located in Reinbek, Germany has overcome hurdles for over 100 years with long standing company growth and vision. There have been many difficulties since the company was founded in 1881, but each time they found a way to overcome no matter how tragic it seemed at the time.
The year 1920 marked a global economic crisis, slowing the sales of tea. Wollenhaupt quickly decided to add two new profit centers. The trend of the now popular spices vanilla and nutmeg seemed just the ticket. But in 1937, World War II took a toll on all trading, stopping tea and spice sales cold. The company did manage to eventually survive the bombings and raids in the area, and it was soon business as usual, until the untimely death of the owner, Paul Wollenhaupt. His son Ulrich became his successor, pushing on while bringing new and modern machines to the forefront. All this while expanding the company towards new growth yet again. Years later, with Ulrich’s death in 1989, sons Dirk and Jorg added yet again young, fresh ideas, making Wollenhaupt one of the largest and most successful tea companies worldwide.
For this European company, who now boasts over 45 million € annually, the secret seems to lie in its expansion and partnership. With foreign business expanding in the mid 1960’s, overseas western clients were clearly needed in addition to a strong sales team that could handle a new area and communicate well in the U.S. This also meant leaving the old headquarters due to the new growth. “This was scary, as it meant moving further away from the city and focus of the tea center. We took a risk and stayed true to our vision and it worked in our favor,” said Jorg and Dirk Wollenhaupt. To date, this brings yet another goal for Wollenhaupt, which includes in depth researching of flavor trends among young people.
Business people like to be in charge, and they are usually pretty good at it, or so they think. But there is a fine line between leadership that can make all the difference in your success, and employee morale. Burnout can ensue, and they need to delegate specific jobs to staff as it arises. Next, is trying to do so, without becoming the loathed, “Micro Manager.” Nothing is worse than having your work over checked and being followed. There has to be a level of trust in order to let go and be a leader, not just a manager.
Warren Bennis, an expert in the field of leadership studies, quotes in his book, Leader to Leader that he feels a distinction between the two as follows:
“Remember, no one thing will make your company admirable,” quotes Thomas Stewart, a writer for Fortune magazine, “but if you were forced to pick the one that makes the most difference, you’d pick leadership. People are voting for the artist and not the painting.”
- “Managers have short term prospective - leaders have long term prospective.”
- “Managers administer - leaders innovate.”
- “Managers ask ‘When?’ - leaders ask ‘Why?’”
- “Managers maintain - leaders develop.”
Anyone can be an authoritarian, shouting orders, demanding things get done, and yes, most people will jump out of fear of losing their job. However, a true leader will be authoritative. Similar to parenting, the up side is you will gain respect.
Paper or Plastic
We all know what to expect in customer service, the normal questions and answers. But does your business shine? Do they offer to “carry your groceries to the car?” so to speak. If you don’t have at least three extras that you can implement on a consistent basis to outshine another competitor, then you have no edge. This does not mean pushy sales people “over offering,” it means character, integrity and following through. It means hiring employees who are more than friendly, they need to have charisma. Stop selling and start sharing. Your following will emerge when people want to buy from you because of who you are. Share your knowledge, teach and be patient with your clients. Your passion will win them over before a brochure will. People don’t like to feel sold. People will support and buy from those they can identify with.
Got To Be Real
Jerry Maurer is the owner of Bistro 7, a coffee and teashop in Clinton, New York. Because he is near the local University campus, he knew his company was headed for trouble when students began thinning out on the off season, and also after five o’clock in the evening. “They just sort of roll up the sidewalks around here,” he stated. So he decided to climb into their skin and started to think like a student. Being proactive, he decided to “be real” to the students, so he invited and encouraged them to display their art on his cafe walls for free. He also offered to host art shows after hours at no cost.
Bistro 7 was soon on the map as the cool place to hang out, and the shows became interactive for several reasons, like free coffee, music, and “not to mention the fact that when someone has their art splashed all over the walls, they are going to tell everyone they know to go look at it.” Once they knew who he was, Maurer was the big man on campus.
Running With Scissors
Even though business owners know better, they keep doing dangerous things. They take out a million homemade ads in small local newspapers, sign years of contracts for teeny-tiny, business card size ads for thousands of dollars. They have the vision that everyone who reads the paper will immediately see it, be moved, cut it out and run into their business with their discount coupon clutched in a sweaty palm. It takes many steps to make this happen. Often, an old saying still rings true: “Don’t put all of your eggs into one basket.”
The biggest mistake business owners make is lack of exposure. It is crucial to gain real publicity, not just advertising. There is a huge difference between the two, mainly that one is free. Publicity is being covered by newspapers and magazines, while advertising is buying your way in, usually in the form of an advertisement. Coverage in the form of an article or interview is a magical thing. Most business owners couldn’t afford this if they knew what several pages would cost them to buy. Almost 100% of the companies I have consulted have not only never sent out a press release, they have never even heard of one.
Your Friend, The Editor
A press release is an announcement of newsworthy information and includes details and contact information about a company. All editors of magazines, newspapers, television and radio thrive on producing stories. If they had to search for all the news everyday, it would be almost impossible for them to produce their product. This is a little known fact, but is also great news for business owners who want to get free publicity.
One can search online for a press release template, and simply copy the format with their own business contact information, and choose one new item or a grand opening to announce, for example. Sometimes you have to come up with something newsworthy in order to create a press release. It’s ok to have the cart before the horse. Make a list of ideas that spawn a good PR campaign, but do not announce a sale. Be proactive, be creative and think of ideas that will be interesting. Something with a human interest twist, can seal the deal in many cases.
Write something to gain the attention of the editor, with a two-week lag time consideration, as well. Don’t send something or call the same day, and expect them to jump. Local media want local stories within the readership community. Bigger media and magazines want coverage on what’s hot and considered trend setting information. Don’t go into too many details, just entice and intrigue them. Remember, a press release is not an advertisement. It is an invitation for an interview to gain coverage.
On A Mission
A mission statement is an item that too many business owners overlook, or dread doing as part of a business plan. Many think it is just for the big companies. This is not so. A mission statement should be a short, clear statement that says who your company is and what are its core beliefs, its promises, and what the company stands for. According to www.planpro.com, a mission statement should be a cross between a slogan and an executive summary and no more than three sentences long. It should avoid saying how great a company is, or list what great service it offers. A good start is to look at other mission statements, but avoid copying. It has to be what you actually believe in, nothing made up.
A mission statement doesn’t have to be long to work. Take Judi Rossabi, owner of the Yoga Café and Tea Bar in Greensboro, North Carolina, who came up with a unique mission statement about tea and health, and what her business represents with just one word: Oasis. With a tag line that follows, “refresh your mind, renew your spirit.”
According to staff member Rebecca Naw, “It is something all our employees believe and can easily remember. This encapsulates all our beliefs,” she states. “It trickles down to our clients, as well. Employees who don’t hold true to this belief, and are not on board with this attitude to make our clients’ tea experience a true oasis in their day, have been terminated. We take it very seriously. Everyone here has to be of the same mindset to give our customers a serene experience. If they can’t do that, we are not afraid to pull the plug.”
With That Said
So before you throw in the coffee filter, make some adjustments and start thinking about your business in a new light. With a few precautions in place, a smile on your face and a publicity boost, you too can give your business a face lift to shine above the others. Remember, differentiate or die. Use your gift of creativity with honesty, integrity, and above all empathy, and you will be naturally creating extraordinary experiences for your clients along the way. Make your claims a reality, and your customers will know you are the real deal.
Lisa Wynn is the owner of Artisans Cup, a custom tea flavoring company. She is also a freelance writer and consults on marketing and public relations. She can be reached at www.artisanscup.com or at tel: (1)(336) 218-0108.