Building Brand Loyalty With Bowling, Yoga And Free Pie

December 4th, 2017

Two days before Thanksgiving, The Wehner Group at RE/MAX Fine Properties, a Scottsdale real estate firm, handed out free pies to clients to thank them for referrals and business over the past year. This gratitude event also included food, children’s activities and photos with a Rock n’ Roll Santa.

The Wehner Group

This annual gratitude event is not the only time the company expresses its thanks to clients. Since 2015, the company has hosted numerous appreciation events throughout the year.

Jennifer Wehner, who launched her real estate career in 2003, leads The Wehner Group, a team that has grown to 12 people who have over 70 years of experience helping buyers, sellers and investors achieve their real estate goals. These events are “a way to give back to our clients,” she said. Clients are trusting the team with what can be the biggest investment of their life and “they also trust us with referrals to their family and friends.”

Last year, the Wehner Group added a community service component to their events, with raising money for the Sunshine Acres Children’s Home. At the gratitude event, the home requested baking ingredients to use for baking with the children, which clients donated at the event.

Since introducing these events, their referrals have doubled each year, Wehner said. The group has also been “in hypergrowth mode.” Last year, the group was at $40 million worth of volume and expects to close 2017 with over $77 million, she said. Twenty percent of this is from referrals.

Wehner spoke to The Flip Side Communications to share some tips to help companies build brand loyalty:

  1. Stay in front of the consumer. In addition to hosting events, The Wehner Group is active on social media and uses direct mail and phone calls to remain on their clients’ minds. Recent social media posts have included open house listings, photos of homes for sale and examples of the steps they’ve taken to help clients sell their homes.
  2. Continue to learn and grow. “Our goal is not to just do these nice things (such as host special events), but as people are buying a home, providing the best customer service experience that we possibly can.” She recommends learning about the foundation of customer service by reading books like “Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service” by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles.
  3. Give back. Hosting events are a way to give back to clients and to express gratitude for their support. Their events have included golfing at Top Golf, bowling at Dave & Busters and happy hours. In January, they will have a yoga event at a park for those clients who want to exercise. Timing is important – “in Arizona, movies work best in the summer” – and they learned to avoid scheduling events near Christmas because people’s schedules are already so full at that time.
  4. Get feedback. The Wehner Group often sends out surveys to see how they can improve. They also encourage clients to submit testimonials to Zillow, a real estate website. Outside of the real estate industry, Wehner encourages businesses to use Yelp.com.
  5. Have a solid business plan. “It all comes down to having a solid business plan,” Wehner says. “No matter how you are going to build your brand loyalty, it needs to be in a written business plan that you consistently review every week or every month at the bare minimum.”

-Leisah Woldoff

How Companies Can Jump To Help Communities

November 23rd, 2017
Altitude Trampoline Park

Altitude Trampoline Park in Phoenix offers an opportunity for businesses to play dodge ball as a team-building exercise. Photo courtesy of Altitude Trampoline Park

During this week of Thanksgiving, we thought we’d share something that we are thankful for: businesses that give back to their communities.

Whether it is large companies or small businesses, we appreciate all those whose efforts make our community a better place to live.

In this post, we are profiling a business that opened just six months ago but has already committed itself to giving back.

After learning about the devastation that hit Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, the owners of Altitude Trampoline Park in Phoenix decided to hold a fundraiser to help those affected.  

On Oct. 8, the trampoline park hosted a two-hour fundraiser, which included a week-long silent auction with items and gift certificates that co-owner Joe Berman collected from nearby businesses. Altitude donated 20 percent of proceeds from the cost of jump passes to the fundraiser and, along with the silent auction, raised more than $1,200 to donate to Red Cross relief efforts.

Over a period of a week and a half, the park also collected “boxes and boxes and boxes and bags and bags” of clothing, toiletries, dried food and other items to send to Puerto Rico, Berman said.

Altitude Trampoline Park, which opened this past June, is also focusing on how to help local schools. So when Berman heard that a local school needed some assistance, he jumped in to help.

A K-12 school for high functioning students with an autism spectrum disorder needed to raise funds for an adaptive playground designed to meet the students’ sensory needs. So Berman scheduled a fundraiser on Nov. 2, with Altitude donating $5 for every $20 that was spent. In addition, the trampoline park continues to raise funds for the school during special needs jumping sessions, which are held 10-11 a.m. on the first Sunday of each month and 10-11 a.m. on the last Wednesday of the month. During these hours, the lights are kept low and quieter music is played than at regular times.

Berman has also introduced a reading program called Bouncing Books, which recently launched as a pilot program with a local elementary school. Berman works with school librarians or administrators to award students with a free Icee and jump pass after they read a certain number of books.

Altitude also does fundraisers for schools, religious institutions and organizations. “Anyone who wants to make money while having fun,” Berman said companies have also held team-building activities there, such as an hour of dodge ball during the workday or after an evening meeting. 

“I really care about our community,” Berman said. He appreciates that as a business owner, he has a platform like this where he “can really help make a difference.”

Ways businesses can give back to their communities

Inc.com shares 10 other ways that businesses can give back to their community:

  1. Promote local businesses.
  2. Participate in holiday food drives.
  3. Sponsor a youth sports team.
  4. Set up a collection jar.
  5. Hold a contest.
  6. Sponsor an event.
  7. Adopt a brick.
  8. Build a house.
  9. Offer your skills.
  10. Encourage employee volunteerism. 

– Leisah Woldoff

Crisis Communications: How You Can Learn From Airport Bed Bugs

November 4th, 2017


The Phoenix Business Journal reported Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport removed padded benches on Halloween after a complaint of a potential bed bug infestation. According to the news story, a pest control company treated the furniture Oct. 7.

In this case, bed bugs are not a crushing crisis. But don’t simply brush aside stories such as this. Most organizations likely do not expect to encounter a problem with bed bugs and for the news media to publicly report such a story. But most companies do not anticipate unfavorable news coverage. Most companies struggle to make an abrupt U-turn from promoting themselves to explaining themselves when a problem pops up. How do you prepare for a crisis you can’t see coming and that threatens the trust between you and your customers?

Prepare a plan. If bed bugs aren’t likely to attack your business, then determine what kind of crisis would more likely eat away at your organization one day. Then practice how you handle the hypothetical crisis. Not practicing or preparing is the equivalent of driving without insurance.

Delegate responsibilities. If a crisis strikes, who will stand in the spotlight and communicate with news media? Who will monitor social media and quickly respond to posts? Who will communicate with employees, who might be receiving misinformation about the situation and sharing it with friends and family? Who will talk with key stakeholders? Who will discuss your response with your attorney, who may disagree with your proposed public statement?

Respond like a human.  Ensure your written response or on-camera interview displays empathy and shows understanding of why the crisis is concerning. Choose a spokesperson with an engaging personality and someone who knows how to communicate without industry lingo. Don’t speak as if you are from another planet. 

Don’t go negative.  Don’t tell the media, “It must be a slow news day.” Don’t accuse them of sensationalism or fake news. Don’t start attacking the story itself. Don’t get sarcastic. Keep your eyes on the facts as you know them. Offer your side of the story. Use the opportunity to show your expertise.

These are only a few recommendations to prevent a crisis from biting your business too deeply. For more suggestions, read “Crisis Communications:  How To Handle The Words ‘Go F-Yourself.'” That’s biting language.

Crisis Communications: How To Handle The Words “Go F-Yourself”

November 2nd, 2017

Media Training and Crisis Communications

Azcentral reported that the Maricopa County recorder apologized for telling a voter on Facebook to “go F-yourself” after the voter criticized the county’s ballot materials.

If people are criticizing you publicly, how can you avoid telling them to “go F-yourself”? Maybe you prefer “eat s—t” or stop being an “a——.” And if you utter those words, what then?  Tip one:  Avoid foul language. Then follow these recommendations.

Take conversations offline. When social media criticism tempts you to write “go F-yourself,” gracefully give the person a phone number or email address to further discuss the situation. Don’t delete the criticism. Be bold enough to thank someone for their feedback. Calm down, plan out your thoughts, decide whom should respond and address the criticism with the person directly without the public glare of social media. Also, know your regular social media followers well enough to understand when a comment is not worth a response. 

Respond rapidly. If a crisis erupts, get your side of the story out there quickly. Be timely. Don’t wait. Don’t hide. Don’t say, “No comment.” Don’t misleadingly claim that someone took your statements out of context or that you assumed you were off-the-record. 

Choose where to officially respond. Will you respond during a news conference, during a one-on-one interview, in a news release, as part of a blog or on social media? Where will your target audiences most likely go to receive information about you and your organization? If you respond on Facebook Live, don’t say, “Are we live?” If reporters request a follow-up interview, will you display the courage to take questions?

Address the issue directly. Don’t mimic politicians who flood the airwaves with words but never actually answer the question. Don’t be vague. Don’t awkwardly change the subject.

Decide if and how to apologize. PR professionals may urge you to apologize. Your attorney may raise concerns about stating, “I’m sorry.” Will you directly apologize to someone or apologize in general? If you apologize, will you sound genuine? Speak from the heart instead of from notes.

Educate. Is your response an opportunity to educate the public and employees about the topic? 

Monitor responses afterward. Don’t stay secluded in a bubble where yes-men shower you with accolades. Is the crisis continuing? How many people still call for your resignation? How many people continue to characterize you as a clown? Or are people thanking you for taking responsibility?

Create a plan. Don’t wait for someone in your C-suite to tell someone to “go F-themselves” to build a plan and team to handle a crisis. Take action now!

If you don’t like these recommendations, you can go …  find additional ideas elsewhere. We welcome your suggestions.

 

Creating Dramatic Halloween Makeup Transformations

October 30th, 2017

For most of the year, Tamara Bickley, founder of Makeup Artistry by Tamara, enhances the beauty of her clients with makeup for weddings and other special events. But in the days leading to Halloween, her work has much different results, which can sometimes be horrifying.

She’s made herself up for Halloween for about eight years and after she started her business in 2012, she started doing Halloween makeup professionally. She receives most of her Halloween-based clients from social media:  “I will do up my face and put it out there on social media to show people the diversity of what I can do.”

She said she only uses herself as the model for examples of her Halloween makeup, not for her glamour or other make-up work. To demonstrate her general make-up artistry, she uses before and after photos of her clients. “I like to do that so people can see the difference in how I can enhance one’s beauty.” But when it comes to Halloween makeup, she’ll use herself as an example “so people can see how I can take what I look like and I can change it and make myself look completely different in so many ways.”

Plus, she can make herself up at the spur of the moment whenever she wants to try a new look. Her Halloween make-up ranges from Day of the Dead artwork with colorful designs to animal faces to characters with rotting flesh.

“My real passion is special effects,” she said. “I would love to do makeup for films, but there’s really not that much out here in Phoenix.”

She recently made herself up as a lion and then picked up her kids from school in full makeup. She shot video of their reactions. “My children were horrified,” she said. “They did not think it was cool. They were not impressed because they’re used to me doing crazy makeup around Halloween time.

“I think deep down they think it’s cool, but two of them are teenagers so they have to pretend it’s not cool.”

As embarrassed as they act, though, they don’t hesitate to ask her to do their makeup when they want to dress up, she notes.

She only uses safe, high-grade makeup on her clients, often the type that is used on movie sets. “It’s not going to clog your pores or give you a rash.”

Most of the makeup purchased in Halloween stores isn’t good for your skin, she said. “You have to be careful when you’re doing your own makeup – to use products that are higher-grade, especially when you’re putting it on kids.”

Although it can take up to two hours to create a unique Halloween look, depending on how intricate the design, it only takes her about five minutes to remove the makeup:  “The Makeup Eraser takes off all of it,” she said.

Tamara Bickley has also created her own makeup line, Tami B Custom Makeup. The custom foundation uses ingredients that are vegan and chemical-free and includes a consultation and color-match session. For more information, visit her website, tamaramakeupart.com.

– Leisah Woldoff

How To Carve Killer Pumpkins This Halloween

October 26th, 2017

Have you always wanted to carve your own pumpkin for Halloween, but it seemed too complicated? So you just used the whole pumpkin as a fall decoration instead?

Fortunately there are plenty of videos online these days that provide instructions to guide you through the process. What are your top tips for carving pumpkins?

Pumpkin carving basics

This “Pumpkin Carving 101” video offers tips to selecting a pumpkin (If it jiggles inside, it’s a good indication that the pumpkin is getting old.), identifies the tools you’ll need, offers step-by-step decorating instructions and even includes a pumpkin seed recipe.

 

 

For the Minecraft lover

This video provides simple steps to carve Minecraft-themed pumpkins with kids. But you can use any stencils if you’re not a Minecraft fan.

 

 

Glow-in-the-dark pumpkins

Want to avoid using a knife? How about making a glow-in-the-dark pumpkin instead? This video offers some tips on how to do this.

 

 

Pumpkins with lifelike faces

Here’s a Martha Stewart interview with artist Ray Villafane that features some of his incredible pumpkin-carving work, as well as instructions on how to carve lifelike faces into pumpkins.

 

 

We love Halloween here at The Flip Side Communications, so we’ll be featuring more Halloween-themed posts over the next few days.

Hunkering In A Hallway With My Two Grandmothers During Hurricane Andrew

September 7th, 2017

When Hurricane Andrew struck South Florida a quarter century ago, I was an upcoming college junior spending the summer at home. My parents had traveled to take my younger brother to start college in California.

Because recent hurricanes at the time had delivered some false alarms, I remember hearing conversations about whether people would take Andrew seriously. I did.

A friend and I stood in line for hours at a grocery store to stock up on supplies. We treated ourselves to snacks while the line weaved through aisles. 

Instead of weathering the storm home alone with our dog, I decided to hunker down with my two grandmas at one of their homes.

Before leaving my own home, I corralled the family’s outdoor cats and locked them in a bathroom, hoping they could co-exist despite their previous differences. I tried to catch a feral cat which considered our property his home. He escaped my clutches and I wished him luck.

After arriving at grandma’s house, I began lowering the home’s old hurricane shutters. The one hanging over the front porch wouldn’t budge.

When the electricity went out that night, I moved my grandmothers into a hallway without windows. I captured the moment, shooting video of my grandmothers and the dog in the hallway. One of my grandmothers squinted as the camera’s light pierced the darkness. (Today, the video tape still sits on a dresser at home.) On the radio, we listened to Bryan Norcross, a local TV weatherman. He provided a play-by-play as Andrew approached and plowed his way through.

I listened as rain and wind, in sporadic sheets, pressed hard against the big, unprotected window in front. I waited to hear shattering glass. Eventually, one of the grandmothers, who had spent four decades dealing with such storms, decided to disobey her 20-year-old grandson. Sitting in a chair in the hallway was not comfortable. She left and laid down in her bedroom beneath two windows.

When the storm ended, I looked outside. The storm had dismantled the overhead screen covering grandma’s pool. One of the hurricane shutters had ripped off the house and landed down the street. We were lucky. Grandma’s home, built in the 1950s, stood up to Mother Nature. But an uncle’s home took a direct hit. And debris flew into the window of a family friend’s home. Wind invaded their home and, with no exit plan, moved room to room, delivering significant damage.

The telephone lines survived the night. In the early morning hours, I called my brother’s college searching for my parents. Someone explained school policy prevented her from providing me personal information such as the telephone number to my brother’s dorm room. After I explained the situation, she received authority to break the rules.

Grandma’s house remained dark for days. I hadn’t realized how much we depend on artificial light until none existed, not even a single street light or the glow of a neighbor’s television. At night, I heard voices in the neighborhood but saw no one. I called a friend. He explained when his family evacuated their home on Miami Beach, it was the first time he saw fear in his father’s eyes. My friend and I spoke for three hours on the phone to occupy our time.

The electricity turned on at my grandma’s home before other locations. An uncle, aunt and cousins started sleeping over to take advantage of the air conditioning. My grandma welcomed the extra company but was not accustomed to the crowd. At one point, she lost her cool. I remember yelling.

I eventually transferred myself to my other grandma’s apartment, which still lacked electricity. One night, she and I sat on her upstairs balcony, talking for hours and listening to mysterious voices and noises below. That time together, the two of us alone with nothing but our words and stories, was my most memorable moment with her.

My parents flew back from California. We drove to our home. Street lights had crashed on to pavement. Debris punctured holes into the tires of cars attempting to navigate the streets. Fallen trees devoured the street I grew up on. We climbed through the woods to get home. The house, built by my father the architect, stood proudly defiant. A tree had toppled on it but split in two without damaging the home. We opened the backdoor and freed the cats. They gingerly stepped outside, sniffing the ground, confused by a different-looking world that changed within hours. The feral cat showed up, safe and looking as if I should have never doubted him.

Landmarks we had taken for granted, such as an otherwise undistinguished tree that reminded drivers where to turn, went missing. Neighborhoods changed.

A grocery store welcomed us inside. Their electric registers and scanners were useless. Someone handed us a black marker. The store employee told us to shop and write on the items the price listed on shelves. Cashiers would take us at our word.

Without electricity, I missed most of the national coverage of the storm. But I watched it a different way. Hurricane Andrew served as a defining moment for the community I grew up in. The only neighborhood I knew, where I had ridden my bike, where my dog had chased me around, never looked the same. The visual transformation was so striking, I felt I had lost a link to the past.

My family has since moved away from Florida. For one, hurricanes have a way of spiking insurance premiums. But home is never too far away. I regularly text the friend who spoke with me on the phone for more than three hours in the dark. He still lives near the beach in Florida. Now Irma is approaching. He evacuated with his family.

Hurricanes are nature’s fully clenched fist. They also demonstrate the compassion society can show for strangers down the street or states away. They remind us how determined we are to stand up when something knocks us down. They teach us to rebuild our communities stronger than before. They show us friends will keep us company in the dark. And they ensure we cherish family even when generations apart.

This hurricane season will eventually no longer dominate headlines. But the impact can last a lifetime. Our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones and homes in Hurricane Harvey and Irma.

It’s A Bad Deed To Mislead

June 16th, 2017

highly misleading video that attempts to use unfounded fears to take advantage of people’s ignorance.

I Wore The Wrong Shoes To My Presentation

May 19th, 2017
explore thedeepestwaters

 

Loren gasped. We stood in a parking lot outside a building where I would soon provide a presentation to executives. She looked at my feet. A black Ecco shoe covered one foot. A black Banana Republic shoe covered the other.

When I put on my shoes on in the early morning in our garage with the lights off, I slipped on shoes from different pairs. Realizing this in the parking lot did not panic me. After all, I can share stories of earning a living on live TV as a news reporter.

Once, after days covering a hurricane and with no access to electricity or showering, I returned to the TV station. Someone unexpectedly asked me to appear on set to provide viewers additional thoughts about the storm. I quickly shaved without cream, gashing my chin. On set, one of the anchors tried to stop the bleeding during a commercial break. He then reassured me my chin was OK. It wasn’t. After presenting my hurricane story on camera, the anchor ended the segment by promising viewers I was OK. The blood on my face, he explained, resulted from shaving.

This is why unintentionally wearing mismatched shoes for a presentation did not scare me. I initially decided I would share the story as an icebreaker. Then Loren pointed out the larger Ecco shoe might appear as a modified walking boot. This persuaded me to stay silent about my shoes and dare someone to ask about what happened to my foot.

While we set up for my presentation in a conference room, the shoes turned into only a footnote when Loren and I realized we left our laptop at home. Leaving behind our laptop did not panic me. After all, I can provide a presentation without a computer.

But my audience would miss a couple key components without my laptop. Loren called my Dad. Could he pick up our laptop and drive 30 minutes to our location? Could he also bring my other Banana Republic shoe?

My Dad somehow arrived prior to the start of my presentation. Loren met him downstairs and then called me into a side hallway as the audience began filling their seats. She handed me the laptop bag. I looked inside a side pocket where we normally store documents or computer accessories. She had stuffed the matching shoe inside. I walked back inside the conference room holding a laptop and wearing matching shoes.

While I provided my presentation in the conference room, the laptop turned into an afterthought when Loren and I realized the copy store did not print one of our three handouts. Not including one of our handouts did not panic me. After all, I can provide key points on a whiteboard.

But how did the missing handout escape us? When we picked up the handouts, the cashier asked us to review our copies. I looked at them and confirmed our order. The different handouts looked similar. However, the copy store had printed double the amount of one of the handouts and none of another.

Did I mention my presentation focused on preparing ahead of time for a potential media crisis? The mismatched shoes, forgotten laptop and missing handout did not strengthen my self validation on speaking about the importance of preparation.

After my presentation ended, one executive told me the seminar exceeded his expectations. Two other CEOs characterized the presentation as excellent. The aforementioned issues had not panicked me. After all, I can still make my wife gasp, laugh and be proud of me within the same morning.

American Airlines Incident: Why You Should Media Train Employees Even If They Won’t Talk To Reporters

April 24th, 2017
During a media crisis, be prepared for reporters who seek your organization’s permission to report the story live from your property. (2)

 

 

When I worked as a television reporter and arrived on the scene of an incident involving a company, I normally first encountered a frontline employee before one of the organization’s executives. The employees sometimes stayed silent other than telling me I would need to wait for a spokesperson’s arrival. But other employees frequently talked to me, gave me information or got into a confrontation with me. I specifically remember an apartment complex office employee arguing with me with the camera rolling about our story on the property’s swimming pool.

In the recent American Airlines video involving a crying passenger, you can see an employee getting into it with another passenger. Media training is not only for top executives. That’s because executives aren’t normally on the frontlines of their businesses with daily, face-to-face contact with customers and unexpected visits from members of the media. Some of the same techniques executives learn during media training work when handling upset customers or any member of the public who might raise questions about your business. Even if you instruct employees to keep their mouths shut when a reporter unexpectedly arrives, those employees must still handle agitated customers armed with smartphones shooting video. And while those customers may not be journalists, journalists often can’t wait to get their hands on that video. We remember numerous times when companies escalated situations because frontline employees did not know how to properly handle our concerns.

You don’t need to train every employee to become a spokesperson or learn by heart every one of your brand’s key messages. But you should take steps to ensure an employee’s initial encounter with a reporter or angry customer doesn’t generate news before the real spokesperson shows up with all the right answers.