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Hoisington e-community hosts ‘destination’ business workshop
Marketing guru Schallert: ‘Think bigger’
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Marketing expert Jon Shallert presented a 90-minute program about destination businesses at Hoisington High School on Thursday. The program was included in the Community Reinvention program the Hoisington e-community is participating in through its affiliation with Network Kansas. - photo by Veronica Coons

HOISINGTON — Thursday morning, members of Hoisington High School’s FBLA hosted coffee for the Hoisington Chamber of Commerce in advance of a free marketing workshop aimed at local entrepreneurs interested in learning the concepts behind the destination business. 

FBLA shares successes

Jennifer Steinert teaches several business classes at the high school, and is an FBLA sponsor. She explained to chamber visitors that Future Business Leaders of America is one of Hoisington High School’s Career and Technical Student Organizations. According to the Kansas State Department of Education, CTSOs extend teaching and learning through innovative programs, business and community partnerships and leadership experiences at the school, state and national levels. FBLA officers gave a brief overview of the club’s activities and accomplishments over the past year. The club has attended business tours, seminars and contests around the state, and has raised funds for local charities.  Many of the members are also enrolled in Steinert’s Entrepreneurship, Business Management, Accounting and Applied Business Development classes.  Students manage the school’s store, The Red Zone, where they learn and apply business principles and gain work experience. Money raised helps to pay for school dances and expenses related to participation in FBLA competitions, Steinert said. 

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Hoisington FBLA officers and sponsor Jennifer Steinert hosted the Hoisington Chamber of Commerce Coffee Thursday morning at the high school. - photo by Veronica Coons

Schallert presents ‘destination’ ideas

Following the coffee, students and chamber members moved to the auditorium for a 90-minute presentation by Jon Schallert, president of The Shallert Group, Inc. Hoisington City Manager Jonathan Mitchell introduced Schallert and explained his connection to Hoisington’s economic development efforts.  

“We started on our e-community effort back in 2011, but it went dormant for a while,” he said. “It started up again with a bang when we got eight businesses to go to Longmont, Colo., for the Destination bootcamp with Jon Schallert through our partnership with Network Kansas. We were able to use a portion of our annual e-community loan funds to cover the cost of tuition for these businesses and to bring Mr. Schallert to our community through the Community Reinvention Program.” 

The eight Hoisington businesses that attended the 2.5 day seminar in October were Manweiler Chevrolet, Hoisington Dairy Queen, Twisted Fusion, Pretty Pieces, Hoisington Floral, Hoisington Veterinary Hospital, Mitchell’s Wood Furniture and More and CC’s Paint Parties. Hoisington Chamber of Commerce Director Karen Baldyga also attended, and helped with promotion of the 90-minute workshop. 

“We reached out through the Network Kansas community and had representatives from businesses in St. John and Hays also attend,” she said. “I was also pleased to see so many of our high school students here too because they are the future of our community.”

Schallert developed a 14-step plan to help businesses create a strategy to not just compete locally, but to become a destination business. Entrepreneurs are asked to consider how their business is different from every other business in their industry. He gave several examples of businesses he has consulted with who greatly expanded their reach and their incomes after working through each strategic step. It all starts with determining their unique positioning, and boiling it down to a brief, memorable concept that can be quickly and easily communicated. From there, other common sense considerations are taking a look at the way a business appears to customers both outside and in, and making sure it fits the business owner’s vision. 

He shared the example of a bridal shop in one community. The owner, he said, usually arrived and left from the business through the back door each day. She failed to realize that the front, where customers entered, had grown shabby, and did not fit the upscale merchandise she was trying to market. When he brought this to her attention, she vowed to make improvements. A few years later, he returned to find the facade had been completely redesigned, and shop had increased its reach and its profits. The remodel had cost her in the ballpark of $50,000, but that investment had done wonders for her business.

Other examples were simpler, like the coffee shop in Laramie, Wyo. The Coal Creek Coffee Company marketed a coffee with four times the caffeine. Truck drivers and outdoor sports enthusiasts sought out the coffee. Schallert encouraged the owner to come up with a name for the product that set it apart from all other coffees. “Edgy” coffee was the result. Other tweaks included a resonating identity message painted on the window, and setting off monument items like the high-end espresso maker. It wasn’t long before the company was featured in Sunset magazine. That kind of exposure, Schallert said, is 12 times as effective as paid advertising. 

Mitchell said the Hoisington e-community is considering sending another group to the Destination bootcamp program in 2019, and encouraged businesses interested in attending to contact the Hoisington Chamber of Commerce.