We are thankful for…

It’s that time of year when we reflect on and give thanks for the many blessings we have in our lives. In addition to family, friends, and good health, members of our Vernon sales team shared with us what they love and appreciate about working with Vernon. Here are some of their comments:

Luke Sigle, Salesperson: I appreciate the friendship and care that Vernon leadership provides me as a salesperson.

Stephanie Vernon-Critchfield, National Sales Manager: I’m thankful to be part of the Vernon family that makes you feel that everyone is glad to help you be successful.

Jill McFarland-Packard, Salesperson: I am thankful to Vernon for the ability to keep my business healthy and active which I truly feel is because of the strong financial commitment Vernon has made to its Account Executives to keep orders moving even with so much uncertainty and chaos!! 

Kelli Denes, Director of Business Development: I am thankful for a company that treats its staff like family.

Maureen Helm, Salesperson: This year has certainly brought on its share of challenges, but I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to work from the safety of my home. I’m thankful for the Vernon home office staff who are supportive, kind, and always available to help me navigate challenges.

Eddie Moore, Salesperson: I’m thankful to be a part of the Vernon family that has such an amazing culture, I’m happy to call everyone not only coworkers, but friends.

Dave Regan, Senior VP Sales & Marketing: I am thankful to work for a company that is financially stable enough to weather this 2020 storm.

From all of us to all of you, we hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday and surround yourself with all the things that bring you joy.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Grateful for the tiny moments

As 2020 is nearing its end, not very many people are sad to see it go. The challenges have been significant and to say we will go forward without scars from the wreckage would be unrealistic. Often, when times get tough, the brightest parts are simple ones: a smile, a warm wave from afar, a tiny act of kindness. This year has given me the gift of more time at home, and while that comes with a host of challenges, I am grateful for it!

When I look back on things that I hope I remember forever, it’s the tiniest moments in time that mean so much. Early on, school had canceled and suddenly my kiddos were home every minute of every day. So many people are still in that situation, or they are back home full time again. One day, the kids couldn’t stop laughing, and I asked why. They printed and cut out a tiny Danny DeVito face and put it on the coffee maker button that I use religiously twice per day (at least). The funny thing is, they had actually done this several days earlier, and I never noticed. Next, my husband found a Danny DeVito face on his charger: also unnoticed for days. We realized…he was everywhere. It was simple entertainment that brought us a lot of laughter. I mean, it’s Danny DeVito! We even found a pic of him on a picture in our living room looking like some sort of caveman…that one went unnoticed the longest. They are all still there because, amid strange chaos, this was light and laughter.

I hope when you think of this year, you reshape your thoughts to those types of moments…tiny ones. I had a call with one of our salespeople today. I have never met him, and we had the nicest conversation. We shared stories of a great leader we both know who has brought great insight to us both. This is a moment to savor. Come together and find tiny moments because they add up.

We had a Coffee Collaboration a couple of weeks ago. We started out by sharing favorite Thanksgiving food traditions. I cried, because it had been a busy week but, in this moment, we stopped, and shared stories and the human connection I had been craving. Laughter, smiles, fun and then idea sharing where I got to see the things that make each day so special- our people, doing their thing, helping one another, sharing and caring for the success of one other.

I hope that as you go into this holiday season, you take a moment to reflect. Find the good things and the bright spots from this unusual and challenging year. I hope you find areas you grew and new areas you’d like to strengthen in the future. Whatever it is, may you treasure the part of shaping you that it has played and keep your mindset a positive one.

I’m grateful to be a part of the Vernon family, one that has built a strong foundation for so many people to thrive for over one hundred years. At the heart of who we are is this: “Helping other businesses grow and prosper” (F.L. Vernon). I’m grateful for the chance to be part of that.

Collaboration Keeps Spirits High

Recently, Vernon created a monthly, virtual get-together for our salespeople called “Coffee Collaborations.” The inspiration came largely from Kelli Denes, our Director of New Business Development. These virtual sessions provide a great opportunity for our field team members to connect, drink coffee, share ideas, and strategically plan for their business. This informal gathering was an instant hit among the group after just a few sessions. Socialization is one of the hallmarks of a career in sales, yet it’s become one of the many casualties of 2020.

This month’s call was our best one yet.  Each team member came prepared with a project or idea that they had pitched to a client recently. The exchange was fabulous.  The energy was contagious, and the creative ideas were flowing.

Hats off to all for the peer reviews & support. 

Collaboration, teamwork, and ingenuity…indeed, a very good week for Vernon!

Chris Vernon Named Among Industry’s 50 Most Powerful People

Chris Vernon, MAS, CEO and President of The Vernon Company, has been recognized among the Counselor’s Power 50, the annual ranking of the most powerful executives in the $25 billion promotional products industry. This is the 15th consecutive year he has made this prestigious list. Mr. Vernon is the only Iowan represented on the Power 50 ranking.

The ranking is determined by a panel of editorial experts at ASI’s Counselor magazine and is based on factors such as nominees’ achievements, industry influence, corporate revenue and the overall health of their respective companies.  

“I’m very humbled to receive this recognition again this year.  I believe it is a testament to the leadership, hard work and dedication of all our employees who contribute to our company’s success every day,” commented Mr. Vernon. 

Time for a check-up

As we approach Thanksgiving and the end of the calendar year, it is important to set aside some quiet time to review your personal and business goals to see where you stand. Today we will steer clear of your personal goals, yet we will take time to explore the business side.

How can it be that I feel five years older now than I did in January and February, pre-covid? Holy cow! The fact of the matter is that most of us began the year with goals. It does not matter whether you are an individual business owner, or you find yourself working for someone else, you had goals.

“I want to make $100,000” (Salesperson)

or

“I want to have my company sell more than $3 million” (Distributor Owner)

And then what happened? The calendar flipped to March and all of us (and I mean all), lost control of our ability to reach our goals. That helpless feeling set in. We all experienced it.

I am certain that it took some time but eventually, most owners and salespeople came to the realization that goals needed to be reset. Any goal setting training will start with the premise that “goals must be realistic and attainable”.

Our company realized that we needed to furlough people to bring our costs in line with the number of orders and amount of business that we were receiving. We were early to the game of restricting travel resulting in saved expenses since every dollar was more important than ever. We canceled some national meetings and made decisions to postpone some incentive trips. We essentially had to “right-size” our company.

Our account executives found that orders were hard to come by and since they are commissioned salespeople, they had to adjust their personal budgets to better align with their income.

All of us took whatever support we could find, but the reality is that even at the end of October, nine months later, things are different. Companies and individuals that were “supported” by PPP (payroll protection plan) and unemployment insurance and other programs are faced with a future of surviving and moving forward without that assistance.

Now is the time to look toward the future of your own business. I don’t believe that it is politically incorrect to reference Thanksgiving as a time for all to appreciate what we have as owners and salespeople that have helped us through the tough times and to identify those people and services that have helped you steady the ship and say, “Thank You”. Now is the perfect time to establish your 2021 goals and set the plan to achieve them. It is also a time to consider help and support if you need it.

Unfortunately, many business owners cannot survive heading into 2021 with 30%-40% less business. Some salespeople cannot survive if they find themselves in situations where valuable support services or employment benefits have been reduced or eliminated. These are the owners and salespeople that need to look at their options.

The message here is not intended to say that everyone needs help or doesn’t need help or that they need to make some changes. However, I do believe that everyone does NEED to assess and evaluate their situation so that they are NOT surprised when we turn the calendar to 2021. It is always prudent to review your personal situation at the end of a tax year. It has never been more important than this year due to the current situation.

P.S. If your self-analysis reveals that you should explore some options to change, we might suggest that you request our White Paper titled “Is the Grass Really Greener” which outlines important questions to ask during your due diligence process.

Communication is King

Nearly a century ago, fans of the American comedy duo Abbott and Costello were made familiar with the popular “Who’s on First?” comedy routine they performed regularly. The premise of the sketch was that Abbott was trying to identify players on a baseball team for Costello, but their names and nicknames were interpreted as non-responsive answers to Costello’s questions. What’s interesting about this comedic back-and-forth exchange is that it was both right (both parties were correct in what they were saying) and absurd at the same time. That’s probably what makes it so funny, even to this day. And what it underscores now more than ever, is that communication is key in life – and in business. In fact, a recent study conducted by LinkedIn shows that the number one skill hiring managers are looking for is the ability to communicate effectively.

So what happens to your business when there’s a communication breakdown?

  • Basic tasks fall to the wayside
  • Schedules become disorganized
  • Roles and functions are not assigned
  • Salespeople and staff get frustrated and restless
  • Customers can feel neglected and lose interest

Why is communication important in business?

Every aspect of your company depends on effective communication. From internal communications to scouting for new business, interaction with someone else is a part of daily culture. Excellent business communication is crucial to maintain healthy workplace relations between the employer and employees. It is also just as necessary to create and maintain lasting relationships between company and clientele. 

Business communication skills include:

  • Verbal communication over the phone or in-person
  • Written communication via e-mail, chat, or text
  • Collaborating and working with a team for a common goal
  • Active listening and problem solving
  • Networking and negotiating

Regardless of the size of your business, you will benefit from assessing how your business communicates internally and externally. Here are a few steps you can take to improve your business communication for success.

Set Clear Goals and Expectations

If you have a clear vision of your goals, you are off to a great start. But it’s important to must communicate these goals in the best way so that all parties involved are on the same page and can carry out what is necessary to complete objectives. That way, everyone knows what’s expected from them and what challenges they may face along the way. Everyone will also understand what they are working towards which will improve overall work performance.

Build a More Dedicated Team

Open communication in the workplace will help create a more cohesive team that can flow from one project or challenge to the next. When employees feel like they are valued and that their opinion matters, they will contribute more and have a better attitude doing it. Increased efficiency and productivity will result. Also, if the team unit is secure, employees will become loyal not only to each other but to the company itself. They are less likely to jump ship when problems arise. If there is an issue, you already have the lines of communications open to put out the fires as the spark. 

Earn the Trust and Loyalty of Your Customers

The same goes for how you communicate with potential and existing clients. If you use effective communication strategies, you will earn their trust and loyalty over time. That means you must anticipate their needs and keep reaching out to them after the initial handshake or sale. Follow up to make sure they are still happy, and if not, find solutions to the various hiccups that can happen after an initial business transaction or decision. Companies who show clients that they understand them, know their needs, and want to help, are more successful every time. 

Improve Customer Service

There is nothing worse than getting negative feedback about your customer service. It only takes one of these unhappy experiences to turn a loyal client against a brand forever.  Be sure your team understands the importance of business communication in customer care. How they react and attempt to solve customer issues will directly impact the company positively, and just as easily affect it negatively. The truth is, so many companies fall short in this department due to poor communication on the company’s end. The best brands are those known to take care of their customers well after purchase.  

Ensure Transparency

Transparency and effective communication will help you manage customer expectations and reduce negative reviews by teaching you how to deal with angry customers and solve problems. The same goes for dealing with your employees. If you’re upfront and open, your staff and salespeople will be more likely to voice their unhappiness or concerns in certain situations that could otherwise bring down the entire team. In turn, they will be more inclined to trust upper management’s decisions in the future.

Sales strategy and effective marketing techniques may rule your business, but communication will always be king when it comes to success inside and outside your organization.

The Vernon Company is recognized as one of the largest and most successful promotional product firms in North America. Founded in 1902 by F.L. Vernon, we serve more than 40,000 customers from our Newton, Iowa corporate headquarters.

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