The Oakland County area has an abundance of opportunities for existing businesses and new ventures.
When the going gets rough, the entrepreneurial spirit gets creative and resourceful.
The Oakland Press has gathered upcoming events, news and links to help business owners and professionals succeed.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Workshops aid business startups

SCORE workshops help small businesses get started
In a four-part workshop series for small businesses and entrepreneurs, Detroit SCORE Chapter 18 presents “The Business Plan” series for September.
All workshops start at 8:45 a.m. and end at noon at the Southfield Parks & Recreation facility, 26000 Evergreen Road, second floor, Southfield.
Business Plan 101: Creating Your Business Plan(s)” will be Sept. 5. This provides the necessary first steps in the organization and research needed for the entrepreneur’s unique business opportunity.
Business Plan 102: Marketing, Promotion and Sales” will be Sept. 13. The program uses the “four C’s” approach for creating a successful marketing plan.
“Business Plan 103: Business Plan Financials and Budgeting” is Sept. 19. Attendees will be introduced to Break-Even analysis and instructed in how to use SCORE’s financials template, using a case study approach to describe startup costs and the three main financial statements. Electronic versions of the template are included.
“Business Plan 104: Writing a Successful Plan” completes the series on Sept. 26. This workshop includes instructions and helpful hints on how to write a successful business plan for commercial loan or micro-loan applications, or private capital solicitation.
Visit www.detroit.score.org or call 313-226-7947 to register. The series costs $125. Veterans can get a coupon that pays for the program. Workshops also may be taken individually. Visit www.detroit.score.org for pricing and registration.

Oakland County Business Center offers workshops for entrepreneurs
Business owners and entrepreneurs who need assistance are encouraged to attend seminars offered by the Oakland County One Stop Shop Business Center. The programs take place at the Oakland County Executive Office Building Conference Center, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road in Waterford. For pre-registration and more information, visit www.AdvantageOakland.com/expand or call 248-858-0783.
Michigan Get Your Business Online is offered 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. or 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5. Michigan businesses can get free tools and resources to establish a website, find new customers and grow their businesses, with Google’s “Get Your Business Online Workshop.” Google is partnering with Intuit to provide easy-to-build websites, a customized domain name and web-hosting for one year. Participating Michigan businesses will also receive a listing on Google Maps. This workshop is free, but pre-registration is required.
Michigan Grow Your Business Online is offered 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. or 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5. Michigan-established businesses can learn more about Google’s top tools for small businesses, including Google Places, Google AdWords, Google Analytics, and Google Apps. Learn the basics of how other people find your business online, with methods like search engine optimization (SEO), web analytics and more. This workshop is free, but pre-registration is required.
Small Business Loan Workshop is 9 a.m. to noon, Thursday, Sept. 6. Getting a small business loan can be a challenging process. Learn the "5 C's of Credit," how to develop a winning loan proposal and what you need to know to position your business to be "bankable" before you meet with a lender. Presented by The Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Oakland County One Stop Shop Business Center. The cost is $20.
Oakland County Venture Forward is 8:30 to 11:30 a.m., Sept. 7 - Nov. 16. An 11-week program designed for owners, CEOs and top management team members of businesses with at least two years of operating experience, 6 to 99 full time employees (W2s) and between $750K to $50 million in annual revenue. Venture Forward is normally $800 per participant, but due to sponsor support is is reduced to $299.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Job fair is Thursday in Dearborn

A “Hired In Detroit” Job Fair sponsored by JobFairGiant.com is 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 30 at the Doubletree Hotel-Dearborn, 5801 Southfield Service Drive, Dearborn. Participating employers will hire in the following industries: Engineering, Manufacturing, Sales, Finance, Customer Service, Management, Retail, Information Technology, Machining, Restaurant, Medical and many other great industries. The Hired In Detroit job fair is held to promote hiring in Michigan over 50 companies are ready to interview and hire candidates for over 750 positions. For more information, visit www.JobFairGiant.com

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Cold calls: Not just for sales

Cold calls, or calling strangers, is daunting whether it be to apply for a job or to sell a product or conduct a survey.
Everybody that gets telemarketer calls knows how aggravating it is to get calls from someone who wants them to buy or do something.
So when you're the caller, how do you approach it?
First, know your audience.
If you're calling for a job, use Google to find out about the company.
If you are calling all homeowners, think about how you would use the product at your house.
It may sound corny, but write a short script, and memorize it. Then keep it in front of you, along with notes with responses for typical questions they may ask. 
Start out by stating your name, company and why you're calling. Say it slow enough so that they at least can process the reason you're calling.
Don't ask questions they can say no to, easily, like "May I take a moment of your time?" 
You don't need to ask, "How are you today?'"
Try to keep the script in memory, but be ready for interruptions. 
Remember to step outside of what you want and think about what they may want and how you can help.
Ask for action, or direction if they are not the right person. Then you can say something like, "Thank you for your time, good-bye."


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Retailers: 7 hard truths about customers

Submitted by Dottie DeHart, DeHart & Company Public Relations, DeHartandcompany.com/

Every retailer spends a good portion of his day trying to figure out how best to serve his customers. But frankly, customers and their motivations can throw even the best retailers for a loop. Retail expert Chip Averwater lays out a few customer truths that retailers don’t want to admit. —“The customer is always right” is a mantra that business owners hear over and over again. Of course, anyone who has ever worked in retail knows this way of thinking doesn’t always hold water. In fact, sometimes customers are just plain wrong. They misunderstand products, what a store can do, how business is done, what pricing is realistic, and so on. But, says retail expert and author Chip Averwater, if you don’t want your retail store to join the estimated 95 percent of failed ventures, you’d better figure out quickly that even when the customer is wrong, he’s right.

1. Retail doesn’t get rave reviews. Sometimes the truth hurts. Take this one, for example: Most shoppers agree that the typical retail experience isn’t good. Many say they hate to shop—stores are crowded, parking is distant, help is rarely available, lines are long, salespeople don’t know the products…the list goes on. So considering the army of talented businesspeople focused on it, why can’t retail rate better satisfaction? “One theory is that consumers experience retailing almost daily and become highly discriminating in their standards,” shares Averwater.
2. Be-backs don’t come back. “I’ll be back later to purchase this!” When a rookie hears these words, he congratulates himself on a future sale. But a more experienced retailer knows that a sale has just walked out the door, probably for good. According to Averwater, “I’ll be back” is something customers say to extricate themselves from the situation without disappointing the salesperson. Even those customers who believe they’ll come back seldom do; they get distracted, lose their motivation, find other options, or simply procrastinate.“When a customer says she’ll be back or asks for a card, you should ask if you’ve shown her the correct product, answered her questions, and provided enough information,” Averwater recommends. “If she answers yes, she’ll typically say she just needs to think about it, which translates as, ‘I’m not convinced that this is the right product or best price.’ If the customer is receptive to further discussion, keep asking questions and providing information. And if she is finished with the conversation, offer to send her some literature, collect some additional information for her, or call her if the product goes on sale. With persistence, maybe you’ll convince your be-back to come back.”
3. Happy customers come and go; unhappy customers accumulate. Except for the (possible) small percentage of loyal die-hard customers you might have, your happy customers aren’t necessarily customers for life. The truth is, satisfied customers might do business with you again since you’ve proven yourself to be a trustworthy source, but you’re still only one of many. However, dissatisfied customers have longer memories and look for opportunities to warn others away. They’re expensive enemies to have “I’ve learned that it’s usually worthwhile to actively look for unhappy customers, open a dialog, and try to make up with them,” Averwater shares. “Often, a little attention turns them into equally vocal advocates. And wouldn’t you rather have one of those instead of a critic?”
4. Complaints are signs our customers want us to do better. No retailer likes to receive complaints, so it’s tempting to write them off as flukes or as feedback from people who are just determined to be unhappy. But here’s the cold, hard truth: When a customer complains, it often means many others feel the same way but don’t bother to tell us—instead they take their business elsewhere. Consequently, one complaint represents an opportunity to improve service to all of your customers.“You should welcome those few customers who take the initiative to tell you what needs improvement,” Averwater urges.
5. Low prices won’t excuse poor service. Whether consciously or subconsciously, most shoppers recognize the realities of price/service trade-offs—they can have low prices or they can have good service, but not both. After all, great service in retailing isn’t a secret formula—it’s mostly a matter of the quantity and quality of a retailer’s employees.“I think we can all agree that every retailer would improve service by hiring more and better people…if price competition didn’t constrain expenses,” points out Averwater. “But since we don’t live in a perfect world, retailers must find a balance between service and price that appeals to customers. Sometimes a cheaper price with lower service works out, but often it leads to disappointment and dissatisfaction. So here’s the bottom line: Never believe the rationalization that poor service doesn’t matter if your prices are low enough.”
6. “Take it back where you bought it” alienates customers. Occasionally, you’ll encounter a customer who asks for help with a product he purchased elsewhere. Especially if “elsewhere” happens to be a troublesome competitor, it’s tempting to rub the customer’s “mistake” in: “Why don’t you take it back to them?” “Don’t they know how to operate it?” “Can’t they fix it?” “Now you see why their price is lower.” “In this situation, accept that the previous deal is done,” advises Averwater. “At issue now is who gets the next one. Realize that the customer is coming to you because he is unhappy with the competitor’s transaction. Do we really want to send him—as well as his money and possible future patronage—back?”
7. You don’t see your competitors’ happy customers. Inevitably, you’ll encounter a customer who comes to you because she is dissatisfied with the competition. At this point, you’ll be tempted to assume that this customer is representative of everyone who does business with your competitor. However, Averwater reminds us that the complaints we hear about our competition aren’t a balanced picture. Only their dissatisfied customers come see you; their satisfied customers have bought, are happy, and have no reason to be in your store.

About the Author:
Chip Averwater is a third generation retailer and chairman of Amro Music Stores in Memphis, TN. He has been a featured speaker on retailing in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Australia. He is the author of Retail Truths: The Unconventional Wisdom of Retailing (ABB Press, 2012, ISBN: 978-0-9839790-7-4, $19.95).

For more information, visit www.retailtruths.com.


About the Book:
Retail Truths: The Unconventional Wisdom of Retailing (ABB Press, 2012, ISBN: 978-0-9839790-7-4, $19.95) is available at bookstores nationwide and all major online booksellers.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Business events

To post your events on The Oakland Press website, visit http://www.theoaklandpress.com/calendar/

Aug. 16
The Madison Heights Chamber of Commerce is hosting a ribbon cutting at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 16 ribbon cutting for Sushi Gallery, 1449 W. 14 Mile Road, Madison Heights, on 14 Mile between Stephenson Hwy and North Campbell Road. The restaurant, which opened recently, serves sushi and traditional Korean dishes such as Korean Barbecue. For more information, call the restaurant at 248-291-5987.

Aug. 16
Fundamentals of Writing a Business Plan, 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 16 at the Oakland County Executive Office Building Conference Center, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road in Waterford Township. For small business owners who are developing their plan for success. The fee is $40. For registration, visit www.AdvantageOakland.com or call 248-858-0783.

Aug. 16
Wayne State University’s School of Business Administration will host a panel discussion, 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 16, at MotorCity Casino Hotel for industry professionals interested in learning about key pricing challenges facing businesses. As part of the 14th Annual Pricing Conference, four senior business executives with deep pricing expertise will share their knowledge in this special breakout session of the academic conference.
For more information, visit media.wayne.edu/2012/08/01/wayne-state-school-of-business-to-host.

Aug. 16
The Aug. 16 monthly meeting of Community Organization Resource Exchange, (C.O.R.E.) will be held 8 to 9:30 a.m. at the Rochester Hills Public Library located at 500 Olde Town, in downtown Rochester. Featured speaker, Donna Murray- Brown serves as Senior Director, Capacity Building and Director of Metro Detroit Partnership of Michigan Nonprofit Association. Call 248-656-3558 for reservations.

Aug. 21
The Business Performance 2.0 Series meets the third Tuesday of each month to discuss topics related to business ownership. The next seminar is “Creating a Healthy, High Performing Team” presented by Sue Emery of Emery Benefit Solutions LLC and Driving Organizations to Excellence with Metrics Presented by Spencer Silk of Franklin CIO Services. It is 4 to 6 p.m., Aug, 21 at the Birmingham Tower, 280 N. Old Woodward, LL Conference Room, Birmingham. Register at bizimpteam.com/events or call 248-641-8400.

Aug. 23
Shereena Monique Osai, a personal shopper and fashion stylist, teaches about professional dress, 7 to 8:30 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 23. The class is at the Community House, 380 South Bates Street, Birmingham. Osai holds a fashion design degree from Wayne State University and has several years experience working at Saks Fifth Avenue. The cost for the workshop is $34. To register, contact 248-644-5832 or visit www.tchserves.org.

Aug. 23
“Reaching for the Clouds: What Every Small Business Should Consider” seminar will be held 8:30 to 11 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 23 at Automation Alley Headquarters, 2675 Bellingham, Troy. Companies that have successfully moved to the cloud will provide insights, and an experienced panel will be present to answer your questions. Cost for registered members is $20; at the door $30; Registered non-members is $40; at the door $50. For information, contact the Automation Alley Resource Center at 800-427-5100 or visit www.automationalley.com.

Aug. 25
Coventry Creations 2355 Wolcott, Ferndale's own candle factory is celebrating 20 years in business from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 25 with an open house, a ribbon-cutting ceremony, workshops, a candle making craft table and shopping. For information, call 248-545-8360 or visit www.coventrycreations.com.

Aug. 30
A “Hired In Detroit” Job Fair sponsored by JobFairGiant.com is 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 30 at the Doubletree Hotel-Dearborn, 5801 Southfield Service Drive, Dearborn. Participating employers will hire in the following industries: Engineering, Manufacturing, Sales, Finance, Customer Service, Management, Retail, Information Technology, Machining, Restaurant, Medical and many other great industries. The Hired In Detroit job fair is held to promote hiring in Michigan over 50 companies are ready to interview and hire candidates for over 750 positions. Businesses interested in registering for job fair should contact Diane Wells at 734-956-4550. For more information, visit www.JobFairGiant.com.

Aug. 30
Elise BeautiFULL is introducing its new national spokesperson, celebrity and actress Lonette McKee who was featured in the original film, "Sparkle." McKee joins Elise BeautiFULL for the introduction of its cosmetic line, eb Cosmetic Thursday, Aug. 30 at 336 South Main, Rochester.
The event features jazz musician David Myles. VIP guests can enter at 6 p.m. for signature drink toasts, photos and a VIP meet and great with McKee. VIP Guests will also have the first look at the Silent Auction. General admission begins at 7 p.m. featuring a strolling dinner, cash bar, live entertainment and silent auction. The event will also include raffle prizes, give-aways and swag bags for the first 100 guests. VIP Sweet Ending is at 10 p.m. Tickets are $75 for general admission and $140 for VIP Access. For reservations and sponsorships, contact Elise BeautiFULL at 248-652-8511.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Business events for this week

Aug. 7
Automation Alley hosts “speed networking” with “hyper-speed” networking, opening with registration at 8:30 a.m. The event is 9 to 11 a.m. at Automation Alley, 2675 Bellingham, Troy. Chuck Gifford, president of Local Business Network will lead the session. Sponsorship opportunities are available for this event series. The cost is $20 for members and $40 for nonmembers in advance. Register at www.automationalley.com or 800-427-5100.

Aug. 7, 9
Steve Case, of Financial Independence of Bloomfield Hills is offering two free seminars for Ford Motor Company Retirees faced with a decision to take or not to take the buyout. The first seminar is 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug, 7 at the Westin Hotel in Southfield and the second is 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 9 at the Community House in Birmingham. Case, a financial planner for more than 25 years, said this decision can make the difference between a comfortable retirement and one where the money simply runs out. To join the seminars, register at www.fordpensionadvice.com or call 248-282-9902.

Aug. 8
 Bright Side Dental is hosting its second annual Royal Oak Women’s Night Out, 6-9 p.m. Wednesday Aug. 8, at BlackFinn American Saloon, on South Main Street in downtown Royal Oak. All proceeds go towards the Royal Oak Neighborhood Schools Fundraiser to benefit the Royal Oak PTA. from With a donation at the door, guests are offered a chance to network while being pampered with chair massages by Healthier You Massage, mini makeup applications by About Face Salon & Spa, a Satin Hands treatment by Mary Kay, mini manicures and hairstyles by Douglas J. Aveda Salon and free spinal scans by Van Every Chiropractic. Each vendor will also provide a generous gift basket to be raffled off at the event. For information, contact Pam Lenning of Bright Side Dental at 248-629-2986.

Aug. 8
The Community House (TCH) will continue its monthly Bulletproof Your Success Business Lectures, presented by Camille Jayne, President and CEO of TCH. The lectures offer tools and processes that business people can start using immediately to help “bulletproof” their personal business effectiveness. 
The next lecture, “If the Devil is in the Details, You Had Better Know Which Ones” Success Business Cluster: No Fail Business Planning is Aug. 8 at The Community House, 380 South Bates Street, Birmingham. The fee per lecture is $35, add $10 for lunch. For more information and to register, visit www.tchbulletproof.org.

Aug. 8
The Oakland County One Stop Shop Business Center is hosting CEED Microloan Orientation, 9 to 11 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 8 at the Oakland County Executive Office Building Conference Center, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road in Waterford Township. The orientation is presented by Oakland County and the Center for Empowerment & Economic Development (C.E.E.D.) This workshop is free, but registration is required, visit www.AdvantageOakland.com or call 248-858-0783.

Aug. 8
The Oakland County One Stop Shop Business Center is hosting Twitter for Business (Beginner) is 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 8 at the Oakland County Executive Office Building Conference Center, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road in Waterford Township. The class covers how to create a Twitter account and profile, choose the best user name, learn Twitter lingo, how to protect a brand, and more. The fee is $40. Those who attend this session are able to sign up for Twitter for Business (Intermediate), 6 to 9 p.m. Aug. 15 and Twitter for Business (Advanced), 6 to 9 p.m. Aug. 22. The fee for each class is $40. Register at www.AdvantageOakland.com or call 248-858-0783.

Aug. 9
The Real Estate Investors Association of Oakland is hosting a workshop on buying financial notes secured by real estate at a discount and re-selling the note for a profit, is 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 9 at Club Venetian, John R Road, Madison Heights. Seminar is free to members and $20 for nonmembers. Call 800-747-6742 or visit www.REIAofOakland.com.

Aug. 9
The Oakland County One Stop Shop Business Center is hosting FastTrac GrowthVenture, Aug. 9 through Oct. 11 (10 sessions). Classes are 6 to 9 p.m. at the Oakland County Executive Office Building Conference Center, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road in Waterford Township.
FastTrac GrowthVenture is an intensive, 10-week program designed for owners, CEO's and top management team members of small businesses with at least two years of operating experience, minimum of two employees, and annual revenue of between $100,000 and $749,000.
For registration, visit www.AdvantageOakland.com or call 248-858-0783. FastTrac GrowthVenture is normally $700 per participant. Sponsor support allows us to offer a scholarship-reduced rate of $140.

Aug. 9
The Oakland County One Stop Shop Business Center is hosting Team SBA Financing Roundtable,  9 a.m. to noon, Aug. 9 at the Oakland County Executive Office Building Conference Center, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road in Waterford Township.
This session is best suited to those with good credit, a solid business idea and money to invest in their business. The session will demystify small business financing and the lending process. This workshop is free, but registration is required, visit www.AdvantageOakland.com or call 248-858-0783.

Aug. 9
The Oakland County One Stop Shop Business Center is hosting Fundamentals of Starting a Business, 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 9 at the Oakland County Executive Office Building Conference Center, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road in Waterford Township. Participants examine their entrepreneurial skills, learn how to implement their ideas and receive a list of pitfalls to avoid when starting a business. The fee is $30. For registration, visit www.AdvantageOakland.com or call 248-858-0783.

Aug. 9
Real Estate Investors Association of Oakland is hosting a “Flipping Notes” seminar from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 9 at Club Venetian, John R Rd. in Madison Heights. Seminar free to members; $20.00 nonmembers. Attendants will learn the process of buying financial Notes secured by Real Estate at a discount and re-selling the note for a higher price for a profit. Call 800-747-6742 or visit www.REIAofOakland.com.

Aug. 13
The Rochester Rotary Club’s annual joint-charity golf outing with Oakland University Center for Autism Research Education & Support is Monday, Aug. 13. It is 18 holes of golf at Oakland University’s R&S Sharf Golf course. All hole sponsors will benefit the Oakland University Center for Autism Research, Education, & Support, along with Rochester Rotary Charities. Registration and the driving range will be open from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. The shotgun start will begin at 1 p.m. Tickets are $160 and includes 18-holes of golf with a cart, box lunch, dinner and one drink ticket. Hole sponsorships are $200 and include entry into a drawing for a Oakland University’s Katke-Cousins Golf Course, an $850 value. For more information, contact Rhonda Panczyk at RotaryGolfOuting@gmail.com.

Aug. 13
Morels restaurant is hosting a summer wine dinner featuring Black Star Farms’ wines at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 13. Chefs John Breeland and Jayme Asmar along with Sommelier Diana Smalley will team up to provide guests with a six-course meal, each course paired with a Black Star Farms wine. Lee Lutes, Black Star Farm’s winemaker will be in attendance. The Summer Wine Dinner costs $75 per person with wine package and $45 person without wine, not including tax and gratuity. Reservations can be made by calling Morels at 248-254-3840.