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Tip Sheet

Staff Cars as Billboards, Free Bracelets for Kids, and More Business Tips

Plus a creative way to use your email auto-responder.






Dan Reitman of Dan’s Pet Care in New York views his staff as family, but also as potential mobile billboards. He offers his pet sitters and dog walkers the option to wrap their personal cars in his company’s logo, at his expense, and receive $200 a month in exchange. Ten employees have currently taken him up on the offer. Reitman told INSTORE’s sister publication PETS+: “We get so much business from it, and it adds to the perceived legitimacy of your business in the eyes of the consumer when they see you everywhere.”


Join the sales team at J. David Jewelry in Broken Arrow, OK, and you get a good job, training … and a company credit card. “Just another way we can empower them to serve our guests well by buying gifts, dinner, or just a little something special,” says owner Joel Wiland.

OPERATIONSClear to Neutral

When you enter a kitchen and find the sink piled high with dishes, you’re less likely to want to dive into cooking the day’s meal. The same applies to the workshop when tools and findings are scattered around, or even your office when you have to clear a pile of stuff off your desk to start working. Enter the idea of “clearing to neutral” — a ritual where “whenever you finish an activity, you [move] everything so [it] is in neutral position.” According to Thanh Pham, at the blog Asian Efficiency, when you return to such an environment, it eliminates all of the friction — both physical and mental — and you can quickly get started with what you need to accomplish.


MARKETINGPlaying the Long Game

Get ’em while they’re young. Barnes Jewelry in Amarillo, TX, gives a special bracelet to every girl who comes in the store, and in doing so turns them into “a Barnes girl.” As owner Vess Barnes notes, “Barnes girls become Barnes brides.”

MANAGEMENTDeclare an Email Holiday

Need to hunker down to work on an important project? Set up an auto-responder saying you’ll be away for a couple of days, and then tackle whatever you need to get done, writes Chris Bailey in Hyper Focus. (Leave an alternate email address or even phone number for “genuine” emergencies.)

MANAGEMENTBetter Brainstorm

If you want to foster ideas from your staff, don’t tell them to “be creative.” They’re likely to freeze up. A better approach, according to a recent Businessweek article, is to say: “Do something only you would come up with — that none of your colleagues, friends or family would think of.” This has been shown to yield twice as many creative responses.


Andy Frisella, the social media entrepreneur behind the “75 Hard” self-improvement challenge, recommends labeling negative inner monologues as your “bitch voice” and then replace it with your “boss voice” to take control. Here, “bitch voice” is the label for the voice that’s saying things like: “Not now,” “maybe tomorrow,” or “I’m not in the right mood.” Having a label like “bitch voice” makes it easier to recognize these thought patterns and turn them into more productive ones, says Frisella. “It allows me to greet them like an old friend (‘Oh hey, bitch voice’), smile, and do the exact opposite of what it’s telling me to do,” he says.

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It Was Time to Make a Decision. It Was Time to Call Wilkerson.

Except for a few years when he worked as an accountant, Jim Schwartz has always been a jeweler. He grew up in the business and after “counting beans” for a few years, he and his wife, Robin, opened Robin James Jewelers in Cincinnati, Ohio. “We were coming to a stage in our life where we knew we have to make a decision,” says Jim Schwartz. He and Robin wanted to do it right, so they called Wilkerson. The best surprise (besides surpassing sales goals)? “The workers and associations really care about helping us move out own inventory out of the store first. It was very important to us.”

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