POST FALLS - Anderson Iron Works has had a decorated past.
After 43 years, the maker of ornamental iron, railings, spiral stairs and other custom iron products that are visible throughout the community will close its doors on Monday.
Owners Norm and Bonnie Anderson are retiring, marking an end to one of Post Falls’ oldest businesses.
“We tried to quit three years ago, but had a hard time doing it,” the 74-year-old Norm said softly. “My employees have been so good.”
Anderson’s work is spread throughout the region, including on the entrance sign to The Coeur d’Alene Resort, Silverwood Theme Park, the flower baskets on Sherman Avenue in downtown Coeur d’Alene, the elaborate “Amway” house on the Spokane River in Post Falls, the “Extreme Makeover” home near Sandpoint, restrooms at Coeur d’Alene parks, Post Falls’ entrance waterfall features and at numerous homes.
“It’s been a personalized business,” Norm said.
Custom railings and spiral stairs – the company has made about 800 of them – have been the best sellers.
When Norm and Bonnie first opened their shop in Huetter in 1969 after moving here from Minnesota, the business was on a 10-party telephone line.
Ten years later, the business moved to the green Quonset between Seltice Way and Interstate 90 where it has been for the past 33 years.
Through the years, Anderson carved a local niche for ornamental iron projects that had largely been served by Spokane firms years ago.
“My husband is an artist,” Bonnie said with a wide smile.
Norm added to his wife of 52 years: “I don’t call it that; I’m just a craftsman.”
Anderson also built a reputation in which employees stayed and two generations of family members played.
The company never got big. It generally had five or so employees because quality precision craftsmen were hard to find.
But workers stuck around, including Al Sims for 39 years and Daren Nelson 24 years, which the Andersons are proud of.
The company won a national American Legion award and a trip to Nashville for the group’s convention in 2004 for employing veterans. Norm served in the Army National Guard and Reserve himself.
“They’re just good, hard-working, disciplined and honest people,” Norm said of vets.
If there’s a handing off of the Anderson Iron Works baton, Norm said, unofficially it’s Scott Johnson of Johnson Custom Iron in Rathdrum, another longtime employee of Anderson’s.
“I’ve lined him up,” said Norm, adding that he’ll still tinker with iron for family and friends in retirement.
But no one was found to take over Anderson Iron Works itself.
“With custom work and the name on our business, it was hard to sell it,” Norm said. “One guy was going to take over, but he never came up with the money.”
But don’t count out Norm’s family tree from sprouting up in the trade in the future. His 11-year-old grandson, James Hohenstreet, found a liking around the shop.
“He’s in Seventh Heaven helping papa clean shop and work on hand rails,” James’ father Seth said.
Family has always been a major part of the business. The Andersons’ daughters – Lisa, Amy and Beth – grew up playing around the shop and later worked there. Recent years have been the grandkids’ turn to toss nuts and bolts in the can and get a glimpse of the trade.
Anderson, along the building industry’s side, rode the economy’s ups and downs over the years, but was never on the verge of closing, Bonnie said.
“The (latest) recession hit the builders harder than it hit us because private individuals were still buying,” she said.
The company has sponsored many community events, including some hosted by Post Falls Parks and Recreation, Shriners and the Post Falls School District, and has been recognized for longtime membership to the North Idaho Building Contractors Association, Post Falls Chamber of Commerce and the National Ornamental Miscellaneous Metals Association.
“They are really special folks, low key, but always there to help when needed,” Post Falls Mayor Clay Larkin said. “Anderson Iron Works has truly left its signature on many projects.”
The company’s closure, chamber CEO Pam Houser is bittersweet.
“We are always sad to see a business close, but we are thrilled to see hardworking folks enjoy retirement,” she said.
And that’s how Bonnie reminds Norm to look at the end of an era.
“I tell him that this has been a good life, but what’s coming up is even better,” she said. “We’ll get to spend more time with grandchildren, travel and to be at our place on Lake Cocolalla.”
City of Coeur d’Alene
Ben Woitas, commercial demolition, 250 W. Dalton, issued March 7
Tricksters Brewery, commercial-tenant improvement, 3850 N. Schreiber Way, value $175,000, issued March 9
Dennis Lekander, commercial-replace window & masonry, 1901 N. Fourth, value $5,000, contractor Creekside Construction, issued March 13
Victory Homes, SFD with garage, 3043 W. Dumont Court, value $130,000, issued March 13
Viking Construction Inc., SFD with garage, 3832 W. Pescador Drive, value $123,872, issued March 13
Viking Construction Inc., SFD with garage, 6933 N. Caracara Lane, value $146,496, issued March 13
Victory Homes, SFD with garage, 3042 N. Dumont Court, value $130,000, issued March 14
Atlas Homes L. L. C., SFD with garage, 3526 N. Bernoulli Loop, value $116,607, issued March 14
Jim & Avis Stafford, commercial-remodel condo unit, 3060 S. Island Green, value $500,000, contractor Dan Hamm Custom Builders, issued March 15
Miller Paint Company, commercial-tenant improvement, 245 W. Appleway, value $50,000, contractor All Wall Contracting, issued March 16
NY Bagel, commercial-internal demolition, 226 W. Ironwood Drive, contractor NRCC L. L. C., issued March 19
Sunshine Minting Inc., commercial-exterior pad for propane tank, 750 W. Canfield, value $12,189, contractor Polin & Young Construction Inc., issued March 19
Timbered Ridge Homes, SFD with garage, 2314 E. Mountain Vista Drive, value $246,187, issued March 19
Affinity at Coeur d’Alene L. L. C., commercial pool house, 3590 N. Cedarblom, value $575,000, contractor Inland Idaho L. L. C., issued March 20
Affinity at Coeur d’Alene L. L. C., commercial-121 unit apartment building, 3594 N. Cedarblom, value $7,225,000, contractor Inland Idaho L. L. C., issued March 20
Affinity at Coeur d’Alene L. L. C., commercial-7 stall garage, 3594 N. Cedarblom, value $27,720, contractor Inland Idaho Inc., issued March 20
Affinity at Coeur d’Alene L. L. C., commercial-7 stall garage, 3594 N. Cedarblom, value $28,710, contractor Inland Idaho L. L. C., issued March 20
Affinity at Coeur d’Alene L. L. C., commercial-8 stall garage, 3594 N. Cedarblom, value $31,680, contractor Inland Idaho L. L. C., issued March 20
Affinity at Coeur d’Alene L. L. C., commercial-8 stall garage, 3594 N. Cedarblom, value $31,680, contractor Inland Idaho L. L. C., issued March 20
Viking Construction Inc., SFD with garage, 3873 W. Sharpshinn Drive, value $155,464, issued March 20
Viking Construction Inc., SFD with garage, 3877 W. Pescador Drive, value $199,389, issued March 20
Atlas Homes L. L. C., SFD with garage, 2506 N. Sorbonne, value $233,253, issued March 22
CSWW dba Big R Stores, commercial-expand retail space into previous storage area, 170 E. Kathleen, value $90,000, contractor Dick Anderson Construction, issued March 23
Kootenai Health, commercial-relocate nuclear camera, 2003 N. Kootenai Health way, value $150,000, contractor Candela Construction, issued March 26
Viking Construction Inc., SFD with garage, 7026 N. Epervier Lane, value $145,360, issued March 27
Stancraft, commercial-move door/build wall, 1705 Northwest Blvd., value $25,000, contractor B Taylor Painting & Drywall, issued March 29
Loren Walz, commercial-tenant improvement-vacuum repair & sales, 6055 N. Government Way, value $7,000, contractor Icon Construction, issued March 29
Hilda Beukelman, commercial-remove two walls & repair, value $1,800, contractor Kimberly Crotinger, issued March 30
Tom Sampson, commercial demolition, 1839 N. Government Way, issued March 30
City of Hayden
440 Partners L. L. C., commercial remodel, 9205-9215 N. Government Way, value $1,500, contractor Bynum Construction, issued March 2
Hallmark Homes Inc., single family residence, 2802 Blackberry Loop, value $196,736, issued March 1
James D. Wasson, new commercial building, 1840 W. Dakota, value $107,325, contractor CDA Structures, issued Feb. 27
Hallmark Homes Inc., single family residence, 8542 Boysenberry Loop, value $248,903, issued March 9
Viking Construction Inc., single family residence, 8537 Salmonberry Loop, value $228,007, issued March 7
Hallmark Homes Inc., single family residence, 2600 Blackberry Loop, value $201,667, issued March 9
Viking Construction Inc., single family residence, 8780 Salmonberry Loop, value $284,481, issued March 13
Aldo L. L. C., commercial remodel, 8680 Wayne Drive #A B, value $48,371, contractor Rob Johnson Construction, issued March 15
Donald J. Blanchard, commercial-erect used paint booth unit, install gas pipe, gas meter and fresh air system 138 Hilgren, value $5,000, contractor Fitting Mechanical, issued March 28
Miter Investments L. L. C., SFD with garage, 10231 Zenith, value $217,524, contractor Termac Construction Inc., issued March 30
Miter Investments L. L. C., SFD with garage, 10253 Zenith, value $229,651, contractor Termac Construction Inc., issued March 30
City of Post Falls
Ryan McCrea, SFR tract house, 946 W. Grange, value $321,325, contractor Aspen Homes, issued March 7
Inland Northwest Developments, SFR tract house, 2079 N. Cruze, value $88,620 contractor CDA Construction, issued March 6
Inland Northwest Developments, accessory building, 2079 N. Cruze, value $13,172, contractor CDA Construction, issued March 6
Viking Construction Inc., SFR tract house, 1988 E. Dipper Loop, value $176,115, issued March 7
Hallmark Homes Inc., SFR tract house, 1734 E. Warbler Lane, value $226,374, issued March 8
Monarch Development, SFR tract house, 976 N. Harlequin Drive, value $194,297, issued March 9
Viking Construction Inc., SFR tract house, 2055 N. Bunting Lane, value $249,892, issued March 14
Post Falls City Library, commercial alteration, 821 N. Spokane, value 10,000, issued March 12
Copper Basin Construction, SFR tract house, 2664 N. Madeira Loop, value $130,446, issued March 14
Benway Quality Homes Inc., SFR tract house, 1336 E. Triumph, value $126,893, issued March 14
Barbara J. Weibel Living Trust, SFR tract house, 2057 N. Cruze, value $115,034, contractor CDA Construction, issued March 16
Silver Creek Limited Partners, multifamily residence, 3743 W. Tayjan Lane, value $3,084,162, contractor Ebenal Construction, issued, March 19
Karl & Jacqueli Grabin, SFR tract house, 2077 W. Twinkling Star Road, value $202,389, contractor Reality Homes Inc., issued March 20
Karl & Jacqueli Grabin, accessory building, 2077 W. Twinkling Star Road, value $72,149, contractor Reality Homes Inc., issued March 20
William Daum, SFR tract house, 3718 N. Cleveland Court, value $144,187, issued March 22
Hallmark Homes Inc., SFR tract house, 8217 N. Woodworth, value $131,557, issued March 21
615 L. L. C., commercial alteration, 615 N. Spokane, value $3,500, contractor Ginno Construction, issued March 19
Northwestern Builders Corporation, SFR tract house, 3773 W. Addidas Lane, value $194,712, issued March 22
Northwestern Builders Corporation, SFR tract house, 3878 N. Maxfli Lane, value $158,462, issued March 22
Avondale on Hayden Golf Club Inc., commercial addition, 10745 N. Avondale Loop, Hayden, value $1,700, issued March 2
The Marina at Black Rock L. L. C., commercial addition, 10243 W. Rockford Bay Road, Coeur d’Alene, value $10,000, issued March 8
The Marina Yacht Club L. L. C., commercial addition, 1000 S. Marina Drive, Coeur d’Alene, value $32,500, issued March 9
Silverwood Inc., commercial-retaining wall, 27843 N. Highway 95, Athol, value $21,840, issued March 12
CDA Rifle Pistol Club Inc., commercial structure, 5981 N. Atlas Road Coeur d’Alene, value $10,000, issued March 12
Foolish Five, commercial-demolition, 3957 E. Mullan, Post Falls, issued March 13
Vernon Craig, single family residence, 2858 S. Helen Drive, Coeur d’Alene, value $641,207, construction Rosenberger Construction, issued March 15
Don & Susan Dubois, single family residence, 12909 N. Sunflower Loop, Hayden, value $285,460, contractor Monarch Development, issued March 20
Silverwood Inc., commercial structure, 27843 N. Highway 95, Athol, value $436,625, issued March 29
KDB Investments L. L. C., commercial addition, 33972 N. Corbin #A11, Bayview, value $13,000, issued March 28
Duane & Esther Brelsford. single family residence, 29160 S. Quail Run Lane, Worley, value $587,884, contractor Brown Contracting, issued March 27
George Poteet, single family residence, 19422 N Williams Road, Hayden, value $231,919, contractor Creekside Construction, issued March 27
Summer is coming! There isn’t any other place in the world I would rather be this time of the year than the Hayden area. Our area truly is “The Gateway to Recreation.”
If you missed it, our “After Five” in April was held at Avondale Golf Club. It is one of my favorite places to be in the summer and most likely if you are out there to golf or eat, there is a good chance I will be close by. If not on the course, then at my office, Avondale Dental Center, located on the first green. Knock on my window and say hi as you go by! Avondale Golf Club is truly one of the most beautiful and challenging golf courses in the region. I hope you come out and enjoy it this year.
Another one of my favorite things to do this time of year is enjoy the beauty of Honeysuckle Beach and Hayden Lake. On our way out, my family goes to Daanen’s Deli who has the best sandwiches and beer selection in town. We then spend the day at Honeysuckle Beach or on the lake fishing and wake boarding with family and friends.
This summer I also bought a road bike! The second annual Hayden Triathalon is coming up on July 21. You may see me at one of our local bike shops or riding around the lake to get ready! Make sure to say hi, or at least give me some pointers.
Some other things to look forward to are Hayden Days and The Hayden Summer Concert Series. These events are so much fun and have things your whole family will enjoy. To find out more information about these events and other great things to do this summer in the Hayden area visit our website at www.haydenchamber.org.
Join us for our After Five this month at Frontier Communication on May 10. It is a great networking opportunity and free to attend for all!
It’s the time of year when the promise of summer signals the arrival of visitors to our community. As a primarily leisure-travel state, most visitors to Idaho were here to visit friends and family, along with experiencing the outdoors, touring and attending a special event.
Did you know that Post Falls is home to world class rock climbing and a downtown History Walk? City parks and bike trails are open and just waiting for residents and visitors to take advantage of all we have to offer for a healthy lifestyle. Post Falls is proud to host a variety of events which draw visitors, the Julyamsh Pow Wow, regional stock car racing, car shows and big name concerts to name a few. Let’s all put out the welcome mat for the company who’s coming and who will leave behind a substantial and positive economic impact in our community.
Join us on May 15 at Templin’s for our Takin Care of Business Lunch with guest speaker Nancy Di Giammarco to learn more about the economic impact of tourism in North Idaho.
This is the time of year that many businesses amp up their staff and services for a busy summer. I want to encourage our readers to shop local, support those who support our community with sponsorships, charitable donations and tax dollars.
Dozens of events are scheduled this month that provide opportunities for small business owners, employees and citizens to engage in their community. We are looking for people to participate in the city’s strategic planning by completing a survey about where we are and where we are going, survey’s are available at the chamber office or online at the city’s website: www.postfallsidaho.org. This survey will assist in moving forward with a long range plan for Post Falls.
Express Professionals will host the Clydesdales on May 10 in the City/Chamber parking lot from 4-7 p.m., bring the kids down and enjoy an array of activities and refreshments. The Boys and Girls Club will hold their annual Jordan Johnson fun run on May 12 at the Greyhound Park in collaboration with the food bank setting out to break an “ice cream lick” record. The mayor’s youth awards will be handed out at 6 p.m. May 17 at Q’emiln Park, all are welcome in recognizing and celebrating the accomplishments of our local youth.
For a complete list of activities, events, workshops, etc. visit our website at www.postfallschamber.com or www.visitpostfalls.org.
May 7-12, 2012, the Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce will be celebrating National Tourism Week. This is an opportunity to reflect on an extremely important sector of our area’s economy. Without a strong tourism industry where would Coeur d’Alene be? What would our community look like? Where would many of us work? This month’s column was written by Business Development Committee member, Chris Copsted. Chris, as many of you know, is the owner of fyinorthidaho.com, the largest private tourism information resource in the region. Thank you Chris for your contribution.
— Steve Wilson
Tourism is still thriving in our beautiful Coeur d’Alene area community. With a national economy that has been devastating to many areas, Coeur d’Alene continues to be the place to go, stay, play and to enjoy. It continues to be a family destination with something for everyone.
Where are the people coming from? According to restaurateur Rico Ciccone, from Cricket’s Steakhouse and Oyster Bar, his visitors come from all over the northwest, as well as from the eastern states and Canada. Tina Hough, owner of The Roosevelt Inn Bed and Breakfast and Jamie Garcia, General Manager of Shilo Inns, both agree with Ciccone. Both have had a huge jump in Canadian visitors this past year. Peter Grubb, owner of ROW Adventures, finds that in his industry they come from around the country. Visitors from Canada and the Tri-Cities have increased. The local Spokane market is still very important to us.
Why are they coming here? Hough stated our guests usually come for the lake and associated activities, and cycling. They all concur that visitors come for the scenic beauty, the lake and the outdoor recreation. Tourism overall may have declined over the past few years, but the events that Coeur d’Alene hosts have actually gotten bigger in terms of numbers of visitors. According to Ciccone, Car d’Lane and Ironman continue to grow. The biggest event I have seen in terms of growth has been the Annual Wooden Boat Show weekend. Other off-season events like Oktoberfest have also shown steady growth. Families love to visit North Idaho because of the landscape. Lakes, rivers, mountains, offer the ability to get away from the big cities for vacation. It is attractive for families, couples and retired folks.
High gas prices in 2008 slowed things down and that was followed by the recession in 2009, but it has been slowly coming back. Businesses are combating the economy in our successful community. All four note that visitors are definitely more price sensitive and value-driven. According to Garcia, pricing is always an issue for people on a budget. You don’t have to necessarily lower prices, but really show them the value by selling what they’re getting for the price. In the restaurant business people are spending more money on comfort food and the successful establishments are cooking to accommodate. Continually growing adventure companies like ROW have worked to position themselves as the primary, regional, go to, adventure travel company for locals, visitors, convention groups and others.
With our local businesses working and striving for success, working to greet visitors with a smile and a kind word, Coeur d’Alene’s tourism will continue to grow and prosper. Peter Grubb stated it well, “We are bullish on 2012 and booking trends would suggest that we’ll have a good season ahead.”
— Chris Copsted
Business Development Committee member
FRIDAY, MAY 4
Blood Drive at the Chamber: 2:30-5 p.m. RSVP to email@example.com to schedule an appointment to donate.
THURSDAY, MAY 10
Ribbon Cutting at the Chamber for New York Life: 4:30-6:30 p.m. Also, the Express Employment Professionals Clydesdales will be in our parking lot. Come have an evening of fun at the chamber.
TUESDAY, MAY 15:
Post Falls Chamber Takin’ Care of Business at Red Lion Templin’s: Doors open at 11:15 a.m. Register online at www.postfallschamber.com by Friday, May 11. Cost is $14. Featured speaker will be Nancy DiGiammarco of Silverwood.
FRIDAY, MAY 16
Member Orientation: If you are a new member to our chamber, you won’t want to miss this informative meeting at 8 a.m. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
SATURDAY, MAY 17
Post Falls Chamber Coffee Connections: 7:30 a.m. at the chamber. Come network with local business leaders and hear information from Justin Balk of Coeur d’Alene Marketing.
Post Falls Chamber Business After Hours: 5-6:30 p.m. at Inland Northwest Bank. Enjoy a bit of Italy. Come dunk you favorite local celebrity in the dunk tank!
THURSDAY, MAY 3
100-Minute Reception: Join the chamber in celebrating 100 years of success with these first Thursdays of the month, 100-Minute Wine & Cheese Receptions. The receptions will be held at the chamber building from 5-6:40 p.m. (100 minutes). Open to members in good standing only, the 100-Minute will be hosted by the Decade Sponsor with each month being a themed program. This month’s Decade Sponsor is Kootenai Health and will celebrate the ’70s decade theme. There will be fine wine and food, good company, prizes and giveaways. Information: Marilee, (208) 415-0111
FRIDAY, MAY 4
Spring Golf Tournament: The chamber’s annual Spring Golf Tournament is scheduled for Friday, May 4, at The Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course. Corporate and hole sponsorships are now available. Take this opportunity to advertise to fellow business members in a fun, unique way. The tournament is always a sell-out event, so your sponsorship is guaranteed to be a huge success! Information: Brenda Young, (208) 415-0110
TUESDAY, MAY 8
Upbeat Breakfast: The Coeur d’Alene Visitor’s Bureau presents May’s Upbeat Breakfast, at 7 a.m. Tuesday, May 8, at The Coeur d’Alene Resort. Jerry Jaeger, Co-Owner of The Coeur d’Alene Resort and Gary Norton, Owner of Silverwood Theme Park will be speaking on tourism. Upbeat Breakfast occurs the second Tuesday of every month at The Coeur d’Alene Resort. On average, about 150 members attend making it one of the most popular networking events in our community. Trade tables allow members to display their business and speak briefly about it to the group. The program features a different speaker each month, highlighting various topics of interest. With a reservation, the cost is $14 and includes breakfast and coffee. Reservations are due at noon the Friday before the breakfast. Information: Brenda, (208) 415-0110
FRIDAY, MAY 11
2nd Friday ArtWalk: Every second Friday from April to December, stroll through beautiful Downtown Coeur d’Alene and enjoy local and nationally acclaimed artists. Visit supporting galleries, shops, restaurants and businesses with your friends and family. Come and join us! 5-8 p.m. just follow the yellow balloons! Information: Cheryl, (208) 292-1629
WEDNESDAY, MAY 14-16
Spring Membership Drive: 14th through the 16th, the annual Spring Membership Blitz will be going full speed! Teams of volunteers will compete to bring in new members and receive prizes for their efforts. Top producers will be awarded the title of Membership Royalty for the Centennial Celebration. We are currently looking for prize donations for team participants, new member leads and a few additional team members. Our goal is to see 100 new members join the Chamber in this two week drive. If you know a business who is not currently a member please let us know! Information: Marilee, (208) 415-0111
SATURDAY, MAY 19
Dog d’Alene: FREE event for dogs and their humans in beautiful Downtown Coeur d’Alene! May 19 this Coeur d’Alene’s 4th Annual Dog d’Alene. Come with your dog(s) and stroll through beautiful Downtown Coeur d’Alene and enjoy socializing, prizes contest, events and tons of fun! Information: Gay: (208) 415-0116
THURSDAY, MAY 24
Business After Hours: Join us for April’s Business After Hours, from 5-6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 24, at Holiday Inn Express, 2300 W. Seltice, Coeur d’Alene. There will be prizes and food and beverages will be provided. Information: Brenda, (208) 415-0110
SUNDAY, MAY 27
Coeur d’Alene Marathon: The Coeur d’Alene Marathon/Half Marathon offers one of the most spectacular events in the country. At an elevation of 2,200 feet above sea level, the resort community of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, resting on the shores of spectacular Lake Coeur d’Alene, welcomes visitors to a plethora of vacation and recreational activities. The welcoming community and natural beauty have drawn events such as the Ironman USA Triathlon Coeur d’Alene, held here each year in June. Information: Charlie, (208) 292-1634
At the Idaho Small Business Development Center we strive to help our clients build extraordinary businesses. An extraordinary business will always be more profitable than an “average” business, and it will more likely thrive even in challenging economic times.
I often ask clients to describe an extraordinarily good business experience that they have enjoyed in recent weeks. Many have trouble thinking of even one memorable occurrence. In other words, few businesses stand out as the first choice for repeat customers that want to spend money!
In order for a company to be extraordinary and to continually attract new and repeat customers, it is crucial to have a Unique Selling Advantage (USA).
A Unique Selling Advantage (or Unique Selling Proposition) is the single characteristic that causes a business to stand its head and shoulders above its competitors.
The USA demonstrates how the business’ product or service will benefit customers. It must appeal to the target market and describe what outstanding experience the business consistently delivers to its customers.
Recently, I paged through some advertisements in a publication and found examples of common statements that are not USA’s:
• “40 Years Experience”
• “Quality — honesty — integrity”
• “Free estimates”
In today’s market, most businesses offer experience, quality, free-estimates and competitive prices. While important, these services are not unique and they do not stand out as being above average.
In contrast, a Unique Selling Advantage offers the customer specific benefits:
• Walk-ins welcome. Maximum wait of 15 minutes, or your money back.
• Fully-certified repair specialists on-call 24/7. 100 percent guarantee on parts and labor for one year.
These USA’s tell the consumer specifically how a company’s service policy can benefit them and offers assurance that the company will stand behind its advertising.
A Unique Selling Advantage is an important tool to both increase company profits and to shape a business model. Here is an example of how powerful a USA can be:
In 1999, Nick Swinmurn became frustrated while shopping for shoes. He had the idea to start an online shoe company with the belief that people would buy from a company with superior service and the best selection. The company he co-founded, Zappos.com, grew from sales of nearly nothing in 1999 to more than $1 billion in 2008. The company was purchased by Amazon in 2009.
Selling shoes with good service and selection is an average business idea. So, what made Zappos.com extraordinary? Early on, the company founders decided their Unique Selling Advantage was to become a “service company that happens to sell shoes.” They designed the business around a superior service and selection model. They built a large warehouse for storing inventory, staffed a 24/7 customer support line, established a generous return policy and provided free shipping. Most importantly, the company consistently delivered the service its USA described.
For any consumer that has spent countless unsuccessful hours in malls looking for shoes, the Zappos.com model is shoe-shopping nirvana.
Possibilities for good USA’s are limitless and there are a few steps that a business can take to create their own:
• Analyze your strongest competitors. What do they do best? Where do they have gaps? How could your business excel relative to all competitors?
• Know your target market. What “problem” do they have that your business can solve?
• Study companies that you admire. What is their USA and why is it appealing?
• Write a USA that is concise, yet clearly states how your company benefits your target market.
A well-crafted Unique Selling Advantage that creates untold joy for your target market will get customers in the door and keep them coming back!
Julie Gibbs is an Entrepreneur’s coach with the Idaho Small Business Development Center at North Idaho College. Coaches at Idaho SBDC provide leadership and business coaching, training and resources to business leaders. She can be reached at (208) 665-5085 or at JfGibbs@NIC.edu.
Getting the Idaho Legislature to unanimously embrace a business-friendly proposal that would cost taxpayers nothing was never likely, said Jared Bauer, executive director of the nonprofit Idaho Business Council.
But he admits that selling the idea of legislative support for Idaho university-developed business research proved impossible with some lawmakers — this first go-round, anyway.
“In the early part of the session, there was resounding support,” said Bauer, an entrepreneur with a strong background in business and in academics. “But then there were some concerns from people who were afraid we were creating a pseudo Legislature to compete with the existing one.”
Put another way: “Some are concerned that the universities will come back with liberal research. I believe they’ll come back with solid research.”
And the research will take place — albeit on a trial basis for 2012.
Idaho Business Council, with a nine-member board of directors including some of North Idaho’s most respected business leaders, has gotten a tremendous response from the business community toward its mission, Bauer said. And in most parts of the state, he said, support from the general public has been strong.
The nonpartisan organization, funded by selling sponsorships of its reports to businesses and foundations, is forging ahead with the business colleges at University of Idaho, Boise State University and Idaho State University to generate research that will be available free to the public.
Among IBC’s goals:
• Create jobs, economic growth and stability.
• Increase Idaho median family income.
• Become the primary organization for entrepreneurs and business leaders to bring new concepts and struggles to light. Analyze, develop solutions and present legislators information to resolve.
To begin achieving those goals, Bauer said the universities will start research in July and complete it in early autumn. By the end of the year, he said, the data will be shared with Gov. Butch Otter and the Idaho Department of Commerce.
IBC has sought legislative support in part because lawmakers can then work side by side with business leaders in their districts to implement what’s learned from the research. The IBC model calls for each legislator to appoint two business or community leaders from her or his district, who then would comprise a body that votes on the most important economic issues.
“When the bill passes someday, we still won’t have the full response of the Legislature,” Bauer conceded. “I’m as interested as the next guy to see how this works out. But I also know this is too important not to do.”
Top five ways IBC is different
Research Oriented — The Idaho Business Council will be the only business organization in the state committed to continuous research of both current and future business issues. We will ask the hard questions about what is holding businesses in our state back now and with an eye to the future. We will be looking at how we can improve business for years to come.
Not Industry Specific —
The IBC represents all businesses and industries in Idaho. We do not require that businesses pay a fee in order to review and utilize our research. This insures that our work stays non-partisan and works to benefit as many businesses as possible.
Legislative Involvement — We involve the Legislature from day one. This allows our elected officials to study the issues alongside business leaders statewide.
Statewide Approach — Each district of the state is represented equally. Utilization of population based voter districting guarantees voice to each region statewide.
University Involvement — We utilize Idaho’s Universities to do research that is based on Idaho, for Idaho. National research often fails to take into account Idaho’s ideals, culture and best interest.
— from IdahoBusinessCouncil.org
Seriously. Because when you do, you’re buying a better future for yourself, your colleagues, your community, your kids.
That’s part of the gospel according to Sandy Anderson. She’s executive director of Buy Idaho, a Boise-based nonprofit that’s mostly soared under North Idaho’s radar for the past quarter century. Anderson is eager to put her organization to work for North Idaho, and she spent several days here in mid-March to make that point.
“I had some great conversations, especially with the three chambers,” Anderson said of her outreach meetings with chamber of commerce leaders from Post Falls, Coeur d’Alene and Wallace. “I was a little disheartened that we aren’t well known up north.”
Through networking, cross-promoting, trade shows and other methods, Buy Idaho has been pushing its members’ services and products since its 1986 inception. Anderson, whose focus has been growing membership since she took the executive director’s helm last October, points out that Buy Idaho has membership programs for businesses and associations of every size and flavor. Membership costs — go to http://buyidaho.org/joinbuyidaho.htm or call (800) 743-9549 — are based on the business’s annual revenue.
Members learn pretty quickly that there’s value in Buy Idaho.
“We do a lot with smaller businesses that need our help in networking and getting word out,” Anderson said. For instance, she talked about the success of one of Buy Idaho’s most devout members, Sandee’s Candee’s — creator of
“Spud Fudge” and other specialty products that taste a whole lot better than they might sound.
“She’s been with us for 23 of the 25 years we’ve been in existence,” Anderson said of the Salmon-based business. “That marketing really got her into a lot of stores and specialty shops.”
The trademarked Spud Fudge, by the way, is a creamy fudge that uses potatoes to replace a third of the sugar normally found in fudge.
A little closer to home, the Coeur d’Alene Casino is a Buy Idaho member, and so is Wild West Log Furniture in Coeur d’Alene.
“It’s a great program — we’ve used their logo in our ads in The Press,” said Carol Folda, who owns Wild West Log Furniture with her husband, Clay. “We joined because we’re trying to promote ‘American made’ and buying local.”
Having been members for a year, Carol said she and Clay aren’t certain how much that membership specifically has helped them.
“It’s hard to track how much business comes directly from that,” she said.
To boost businesses’ exposure, Buy Idaho has a showroom in Boise that attracts nearby conventioneers. The showroom is packed with booths and displays from members who not only can make business-to-business connections, but can help drive tourism throughout the state, Anderson said.
Trade shows take place statewide, and as recently as last February, the Capitol rotunda in Boise hosted over 100 Buy Idaho members who had tables displaying their wares. The location not only helped all those businesses network, Anderson said — in many cases, government officials became aware of products and services that government could either purchase or help network further around the state.
“We’re about promoting Idaho businesses,” Anderson said, with Buy Idaho’s focus on helping businesses sell products and services in state and nationally, but not internationally. “When you do that you create jobs, you reinvest in the state — you keep dollars here versus across state lines, which I know is important to people in areas like yours.”
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