Host a Holiday Open House

It’s the time of year for holiday parties, Christmas cookies and egg nog. Sounds like a great reason to host an open house at your business. An open house doesn’t need to be extravagant, costly or time consuming. However, it is a great way to open your doors to the community, your customers and spread some extra cheer during the winter.

If you have an actual store, especially in town or on the edge of town, perhaps hosting an open house makes a lot of sense. It is a chance to promote your business and share in the spirit of the holidays. Often, smaller towns will have a holiday parade, dedicate one night a week when they are open later for shopping or have a community bazaar. These are ideal times to hang a little garland, turn on the coffee pot and host your open house.

If you are an on-farm dealer, you can still host an open house; it might just take a little more planning and preparation. You might put more effort into promoting your event and issuing invitations. You can tidy up the shop or barn where you store product, and still put on the coffee and show your appreciation for your customers – your community.

First, you need to establish a date when you will host your open house. Find out when other events are happening and if it makes sense, plan your open house with those. If there are not a lot of other community holiday events, plan your event during a time when there are not other local community events like a basketball game or concert. Promote your event through local advertising, your store sign, a poster on your door and your social media channels. You might even want to make some phone calls to key customers or potential customers.

Next, plan what will make your open house special from regular store hours. Will you offer food and beverage? What will that involve? Are you thinking sugar cookies and punch? Meat balls in the crock pot with cheese and crackers? Or something more substantial like sandwiches and chips? Whatever you do plan, make sure you have plenty to offer. Nothing is worse than having an event and running out of food.

Provide a learning opportunity. Especially if you are a storefront, maybe not everyone in the community knows what products or services you offer. Make yourself available to share your story or have some type of game or entertainment to showcase the products. Think a store scavenger hunt or BioZyme® Bingo.

Give back to the community. Perhaps you can have a toy drive for local kids or a pet supply drive for the local animal shelter. Make it interactive – bring in a toy or purchase a bag of dog food to leave for the pet shelter and get a $5 off coupon toward your next purchase. There are a variety of ways to give to others this time of year.

If you are an on-farm dealer, your open house might resemble that an open house where you get together with friends, neighbors and customers. People are always looking for a good reason to slow down for bowl of soup and good conversation. And remember, you can also take part in community opportunities and spread the cheer.

For more ideas on hosting a holiday open house, contact Ashley Fitzsimmons at afitzsimmons@biozymeinc.com or (307) 575-1082.

Community Support Comes in all Sizes

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

This quote by Helen Keller epitomizes the spirit of community, especially at this “most wonderful time of the year.” It is often hard to think about those less fortunate in our communities and how we’d like to help them, especially with the agricultural economy in its up and down cycle. We are busy paying our own bills and trying to provide a nice holiday for our families. However, if we come together with our coworkers, friends, a church group, or another organization we can make a difference without breaking the bank.

One thing that BioZyme® did during November is gather food for community food banks. That’s right; employees across many locations including St. Joseph, Mo., Haskell, Texas, and Area Sales Managers and other remote workers gathered nonperishable food items for local food banks. Between the St. Joseph and the off-site workers, employees had the potential to donate to 30 banks in 16 different states from Pennsylvania to Texas to Montana to Missouri.

One employee visited a local grocery store where she purchased two cases of canned vegetables, four cans of chicken, a large tub of peanut butter (think non-perishable protein), a box of crackers, a jar of meaty spaghetti sauce and a box of pasta for less than $25. If each person gives similarly, that can feed several people for several meals. And in that employee’s mind, that is two trips through a fast-food drive through for her family or roughly four “foo-foo” coffees for when she gets to the big city – not a major sacrifice for others that are truly in need.

Perhaps your town has a local soup kitchen. Those places are always looking for volunteers to make and serve a meal. Would it really hurt business to shut down to a skeleton crew for a few hours one day to go and serve the community? Perhaps leave a few employees at the store to serve your customers but take the rest to the local soup kitchen or homeless shelter to help prepare and/or serve a meal. The gratitude levels do vary, but your personal satisfaction in knowing you made a difference will soar.

Several organizations typically have an opportunity to “adopt a family” by providing gifts and holiday meals for families that might not otherwise have a nice holiday. Adopting a family as a company might seem daunting or not in the budget, but if your company and its employees work together to adopt a family it can be a little easier on everyone’s checkbooks and make a lasting impact on a family. I remember when I worked at another company, we adopted a family with four or five kids one year, and they all needed winter coats and wanted bicycles. Well, we worked with the local Wal-Mart and K-Marts in town to get bikes at reduced rates when we told them what we were doing. Several of my male co-workers who didn’t really want to “shop” all pitched in a set amount – probably around $20 – and we made sure that family had bikes and warm coats. I signed up to help with the delivery that year. And even though we contacted the mom to see if she wanted to have the bikes be from “Santa” she refused. She wanted her kids to know that kind people gifted her kids those bikes. I’ve never seen 7 and 8-year-olds cry tears of joy for coats and bikes, and it was truly one of the best Christmases I’ve ever experienced.

Giving back. It is more fun to do as a group and the impact is often greater. It doesn’t have to put a big hit on one person or company’s checkbook if we all work together to make a few sacrifices to give to those less fortunate. And together, we can do so much more.

Get Involved in the Community

For business people there is no better way to receive recognition within your community than to become involved in the community where your business is located. That is especially true if you are a smaller or specialized business that not everyone might have a purpose to support on a regular basis (like a feed mill or feed and farm store.)

Taking an active role in your community is important for a number of reasons. Here are 5 ways we encourage you to get involved in your community, year-round; not just during the holidays. You might just meet some new customers while you’re at it.

Community Boards. Most communities have a plethora of boards that are always looking for people to serve on them. These can include school boards, hospital boards, extension boards, 4-H boards, FFA alumni boards, cattlemen’s boards and the list goes on and on. Remember, pick organizations that you are truly passionate about helping, and don’t spread yourself too thin. A volunteer that has too many irons in the fire is often not as helpful as one would like.

If you have never used the hospital and you are a normally healthy person who doesn’t think you’ll ever be in the hospital, perhaps that board isn’t for you. However, if you are a cow-calf producer, trying to educate consumers on the benefits of eating healthy, lean red meat, then perhaps a role on the county cattlemen’s board would be ideal.

Volunteer. Volunteering shows that you are willing to give your time – one of your most valuable assets. You might volunteer with the local ag groups like 4-H and FFA to help them with educating youth or running a judging contest or clinic. Or you might volunteer to coach youth wrestling, teach Sunday night youth group or help with a cause like Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Whatever you volunteer for, make sure it is something you are passionate about doing and have time to make a priority. No one appreciates a volunteer that is always “too busy” to meet their commitments.

Build partnerships. If you are getting involved with your community, building partnerships would seem logical. Perhaps you are building a partnership with a local feedlot to run a mineral trial. Or maybe you find a way to build a partnership with a local high school ag class. The opportunity for agricultural businesses to partner, share promotions and advertising budgets and even costs for producer meetings are endless.

Offer internships. Young labor is typically inexpensive and hardy. Are you looking for someone to help in the store after school and on weekends? What about one of these young “techno-kids” that could help you with your social media presence. Young people are always looking for “real-world” experiences, and often are willing to work for little money or the experience they can list on their resumes.

Host & participate in events. As livestock nutrition suppliers, it would make sense that you would host and participate in events, like judging clinics, livestock shows, barrel racings and ropings. However, you chose to participate in these events, be sure to get your company name exposed as much as possible so others in the area know who the title sponsor is.

Getting involved in the community – it’s probably something you do anyway. Take the time to make a difference in someone’s life and the future of your community. You might just meet a new customer along the way.

Marketing Will Wow Your Customers

Chances are you wouldn’t be selling the products you offer if you didn’t believe in them. In fact, the 2017 Dealer Survey results show that 82 percent of BioZyme® dealers already use the products they sell. So, that personal experience is one way to share your story and tell how the products work in your operation or on your companion animals.

However, a plethora of animal nutrition products exist on the market. And even though we know that our BioZyme supplements are unique due to the Amaferm® advantage, sometimes the best way to WOW your customers is by focusing on your service attitude versus constantly talking about your products.

“My best advice to produce the most effective results is to advertise to your customers where they are, when they are there,” said Ashley Fitzsimmons, Regional & Partners in Performance Marketing Manager for BioZyme Inc. “Fall is a busy time with weaning, harvest and this year’s weather! So, meeting customers where they are whether that is taking out meals to farmers, being present for conversations at your local cattlemen’s meeting, the sale barn on a busy day, your state/county fairs, etc. really is the most effective tactic.”

Being present where your customers are is just one way of providing service marketing. If they are harvesting, they probably haven’t taken time to think about their cow herd’s nutrition prior to calving or even thought about placing a mineral order. But, you probably have. Reach out to them with a sack lunch or an afternoon drink while they are harvesting with a gentle reminder of how many days are left in this year and a list of the mineral they purchased from you last year at this time – making their lives simplified, and potentially making a sale for you!

Another service you can provide is to simply listen. This is a great time of year to host producer meetings. However, the interaction shouldn’t always be about the dealer talking about new products or special promotions. Take time for an open discussion. Hear what is on the minds of the producers and end-users of the products and see how you can provide a service you haven’t already thought of.

“No one knows your customers and your community better than you do, which is what makes local dealers so incredibly vital and important to our company. If anyone ever wants to bounce ideas back and forth or see what tactics have worked best in a community like theirs I’m always available via email,” Fitzsimmons reminds the dealers.

Providing a service and listening to your customers – you have just turned two traditional customer service tactics into marketing plans to help you reach your customers in a way that will WOW them. Everyone likes to have a service provided to them, especially when it is unexpected. And, when a customer is listened to, it makes them feel more like a part of your team. Use these two marketing tools to wow your customers this fall and see your sales grow!

Make an Impact on Others

As the calendar year-end draws closer, many individuals and businesses look for charitable causes to give to. With the holidays near, it is in our hearts and on our minds to give to those who might not have the same advantages we have. But have you thought how you can best make an impact on others?

First, you need to select just a few worthy causes to donate to. Your dollars will make the biggest impact if you don’t spread your gifts too thin over too many charitable organizations. Determine how much you want to spend, and then decide if you want to give all of that to one group or split it two or three ways.

Next, determine how your funds will be used. Does your donation really go toward helping others or will it go to administrative and further fundraising fees? Ask the organization outright. You might be surprised to learn that only 25-percent of your donation goes to the cause. If that is the case, determine if that is a cause worth supporting or is there another charity or individual you can give to? If you are unsure, visit www.give.org and search for your organization, to learn more about the cause and their spending.

Then, choose a cause or organization that is near and dear to your heart. Does someone in your family suffer from a disease that you are passionate about? There is most certainly a group that is raising money for research for a cure to that ailment. Do you care about helping kids whose only meals are what they get at school? Perhaps you’ll want to learn more or donate to Snack Pak 4 Kids™. Maybe you were once involved in 4-H or FFA, Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts, or another local youth organization in your town. It’s always nice to give back to an organization that made a personal impact on your life.

Perhaps you are new to your area, and don’t know where to donate, but want to keep your gift local. Talk to local clergy, someone at the bank or even local law enforcement officers. They are likely to know of local programs like “adopt a family” programs, “shop with a cop”, shelters or food pantries that always appreciate extra financial help around the holidays.

It doesn’t take a big check to make a big impact. If each person donates what he or she is comfortable with, those donations do add up. Pick the organization or groups you would like to help this holiday season and share your joy with others. Make sure the cause you are supporting uses your funds for its programs, and give with a glad heart.

Customer Service that goes Above and Beyond

Just like your customers and their personalities all vary, so do the ways that they like their customer service provided to them. But one thing is certain, everyone likes to be treated with respect and courtesy, especially when paying for a product or service.

It doesn’t matter if you’re talking face-to-face, over the phone, via email or through a hand-written letter, there’s always ways to show that you care for and respect your customers. Using key words and phrases are just one way to make sure your customers feel appreciated.

Just like our parents taught us at a young age, “please and thank you” will go a long way. Here are some other key phrases to use when serving up top-notch customer service:

• “How else can I help you accomplish your goals?”
• “Are there other products or services I can help you with?”
• “I’m not sure how to answer your question, but I will find out the answer.”

While you are putting these key phrases to work, make sure you are using them on all your customers and potential customers, not just a select group of customers. You never know when going above and beyond or out of your way to contact someone who hasn’t bought much lately might just sway them to start doing more business with you. Or, perhaps they have been considering changing their mineral program, but didn’t know how to ask about VitaFerm®. By making that investment in time, you further build your relationship and watch your sales grow.

It is impossible to talk to everyone every day, or every week for that matter. Make a schedule of who you will reach out to and when. Sometimes we reach out too often, so find a way to track your conversations and when you last reached out to each customer. This could be in your database management software, an excel spreadsheet, a calendar or even in a notebook. Just make sure to contact everyone regularly.

“The Outreach Support Center reaches out to customers every 45 days, either by phone, email or mail. When we contact dealers, we make sure everything is going well, ask if they need literature, answer any questions they may have and update then on any new products or any changes that may be occurring. BioZyme® lives by the motto, ‘Care that Comes Full Circle.’ I believe we are doing that in the Outreach Support Center by reaching out to the customers to let them know we value their business and we are always there if they need us,” said Jennifer Miller, Director of Outreach Customer Support.

A few unpretentious words. A handshake and a smile. Regular contact with your customers. All of these might seem simple but use them in conjunction and on a regular basis, and you’ll provide customer service that goes above and beyond. You might just “wow” your customers.

Share Your Story

It’s the anniversary dance at a friend’s wedding. The emcee announces for all married couples to gather on the dance floor. Immediately, the newlyweds are seated, being the most recently married. Then in five-or 10-year increments, couples are dismissed by the number of years they have been married. One couple remains, dancing hand-in-hand like they have for 57 wonderfully wedded years. Don’t you wonder what their story is? What is the secret to their success?

And now you’re wondering what that story has to do with being in business or more specifically the animal nutrition business. The point is, everyone has a story. Everyone, including you. And it is time to tell your story.

According to the Small Business Administration, there are more than 28 million small businesses, making up 99.7% of all U.S. businesses. That makes your story one in 28 million! Do you know your story? Do you have a 3-minute “elevator” speech to share with someone if you were mingling at a party or at a networking function where you didn’t know others in the room? Think about it. What is your story? What makes you unique? And I know there is something unique about each and every one of our dealers.

First, determine what your story is. Perhaps, you are an equine enthusiast who became passionate about the products and want to share the products with all of your friends at the barn, show, rodeo, etc… Or, you might be a second-generation dealer who is taking over the reins of the family business – the farm and the feed dealership. Maybe, you are young person who felt there was a void in your “neighborhood” for a high-quality mineral program.

Once you determine what your story is and why you’re passionate about helping animals and their owners, determine who your audience is. Obviously, it is your customers. But, there are potential customers in your everyday lives too. Chances are your doctor or dentist has a dog or maybe even a horse. Do they know that you sell a product that can improve the health and well-being of their four-legged friends? And what about the local service organizations? Rotary, Kiwanis, Sertoma. Those groups are always looking for local businesspeople to come share their stories and how they are involved in the local community. Reach out to them to get on their calendar.

How will you tell your story? Of course, speaking engagements and one-on-one conversations are great. But you probably won’t be able to talk to everyone at one time so use other methods to share your story. Share it on social media. What do you do at the feed store on a daily basis? Did you go out to a customer’s ranch and take forage samples to send in? Document that with pictures to share on Facebook, Instagram or your business web site. People are interested. They have a desire to know what you are doing and how you do it. Explain the process. If you have customer newsletter, devote part of that to your story. Or work with your local paper to have a regular column in it to talk about agriculture and animal health – another great way to share what you are doing.

No, it isn’t always easy to talk about ourselves. And we might not think what we do on a daily basis matters. But remember, as a business you are one in 28 million. You have a story. Share it with those around you. You might be amazed at the positive feedback you receive.

How Employee Personality Profiles Can Save You Turnover Loss

If you’ve ever read the book, “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, you will understand getting the “right people in the right seats on the bus.” Companies don’t fail because they have bad employees, employees that aren’t trained properly or employees that don’t have the right personality. Companies fail because they don’t have the right people “in the right seats.” In other words, they have great employees, but perhaps they don’t have them in positions where they were meant to succeed.

Employee turnover is costly. There is no real way to measure it; you have the time and effort it takes to promote the vacant position, another employee has to fill in, resulting in decreased productivity; if the employee that left was one that others liked and respected, other employee morale could be down, also resulting in lowered performance or even causing others to leave their jobs. By the time you replace one employee that already understood your company culture and policies, recruit, hire and train a replacement employee, you are looking at spending thousands of dollars, and potentially having lost revenue due to losses in employee performance.

In his book, Collins talks about getting people in the positions that they are best suited for. Sometimes a company will hire someone on the premise that that person thinks they know their skill strengths, but they might not always realize their personality strengths and weaknesses. Although personality assessment does take time and money, the investment is typically one that pays off in the end and is less costly than employees leaving and having to recruit, hire and train.

At BioZyme, the employees took the Prism assessment. The results revealed insights into the employees “Emotional, Relational and Team Intelligence (ERT-i). This highly relevant and transformative data will provide you with critical information to impact your personal and professional performance, productivity and success.” In other words, the report likely told each individual things he or she already knew. However, it is an opportunity to let others within the company know more about how to work with each other and for supervisors to make sure they have the right people in the right seats on the bus.

Prism is just one of many assessments that companies can utilize. There are many options available at a variety of price points. Some come with further training while others provide a report and guidance on how to use that report.

So just how important is personality? As Virgin Mobile CEO Richard Branson put it, “Most skills can be learned, but it is difficult to train people on their personality.”

Let’s look at this example. For one Ohio-based company, taking a personality assessment helped its Human Resources and Management teams get people in the right positions. They discovered the person they had working the phones in a marketing customer support role was an extreme introvert. And while his degree was in marketing, he had a passion for graphic design. The company moved him into a design position where he could better use his talents and had no interaction with customers. He became very successful in his job. The same company discovered they had an employee who was very outgoing who hadn’t had the opportunity to talk to customers. They moved her into that customer support role, working on the phones. Not only did her career flourish, but customer satisfaction improved too.

Employee satisfaction and attrition go hand-in-hand. You can save the time and expense of employee turnover by making sure you have the right people in the right positions.

How Employee Strengths Help Serve Customers

Customers are the backbones of our businesses. They are the reasons we have a business, after all. And many customers are friends first or become good friends over time. They deserve the best when it comes to customer service, and you want to provide the best to them.

However, it might be that not every employee you have is programmed to provide the customer service your customers expect. And that is ok. Every person has some strength or strengths that make them a valuable part of your team, and it is important to evaluate those strengths, communicate those strengths to them in the form of affirmation and use those strengths to be an important part of your team.

Perhaps you have an employee that is impeccable at cleaning, stocking shelves and maintaining inventory, but finds conversation with others mundane or even uncomfortable. Keep that employee in the back to clean and stock, and only use for customer service if someone needs help loading product.

On the other hand, perhaps you’ve hired someone to load out product and stock shelves, that never can complete the assigned task because he or she is always talking to customers and making product recommendations. That person clearly needs to be in a customer service role. Typically, extroverts who enjoy helping others make great customer service reps.

But what does this have to do with overall customer satisfaction? Employees who are doing what they are good at, show up and are engaged and will provide better service. Better service leads to increased customer satisfaction.

According to an article by Stuart Hearn on www.brandquarterly.com: “A 2016 Gallup poll showed that strength-based companies enjoy more profit, better sales, and higher levels of customer engagement. In large part, this is due to the fact that when employees feel positive about their performance, and they are able to work to their strengths, they feel more engaged, and are therefore more passionate about their company and their work. They’re also more invested, meaning they go that extra mile to ensure customers have a great experience. Employee engagement has been termed the ‘wonder drug for customer satisfaction,’ so every time you emphasize strengths in your employees, you should remember the domino effect it creates.”

It all goes back to getting the right people in the right positions. Capitalize on employee strengths to make sure your customers have the best service around. Customers can go anywhere to buy feed and mineral, but make sure they are coming back to your business to get the best customer service that they deserve!

“Snack & Savings” Get Mineral Message to Farmers

Nebraska ranks second in the nation in total cow-calf production, only behind Texas. However, when late spring and early summer roll around, most farmers and ranchers have just one thing on their minds – planting and irrigating crops. Taylor Ruether, Area Sales Manager for Nebraska, was working with a few of her dealers to come up with an innovative way to get in front of farmers during their busy season, when the “Snack & Savings” approach was created.

“One dealership gave me the idea to do this, because I was wanting to work with him, and he kept saying, ‘It’s farming season, you can’t catch any body right now.’ So, I was trying to come up with a way to get in front of farmers during their busy season,” Ruether said.

Snack & Savings gave Ruether and her dealers the opportunity to get in front of farmers – bringing them either a sack lunch that included a sandwich, chips and a drink, or a mid-afternoon snack of a cold-drink and either a bag of chips or a candy bar. Included with the snack was a product guide and a coupon for any VitaFerm® product.

Ruether made this opportunity available to any of her dealers who wanted to set up appointments to meet with customers and potential customers. She had a couple of dealers who really grasped the concept and spent a couple of days with a cooler of water and sodas and met with farmers to remind them about summer mineral programs.

“We felt like it was a good way to give back to farmers when they are crazy and hectic, and it did get most of them to stop and talk to us, even if it was just to remind them about BioZyme. No one usually turns down a pop and a bag of chips. The beautiful thing about this promotion is, if someone didn’t use the coupon, it didn’t really cost anything,” she said.

The Snack & Savings trips were a good investment in time. Ruether said that dealers did make some Sure Champ® Extreme and VitaFerm® HEAT® sales while talking to the famers. Follow-up appointments have resulted in interest in the VitaFerm® Gain Smart® program.

Ruether will work with her dealers again on similar promotions and marketing efforts, taking the message to the customers. She feels the efforts are worthwhile and she will encourage more dealer involvement. She also learned that chips are the preferred snack over candy bars.

“Anytime you do stuff like this, the more people expect it, and the better response you have. We’ve had some follow-up, and that was worth our time and effort,” she said.