September Meet & Greet

It’s time for September’s Partner Meet & Greet!

This month we talked to Indoff Partner, Angus Garfield. Angus is a part of our Promotional and Business Products divisions. Here is what he had to say!

If you could live anywhere in the world, no strings attached, where would you live? Why?

Back in the mid 80s, after I studied in Paris, I really loved living and working in the UK and would love to return there someday, probably back in London or maybe a move to the countryside would be in order.  The British culture is highly advanced though they temper it all with wit and a sense of humor, and the right balance.  They welcome all types of people and don’t pre-judge you based on what you do for a living (in fact they rarely ask the question: “what do you do for a living”?).  I met more fun people there in three years and from all walks of life.

What is your favorite movie?

“Cat People”, which was filmed in New Orleans, at the Zoo, across from Tulane University, my Alma Mater.

What would you do with a million dollars?

That is not a lot of money today, but I would probably build a more sustainable house, as energy costs are killing everyone, and try and get off the grid using every technology available, and grow my own food 12 months of the year since I love to cook and it is crazy to be buying food from all over the world when we can do it for ourselves. With the money I save, I could travel the world with my children over several years, and put money aside for their advanced education while giving money to some favorite charities and programs.  I might also start or buy a restaurant as I am lifelong cook and will be attending Culinary School.

How long have you been in the business?

Probably too long, but it is a hard business to leave!  I started a home based team sporting goods business in 1990 selling to schools, teams, recreation departments, and then the business morphed into more of a corporate sportswear and ASI promotional products distributorship, since my background before that was in corporate sales, .  I had a retail store for about two years which was full of sample uniforms and some equipment, and I had giant open topped free standing file cabinets holding thousands of catalogs, never seeming to be able to keep them updated.  We even had all the ASI catalogs on a Micro Fiche machine, which gladly we sent back to ASI when that technology became obsolete.  The retail concept wasn’t for me, so I changed to an office Showroom concept for several years, and then with technology changing the way it did, I am back to a home based model.   I’ve had to constantly change my business over the years to keep it competitive and to keep me interested.  It seems I have to reinvent myself every few years. So, to answer your question, 22 years.

What is one thing you are most proud of?

Raising two girls (with my now ex-wife) to be the great ladies that they are, at the ages of 13 & 15.  They are the joy of my life.

 

What is your favorite quote?

“The heart has its reasons of which Reason knows nothing.”

From the French Philosopher, Blaise Pascal

 

If you could have any super power, which one would you choose?

To be able to read someone’s mind

 

What made you decide to join Indoff?

After being self employed, a franchisee with AIA, and an Independent 1099 Sales Rep with Boundless Network, I was looking for a business model that would set me free from the drudgery of running my own business, filing sales tax reports, dealing with quarterly tax payments, etc so that I could just focus on selling while Indoff pays the vendors, invoices the customers, puts money in my retirement account, gives me access to disability, health, and dental insurance if I want it, and gives me a clean W-2 at the end of the year.

 

What do you enjoy most about working at Indoff?

Complete independence to run my business as a W-2 employee, however I want, within the conservative and reasonable guidelines provided by Indoff,  without excessive management oversight while at the same time benefiting from the product and sales expertise of all of the Indoff Sales Partners.

 

What is the farthest you have been from home?

Probably Cairo, Egypt. where I went on a business trip in the mid 80’s trying to help a British manufacturer who wanted to find a local distributorship through which to sell his haberdashery products.  Those were the days before the internet!

September Vendor Spotlight: Hon

Inspired by practicality and invested in understanding the needs of its customers, The HON Company strives to establish meaningful connections resulting in product solutions and customer support that exceed market demands. As a leading designer and manufacturer of workplace furniture including chairs, storage, panel systems, tables and desks, HON’s commitment to serving its customers is rooted in reliable performance and a member culture that is approachable, confident, smart and ready to serve.

The HON Ready Portal (honready.hon.com) provides one-stop access to all the information and tools you need to sell HON products. Locate marketing resources, product and design resources, programs and rewards, HON’s library and learning center- all of which are available 24/7. Other resources include: order management; lead-time updates; Integrated Design Solutions project requests; request a bid proposal, and much more.

The HON Company Solutions Account Team is your support to land furniture sales. The HON team’s services include: present HON product training and new product launches; support on project opportunities, specifications, bids and RFP responses; facilitate participation with HON programs and promotions; participate in sales meetings and events; create customized/co-branded collateral including product information and sell sheets; research and analyze competitive product information; coordination of space planning services.

The Spot for HON Furniture™ is your place for everything HON. It’s a HON-branded micro-site that makes it easier than ever for your customers to shop HON’s best-selling chairs, desks, and storage options. Think of The Spot for HON Furniture micro-site functioning as a specialty kiosk at the mall. As you browse from store to store, sometimes the selection can be overwhelming. With this customized shopping experience, you can stop at the HON Furniture kiosk without leaving the mall and review HON’s best-selling workplace solutions with the ease and convenience of viewing them all in one spot. Features include: best-selling HON products; convenient, simple shopping experience; compare multiple products at once; detailed product descriptions and images; color options to help create the desired environment. Learn more at honready.hon.com.

The Elevator Speech Gets a Makeover

Most of us have heard of the “elevator speech”. It’s a very short blurb, usually about 30 seconds to a minute, introduction about yourself and what you do. Everyone from college students to established professionals tend to use this, in some form, when they meet new people, prospects, and contacts. An elevator speech usually starts out with your name, if not already known. Then it goes into what you do for a living, your skills, desires, etc.

Check out this video on how to form an elevator speech.

Now that you know what an elevator speech is and how to build one, go ahead and forget that concept.

There is a new idea that mocks this “quick pitch” idea. It is becoming known as the anti-elevator speech. The anti elevator speech, as described in an article in Toastmaster, is taking the idea of an elevator speech and twisting it to make the person you are meeting want to know more about you.

It starts with a hook. A hook, in this context, means a short tag line that draws in interest about your work. For example, “I create memories”. Instantly, the average person wants to know more. The article goes on to say you should keep your hook short and confusing.

This sounded strange at first to me, but after thinking about it, it does make sense. I, personally, find it hard to remember names. I find myself making up clever ways to remember them like “Sarah has a red sweater” or “Mike is really tall”. An introduction, like “I create memories”, turns red-sweater Sarah into Sarah, the creative and clever, attention getter.

The second part of the anti-elevator speech is the reel. The article explains this portion of the speech as a chance to reveal what you do without turning your speech into a sales pitch. It basically says to turn the informative portion of your elevator speech into a guessing game. For example, you would tell the person you are meeting that you “create memories” by capturing monumental moments in peoples’ lives using state of the art camera equipment.

This blurb could replace, “I’m a photographer for a local photography studio.”

While the above statement does get the point across, it’s rather vague and a little boring. It’s definitely not memorable to say the least.

In all, this “version” of the self promotion speech is to make your presence memorable and sticky (a Malcolm Gladwell reference). Of course, it should be up to you how you want to present yourself. Not everyone may think something like the anti-elevator speech is appropriate for every situation, but you have to admit, it’s definitely a memory maker.

What other ways have you found to be effective when meeting someone for the first time? Do you think the anti-elevator speech is even a good idea? Sound off below!

Tips For Entrepreneurs

Starting your own business can be daunting. There is so much to take into consideration. Since I, personally, don’t have any first-hand experience on opening and running my own business for the first time I will take you through an interesting article I found on the subject.

The article is from Young Entrepreneur and goes through 10 different ideas for starting and running your own business.

The first thing to remember when just starting out is to come up with a plan. You may have good ideas, but with nothing written down, you can run into countless roadblocks and obstacles that you may not have thought of along the way. Writing out a business plan allows you to see what you are actually planning and how you are going to get from point A to point B. It basically maps out the path you are about to travel.

You have to ask yourself what you are selling. Even a nonprofit company has to make some sort of income (usually from donations) to offset their operating costs. By stepping back and analyzing the goods and services you are providing, you can get an idea of where your new company is headed. Remember, not every company is going to be the next million dollar organization. You have to do research to tap into your target market and see what they are looking for. If you can tap into those desires, and execute them effectively, you have a better chance of being successful.

A tip that sounds especially important to me is to watch out for who and what is around you. Look for competitors in your market. Your competitors are great sources to learn from. Starting out, you can look at what didn’t work for them and learn from their mistakes. Protecting your intellectual information is another good idea. Unprotected, your investors, co-executives, and other companies can use that information in ways unintended by you.

Investing in marketing is probably one of the most important things you can do for your new company. Getting your brand into multiple channels of media is essential. The more people see your brand the more likely they will be to incorporate it into their daily lives.

Finally, the article ends saying that you shouldn’t give up. It’s easy to get frustrated and cut your losses after seeing “red” for the first few quarters, but where would we be if Steve Jobs decided to completely “call it quits” after leaving Apple the first time?

Being an entrepreneur is hard, I think we can all agree on that. Many companies end up not making ends meet and unfortunately have to “close their doors”, but what can potentially come out of entrepreneurship is success and opportunity and who doesn’t want that? Read the full article for more start up tips and information on writing a business plan, marketing your brand, and much more!

Indoff Voted One of the Best Places to Work

We are pleased to announce that Indoff has been named one of the best places to work in 2012 by Counselor magazine! We have made this list for the last four years and hope to continue our climb to number one.

This list is compiled of companies that have highly satisfied employees. These employees believe that their company exceeds expectations when it comes to communication and motivation. They not only have a good grip on their financials and how their business runs, but they incorporate their employees’, making them feel involved in the goals and operations of the company. The companies that made this list tend to host events and fun meetings to incorporate the employees into that company’s culture. Their mission is to making their employees want to work for them.

Indoff does just that.

We try to give our Sales Partners complete freedom when it comes to selling. They are in charge of their own business model and how they sell. Indoff is there to do the back office work; marketing, finances, IT, etc. Once a year we have a National Sales meeting that allows Partners, old and new, to meet with some of the vendors they work with and get to know the people they only talk to via email and telephone.

We try our best to be there when our Partners need us the most. Indoff believes that prompt communication and assistance is just the first step to creating an effective work environment. We are thrilled to receive this award, but it really wouldn’t have been possible without the help and dedication of our Sales Partners!

Counselor Magazine is the voice of the Promotional Products industry. It is published 13 times a year and highlights events, shows, and up-and-coming products.

Do You Use Social Media Responsibly?

Social media is powerful. There is no question about it. It can literally break a company or public figure if used the wrong way. An article, found on mashable.com, explains how social media keeps people, especially company leaders honest. Companies with a social media presence have to be especially careful since sites like Facebook and Twitter tend to pose as a platform for digging up once hidden information and complaints. With these sites companies are now accountable for not only what they say online, but how they behave offline as well. Social media makes you more visible, therefore making your accountability skyrocket.

So what does this mean for the rest of us?

Most of us don’t own our own multi-million dollar company and we don’t have the responsibility of running a city so it may not seem like social responsibility is a big deal.

It’s actually a very big deal.

Creating an honest appearance and watching the content you post online can be the best choice when deciding to develop an online presence.

A quote from the article states, “Every single individual has now been empowered to create a mass movement.”

In other words, when a customer, future client, or even a potential employer sees content that they may find offensive or simply do not agree with, it can hurt your business. That one person who has a problem with how someone behaves or what content they post has the power to form an army of people with their same views.

This may be a problem if you are trying to do business via social media or even online. Social media sites have formed strong communities causing information to spread like wildfire if given to the right person. It could damage your reputation and have people thinking twice about doing business with you.

Many people still go ahead with the controversial actions and posts and it doesn’t seem to have an effect on their business or their lives in general. While this may be true, one has to think about the future. What you say today can directly affect you tomorrow. That’s one of the bittersweet things about the Internet; it remembers everything.

In all, watch what you are putting on the Internet. Take a second and ask yourself a few questions

  • Is this a controversial subject?
  • Would I offend someone if I posted this?
  • Opinions aside, are the images I’m about to post too graphic or one-sided?

Here are more strategies for social media etiquette.

Want to read the whole mashable.com article? Click Here!

Are You Partner Material?

So far we have talked about interesting articles, Indoff’s Vendors, and a little on what Indoff is all about. Some people who aren’t familiar with Indoff may wonder just how we get such great additions to our sales team.

We refer to our sales team as our Sales Partners because we see these people as not just an employee, but a vital part of our company.  Because we value our Partners, we don’t hire just anyone. One of our recruiters, Ashlyn Fell, goes on to explain what it takes to become a part of Indoff.

“Hello, my name is Ashlyn Fell. I have been working in the Recruiting Department, here at Corporate, for two years now. My job is to reach out to potential outside sales professionals, daily, and speak with them about our Partner Program.

Indoff looks for outside Sales Professionals. An outside Sales Professional is anyone who has been in the industry for at least 3 to 5 years and someone who knows the ins and outs of their industry. Someone with a solidified customer base and who takes pride in the work they display to their customers.

If this sounds like something that you are interested in, fit this criteria, and are looking to branch out into something new, feel free to give me a call. We can discuss the program and I can answer questions you might have, along with sending you out some very useful information about the program in more detail.”

Does this sound like something you’re interested in or know someone who would be? Contact us! We would love to hear from you!

Indoff’s 2012 National Sales Meeting Update

Indoff’s National Sales Meeting is only 7 weeks away! This year we are expecting just over 150 of our Sales Partners and over 100 Vendors at the meeting. We are excited to welcome back some familiar faces as well as introduce some new ones to the Indoff family.

This year, we will be holding the 2012 National Sales Meeting at the St. Charles convention center, about 25 minutes away from downtown. The Partners will be able to attend classes given by Vendors, Indoff Sales Partners and corporate employees. The classes are a chance for the Partners and everyone in attendance to learn a little more about their Industries.

A Vendor expo will close Friday evening. This in an opportunity for Partners to talk with a few of the Vendors they work with and come up with ideas and solutions for them and their customers.

A cocktail hour and an awards dinner will take place after the classes on Saturday bringing the weekend to a close.

We are very excited for the National Sales Meeting and can’t wait to see everyone! Check out our blog site after the meeting (the week of October 29th) for full coverage and tons of great pictures!