Businesses equipped to take on the ‘Big Box’

Presenters at the ?Think Outside the Big Box? made themselves available for one-on-one conversations with participants.  Roger Holter (left), former big-box manager currently serving as city administrator at Marion, chats with Roger Fleming of Hillsboro. Free Press photos by Don RatzlaffAbout 55 signed people in as participants at ?Thinking Outside the Big Box, the free training program designed to enhance small businesses in Marion County.

Marion City Admini?strator Roger Holter opened the Thursday afternoon session with a presentation on the way ?big-box? stores operate, based on his 40 years? experience in the field prior to his retirement.

Holter said the public perceives big-box stores as having unsurmountable econo??mic advantages, but small businesses can out perform the big stores by offering personalized service and local promotions.

Marci Penner, Kansas Sampler Foundation director and co-founder, followed with ?Eight must-do?s? for small businesses in small towns.

Presenters at the ?Think Outside the Big Box? made themselves available for one-on-one conversations with participants. Marci Penner of the Kansas Sampler Foundation listens to ideas from Brian Stucky of Goessel. Free Press photos by Don RatzlaffPenner illustrated several examples of small-store success?and failures?that she has discovered during her many years touring Kansas communities.

Tim Smith of Allenton, Pa., was the featured speaker in the evening session, addressing those in attendance on the ?7-11 Rule.?

?In the first seven seconds of contact, a person, customer, guest or consumer, forms 11 impressions about you and your store,? Smith said.

Those 11 impressions included a person?s knowledge, friendliness, attractiveness, professionalism, empathy, creditability, confidence, cleanliness, helpfulness, courteousness and responsiveness.

Smith talked about each of those impressions in detail, along with sprinkling in his personal experiences while visiting businesses in Marion County.

The free event, which was open to the public, was sponsored by Marion County Economic Development and the Hillsboro Free Press with assistance from the economic development offices in Hillsboro and Marion.

Videos of each of the three presentations will be available for public view on MC20-TV as well as online. The Free Press will notify the public when the recorded version is available to watch on cable or online.

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