THE BLOG

18
Dec

A Company Grows…

It feels pretty good to be a part of a company that’s growing, in a city that’s growing, in a country that seems to be weathering global financial chaos.

Yes, we’re sheltered from some of the anarchy because of some (relatively) sound fiscal/banking policies from Ottawa, and because of the high demand for Canadian energy and agricultural commodities. But these things only provide a small business with fertile ground on which to grow. In my observation, a company grows when it sets the bar high. A company grows when its people are willing to challenge each other on details because they’re passionate about getting a project right for the client. A company grows when it earns its client’s trust with new business.

And grow we have!

This year alone we added three new full-time staff members and doubled our space by leasing the office adjacent to us. The space includes a new work area for our creative team, lovingly referred to as the Noodle Bar (tell Kate you think it’s a clever name—it will make her happy), as well as a large warehouse area that allows us to spread out when we’re fulfilling print orders. We’re also putting the finishing touches on a new space upstairs, which will become a conference and training room.

Am I saying that we’re growing at a rate that will mean we’ll have our own skyscraper in downtown Calgary next to the IG Saddledome in 10 years? Yes. Whatever the case, being a part of growth up to now has been a lot of fun and I look forward to the fun that lies ahead!

17
Dec

Christmas Anxiety

I find that every year it’s a mad dash to get ready for Christmas. I love the Christmas break and would like nothing better than to begin it on December 1. Unfortunately for me, I am no longer able to spend my time shopping, decorating, shopping, baking, shopping, cooking and most important of all, shopping.

Since we left Domain and our families behind 24 years ago, I have felt the need to create the perfect Christmas experience for our girls. Once in a while we had extended family come to visit but we usually celebrated with just the 5 of us. It’s very hard to fulfill all the expectations of little girls and avoid the tears and sadness of disappointment that come with not fulfilling those expectations! So my goal was to try to avoid the tears with the perfect gift, which meant painful agonizing over what the perfect gift was.

It’s become easier since the marriage of 2 of our daughters. I have placed the burden of their gift expectations firmly in the very capable hands of our son-in-law’s, knowing that they will do just fine.

As we stood around Jenny’s kitchen on Saturday pinching pierogies for Christmas Eve dinner, I realized I now have a lot of help creating the perfect experience. We all have jobs to share the “work” of making Christmas happen.

I think too, that the perfect experience has changed – it’s not about the gifts (even though they are still very important), it’s the time we spend together and the enjoyment that brings.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

17
Dec

Our training programs

Impact Group has been involved in training small businesses for the last 10 years. Based on the experience we have gained by interviewing employees and customers of multiple rural businesses across the Prairies and Ontario, we have developed training programs that help businesses become better at serving their customers and their staff.

Our leadership training teaches how to reduce negative behaviour among employees by establishing a positive work environment of encouragement, accountability, hard work, and initiative. Leadership is a skill and our program is designed to teach leadership skills to people at all levels of an organization. We address behaviour and relationship issues among staff and teach a process that encourages individuals to be accountable for their behaviour. Designed to help people take an introspective look at themselves, this program includes a 360° evaluation.

In our Human Resources sessions we provide the tools to help businesses set their staff up to succeed, both professionally and personally. We developed this program because of the need we identified in rural-based businesses to attract and retain high performing employees, to increase supervision skills and increase understanding in how to engage and motivate staff. In this session we also work through creating a realistic succession plan for retiring owners and/or for the internal movement of key employees to protect the vision and value of the business. This session is great for any company that is growing or looking to put more emphasis on improving the internal message to staff.

Launching Stuff is a fun workshop style session that walks a business through a step-by-step process for creating a plan to launch a new product or service. Being able to properly market your business is based in knowing what you offer that is truly valuable, understanding why customers buy, and making offers that are hard to turn down. This program was developed to help dealers create excitement among staff and create “push” to customers to demonstrate differentiation over competitors. In this session participants will leave with a couple of real-time, actionable launch plans for their own products or services.

We work hard to ensure that our training programs deliver what our clients need, which means we are continually revising and editing our programs for each training session, much to the annoyance of our production staff!

17
Dec

The Family Business

I work with 8 people who have known each other for between 12 and 33 years. I have been working here at Impact Group for 20 months. I have to say that it was quite intimidating coming in as the newbie in the beginning, but I can’t imagine how weird it must have been for the gang when I started here. No one here has known me my whole life, or even half of it for that matter.

But I can tell you that the last 20 months have been fantastic. I have learned so much about agriculture, advertising, and business coaching. But here are some fun things that I have learned about my awesome co-workers:

Craig dislikes high-fives but has a great double air fist pump.
Cheryl’s jokes are always perfectly timed.
Mike and I like to compete with each other, just for fun.
Kate is a coffee activist and colour specialist.
Jenny raises her voice when she feels passionate about something.
Chris is smart and funny.
Heidi is never mean and makes great brownies.
Vicki is the master of lightening the mood.

And now that I am leaving for my maternity leave for a whole year I feel sad that I won’t get to experience these things on a daily basis. I will for sure be visiting often.

17
Dec

The Evolution of Impact Group

So, I was asked to write a bit about the evolution of Impact Group. Here is the problem, evolution implies the slow and steady growth and development of something over time – our story is more of a big bang type of deal.

Things began 10 years ago, it was a bright, warm summer…ya da ya da ya.
Craig (or Dad as I like to call him) asked me to join him in his new business at the outset ,and it was just the two of us for a while, until Cheryl (or mom) noticed the gaping lack of accounting ability and decided that we needed her talents – which we did. We stayed like this, the three of us, for a long time, our office in my basement.

5 years later was our next big change, Mike (he would call me his better half) joined the team. I guess up until this point we had something of an evolution, but this is where the big bang happened.

We hired Jenny (lil’ sis), got an office, hired Amanda the intern, got a bigger office, hired Sheena and Chris, hired Heidi, got an even bigger office, and then hired Vicki (baby sis), and now it’s time to breathe – me, from that ginormous run-on sentence, and our business, from that ginormous growth spurt.

I love where we are now, resting comfortably in our space and getting to know each other in this setting. But at the same time, I am looking forward to where the years will take us, the new clients that we will meet, and getting to know all of or current clients better – man, I love this job!

14
Dec

Surfin’ Can Build Your Credibility

There aren’t a lot of things that can affect a customer’s initial impression of who you are quite like your website, including a lack of one. Your website is often the first interaction you have with a potential customer or employee and it requires a shift in thinking to make a great first impression. Relying on your sales team or customer service reps to provide you with a positive first impression isn’t all that is required anymore. In fact, a person calling you or stopping by to check you out has probably already made a decision to do or not do so based on their impression from seeing you online. At Impact Group, we understand the importance of making a good first impression, which is why building an online portfolio for your company is not something we take lightly. We work hard to understand who you are and what you want to say to customers to make their decision to become a customer easy. We also make sure you are setup for the future by providing solutions that have user-friendly content management systems, interfaces, and mobile browser options.

Here are a few of our websites and key features that we are particularly proud of:

www.northstargenetics.com
Massive Data Management & Map Plotting Interface

www.grow.ca
Interactive Dealer Locator

www.fieldsmart.ca
Single-Page Design, Responsive Functionality

www.blairs.ag
Integrated Market Data & News Feed, Browser Aware Mobile Site

For more information about us visit www.impactgr.com. We look forward to helping you build your brand and credibility online. Until then, surf’s up!

14
Dec

What’s So Wrong With Email?

It is a common issue in our office and, I’m sure, many offices across North America, that email is the preferred form of communication.

I am part of this “issue” (if it really needs to be considered an issue), I fully admit, but I think it is an old school problem. People who started in business before email existed, or even when email existed but before it was trusted, have a mind-set that for real communication to happen it has to be done on the phone or in person. Is this still true in our information age?

When it comes to work, I often hesitate to pick up the phone, mostly because I feel like I lack the skills of telephone conversation, but I can often get my point across better when I have thought it out and put time into writing my message in an email. And I don’t usually have a problem with this form of communication.

Some people do have a problem with it, though, and I find that those people usually conform to the “old school,” a world where technology can’t be trusted and business can be done on a handshake.

So when my dad/boss says to me, “why don’t you just call this person,” I say, “I am a much better communicator via email,” and isn’t that what it’s all about, being able to effectively communicate?

I understand the value of a telephone conversation, as well. Sometimes you just need to get a hold of a person to relay a quick or urgent message or for clarity, to fully understand the message. I think talking to a person on the phone has value, but it’s not the only way, and it’s not always necessary.

I am, here and now, making a stand for email as a positive form of communication (without knocking the telephone) and long for a world where I can send emails without judgment and expectations of a call to follow.

14
Dec

From Childcare to Client care

In the past few months of having a new job, I have found that I have really enjoyed the change of pace. I found that when doing childcare, I was constantly running around after children and the job was very draining. The 6 1/2 years of running a daycare was the best choice for our family at the time – I was able to be home with my 2 daughters and teach them the way I wanted to. Now, however, they are both in school, and it was time for a change for me. I am now working with adults and I love the change. I find that I am picking my girls up from school with energy to spend time with them and loving every minute of it. I also find that my work does not exhaust me in the same way it used to – probably because I truly enjoy the work I am doing. I get to do a job I love and have time and energy for my family – I think I have found a great balance and I look forward to continuing.

14
Dec

Its been 10 years

Unbelievable as it seems Impact Group has been in business 10 years. As we currently sit, my wife Cheryl, our three daughters, Kate, Jenny and Vicki, Kate’s husband Mike, his sister Heidi and her husband Chris, as well as Jenny’s friend Sheena make up our company of nine people.

I did not see this strange configuration of family and friends coming together and all being in one business. Many would say we are nuts. Others say “you must be living a dream.” I would suggest that neither are accurate. Working with family members can be the best and worst of times. My belief is when its good its good for both (the family and the business) and when its bad its bad for both. So the risk of something happening at work that affects the family is certainly there. But that risk exists in every family whether they people work together or not.

Many people say “my spouse and I could never work together.” Fortunately Cheryl and I work well together and the reason is logical. The things we bring each other that have helped us be balanced and happy in our marriage for 33 years are the same things that keep us balanced and happy at work. And when one of us talks about work, the other can certainly relate because its the same work, same people, same clients, same goals, same frustrations and hopefully, the same retirement date. I would never suggest this can work for others but I’m very pleased its working for us. And the nicest part is how Cheryl’s talents have blossomed and she is contributing in ways that surprise her. And that is true of every single person in our company. Its very nice to see.

And then there is agriculture. When I left the farm I tried my darnedest to get out of agriculture. It didn’t happen and I am thankful.  I am so proud to be making a living in agriculture. And I’m lucky. When I left the farm I could not possibly imagine the joy and pride I now feel 25 years later because I stayed in ag. But I am. And now my city raised children, and their relatives and friends are benefiting from it as well. Who would have thought. I didn’t know. But God did. He always does.

Thanks to all our clients who have trusted us to help them. Thanks to farmers and their determined spirit. Thanks to all those who choose to serve in this industry. Thanks to my family who is our company and all who have chosen to join us. And thank God for the many, many blessings!