand small businesses in our rural communities? That is probably our biggest program right now – helping businesses thrive in our small rural communities. That’s where Jon comes in. How do you make your small town in the middle of nowhere or your business in the middle of nowhere really stand out from everywhere else?”

Schallert’s Destination workshops give participants an opportunity to work on their own projects with professional advice and networking.

“He doesn’t give them generic stuff,” Plaschka says. “He makes them come up with something. When they’re in his workshops, they’re working on their idea, not Jon’s idea. I think that’s more impactful.”

Testimonials from Destination BootCamp Attendees

On the last day of our Destination Business BootCamp class, we ask every attendee this question:

“If another business owner asked you why they should attend the Destination BootCamp, what would you tell them?”

Here’s what our class from April 9-11, 2019 (pictured above) said:

  • “If you want to save yourself years of struggle—go here first to start out with the right tools.”
  • “It has been eye-opening for me. I’ve learned a lot and feel hopeful about the future, but it also confirmed a lot of ideas I’ve had but have not implemented.”
  • “I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t gaining the customer base I wanted, and this BootCamp helps clarify how to gain it.”
  • “The knowledge and guidance you get is beyond anything I ever imagined.”
  • “Taking 3 days to reimagine your business is the best investment you’ll make this year.”
  • “You’ll get specific, actionable steps—and resources to help you do them—to get your business noticed!”
  • “It just opens my mind to so many things that I know I can do to improve sales.”
  • “It is a good experience. It’s great to see all the business stories and transformation examples.”
  • “It is very informative. As a new business starting out, the 1-on-1 information is truly priceless.  I felt I had no clue.  Now I feel like we might be able to survive because another failure is not an option.”
  • “Gained valuable insights into methods on spreading a wider net, and gain customers for a little effort and money, words matter when targeting customers and retaining customers.”
  • “I would tell them [business owners] that even though this course is tailored towards retail, and I don’t have a retail store, I am still taking away very valuable skills to apply to my business. Jon’s a wonderful teacher and has a unique ability to reach the different attendees on a very personal and relatable level.”
  • “Simple package of Top Gun business tactics.”
  • “This camp has made me stop and think about details of my business that I hadn’t already thought about.”
  • “I’ve gained so much insight and knowledge in how to promote my business. Tons of new ideas to implement.”
  • “As a hospital CEO, I think we get bogged down in the pure financial and regulatory component of our business and spend less time on product development, marketing, and growth strategies. This BootCamp has opened my eyes to some areas that sorely need attention.”
  • “Information is invaluable and [business owners] must attend to build business.”
  • “This course has shifted my outlook on my next phase of marketing and outreach. It has also provided tools to take tasks off mu plate and still be more effective.”
  • “You will learn ways to promote your business on a larger scale.”
  • “You’ll gain insight into the importance and impact that various marketing tools have on growth of your business.”
  • “GO!! Jon gets you thinking in every aspect of your business.  So much info but given in a fantastic, memorable way!”
  • “This class is packed with information. I am a very visual person, and all the examples from other businesses trigger thought processes for my own business.”
  • “Very informative and educational. I’d do it all over!”
  • “You must learn something new every day and be willing to change, innovate, and learn 21st century skills and strategies.”

Need more information on attending the Destination BootCamp?  Call me directly at my office and we can talk about how the BootCamp class can grow your sales, increase your customer traffic, and put your business on the map.


Jon Schallert
(303) 774-6522

How a Business in a Town of 28 People Became a Destination: The Mildred Store, Mildred Kansas

The essence of a Destination Business is that it can exist anywhere. It’s not location dependent, it can defy its demographics, and it has the ability to pull customers from hours away.

But honestly, when I found a Destination Business in Mildred, Kansas (population 28), and met the owners, Regena and Loren Lance, even I was a little surprised.

Originally owned by Charlie Brown and Lucy

Originally called Charlie Brown’s Store, the store has been part of Regena and Loren’s life since they were kids. When Regina was growing up, she would collect pop bottles, turn them in to Charlie Brown’s, and choose a toy from the store with her earnings.

Charlie Brown’s Store was owned by Charlie Brown and his wife, Lucy. (I am not making this up)

“Charlie Brown’s has been a staple in this community since I was a kid,” said Regena. The store served Mildred from its boom days at the turn of the 20th century, through the Great Depression, and down to present day with groceries, televisions, kitchen appliances, deli sandwiches, and even Model A’s and Model T’s.

Mildred Store Mildred KS exterior
Mildred Kansas, home of the Mildred Store

They did it, and you can too!

The Destination Business BootCamp teaches you how to become business that will attract people who will make the trip to discover what you’re all about! Let me know where I can send information on attending an upcoming BootCamp:

This BootCamp will invigorate your passion, challenge you to solve the problems that have been quietly surfacing in your business and make you realize that you can keep up, stay ahead, and have fun doing it.
Beverly CalderOwner Bella Main Street MarketBaker City, OR

A Teacher and a Farmer become Retailers

Regena, a teacher, and Loren, a farmer, bought Charlie Brown’s, even though neither had any retail experience. They decided to buy it when the store’s survival was at risk. Regena related how one night, she needed eggs for baking and she didn’t want to drive a half-hour to Walmart, so she asked Loren about buying Charlie Brown’s. As it turns out, that same thought had just crossed his mind. That was May 2014, and by June 1, they’d bought the store.  The next day, they opened up as retailers, with the store renamed as the Mildred Store.

New Rules for Independent Businesses 

I first met Regena and Loren when they attended my “New Rules of Business Success” workshop. They spent two days with me in Marion, Kansas with 80 other owners and community leaders learning how to make their business a Consumer Destination and during the breaks, Loren would come up and tell me a little more about their store.  By the time I’d finished my class, I had to see the Mildred Store in person.

Deli, Post Office, and Popcorn by the Bag

When you visit the Mildred Store, you’ll see how Regena and Loren have kept the feel of the store and much of the original equipment. There’s a fully stocked deli counter where they make the famous Charlie Brown deli sandwich (a longtime worker taught them how to slice the meat and stack it just so). There’s a TV over by the cold drinks and chairs to watch the local game on cable. The post office for Mildred is in the front corner of the store, (next to the produce section, down from the popcorn machine), and all around the store’s upper shelving are antiques and memorabilia from the town’s history. People come from miles around for the memories, the ambiance, and the longhorn and liver cheeses, signature items that even Walmart doesn’t carry.

Does Your Grocery Store have Country Music Concerts and a Dance Floor?

But what really makes this grocery store unique is the adjacent room which was formerly a repair shop.  Regina and Loren transformed it into a music hall with a dance floor and started hosting country music nights once a month. That room can hold 250 people and for those who don’t dance, church pews line the back of the room.

Nationally-Recognized Award Winning Grocery Store

The Mildred Store made the front page of the Kansas City Star newspaper in 2017 after being named National Small Town Grocery Store of the Year by the Huck Boyd Foundation at the National Rural Grocery Summit.

The Lances open the store even on holidays, with surprising traffic on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s by people who forgot to stock up on Cool Whip or some other last-minute item.

“Just being there for the people is the key,” Regena said. “Neither of us came from the grocery world. The mindset of the whole thing was we knew we were never going to be rich off of it. It was to provide a service to our community that really needs it.”

The Mildred Store’s a true Destination Business. It’s unique, it’s authentic, and it’s filled with one-of-a-kind products providing generous customer service by two people who love their town.

Worth a look, worth a trip

Learn more about this great store by going to their website at Or better yet, go see it. It’s worth the trip.

Thanks, everyone.

Jon Schallert

They did it, and you can too!

The Destination Business BootCamp teaches you how to become business that will attract people who will make the trip to discover what you’re all about! Let me know where I can send information on attending an upcoming BootCamp:

The importance of celebrating your successes

Last Thursday I spent the day in Marshall, Michigan, speaking to nearly one hundred business owners from all over the State. Some owners drove in from over 4 hours away to spend the day learning how to turn their businesses into Destinations, capable of pulling in customers from far outside their marketplaces and keeping the locals spending money at home.

Owners started arriving at 7:30 in the morning, with some finally heading back to their businesses after 4:00 p.m. It’s tiring for me to speak all day, but my day is not nearly as long as it is for the owners who come to learn. All of the owners who attended took time to leave their businesses for an entire day, and when the workshop was done, most of them go back to their businesses to work on the tasks that are still waiting for them.

I’m always amazed by the dedication and work ethic and stamina of the owners in my audiences.  These owners not only work hard, but they are also constantly critiquing themselves, always critical of their own shortcomings, always pushing themselves to achieve more, wanting to be better as owners and leaders in their communities.

If you’re an independent business owner who sees yourself in my description above, here’s something I want you to start doing:  At the end of each day, I want you to take a few minutes to write down the major successes you accomplished in your day.  Find a journal or a notebook that you can dedicate to this purpose and just grab it at the end of every day, and quickly jot down any major achievements you had that day.

Here’s why I’m asking you to do this: The owners I know don’t acknowledge their successes. Most owners are great at beating themselves up over the tasks they haven’t completed. They dwell on the mistakes they’ve made, and the opportunities that might have passed them by.

I think part of this is their perfectionist nature and part of it happens because owners expect themselves to create successes. When successes happen, they don’t dwell on them. They don’t pat themselves on the back when they knock something off their list; they just move onto the next unfinished task and the next challenge ahead.

Writing down your successes will seem foreign to you at first, but just take a couple of minutes at the end of each day and jot down any significant wins you’ve had. That’s it. Pretty simple.

One last thing: Try this technique for 1 month, and then, email me at [email protected] and tell me what you see happening.

We Have Seats in January and February’s Destination BootCamps

Every year, it’s the same: Our Destination BootCamp classes that are held early in the year always have the smaller attendance numbers than the ones that are held in the Spring and Fall.

Year after year this happens and my theory is that early in the year, owners decide to take certain steps to improve their businesses, but by mid-year, when sales haven’t grown like they wanted, owners realize that taking my class might help. Consequently, our later-in-the-year BootCamp classes always fill up.

There are plenty of advantages to taking our January 29-31 or our February 19-21 BootCamps: If you attend one of these classes, the smaller class size means that you receive more 1-on-1 assistance from me.  The early BootCamp classes also give you the entire 2019 year to implement the changes you learned, which means you’ll most likely see a greater impact in your 2019 revenue figures.

Finally, my 2½ day Destination BootCamp is only held in Longmont, Colorado, and it’s the only way you can learn my entire 14-step Destination Business strategy that I’ve been teaching since 2002.

If you’d like to learn more about all of our Destination BootCamp classes or you’d like to register for these empty seats, just go to:

Thanks, everyone.  That’s it for this week.  Let me hear of your successes!



It’s a New Year, and You’re Not the Problem

Here’s my first blog post of 2019 that will help you start off right.

I had a revelation during the holidays. It came while I was browsing in some bookstores (shop local, right?), in their business book sections.

It had never occurred to me before, but I realized there are a ton of business books that are written from the point-of-view that there’s something very wrong with how I’m operating my life, and consequently, if I want my business to improve, I better change.

In one store’s business book section, I found these titles:

“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”
“Gaining Control”
“Disciplined Dreaming”
“What’s Holding You Back?”
“Become a Better You”

I think these titles are pretty clear: If my business is going to grow, I need to be more effective and be less out-of-control.  I can admit maybe I do need to be more disciplined, but disciplined while I’m dreaming? And IS there something that’s holding me back, because it might be my feeling that I’m doing OK, when maybe there really IS something in me that needs to be a lot better.

These were all pretty sobering book titles.  The more I looked at them, the more I realized the message is: I’m lacking, I’m deficient, and it’s me that’s the problem. I’m the reason my business is struggling and if I want it to improve, I better change.

But then, I started thinking about the thousands of business owners I’ve met over the last 30+ years, and I have to tell you: Most of them are talented, disciplined, and they work extremely hard, putting in ungodly hours trying to realize their goals.

And the reason their businesses aren’t more successful and profitable ISN’T them.

None of these books address the simple problem of strategically growing your business revenue.  In my case, people come to me because they want to become a Destination Business, a business that outdraws their competition and pulls in more customers than a typical business.

And all the inner-reflection and personal improvement won’t help a business be more dominant.

In order to do that, you have to follow a series of steps (not unlike building a house) and each step builds on the other, all with the same goal of pulling in more locals, pulling in more out-of-the-area customers, and minimizing those actions that consumers ignore.

So, go ahead and make your New Year’s Resolutions, if you want. Go ahead and get introspective and contemplate your shortcomings, if you find that valuable.  You can even go and pick up any or all of these books that I’ve listed.

But if you’re not happy with your 2018 year-end revenue figures and you’d like to be more satisfied with your bottom line by the end of 2019, here’s the easiest way to achieve this:

Registration’s Open for Destination BootCamp

We have seven (7) Destination BootCamp classes open for 2019.  My 2½ day workshop, only held in Longmont, Colorado, is where you can learn my entire 14-step Destination strategy that I’ve been teaching since September 2002.

The sooner you get out here to Colorado, the sooner you’ll be back at your business, putting what you’ve learned into practice.

Plus, you won’t have to read a single book to learn how to change the trajectory of your business (you might want to, but you don’t have to.)

One more thing: Want your business to change fast? Well, our first Destination BootCamp class starts in 27 days, and you can see all of our Destination BootCamp dates by going to

Of course, if you have questions and you’d like to talk to me about how the BootCamp can help your business, just call our office and we can talk.

One Last Thing: My #1 Business Resolution

Most of you know this, but I have not been a consistent blogger in 2018. Too busy, too much travel, too little time…and too many excuses.

For 2019, I resolve to be better (you heard it here first).

That’s it!  Thanks, everyone!


The Power of a Historic Building

Note from Jon Schallert: If you received my email newsletter, there is an obvious grammatical error in the 3rd paragraph.  Read down to the bottom of this blog and you’ll learn why it’s there.

Most of you know that our company is located in Colorado, but did you know our company has its offices in a 143-year old historic building in downtown Longmont, Colorado?  In fact, this same historic building is also the location where we conduct our 2½ day Destination BootCamps.

It hasn’t always been this way. When I started teaching the Destination BootCamp class in September, 2002, and for the next 13 years after that, we conducted every BootCamp in a hotel conference room, just like every other company that puts on classes.

But that changed 2 years ago. That was when we decided that a historic building in a progressive downtown was also the best place to hold our Destination BootCamps.

You might wonder what prompted us to give up the simplicity of renting a hotel conference room for our BootCamp, and instead, purchase a former bank building built in 1875 that was filled with surprises like asbestos, faulty plumbing, and sagging ceiling trusses.

It was the power of a historic building!

Let me explain:

When I left Hallmark Cards and started my consulting firm, it was downtown Main Street organizations who were the first groups that decided my message could benefit their downtown business owners. And with every downtown workshop I did, I started to appreciate the uniqueness of the buildings, the history these downtowns, and the stories that radiated from every downtown location. I also started to love the gutsiness of the business owners who built their businesses in these downtowns, when they could have located their businesses into a strip center or a mall much more easily.

So, when Peg and I had the chance to purchase a historic building at 321 Main Street in downtown Longmont, we decided it was worth the risks:

One risk was this building wasn’t directly adjacent to the hotels where our BootCamp attendees liked to stay.

Another risk was the building itself didn’t look historic at all, but as we did a little research, we realized that this 4,650 square-foot two-story was the oldest brick building in Longmont and that it was originally was the home of the Emerson Buckingham Bank, the first bank in Longmont.

Once we realized the historic importance of the building, we then took steps to bring back its historic look. That meant we had to tear out the drop ceiling, the glaring floodlights, the nasty carpet, and scrub off the asbestos black tar that covered the floor. And as we worked, we discovered the brick walls, the wood beams, the original wood floor, and the original marble of the bank lobby’s floor.

But the story just kept getting better: We learned that just 2 doors down from this 321 Main building, was another historic building where a young entrepreneur named James Cash Penney opened his first business. If that name sounds familiar, James Cash Penney came to be known as JC Penney, but when he first started out in business at the age of 23, he owned a meat market. You probably didn’t know this fact because within a year of opening it, the meat market closed, and James had to walk down Longmont’s Main Street and get a job with Longmont retailer Tom Callahan, who taught him about the dry goods business. Eventually, James Penney bought out Tom Callahan and changed the name of all of Tom’s stores and launched the JC Penney’s chain of stores.

It took us 21 months, but when we conducted the first Destination BootCamp in the building on April, 2016, we knew it was right. We also learned that despite not being directly next to Longmont’s “hotel row”, attendees of our BootCamp like that they’re right downtown, in the midst of Longmont’s own downtown revitalization, with shops and award-winning restaurants within walking distance. They tell us they love the history of the building and the vibrancy of our downtown, and I think business owners now sit in my class and look around and say: “I think I could do this in my downtown.”

We now conduct seven (7) Destination BootCamps a year at 321 Main Street. We host independent business owners, community leaders, downtown directors, and economic development professionals from all over the world in our BootCamps, and I think our historic building provides a setting that would be hard to replicate in any traditional hotel conference room.

And that’s the power of a historic building.

Now, on that grammatical error. I’m sure all of you who subscribe to my e-newsletter read it and spotted it. Please don’t send me emails pointing out my mistake. I don’t know how I didn’t spot it, and then, my proofreader didn’t spot it. Guess I shouldn’t write blogs at 11:15 at night and think they’re perfect.  But it’s still gonna bug me because it’s still going to be there, in that 3rd paragraph of that e-newsletter that I sent to thousands of you. Just like most of you, I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I should have caught it, but I didn’t. OK, now I feel better, confessing my inability to be perfect.
Jon Schallert

Destination Wyoming Main Street: Four towns, four days, and 1,200 miles

In late April and early May, I’ll be taking my longest-ever speaking road tour – four towns, four days, and 1,200 miles to talk to business owners and community leaders in the small cities and towns spread across Wyoming. The state has plenty of nationally-known tourist destinations, such as Yellowstone, Devil’s Tower, and Jackson Hole, and Wyoming Main Street wants to help towns attract travelers to come off the interstate for more than just a pitstop on their way to those vacations.

Linda Klinck, the Program Manager for Wyoming Main Street, wants me to help the businesses in those small towns add more tourists and visitors to the local shoppers to help them succeed: “We don’t have the density. We are so spread out in such small communities. But here’s what we do have: millions and millions and millions of tourists coming through the State each year. I’m challenging the communities to become a Destination and get the people off the highways. The businesses have to be ready for them. You’ve got to provide them the experience they’re hoping to get when they get there.”

Linda and I first met nearly 20 years ago, when I spoke at her state’s Main Street downtown conference in Indiana.  Then, Linda was part of the group in Logansport Indiana who sent a group of business owners through our Community Reinvention Program, where a group of business owners and a Community Leader all attend my Destination BootCamp, and they then enter a 4-month training program to help them successfully launch their new Destination Business goals.  She saw how this helped her hometown of Logansport.  Then, in 2015, Linda moved West and started leading Wyoming Main Street, and that’s when we reconnected again.

Wyoming Main Street is hosting and sponsoring these four workshops, and I’ll be posting the exact times, venue locations, and the cost to attend each Destination workshop in the coming weeks.  For now, put these dates and cities on your calendar for my workshops:

  1. On April 30: I’ll be in the southwest corner of Wyoming in the city of Evanston, and then,
  2. On May 1, I’m in downtown Laramie, then,
  3. On May 2, my workshop’s in Wheatland, and finally,
  4. On May 3, I’ll be ending the speaking tour in northeast Wyoming in the city of Gillette.

Any business owner or community leader, even if you’re outside of the state of Wyoming, can attend the workshop and participate in the learning.

I love speaking trips like this one.  Towns and small cities like these are crucial to our country’s well-being. The business owners in these communities are dedicated to a good life, they work hard, and they are proud of their businesses, homes, and the lives they have there. They deserve to succeed and there are tools and techniques that owners aren’t using that can help them tap the potential of their businesses, and I’m looking forward to helping them during these four days in this beautiful state.

Come stop by and learn something with me during my Wyoming Road-Trip.

Until next week,


Destination BootCamp class April 2017
Sure, Retail’s tough. And here’s how to succeed at it.

Not a week goes by without someone saying to me: “Retail’s tough.” I hear it from developers, bankers, downtown directors, and business leaders.  They say with a “That’s just the way it is” sigh.

Want to know how independent retailers today thrive? Here’s how:

At the invitation of Suzanne and Jim Sereff, owners of the Warm Hugs gift shop in Greeley, Colorado, I attended their invitation-only Mastermind retailer group in Kansas City the day before I was scheduled to speak at a big retailer conference.  I knew Jim and Suzanne because they had just attended one of our Destination BootCamps with their daughter Beth (they’re in the photo above).

Their Mastermind retailer group was made up of more than a dozen owners. They hold their annual 2½-day meeting when they’re all together for a conference, plus they have dinners together and informal meetings at trade shows through the year. When they can’t be together, they keep the conversation going with a private Facebook group page. Just watching them, I could see that they have what it takes to flourish in today’s small business environment – clear focus, open collaboration, courage to try new ideas, and accountability to keep commitments.

I was able to be with them for several hours.  One after another, these remarkably savvy people running their own successful stores stood up to talk about ways they’ve made their business better – a social networking tool, a marketing strategy – and they’d share their materials. All of them!

Suzanne and Jim got in front of the group and talked about coming to the Destination BootCamp and shared what she’d learned about becoming a destination business, like identifying and promoting their Unique Positioning, a key step in attracting local and out-of-town customers. They weren’t protective of secrets, and they were open to all kinds of feedback. Suzanne told me they also share product finds when they get together for dinner at the sprawling trade shows: “You cannot see everything in these huge buildings in Atlanta with floors and floors and floors of stuff. It’s nice to have other eyes out there.”

These owners aren’t worried about competing with big-box stores, or Amazon, and they don’t sit around being nostalgic about some golden age of small business retailing. They’re too busy getting it right in their own shops and confident that, with smart moves and each other’s help, the pie can grow big enough for everyone to succeed.

Sitting with them in their Mastermind group, I knew they were right.

Opportunity for 18 Grand County Business Owners to Participate in Community Reinvention Destination Business Program

Grand County Economic Development will pay for 18 Grand County business owners to participate in Jon Schallert’s Community Reinvention Program which begins with a 2½-day Destination BootCamp in Longmont on October 25-27. The organization is accepting applications for the grants until September 15.

Last year, 18 county business owners took advantage of a similar opportunity to participate in Schallert’s Community Reinvention Program that included his 20-hour Destination BootCamp workshop, 4-months of follow-up training, and a 1-on-1 on-site visit from Schallert to provide specific marketing advice to grow their businesses into “Consumer Destinations” (see photo below).

October late 2015Schallert, who has taught tens of thousands of entrepreneurs how to make their shops irresistible to both local and tourist customers, started developing his trademark 14-point strategy during a decade at Hallmark Cards where his model was called “The Schallert Method”.  Schallert’s firm, The Schallert Group, started in 1996 and is based in Longmont, where he holds six Destination BootCamps a year.  Over the last 14 years, over 50 counties, cities, and towns have participated in the Community Reinvention Program.

“I learned so much,” said Rachel Rayburn, owner of Altitude Jewelry in Winter Park, who attended last year. “It really feels like I’m now starting to see the benefits of that. It just took me a while to sift through all that new information. I was letting everything go on autopilot, and I wasn’t doing anything to market, and that was a mistake. He said, ‘Do lots of little pivots, do little low-cost things, see what works for you. We’ve had a lot of success with that.”

Rayburn implemented Schallert’s shop-rearrangement suggestions after his visit – putting a signature jewelry line on a dominant wall rather than by the door, for example – with immediate results.

“We flipped all of the cases and moved everything around,” she said. “We started seeing the sales of what we make increase almost immediately.”

To apply the BootCamp ideas to her Mountain Grind Coffee & Bistro in Winter Park, Susan Volk displayed her unique positioning statement on her most visible wall, promoted local food on a Wall of Fame behind her counter, and installed a copper replica of an old-fashioned expresso machine as the coffee shop’s “monument.”

“It was great to be able to put some of those things to use,” Volk said. “I was also able to use some of that information to create a new brochure that did a better job at telling my story. I think it’s generated a little buzz as well.”

Steve Kudron, owner of Quacker Gift Shop in Grand Lake, said the tips helped his personal business approach as well as his marketing. The store, which specializes in unique tourist-related items like rubber duckies, hand lotions, and fresh fudge, has online and wholesale components, along with his storefront on the boardwalk in Grand Lake.

“During the BootCamp, one of the things I learned was having the right kind of balance as a leader and what were some of the tools to be able to do that,” Kudron said. “That was a good refresher for me and an opportunity for me to make positive changes in our business.

‘I was able to take our understanding as a destination type store and really turn it using his unique positioning concepts. I was able to drill down and find the right blend of marketing as well as uniqueness in our store to really make a difference.”

Last year’s event also provided business owners in the county an opportunity to meet and start sharing ideas.  Business owners from Winter Park, Fraser, Granby, Grand Lake, and Kremmling all attended last year.

“It was great to meet people from other parts of the county,” said Volk, who later took a four-day trip to meet fellow participants in their own shops. “I met with a lot of those different business owners and got a chance to check out their businesses. I was struck with the creativity and energy they had there. Hopefully that raised some awareness for businesses in other parts of the county.

“It’s very challenging, particularly in small and rural areas where it can seem very competitive at time. The more of us that are succeeding, whether we have competing businesses or not, the better it is for all of us. I came away from the BootCamp and the Community Reinvention Program with a really strong sense of that, and I’d like to see that carried on to businesses across Grand County.”

Small business owners may apply to participate in this year’s Community Reinvention Program by submitting a letter of interest. Grand County Economic Development received a $27,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant with a token $290 investment from the County for the program. Eligible businesses must have fewer than 50 employees and less than $1 million in gross sales to qualify.

For more information and to apply for the program, call Grand County Economic Development at (970) 531-1343 or email: [email protected].

Creating Consumer Preference: The First Step in Becoming a Destination

Creating Consumer InsistenceFor those of you who just had a 3-day, July 4th weekend, you might have experienced what I did this past weekend, an overwhelming number of choices on where to spend my 3 days off.

All of these were on my “Possible Go-To” list:  There were several 4th of July parades in our area.  There were firework shows on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday nights.  Two of my favorite breweries had bands playing at them (Left Hand Brewing and Wibby Brewing).  Plus, there’s always a fun concert in our city’s park where they fire off a cannon that makes all the dogs pull out of their collars.

Then there’s the new Independence Day movie.  In this one, Will Smith’s character is dead.  I heard the movie’s not that great, but I’m still wondering how are we going to beat the aliens without Will Smith?

I’m guessing you experienced much the same this last weekend:  Where do you go when there’s too much to see, too much to do, and too little time to do it in?

You did what I did. You made decisions and judgments.  Quick ones.  You heard about all the things you could do, on television, radio, and from your friends.  You read about what was going on, in the newspaper, on Facebook, via Twitter, in emails, and online.  You probably discussed all the choices with your family, your spouse, or your friends.  Then, you decided.  You processed all the choices and said: “This is what I’m doing this weekend.”

Here’s why I’m focusing on this:  When a business is working to become a Destination, there’s one primary outcome that they must accomplish.  How do we get a consumer to say:  “I’m going to that place!”  That’s really the #1 Goal. Get the potential customer to come to your business.  Do this well and it leads to Outcomes 2, 3, and 4:

#2:  Customers connect with your business, and they spend money with you.  A little money’s OK, but spending a lot is preferable.

#3:  They leave as ecstatically happy customers, and they go out and talk positively about your business, spreading word-of-mouth.

#4:  The next big step: Getting them to come back again and again, each time, giving you and your business money.

To summarize:  That’s the place I’m going, followed by, that’s the place where I’m spending my money, followed by, that’s the only place I’m going from now on.

It seems easy, but it’s not easy. There’s a definite step-by-step process that must be followed.  Now, I’m not saying that the process is hard.  It’s not hard.  Any business owner can do it if you follow the correct steps to create Consumer Preference, and you know strategically how to push the motivational “buttons” of consumers.

Intrigued?  Well, if you’d like to learn how to push those buttons so that customers come to your business again and again, read on.

2016 Destination BootCamps

Most of you know that I spent years discovering what makes one business a Destination that becomes extremely profitable and successful, while another business in the same community doesn’t have that success.  To learn this, I interviewed over 10,000 business owners and traveled to over 500 cities and towns.  I also kept really, really good notes, processed what I learned from all the brilliant business owners I’d interviewed, and then, (and this took a little luck), realized that what each of these super-successful business owners was doing was actually a repeatable process that I could teach. And for the last 19 years, I’ve taught this.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to take you years of your life to learn this.  You can learn how to make your business a Destination in 2½ days, at my Destination BootCamp, held in Longmont, Colorado.  (Here’s a photo of our most recent class)


If you want me to teach this Destination strategy to you, you have two (2) Destination BootCamps in 2016 where we still have seats available:

Our next BootCamp, on July 26-28, has approximately 12 seats left, and I expect when it’s all said and done, that the class size will probably have about 25 attendees, based on our current projections.  (By the way, with this class, we will pass one thousand (1,000) business owners who have taken our BootCamp.

We’re not giving anything away to the thousandth owner/attendee, but I still think it’s kind of cool.

Then, our following Destination BootCamp on September 13-15 has approximately 8-10 seats remaining.  We are estimating this class will fill up.

Miss these 2 dates and you’ll have to wait until March, 2017 (8 months from now), to attend my next Destination BootCamp.

Interested in learning more?  Are you interested in learning why hundreds of business owners and entrepreneurs have attended over the last 14 years and you still haven’t?  If so, go and read “What You’ll Learn” at the Destination BootCamp by clicking here.

Or, if you’re still skeptical, you might want to read what other previously skeptical business owners (just like you), said AFTER they took the class.  Read that by clicking here.

And finally, if you have any questions about how my BootCamp can help your business, feel free to call me directly at 303-774-6522, extension 104. I’m happy to talk to you.

Thanks!  Hope to see you in Longmont soon!


Everyone Wants You to Grow, but Who Really Wants You to Thrive?

Thrive not Survive

To all independent business owners!

Here’s something to think about:

I once received a call from the sales vice-president of a well-known national franchise who wanted me to speak at their annual convention.  He’d heard about me from one of his independent franchisees, and he knew that I helped businesses grow their sales, customer traffic, and profits as a Destination Business.

We seemed to be the perfect fit, but then he said:

“One thing: I can’t have you mention anything about that Destination-stuff you speak on. These are franchisees. They have set territories.  You can’t say anything about becoming a Destination Business because I don’t need a bunch of franchisees leaving that convention, all half-cocked, thinking they can pull customers from anywhere they want.”

And with that, I politely declined speaking for them, and referred him to another speaker.

Now don’t get me wrong. I understand his concern.  I know how franchised businesses work.  A well-known franchise (like a McDonald’s), wants their locations to deliver brand-uniformity: The same image, the same products, the same promise.

Consistency, not differences.

But here’s the thing: Consumers don’t always want the same.  Most of the time, they actually want uniqueness. They want one-of-a-kind.  They like individuality.  And they especially love Shop-Local, independent businesses run by local owners.

Who knew Mom and Pop were gonna be so Hot?

But the good news is: The principles of being a unique Destination can be merged with franchise systems. But you need a franchise management team that’s willing to grow and learn, like the Real Deals on Home Décor franchise. When I met with the Real Deals on Home Décor executive team, they hired me to help their franchisees grow their businesses.  Period!  No conditions. No limitations.  They wanted me to teach their franchisees and their management team all about my Destination strategy and they wanted me to give their independent owners all the tools they needed to bring in more customers and sales! We took the Real Deals franchise model and incorporated the most powerful parts of my 14-step Destination process and blended them together.  Then, they had me teach the strategy to their independent owners.

Real Deals on Home Décor wanted their franchise network of independent business owners to thrive, not just survive.

Now think about your company’s manufacturers who supply your business with products.  I learned there’s a difference in manufacturers when I spoke at the American Lighting Association.  No sooner had I left the stage when I was approached by the management team from Kichler Lighting, one of the largest lighting manufacturers in North America.  They liked what they’d heard and within 2 weeks, they had me design an entire 12-month training plan for their lighting showroom customers that included workshops, 1-on-1 consulting, and monthly Destination webinars, all designed to drive more customer traffic into their businesses.

Kichler Lighting created a program that took the strengths of their product lines and mixed it with the Destination Business process to help their retail store owners grow. Not just plod forward.

They wanted them to thrive.

Why do I tell you these stories?  Because I want you look closely at the companies, resources, and programs that are integral to your business, and then, decide if your company is receiving what you deserve.  Are the people who manage these entities just helping you maintain your business, or are they giving you all the tools to accelerate your business to its greatest potential?

Some of you know that James Cash Penney, the founder of the JC Penney chain, was a fellow Longmont, Colorado entrepreneur. His first business was located just 2 doors down from our location at 321 Main Street in downtown Longmont just 119 years ago.  I’m going to end this blog post with a quote from my former neighbor:

“Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.”

It’s time for you to insist that those forces start working towards your company’s maximum growth.

Destination BootCamp update:

I wanted to update you on our remaining 2016 Destination BootCamps:

  1. We have three (3) remaining Destination BootCamps in 2016 that have space in them. Their dates are:
    1. June 7-9
    2. July 26-28
    3. September 13-15

The October 25-27 class is full and can take no more participants.

Here are three workshops in my schedule that are open to the public:

Thursday, May 19: 8:00 to 9:30 a.m. at Hutchinson Community College, 1300 N. Plum, Justice Theater in the Shears Technology Building in Hutchinson, Kansas, Increasing Sales & Profits as a Destination Business. To register, call 620-665-8468 or email [email protected].

Tuesday, May 24: 9:00 to 10:15 a.m. in Milwaukee Wisconsin at the National Main Street Conference, Room 102C in the Wisconsin Center.  The 7 Steps to a Memorable Main Street: Capturing Today’s Customers as a Destination Downtown. Join me for my 1 and only session, and then, stick around and let’s talk about your Destination Downtown challenge.

Tuesday and Wednesday, June 14-15, Austin, Texas at the Real Places 2016 Conference, sponsored by the Texas Historical Commission. Go to for more information.

Thanks, Everyone!  Let me hear of your successes by emailing me at [email protected]


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