?Coach? to help with customer service

Two of Hillsboro?s leading business organizations are joining forces to bring a ?business coach? to help local businesses develop a customer-service mindset that will ultimately will increase sales.

Next week, the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce and Hillsboro Development Corp. will be hosting the first of three key training sessions in 2011 with Jan Jantzen, director of Rural Tourism Development.

The initial session, intended specifically for business owners and managers, will be from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, May 26, at Hillsboro Mennonite Brethren Church.

?I just totally believe customer service will set us apart form other smaller towns,? said Clint Seibel, who represents both organizations as a Cham?ber board member and HDC executive director.

Seibel is spearheading a door-to-door recruitment process to have every business in town participate in the sessions.

?I really believe the impact of this program will depend on the entire business community participating,? he said.

?What happens is that when somebody comes into town and has a good experience at one person?s business, those people will tend to go to patronize another business in town.

?But the opposite is true as well,? he added. ?If they come in and have a bad experience, they tend to pack up and leave. We need the entire town to have this customer-service mindet if it?s going to be usccessful.?

Seibel said he first heard Jantzen speak at a workshop in Dodge City that asked the question, ?How do small businesses in rural communities compete and thrive in today?s market??

?One of the things we know is that we will never compete on price with the big box stores around,? Seibel said.

?The only way we can really compete, from Jantzen?s perspective, is by adding value to the goods and services we have available through customer service. That?s really the edge that we have.?

The May 26 session is intended for specifically for business owners and managers.

?Our ultimate goal that will they catch the vision, and then we?ll have another meeting at the end of August for all the employees to come.

?We want the business owners and managers to bring all their employees, and we will have a business coach for them at no cost them.?

A third session is planned for November right before the Christmas shopping season kicks in.

?We?ll have a refresher then,? Seibel said. ?Our long-term goal is to have Jan Jantzen as our business coach for a period of two to five years.?

The the arrangement with Jantzen is funded with grants obtained through HDC.

Jantzen, who lives on a ranch near Emporia, travels across the country meeting with rural communities, leading workshops and teaching effective customer-service technques.

Jantzen?s insights have been quoted in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio and other mass media outlets.

?It?s interesting that customer service will help increase traffic and ultimately sales with a minimum of cash investment,? Seibel said. ?It just takes a little effort.

?I have talked with quite a few business owers and managers who would say we don?t have the expertise, the time or the money to train our employees,? he added. ?We want the business ownes and managers to bring all their employees, and we will have a business coach for them at no cost.?

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