Dave Masterson's thoughts on technology happenings, personal experiences, travels, work, fun, etc.

Monday
Oct202008

It worked!

CEO Ray delivers more than just English!Our Euro Expo was a success. The attendees left refreshed and renewed, the suppliers gained potential new clients, and I saw a plan come together.  This idea of having an expo for the franchisees of Master Partners that have possibly never met our senior staff or been through our training was a stretch in my mind.  Usually, we can advise and inspire franchisees at these events because we know them and they know us.  We have proven ourselves in the early stages of their business and as they have matured.  This was different.  Or so I thought...

Our best idea came in supplying the Master Partners from each country attending with our presentation slides and materials before the event.  They in turn, translated the words and brought laptops with them to the conference.  As our speakers delivered material from the stage, attendees could listen and watch in English or follow along in their language courtesy of their Master Partner, who did the slide translation as well as spoken translation at each of the tables.  I have included two pictures of this underway in our sessions.  I think and heard from the franchisees that this worked very well.


Translations were provided by the Master Partners

The Awards Ceremony was done in a unique fashion, each Master Partner was given the opportunity to come to the stage and give their country's respective awards, in the language of their choice.  This was very well done by our Masters, they enjoyed being on the stage in front of their people at such an important event.  It helped us, too, because we aren't experts at the proper pronounciation of the names of all of the franchisees that hail from other countries.  We may be close, but there's nothing like a native tongue to say it correctly, especially when it counts for a nice award or recognition.  This was also a highlight for me...

 

Some portions of the expo did not need translation - our dress up "Rock to the Top" dinner was a good deal of fun, and with excellent participation!  Whoever said (and I definitely heard it...) that the European franchisees wouldn't get "dressed up" was way off on their guess - we saw some great costumes and had many requests for a similar event at Las Vegas World Expo next July.  We'll see how that fits into the planning.

Our next Euro Expo heads to Paris, the announcement was made by Jim Tatem on the final night.  That will bring even more franchisees in attendance, partially because of its proximity and ease of getting into.  More importantly, the news of the success of this past event in Zurich will spread.  Our franchisees from South Africa came.  Ireland, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Germany, UK, Romania, Albania were all represented and joined us. It was a good push for some franchisees in a new direction, for others a nudge back on track. And for me a chance to visit with great folks, meet new people, and help them in their stores. See why this works for everyone?

-dm

Friday
Oct032008

Parlez vous anything 4 me?


Roughly, and I mean WAY roughly, the above title translates into "Do you speak anything that I know or can use?"  Some French, some English, some "txt speak".  Which is how I'm feeling heading into our company's first Euro Expo on mainland European soil.  All previous conferences have been in the UK, where our stores have been concentrated.  Today, we have more stores with our two brands, SIGNARAMA and EmbroidMe outside of the UK than within, so our expo will be in Zurich.  I've never been to Switzerland before, so I'll be my usual tourist self and have a bunch of video (via Flip Cam) and pictures of it all. This I'm excited about.

For the first time, we'll be presenting and holding a conference for franchisees that may not speak English.  We have prepared by sending our Master Franchisors all of our presentations with designs on having them translate them into the mother tongue of their country, and have them available at their tables for viewing live as we speak.  We did this in a limited manner at our last World Expo in Orlando, but this time we are expecting 17 countries to attend.  There will be franchisees in the audience that never came to our US training center prior to starting their business. They might not know who our CEO Ray is, who our Brand Presidents Jim & Mark are, or who I am - other than seeing our photos in brochures or our quarterly magazines.  It's odd to think that I have to convey the same message as I did in Australia, at the same type of conference with the same theme, to an audience that meets me for the first time.  In Australia, I have been to all 10 of their expos since 1998.  They get me.  I've done all UK and Euro Expos to date - always with our franchisees as attendees. People who though their experiences had seen me before, heard me before, and came with some confidence that what I deliver I am qualified to deliver.  Is this making sense?

I have really good information for the franchisees this year, I've put a good deal of time doing research to bring new concepts to them that I believe can impact their businesses. I will do the same presentations as in Brisbane.  I will share the same experiences at breakfasts, lunches and dinners with our franchisees.  I may tone down the jokes, I only know English punch lines!  I'll even wear a similar costume for dress up night - a party themed dinner where we have fun and appreciate our suppliers.  We have a long history of doing franchisee conferences and meetings.  This will add to that history, knowing there's only one "first ever".  And I'll report back how it goes...

-dm

Zurich, Switzerland
Thursday
Sep252008

Scramblin' in the bumpy economy

 

Has anyone else noticed? I am, as of late, besieged with telemarketing calls.  People are calling WAY more than usual with surveys they feel I should help them with, important product release news I have to hear, and most of all, sales calls.  Now I'll admit, working here at our corporate office, I do get a fair share of solicitation calls each week.  It used to be copier salespeople looking for that very valuable person that could change everything "Xerox" in the office to "Lanier" or "Mita" or "Konica".  This person I am not!  Or ink jet cartridge refills, which over the course of a small dog's lifetime, could save us plenty.  Not me, either. But lately, let's say the last 45 days, it has really picked up.

I routinely get calls from people in telemarketing call centers (I know this because I hear many others in the background reciting similar sales speeches) looking to speak with a Mr. Masters, Mr. Matterson, Mr. Matherson, or "Dave,  I'm Joe from Admiral Systems Realty Performance Investment Labs and Cereal company, remember me?"  Like I've spoken to them before!  Rule of thumb - If you can't properly pronounce my last name, you're on thin ice with the call.  It's pretty basic, MAST-ER-SON, you know, consonants at the front and back, not too many vowels in the middle of last name. So what's up?  Past that, they are aggressively pushing to book an appointment with me to see their salespeople.  I learn that the caller will not be present at the appointment, good thing, for the most part they stumble through the sales pitch to begin with. So I'm still there on the line and I learn astonishing news... someone will be in my area next week, and can fit me in to their busy schedule... Oh fortunate me. I don't end up scheduling appointments with most of these callers, because the subject matter doesn't apply OR we're well covered in this area.  Believe this, I do not burn off all telemarketers, some have pertinent products and have turned into relevant suppliers for us and our franchisees.  What I am saying, is this...

In  what are being billed as "tougher than usual economic times", many businesses are cracking under the pressure.  I hear of layoffs, cutbacks, and special measures being made to curb both spending and efforts to grow.  But the better businesses are leaning into the pain and trying harder.  They are putting forth a LARGER sales & marketing effort.  The wind blows directly in their face, yet they pour more coal into the fire to gain market share as their competitors wane. Or worse, their competitors do nothing and watch opportunity slip away.  The forward-thinking businesses in today's climate have saved for this rainy day, now they call in their reserves to pounce, while most shiver.  So in some ways I applaud the telemarketers I encounter, they are picking up their efforts to stay ahead or delay falling behind - both are commendable!  Our franchisees sell products and services that do exactly this - because branded apparel, signs, graphics, outdoor advertising, meetings and conferences all look to BUILD and GROW other company's businesses.  In our businesses, we are uniquely positioned to help.  That is, if you are ready.  If you have not folded under the news that things aren't as they should be on Wall St.  If you believe you can.  You are in control of your destiny, hint - that's why you purchased your own business! 

So what are you doing to aggressively promote your products and services in the bumpy economy?

- dm

Friday
Sep192008

Uno

Rock to the Top!So this is it, the first post.  Since visiting Australia for our annual franchisee conference, I have been excited to start and maintain a blog.  Not that everyone will be enthralled with what I'm thinking, but some might care to read, comment and interact. That's what this is about.  If this forum allows friends, coworkers and business associates to level out and contribute to the dialogue and it grows, we all win.  As I pointed out in my Web 2.0 session during our "Rock to the Top" expos,

           

           None of us are as smart as ALL of us!

 

Let's start with this premise.  I like to write, and this will be WAY more frequently updated than the quarterly Bits 'N Bytes article for the franchisee magazine. I can dabble with the status of projects and upcoming releases.  Really exciting will be reporting back to everyone about trade show findings and announcements, while I'm sitting at the show!  I'll also be posting updates to a twitter account for more elementary blasts of news & info. (Visit my twitter page).  Be forewarned, the twitter thing is full of trivial happenings, what I may have eaten for lunch, local weather today wherever I am, etc.  But it's part of the social networking fabric, this "keep everyone in your circle of influence in tune with what you're doing" mindset, so I expect to keep it fluid and populated with current happenings.  Try it out if you like, you can become a follower of my twitter feed and you'll get all of my updates sent to your twitter page - which is free to join... twitter signup 

Remember the very first email you ever sent?  I don't remember mine.  But this may someday be just as significant - my first blog entry.  I promise they'll get better content-wise than this.  And I'll always look to write what I see and feel, not just report the facts otherwise you'd be reading wikipedia. Minus most of that cavernous knowledge!

-dm

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