I had coffee with Tony a few weeks ago and went over a bunch of things related to his business.  We laughed and talked about how he is able to transition from his everyday life as a concrete contractor to switching gears and being the president of a charitable organization which raises funds to help sick kids.  Luckily we sat in the back of the coffee place otherwise we probably would have been kicked out for laughing so hard!

We talked about sports, his kids, and marketing techniques – a topic which we always seem to come around to in our conversations.  In his case we discussed how he can be seen as more than just performing “decorative” concrete services like:

  • stamped
  • stained
  • acid staining
  • vertical concrete
  • patio overlays
  • patio decks
  • etc.

He also does the traditional concrete services like driveway installation, sidewalk repair, retaining walls, etc.  We talked about various ways to reach homeowners to keep his name in their phones whenever they need anything to do with concrete in the Dallas Fort Worth area.

We talked about direct mail and some of its nuances, social media, using the online classified ads, local promotions around town, press releases, advertising in local magazines and much more.  It was an interesting conversation, and since it was later in the day I am glad that it was at a coffee shop.  That way we were able to stay “fueled” into the evening!

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Car Repair Marketing

I had coffee and a bite to eat a few weeks ago with friends who run and manage an auto repair shop.  Of interest is the fact that they have a unique marketing challenge which, at first, doesn’t seem to be so bad.  That is the fact that the location of the repair shop is offset from the main road and there is minimal signage.

They said that they were losing first-time customers to a small extent

This seems to be a common problem with many shops of this nature around the country, not just in the auto repair industry.  We discussed some solutions to their problem, including these:

  • Paid Facebook ads which go to a page on their website showing the Maps location plus a description of where the shop is located
  • The same as above using Google ads
  • Participating on local forums with a link to the same page you were sending the paid traffic posted in your signature file
  • Create YouTube videos with the location of the sign from the street view; and then sending the first-time callers the link to the YouTube video so that they have it on their phones
  • Customer referral programs where family & friends can tell people how to find the location
  • Press release services which permit the inclusion of a map
  • Making sure that they are on GPS and other location-specific directory websites

Let us know your thoughts about this situation and how you may have handled it in your area. Thanks!

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Photos On Business Cards

If you spend enough time at a coffee shop you often will see business cards exchanged.  Whether it is colleagues meeting with clients, old friends reuniting, people meeting for dates or any other reason you will see business cards being swapped.  What most people don’t realize is that sometimes other people are listening in on a conversation and ask the person who received the business card to get the phone number because he/she is interested in following up with that person as well.

The trick is to get a business card which stands out enough to motivate the person to want to contact you later on.  With all of the emphasis today on social media, interactive chat features, getting people to watch a video, etc. that a business card can get “cluttered” quickly.  Even experts in high volume discount business card printing lament the need for more information on a business card today rather than focusing on design and aesthetics.

For example, it used to be that a phone number, physical address and e-mail address were all that was necessary.  That left room for larger logos, nice artwork or even a corporate head shot photo.   Also, professionals whose business it was to sell aesthetics and appearance, such as an interior designer, often had before/after photos on their business cards.  This is still a good idea; but it may be pushed to the “next step” in engagement with the business card.  What this means is that after being handed a business card – such as at the coffee shop – is that the recipient may be asked on the card to scan the QR code to watch a video about the person named on the card.  It is at this point where the aesthetics and appearance can begin to come into play.

Talk with a local expert in high quality business cards to get more ideas on how yours should stand out.  Of course, if you need certain items on the card for compliance reasons (such as a professional designation or professional license mention) then you must do that to remain compliant with your local, state and/or national regulatory bodies.

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Steve’s Friends

Steve is a fun guy and always has a great attitude.  We often get together for coffee near the Galleria in the North Dallas area; and we go over ideas for our respective businesses.  His has a huge emphasis on using advanced technology for branding and artistic purposes on a larger scale.  Whether it is a corporation looking to use RFID technology in new ways, such as a beer company using the technology to embed inside a beer glass so information is exchange when patrons clink glasses in celebration, all the way to a museum needing new ideas to be interactive on large format video walls.

His friends are also interesting, even if not in as exciting professions.  For example one of his friends is based in the Lakewood Dallas area and performs pediatric eye exams as well as all sorts of vision services for teenagers and adults.  They offer lots of help to the elderly and others who have had challenges with previous vision service providers in the area.

If you get a chance to have coffee with Steve and his friends then enjoy the opportunity.  Whether it is at a Starbucks, independent coffee shop in the Uptown area of Dallas, a coffee section at a bookstore or elsewhere be sure to share some stories.  He and his friends have a wide range of unique adventures from all over the world, including high tech trade shows all the way to African safaris.  That diversity usually leads to funny tales and ones which make the time fly by quickly.

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Angie And George

Angie and George operate two fitness-oriented studios next door to each other in Irving; but they have completely opposite target audiences!  For example, Angie’s studio focuses on Zumba, Pilates, yoga and PIYO.  George’s gym, however, focuses on MMA and boxing training.  One is focused on more passive, low-intensity, gentle exercise and promoted to be as pain-free as possible; and the other is focused on explosive, combat-style high-intensity exercise which emphasizes taking and giving pain!

Of interest when you talk with both of them, however, is the common ground they have for their businesses.  They both need similar things to succeed from a business standpoint, even being right next door to each other:

  • both need new clients/trainees to come in the door
  • both need robust, functioning websites
  • both need to pay for online advertising within a defined radius
  • both need to have insurance to cover their clients
  • each has unique revenue streams, ideally recurring (such as monthly memberships)
  • each does a form of one-on-one personal training (or coaching)
  • both have high-level amateur backgrounds (Angie w/ figure & fitness competitions and George with international boxing)

When you get to common ground, it is fascinating to see two diametrically opposed business target audiences share such common interests.  When we get together, the conversations may start in the areas of each person’s specialty; but the conversation ultimately will get to where business growth and giving more value to the client comes up.  If you ever get a chance to have coffee with them then have fun talking about either side of their respective businesses as each one has a fascinating athletic background.

Here are some videos from each person:

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I was having coffee with James a few weeks ago and we were talking about his business.  We were talking about advanced ways to generate leads in the local area, but also being able to “scale” so that he could expand his business town by town across the DFW region.  It is interesting because his business is one of the ones which is needed in every large city and small town, that being drain cleaning and sewer cleaning and the adjunct services.  No matter where you live, a backed up drain or sewer can cause significant problems.

We were discussing several ways that anyone, sitting anywhere in front of internet-connected computer can get his/her message in front of people in a specific town.  Additionally, we talked about what people trust and will at least consider a medium which could lead someone to making a phone call.  Here are some of the ones which we believe that can be accessed by both businesses as well as their prospective customers in any small town across the country:

  • Facebook (usually paid ads)
  • Twitter (sponsored posts/tweets)
  • Search engines (organic)
  • Search engines (paid)
  • Online classifieds (Craigslist, etc.)
  • Print magazines, especially part of a network
  • Newspaper advertising (print or online)
  • YouTube

Feel free to contribute your thoughts on which media make sense, plus ways to give the local business wishing to expand the following:

  • control of how much is spent
  • tracking elements
  • ability to “split test” ads


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Antique Restoration

An interesting guy to talk with is Blue.  He runs a family business dealing with refinishing and repairing furniture and upholstery out of a Terrell Texas location.

Over coffee he was telling me about some of the interesting aspects of what is done in the business.  For example, he once was doing work for someone on a Longview Texas antique restoration project.  He came to find out some fascinating history about the family and some of the people who had either owned or used the furniture.

Like certain watches and jewelry, antique furniture is one of the few heirlooms that can be used (or worn) everyday that has emotional ties to one’s family that has since passed on.  While certain physical possessions that get passed down to the next generation, the current family may wish to preserve the appearance and function of the item; and many often wish to pass it onto their children and grandchildren.

This creates demand to keep these rare valuable items in the hands of repair & restoration professionals who understand the emotional ties people have.  Since so little can be seen to one’s ancestors these possessions need to be respected, and Blue was telling some other great stories about pieces on which he worked.

Here is one of his videos:

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David is one of those guys who you think could actually make grass grow on a concrete cinder block!  He simply has the knack for making a dead lawn or property come “back to life” regarding its look.  Whether he removes vegetation that hinders a lawn from looking great, or if he helps a homeowner plan ahead so that he/she is one step ahead of nature so that the lawn looks great year round, David just understands what it takes.

We were having coffee one day and he was talking about what it takes to boost the look of a commercial property, such as an office park or retail shopping center.  While the conversation was focused primarily on the elements he controls – grass, trees, etc. – he was able to talk about other factors like how the grade of concrete casts a certain color; and then he talked about how that color creates a certain color appearance depending on the type of grass and trees which are on the property.

He also talked about the differences between nearby towns such as elevation, temperature differences, soil quality differences (even within only 5-10 miles between locations), etc.  In all it was pretty fascinating to learn about what many people often take for granted when driving around town or going to the office.

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Ginnie is fun to have coffee with!  She is hysterical and brings a cool demeanor that is tough to find in a competitive urban environment like Dallas.  She is a wonderful mom and is conscientious about her work for selling lakefront property in Texas and Alabama.  Here is a helpful article about her industry:

If you wish to have a vacation home or getaway house in Alabama then you know that you have many choices.  You can select a cabin in the woods, a condo or maybe a regular home in a great community.  One extra choice to consider could be a lakefront property.  The benefits of lake lots and lake cabins on the market may make it beneficial to spend more hours to pursue.

First, you might have year-round entertainment constructed into the neighborhood.  Whether you need the property yourself, all your family members or even your clients and friends you can preserve everyone entertained 12 months a year.  For example, through the spring and summer you generally will have boating, swimming, fishing along with other lake activities.  This need to keep your guests happy without having to leave the neighborhood.  During the cooler months you still will have some lake activities along with likely hiking trails.  If you select a lake lot in a planned community you also likely will feature a community recreation building, children’s pool, hot tub and also other amenities within short distance.

Additionally, lakefront property in Alabama may offer you additional benefits.  If you like college sports or other high-attendance events inside state you will know hotels and restaurants can get rather expensive.  Having your own personal property may offer you the previous benefits plus close proximity to the activity happening in the city.  For example if you like attending college sports games it is possible to stay at your lakefront property and entertain friends and family before the event.  That way you can have some privacy while still having a social life.

Finally, some people seek the serenity around the lake.  If you might have to travel a bit to your waterfront property then the house can provide you some long overdue tranquility rather than being in a hotel room or high-traffic neighborhood.  In addition for the mentioned fishing, swimming and recreation centers you also can relax and unwind while still being fairly nearby to any amenities needed for example shopping and entertainment.  Having this option can provide you both worlds as well as a property that has the possibility for price increase, friend and family relaxation as well as other justifications.

Hopefully these ideas are enough for you to consider the choice of choosing one of the available lake lots for sale in Alabama where to build a property or an already existing lakefront property.  If the choice seems interesting to you then take time to explore the options which help you the most.  Be guaranteed to choose lake properties which can be ready for electricity, water and the same features you’ll want in any home you buy.  Also select those which address issues about the lake itself, boat docks, recreation center facility upkeep along with other aspects you’d probably like to have occur for almost any vacation property you are considering buying.

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Software For Trading

There was previously a stock trading software company that had its primary U.S. operations operating out of Dallas.  Some of the operations comes back on the Dallas area, but here are a few of its main benefits in comparison with some of the stock trading platforms you might have seen on television commercials in recent years.

First, the charting was pretty advanced for the time.  In a company like intraday trading, accuracy on the fourth decimal point is definitely important.  The stock trading indicators included in the charting program were accurate compared to that degree or more. It gave its users a slight competitive edge over other platforms.  Another charting benefit was that the woking platform blended order execution capabililty together with charting in the same package.  Many stock investing ordering software platforms require third-party charting packages, and often the integration has a slight degree of lag time.  In a small business where developing tweaking one’s competitive edges are imperative deficiency of a lag time turned out to be beneficial to some users.

From there, the program platform permitted the trading of equities, options and electronically traded commodities for example the E-mini futures contracts through the CME and the CBOT.  This is different as many firms have different platforms for each and every type of investment vehicle.  The intraday profit and loss, and all in the associated metrics, were easily calculated together in one configurable window.

Third, another thing which made the woking platform unique was its capability to be translated into different languages.  With the exception in the ticker symbols and a few other fields, the entire front end platform was at 10+ languages.  This allowed trading firms with global locations to possess a common platform to talk about for order execution and charts for entry and exit timing.

Finally, the program had a back end risk management system.  That piece of software permitted the trading desk or perhaps the supervisory broker to maintain traders from getting themselves into too much risk, per their very own definitions.  Much being a football coach has to channel the aggressiveness of some of his players, the risk manager could act being a coach to help keep a trader’s aggressiveness focused and make him or her out of a lot of trouble.

The technology was recently acquired and is now under the management of David W. SchamensHe is a longtime pro with the investment and financial industry.

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