Friday, October 3, 2008

Meet the Ladies Who Are Changing the Face of Business - Pam Archer

I'm starting a new project and I'm so excited! I have met so many wonderful women who have been instrumental in helping achieve all that I have. Now I want you to meet them too! So, I am interviewing each of them and each week I will share an interview with you. Prepare to meet some of the most talented, dynamic, and successful women entrepreneurs. Take notes - because what they will teach you can change your life!

Weddings and Fitness. I'm not sure how those two businesses are related. But this week's guest has managed to build successful businesses around each of those areas. Pam and I met when we both became Divas and members of Boomer Diva Nation. I was intrigued by her businesses. Since I am always struggling with my own fitness level, her expertise was invaluable to me. Many of my site selection clients are ladies seeking the perfect location for their weddings. Even though I only work to help them find the location, I still have stories to tell. So it was interesting to hear Pam share her experience and advice with all the aspects of wedding planning I never get involved in. When I decided to do this series on my blog, I knew I had to have her. She's fun, she's smart, she's a DIVA all the way, she's Pam Archer!

1. Tell us about yourself.

I’m older than dirt, but have a passion for life, and anticipate that the best is yet to come. I am married, and the mother to three daughters, the eldest of who is my business partner. East Tennessee, in the awesome Appalachian Mountains, is my home. I was born and raised in Knoxville. One of six siblings, born to a Baptist minister, I have a heritage steeped in southern tradition, for which I am very grateful.

2. Tell us about your businesses.

Well, I have two.

I am the president of Archer Fitness Consultants, Inc., which umbrellas everything I do in the fitness industry, from producing exercise videos to teaching classes, personal training, and certifying instructors all over the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. I have had the privilege to work on national TV, with Jenny Craig, Int’l, on an exercise show called “Jenny’s Fit in 15”. I am still very active in the fitness industry, video production, and training instructors. I write a health and fitness column for a local newspaper, and blog for

My other business, Pamela’s Exclusive Floral & Event Design is a full service wedding and event planning company. We are not a retail store rather we are strictly dedicated to creating dynamic and dramatic special events, including elegant floral design. I have a trained and artistic staff of floral designers, directors, coordinators, and design specialists. We will travel anywhere at any time. We provide personal, professional, and exemplary service to our clientele.

3. Why did you start your own business?

To tell you the truth, I didn’t plan either of my businesses, they just happened!

As for the fitness career, I had created an innovative and unique workout. It was a step work out, meant to be performed with a partner, employing the use of two steps. My classes loved the workout, and I experimented with it at my trainings. In 1995, my husband and I made the decision to produce a video of it. Our attorney advised us to incorporate, so that is exactly what we did. We had no idea that this would open the doors in the industry the way that it did. The business expanded from there to include all of the other activities.

Pamela’s Exclusive Floral & Event Design was formed after several young women in my church asked me to do the flowers for their weddings. That was in 1999, and we have steadily grown into the full service business that we are today.

4. What do you like most and least about being your own boss?

The biggest reason I love being my own boss is because I get to initiate my own ideas and shoot for the stars without someone telling me it can’t be done. I like working from my home, and the flexibility that comes with that. However, what I love is also what I don’t like. I can never truly get away from my work without leaving my home, and the ideas never stop. I often overload myself, due to my tendency to take on more projects than I should.

5. What personality traits and skills are needed to run a business?

First of all, I believe that for a person to be a successful entrepreneur, they have to have a passion for what they are doing. If you don’t have that passion, you will burn out, because owning your own business is hard work! Integrity is key, too.

Being able to interface with people on a personal level; possessing good people skills is essential.

A sense of humor goes a long way to being able to withstand the pressure of the day-to-day problems that arise.

I believe that it is important to have some organizational skills to keep the business running on track, and on budget.

Your employees must be a reflection of your mission statement. They are the true face of your business. Be careful who you hire, and treat them well when you find a good one.

6. What has been the most difficult part of being an entrepreneur?

Time management! I have my fingers in so many pies, and wear so many totally different hats, that I get very frustrated, because I want to do even more.

Transitions are tough. Every business goes through them. Last year, we went through a lot of growing pains. We needed more workers, but since I price jobs months in advance, I didn’t have the budget to hire more. It cut into my profit to have to train new employees and put them on the job. We eventually caught up, once I was able to quote new jobs to include new hires.

7. Do you have any resources that you would recommend?

BNI, Business Networking International, is a great local resource for growing your business, regardless of what it is that you do. It’s like having 25-40 salespeople working for you for free. Look on-line to to find a chapter in your area.

I do a lot of social networking and blogging. I enjoy both, but neither has really grown my businesses yet, but you never know who you will meet on-line or the connections they may have. With my blogs, I am laying a good foundation for a readership of a soon to be published book I am writing.

I am a member of the Boomer Diva Nation, Founded in 2007, by Beverly Mahone. This is an incredibly gifted group of Baby Boomer women who are shaking things up, and paving the way for women around the world. We network daily. I met Beverly on My Space.

8. Do you have any tips to share on promoting your business?

Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer! Volunteering to speak at Civic Groups, schools, churches, everywhere someone would listen, is how I got my start. When you are involved in your community, someone will eventually ask what you do for a living. People like to do business with people they trust. You build trust among people with whom you are working concession stands!

Call your local newspapers and offer to write articles on your area of expertise. Submit these articles to trade publications, and other magazines.

Offer discounted or free services for a limited amount of time, to gain a loyal customer. Donate door prizes for fundraisers. Build a name in your community.

Trade publications are useful to learning more about your business, and how others in your field handle growth or problems. For us, trade shows are the foundation of our business. We promote directly to the brides.

I would not recommend wasting your resources for advertising in publications or in media that doesn’t target your market. Save your marketing dollars for a big hit to your demographic. We learned that the best value for our dollar was to advertise in bridal magazines, as opposed to the newspaper.

Having an on-line presence is necessary. Our web site, because it displays our work, is our best advertisement. Make sure that yours looks professional, not too busy, and is easy to navigate.

9. What advice do you have for someone starting their own business?

Do your homework! Research whether there is a demand for your services in your area.

Have a plan. You will take too many detours, if you don’t have a map to where you want to go.


10. How can we contact you about your products or services?

You can call me at 800-PAM-2861 or contact me on-line: or

Pamela’s Exclusive Floral & Event Design blog:

Archer Fitness Consultants, Inc.

11. Is there anything else you would like to share?

Be consistent, endure, and true to yourself. Follow your dreams and your heart, and you will succeed.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Customer Service Should Be A Celebrity Experience

At least that's what author Donna Cutting believes. As a customer, I have to agree. I'd like to experience that level of customer service. As a business woman, I also have to agree. It's exceptional customer service that can turn first-time customers into life-long clients.

As I read Donna's newest book, The Celebrity Experience, I thought of all the times that my own purchasing decisions had been made based solely on the type of service I received. I realized that there were times I had actually paid more for a product or service simply because I was so impressed by the service. I remembered all of the times I had received the "red carpet treatment" Donna describes - and all of the times I didn't. And I came to one conclusion - I go where I am treated well. Price can be important, brands and familiarity will sometimes win, but being treated like I'm the most important customer in the store - that will win me over every time. Now Donna has written a book that will teach business owners how to give their customers that same experience!

The concepts outlined in Donna's book are so true that I finished the book the first day I received it. It was worth a few hours of lost sleep to learn how to make my clients feel like stars. I can't wait to begin applying some of the principles she describes. I just know they will help my business grow. I guarantee if you read her book and follow her tips, you too will create a bunch of happy, loyal customers! In fact, I'm so impressed with it, I'm thinking of buying a few more copies - for those businesses I now longer patronize because of their customer service.

Just to give you an idea of the wealth of information in her book, I have Donna's permission to include a small excerpt for you. Once you've read it, you'll want to purchase Donna's book right away so you can read the rest of what she has to share.

Red-Carpet Customer Service and the Art of And Then Some

What is red-carpet customer service? It’s mastering the basics of service, delivering a great experience, and then some! It’s in the “and then some” that your customers have a Celebrity Experience.

For instance, Diane Anderson of St Petersburg, Florida, told me about her auto mechanic at Wilsey Auto Service, Inc. who goes the extra step of cleaning her car inside and out every time Diane brings the car in for service. When they are really pressed for time, they give Diane a coupon for a full-service car wash and detail. It starts with going the extra mile. What could you do for your customers as a courtesy that you aren’t doing now? Washing her car takes some extra time, and it stands out to Diane because no other auto mechanic has ever offered such service. As a result, they have earned Diane’s loyalty. Remember “and then some.”

Here’s another example that happened to me just recently. As I write this story, I am in Chicago preparing to speak for an association conference tomorrow. I arrived last night so I could spend a day in the hotel room writing this chapter. When I got off the plane, I rented a car to drive myself to the meeting location. Now, I’ve rented many cars in my years working as a professional speaker. Often I take a shuttle bus from the rental car counter to the car lot, and encounter many forms of customer service. Some drivers load my luggage into the shuttle bus, some don’t. Some smile at me and welcome me aboard, some don’t. Some drive carefully and considerately, some don’t. The driver I met last night, however, did everything I had hoped for “and then some.” His name is Ken, and he is a driver for Alamo Rental Car out of Midway Airport in Chicago. He welcomed me on board with a warm smile and friendly hello as he loaded my luggage into the shuttle bus. Usually, this is where it stops. But as I rode, Ken told me everything I needed to know about Chicago. He told me what the weather was at the time and what it would be three days later. He told me that the traffic is always the same – bad- and that I should always leave extra time to get anywhere. He told me how to get back to the rental car lot, and exactly where and how to return my car. He told me where I could purchase gas close to the lot. He told me about sights I might like to see in Chicago and the best places to dine. I didn’t even have to ask him. (The true mark of a celebrity service professional: Answer all the questions your “celebrity” might have, and the ones they don’t even know they have, before they ask.) When we arrived at the lot, he told me to stay in the shuttle bus, and he pulled my rental car around and loaded up my luggage. As I came out of the bus, he helped me inspect the car for damages. Never, in all of my travels, have I encountered such service by a shuttle bus driver. Ken has mastered the art of “And Then Some.”
Why just go through the motions when you can challenge yourself to be extraordinary….and then some?

©2008, Donna Cutting, Use with permission only
This is excerpted, with permission, from “The Celebrity Experience: Insider Secrets to Delivering Red-Carpet Customer Service” (Wiley, 2008), by Donna Cutting