July 19, 2011
I am excited to share with you all the great things that are going on with me in the past thirty days since training! Once I returned home, I took comprehensive look at my website, resources and the business plan in my head. Since I have only lived in Charlotte for a year and a half now…without any real connections, I knew I would have to rely on my marketing background and think entirely outside the box.
I found what is called a “Virtual Office” in the ritzy part of town! For only $100.00 a month I could use one of the offices twice a month and have access to rent two conference rooms or the huge corporate board room for only $29.00 an hour. The office and conferences rooms are all located on the 4th floor and have a great city views! It also comes with two professional admin assistance that sit in the front lobby greeting people. I requested to have my company’s name listed in the lobby directory. Most importantly I have a prestige address and two locations to hold training classes in.
I then decided to join two of the local chambers. Please don’t kill me! The county offers small businesses the opportunity to join two chambers for the price of one. $400 is my cost out of pocket. Since I have won several awards including Ambassador of the Year with previous chamber involvement, it was a natural progression for me! My Ribbon Cutting Celebration is scheduled for July 28th. The management team from my new office is allowing me to host the event in the lobby! We already have over 50 RSVP’s!
I took your advice and hired a few high school students to assist me with my lessons and training classes. I thought it would be a good idea to have more than one, so that if one was not available…another would be. I put an ad on Craig’s List. The response for the program was phenomenal! I put the students through an unpaid three day etiquette boot camp in my home. I invited their parents and asked my next door neighbor ( a high school teacher and pastor at a local church with three locations and over 4,000 members) to come over with his wife to assist me with the grading process and listen to the 1 minutes speeches about what they had learned over the past 3 days. Wow! They were thoroughly impressed!
Upon the successful completion of the final test they would become a High School Etiquette Intern. I offered to pay them minimum wage and provide them access to my entire etiquette program for free as long as they work at least once a month. I even threw in a 25% discount for their family members and friends! I started with thirteen students and ended up with seven graduates. Three of them will work only through the summer and the other four will work year round. One of them has already extended the Family & Friends Discount to their mother, who then sent me a text message asking if she could extend it to a co-worker. Of course I said “Absolutely!”
On their first day of work, we had what I called an “Admin Day”! We created a Face Book Fan page and Twitter account so I can use the idea you gave us about the etiquette tip of the day! I then asked them to invite their parents and friends to join our pages. One of the interns decided to take a peek at her mother’s friends list and twitter following. She had over seven thousand people between the two sites! Needless to say, her mother and I are friends now!
An excel database was created from the 149 business cards I had collected over the past three months attending different events. I also had them to go through local children’s magazines and add every advertiser to the data base as well… round the total contacts to 205. Peggy, the interns completed all the assigned tasks in four hours yesterday! The only thing I could do was stand there drinking coffee as I looked over their shoulders.
On July, 5th I received a call from a lady looking to hire an Etiquette Consultant for a group dinner on July 16th. She explained that she had found my ad posted online with The Charlotte Observer Newspaper. I continued to obtain more details on the dinner and “low and behold” she was with Muzack (one of the largest on hold and satellite music company in the U.S.)! They were hosting a Dining Etiquette Class for 24 people at Winthrop University in Rock Hill South Carolina. Each year they hold a summer camp in a major city for sixteen elite high school musicians from all over the United States. This year they decided to host it near Charlotte. The camp exposes them to the entertainment industry. I felt honored that they had found my company, The Academy of Etiquette & Charm and wanted me to instruct the etiquette portion of the camp. Who knew that my first big client would hire me to conduct training in another state! I am certain that my casual comment of “I am a graduate of The American School of Protocol” help seal the deal!
On July 12th, I finally had my long awaited meeting with Charlotte Mecklenburg Communities in Schools Director. In April I offered them four free scholarships to my etiquette program to help gain some exposure for my company. You would think… Free would get you an automatic YES, it does not. I was required to present my program on three different occasions and this was the final meeting. I usually carry my designer laptop bag and my purse. Since I had to park down town and walk a good distance to the building I decided to pack up all of my things in the red and black tote bag you gave us for training. It was large enough to fit everything in it.
As the director and I sat at the table next to each other… discussing the proposal I had careful prepared, I could feel her inspecting my every move and listening closely to my every word. She then decided that we would go down the hall to speak to another staff member. As I reached over and placed my bag on the table, I noticed her looking at the logo on it. As she introduced me to the other lady, she mentioned that I was a graduate of The American School of Protocol. That lady too looked at the bag! Needless to say, they have accepted my scholarships and plan to promote my program in 13 High Schools in Charlotte. They have also asked me to be a Judge for a Public Speaking Contest and to be a Professional Speaker at three workshops this school year. Wow! With all my charm and pizzazz it was my red and black training bag that officially tilted the scales from being viewed as an entrepreneur to being viewed as a serious… educational business woman wanting to help young adults strive for excellence.
Last night, I received a call from a Grandmother inquiring about an ad she had seen in the Sunday newspaper for a Teen Dining Etiquette Workshop I was hosting. She wanted to reserve a spot for her granddaughter and her best friend. When I got off the telephone with her, the only thing I could do was… smile and say, Thank You Jesus!
At no time have I purchased an online ad or bought a very expensive spot in the Sunday Newspaper. I have only taken advantage of FREE marketing outlets we have in Charlotte. So, I decided to do a little research to see if they were really finding me in the Observer. And sure enough, The Academy of Etiquette & Charm was listed on the front page of Charlotte Events for Teens! Wow!
How or why The Charlotte Observer has decided to publish my company’s information is a mystery. What I do know, is that when you align yourself with professional positive energy… it grows into something very successful! I am so happy I invested my time and money with The American School of Protocol. It is exactly what my company needed to give it a solid foundation!
P.S. Muzack was so impressed with me and my two high school assistants, they invited all eight of us to attend a private concert reserved for their large clients and sponsors! We are all caravanning there tonight!