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  • house painters & window cleaners
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    A Day in the Life

    July 28, 2014

    Exams are done, and you’re excited to relax for the summer months… but after 3 days you’re bored out of your mind. So you’re searching for “summer employment”… and things are looking grim. What about being a summer entrepreneur instead? That’s our world at College Pro, and here’s insight into the typical day of a College Pro entrepreneur.

    8:00 am – An entrepreneur needs an early start in the morning, which means that there is typically coffee involved in a functional day. Luckily, Sherwin Williams paint stores have this covered, and have coffee in store for the College Pro Painting entrepreneurs to grab while they pick up their paint for the day. Considering this daily trend, it’s no surprise that the paint store employees know the College Pro team by name.

    8:15 am – Double check your schedule for the day. Entrepreneurs have to stay on top of this, a lot happens every day – and memory alone is enough.

    8:30 am – At the first official stop of the day, paint is dropped off and customers are greeted, while crews are briefed on their responsibilities for the job.

    9:00 am – A quick stop at the bank, because keeping track of finances is one of the most important responsibilities an entrepreneur can have (a little more coffee doesn’t hurt either).

    9:03 am – Pull over to plug an address in to the GPS; a busy entrepreneur’s best friend.

    9:30 am – College Pro entrepreneurs are typically students, and they (like anyone) need regular coaching. That’s why it is so important to keep up with weekly GS&R (goal setting & review) meetings with College Pro to make sure that goals are being reached and questions are answered.

    10:00 am – Estimate number 1 of the day… success, job booked!

    11:00 am – College Pro entrepreneurs in their 2nd or 3rd summer often have production managers to help run the business smoothly (as they continue to grow their business), and it’s important to have regular meetings to make sure that everyone is on the same page (plus, some more coffee)

    12:00 pm – College Pro entrepreneurs control a limited turf for their business, so it’s inevitable that certain lunch spots will be regular favourites, either way, it’s time for food.

    12:30 pm – Pop over to Dollarama to pick up a receipt book; did I mention, organization is key!?!?

    1:00 pm – Check up on some crews that are close by to make sure everything is on track for the day.

    1:30 pm – Trip to Starbucks to log some information online and manage a few bookings and scheduling conflicts (coffee anyone?)

    2:30 pm – Visit a customer to follow up on a job and ensure that everyone is happy.

    5:00 pm – Another estimate for an interior paint job. After about 20 estimates, they become second nature for a College Pro entrepreneur.

    7:00 pm – The final estimate for the day, it’s time to book a big job!

    7:30 pm – Realize that this schedule doesn’t include the many, many phone calls made throughout the day to fellow franchisees, crewmembers, customers, managers, and the paint store…but all in all, this was a pretty quiet day.

    10:00 pm – set alarm to do it all over again tomorrow!

    The life of an entrepreneur is non-stop… but it might just be the way of the future!

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  • blog_1

    Franchisee makes a difference in Seattle

    July 18, 2014

    When Magnolia homeowner Clay Newlin, decided to create a clean and modern look for his recently purchased home, he turned to College Pro Painters, and Franchise Owner Trey Cranney, for his exterior house painting.

    Clay liked that College Pro Painters is a business managed and crewed by mostly college students. Trey Cranney, a junior in the business school at Gonzaga University, painted with College Pro Painters last summer.  After undergoing a through and rigorous selection process, Trey was chosen to lead the Queen Anne and Magnolia area College Pro Painters’ franchise. Trey is learning hands-on the ins and outs and ups and downs of running a small business.

    “It’s rewarding to take what I am learning in my business classes and apply that to helping homeowners receive a high quality paint job and experience. I love the customer relations part of my work,” said Trey.

    College Pro Painters provides intensive training for its franchise owners, and, as a 41 year old program developing entrepreneurs, invests and stands behind delivering a guaranteed top quality product.
    Homeowner Clay Newlin enthused, “I am really happy with the job College Pro Painters did.  Working with Trey was really enjoyable. He takes great pride in his work and it shows”.

    Great work Trey!

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  • estimate

    2014 College Pro Season Underway

    January 17, 2014

    As the new year began, so did our team of 2014 College Pro Entrepreneurs.

    We came together for our annual Leadership Conference to work on core skills, share best practices and spend time with our peers.

    Our CEO, Tony Valle, framed the event with two key pieces: (1) Brand Experience and (2) Promises.
    “We are only as good as a Brand as the sum of our promises kept” he said, and went on to challenge the group to really deliver on the promises they make in their communities around North America.

    Apart from our general sessions, each entrepreneur engaged in 3 advanced skill sessions to help grow on the success of their 2013 business to achieved their 2014 objectives.
    Sessions Included:
    —Business Planning
    —Maximizing Performance & Productivity
    —Leading Performance
    —Marketing 2.0
    —Financial Management
    —Recruiting & Leading Employees
    —Advanced Selling

    So, who makes up College Pro you ask?  This zany group of focused, innovative and hard working people.  Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone, but for those who take it on and really make a run of it, it can be life changing.

    We’re excited for the business season ahead.

    If you’ve got somebody in your network that has the entrepreneurial spirit, connect them with us using the following link: http://collegepro.com/apply

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  • mike

    3 Local Organizations Benefit from College Pro’s Donations

    October 17, 2013

    Events October 16-18:  3 Local Organizations to benefit from College Pro’s donations of time and supplies

    3 of the US divisions of College Pro Painters are participating in 3 different events from October 16-18, in 3 different cities across the US as our way of giving back to the communities in which we serve.  We could not be more proud to have partnered with The Center for Victims of Torture in St. Paul, MN, the Autism Society of Illinois in Lombard, IL, and the Reading Food Pantry in Reading, MA for these events.

    Alex Calof, College Pro’s Regional Business Manager for our Upper Midwest Division, and his team are donating their time to shop for and put together a donation box to drop off at the Center for Victims of Torture (www.cvt.com).

    The Center for Victims of Torture is an organization in St. Paul, MN that works to provide supplies for victims in need.  Many of the torture survivors they serve are asylum seekers, so they do not qualify for any public services, and are not allowed to have paid employment during the months before they obtain work permits.  Their social workers appreciate having specific personal care items and storable food staples available to give to the clients.  Some of the personal care items include toothpaste, tooth brushes, soap, lotion, shampoo and conditioner, and combs and brushes; some of the storable food staples include water packed tuna, sardines, green lentils, oatmeal, bags of rice, peanut butter and cans of tomato paste.

    Casey Clark, College Pro’s Vice-President for our Midwest Division, and his team are donating their time to work with the Autism Society of Illinois (www.autismillinois.org) to help them put together important business packets for a mailing they are planning.

    The Autism Society of Illinois (ASI) was founded more than 30 years ago for individuals with autism, parents, families, professional, corporate partners and friends. Their objective is to provide education, training, individual assistance and practical support for parents; increase public awareness of autism; offer a referral network of professionals. They understand that autism is a lifelong disability, and ASI is there to provide support and advocacy, and to increase awareness and acceptance throughout the state of Illinois.

    Dave LeVeque, College Pro’s Regional Business Manager for our Great Lakes Division, and his team are donating their time to work with the Reading Food Pantry, and the Old South Methodist Church, to help them organize the food pantry and sort through the donated canned goods.

    The Reading Food Pantry is located at the Old South United Methodist Church (http://oldsouthumc.org/transform-the-world/).  The “big white church on the green” is a center of community activity as well as Methodist worship.  An essential part of being United Methodist is the belief that what you do with your faith, here on earth, really matters, and they are passionate about social justice, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, and caring for God’s creation.  The Reading Food Pantry serves food to the needy twice a week, and provides groceries for over 80 Reading families.

    College Pro Painters has helped thousands of young entrepreneurs realize their dream of becoming small business owners over the years, and we have also been a very strong presence in the communities in which we serve, coming together to donate our time and do something good for communities across North America through a variety of local and national initiatives.  Since 2004 alone, our Alternative Spring Break events have taken place in Oklahoma City, Denver, Spokane, Tampa, New Orleans, Nashville, Bend, Pueblo, Louisville, Philadelphia and Kansas City, providing over $1,000,000 in services, equipment and materials.  We strongly believe in partnering with community organizations that strive to improve the communities in which they serve.

    Thank you for embarking on these events to improve the lives of people in the communities in which we serve!

     

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  • entrepreneurs

    Anatomy of a College Pro Entrepreneur

    September 12, 2013

    Since 1971, College Pro has been developing entrepreneurs across North America.
    Our training program has long been called a “Real-World MBA”, and is the core of our fundamental belief thatentrepreneurs start here. Our mission is to provide exceptional leadership and management training to entrepreneurs through real-world business experiences. In over 40 years of successfully leading thousands of entrepreneurs through their very first business  experience, we have a highly effective process by which we systematically train, mentor and support them to succeed.

    Before we ever get into training and devleoping a new entrepreneur, we need to select the right person.  Over the years, technology has changed as has the market, but the core characteristics that make someone a successful entrepreneur at College Pro have remained constant.

    Here is an infographic showing the Anatomy of a Successful College Pro Entrepreneur:

    infographic_entrepreneur_anatomy_2  Anatomy of a College Pro Entrepreneur infographic entrepreneur anatomy 21

    If you think you’ve got what it takes, we’d be happy to share more about our program and connect you with College Pro alumni who are happy to share their story.

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  • hats

    Using Entrepreneurship to Give Back

    May 14, 2013

    I am a College Pro Window Cleaning franchisee in Andover-Anoka, MN.

    With the knowledge I’ve learned through College Pro and our Entrepreneurship class at the University of St. Thomas we started a business to help children with cancer. It is a one-for-one program selling hats. For every hat we sell, we give one to a child battling cancer.

    To date, we have sold and donated over 1,200 hats across the United States.

    If you’ve got the means, help us spread the word.

    Check out our facebook www.facebook.com/LoveYourMelon and our website at www.loveyourmelon.com.

    I used a lot of what I learned through College Pro to help start this business and it has thrived in the five months we have been operating so far.

    Thank you,

    Brian Keller

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  • award

    College Pro & Outward Bound

    April 29, 2013

    College Pro & Outward Bound Canada Team Up!

    In July 2013, College Pro will run a NEW program in partnership with Outward Bound Canada designed for young leaders (age 16-18).  Program Participants will earn a Grade 12 University/College business credit – Business Leadership: Management Fundamentals (BOH4M).

    This course focuses on the development of leadership skills used in managing a successful Business – through hands-on experience. You son/daughter will dig into the role of being a leader; with a focus on management of group dynamics, decision making, effective communication, ethics, and social responsibility.

    Over the 17 day program, your child will engage in Adventure-Based Learning, a Wilderness Expedition and an Entrepreneurship Boot Camp with the ultimate goal of leaving better than when they arrived, with an experience that gives a competitive edge for their future.

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  • blog_8

    National Painting Week

    April 16, 2013

    National Painting Week kicked off yesterday, April 15.

    Spring is often a time of renewal and new beginnings, and a time when homeowners really look at their homes through a different lens, thinking of creative ways to improve and refresh their homes without necessarily spending a lot of money.  Painting the interior or exterior of your homes can create an entirely different feeling of the space, and can be the most cost effective way to change the appearance and increase your home’s value.  In fact, according to the National Home Color Survey from Sherwin-Williams, 62% of homeowners are planning a painting project!

    To help people jump-start their home improvement projects, Sherwin-Williams is celebrating National Painting Week starting on April 15, 2013, and they have create a website, NationalPaintingWeek.com,  which will feature color inspiration, painting ideas, expert tips, product information, and one-of-a-kind projects from 14 design bloggers.  You can also play around with Sherwin-Williams color visualizer tool here, and can actually pick a home style that matches yours and choose colors to use so you can visualize how your home will look once it is painted.

    If you want some help or advice from the professionals, our College Pro Painters franchise managers can meet with you to provide tips and advice on what could work well with your particular exterior project.  You can schedule your free estimate by calling us at 1-800-32-PAINT, or 1-800-327-2468, or can schedule it online atcollegepro.com.

    Please click here for Sherwin-Williams’ press release on National Painting Week, titled:  Homeowners Looking For Colorful Home Improvements This Spring.

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  • mia

    From Airplanes to Squeegees

    August 15, 2012

    MY UNIQUE COLLEGE PRO JOURNEY

    By: Rachel Lyda – College Pro Window Cleaning Franchisee
    From Airplanes to Squeegees rachel lyda
    If you asked me 20 months ago where I saw myself on this very day, I would probably answer something wistfully along the lines of, “sipping ice tea and sailing along the coast of Italy.” In fact, 20 months ago, as I dreamed of all the ways that wish could become a reality I could not have foreseen how spending the past two summers as a College Pro Franchise manager instead would shape and change my life.

    Late one December night as I was packing for my 3-month study abroad trip to Germany, I took a break to research available summer business internships. College Pro was one of the first that came up and I immediately became intrigued after reading several personal testimonies from current or previous managers and also excited to find out more. What drew me to College Pro was that what they offered in an internship was real and tangible business experience without a start up cost that fit perfectly with my previous customer service skills and desires to learn and become a better businessperson. Within the next week, after a few calls to Matt Ackerman, the GM for College Pro painting in the Seattle area, I had set up an informational interview with Ben Degoede the GM of College Pro Window Cleaning, and boarded an airplane to Germany to begin the interview process over Skype. Over the next couple weeks, despite poor wifi connections, a 9-hour time difference and several interviews, College Pro decided to bring me on the team. While reading Google docs mentioning words like target market, proximal goals, turf drive and quarterly taxes in between living my life on airplanes traveling throughout ten different countries and studying, I had no idea what to expect when I touched down stateside again.

    After jet lag had run its course, I vividly remember all my College Pro firsts. The first time I knocked on a door marketing, the first time I strapped the ladder to my work vehicle, the first time I broke-even financially and the first time I held a squeegee in my hand with the pressing fear I would be awful at cleaning windows. The fact that 3 months later, I would have produced nearly $20K in window cleaning, satisfied over 140 customers and provided jobs for 3 employees all before I turned 21 was not only a great accomplishment business wise, but a great accomplishment in learning who I was as a person. College Pro helped me become a better problem solver, a more efficient time manager, a good boss and has enabled me to be the business owner I am today.

    Looking back on the past two summers, I recognize strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures, and stress and motivation as all being important facets in my College Pro experience. I have learned how to manage people as employees and as satisfied customers, set goals and reach them, and choose the right choice over the popular one. I have learned how to acknowledge areas of improvement and face stress without becoming overwhelmed. Out of all these experiences as a business owner, College Pro has most of all prepared me for real life scenarios in the business world and given me the opportunity to successfully pave the way for entrepreneurship in one of the toughest economies of our time.

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  • blog_1

    Happy Customer Testimonial

    July 17, 2012

    Earlier this month on Facebook:

    Happy Customer Testimonial happy fb customer2

    Like our Customer Page on Facebook to see what’s going on, and take advantage of the tips we are sharing.

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  • sasky charity

    College Pro Beautifies a Saskatoon House – For Free

    June 27, 2012

    We are incredibly excited and proud to have partnered with General Paint to offer a free paint job to one lucky homeowner from the community of Saskatoon.  Our student managers and General Paint are providing up to 117 volunteer hours, providing a value of $5,000 in services, equipment and materials, to revitalize Mr. Weibe’s home on 6th Street East, Saskatoon.

    College Pro Painters has helped thousands of college student entrepreneurs realize their dream of becoming small business owners over the years, and we have also been a very strong presence in the communities in which we serve, coming together to donate our time and do something good for communities across North America through a variety of local and national initiatives.  Since 2004 alone, our charity events have provided over $950,000 in services, equipment and materials!  We strongly believe in partnering with like-minded organizations that strive to improve the communities in which they serve, and are excited and proud to be working with General Paint on this particular event in Saskatoon.

    For this particular event, Saskatoon community members were asked to provide a picture of their home to the Saskatoon Express Facebook page in the “Paint my house” album.  The picture that received the most “likes” was selected as the winner for a free exterior painting project on their home!  In this case, Mr. Weibe was the lucky winner, with 660 “likes” for his picture, and prep work will begin on June 25, and will complete on June 28, weather permitting.

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  • kyle arbuthnott

    College Pro Window Cleaning: Kyle Arbuthnott

    June 13, 2012

    kyle_arbuthnott  College Pro Window Cleaning: Kyle Arbuthnott kyle arbuthnott

    WATERDOWN, ON (May 2012) – As spring hit southern Ontario, so did the crews at College Pro Window Cleaning: a student based residential window cleaning company.

    Traditionally, College Pro Window Cleaners hire students with the characteristics to become successful entrepreneurs, they are then paired with a coach at College Pro who trains and supports them through the business operations.  These students run a franchise in their local community and service anywhere from 80-200 homes over the course of a University summer.

    Kyle Arbuthnott, a 2nd year College Pro Window Cleaning Franchisee and student at the University of Guelph had this to say about running his own business:

     “I really enjoy this work because I get to run my own business, and choose who I work with. As a team of students, we have a good time, and I wouldn’t hire someone if I didn’t enjoy working with them. I work with great people in an outdoor environment, I am my own boss, I get a great tan, I make good money at it, and I develop a lot of skills. A big thing for me this summer is developing my leadership skills: I am running a second crew, which means I have more employees and need to delegate a lot more. Some other skills I have developed with College Pro are: management, financials, customer service, employee dynamics, selling, marketing, teamwork, and leadership.”

     See a video clip of Kyle out running here business here

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  • make the most of hoem improvment

    Making the Most of Home Improvements

    June 12, 2012

    WOBURN, MA–(Marketwire – May 29, 2012) – With summer just around the corner, thoughts of remodeling that old bathroom, adding a splash of color to outdated paint and replacing drafty windows are top of mind for many homeowners. With May National Home Improvement Month recently passing, there is no better time than the present to start planning!

    But, as ambitious homeowners begin to assess their homes and immediate needs, the list of repairs and desired renovations can become daunting; from paint and fixtures to floors and bedrooms, giving your home a “makeover” can become a tiresome and costly endeavor.

    College Pro Painters, the largest student-run painting company in the US and Canada, has been simplifying home beautification for over 40 years now… and they have learned a few things along the way. Here are some tips College Pro offers for planning your next home renovation:

    Know the WHY. What’s driving the home renovation bug in you? Are you contemplating selling your home and looking to increase value or curb appeal? Do you need to accommodate a growing family or perhaps looking to downsize after your children have “left the nest?” Or maybe your home just needs a little “push” into the modern world (time to get rid of that ’70s inspired wallpaper)? If you are aware of and prioritize your home goals ahead of time, planning the “next steps” will be much easier.

    Research Products and Service Providers. Once you’ve decided on what you’re going to do, you now have to research the how. More and more, home owners are opting for a “DIY” strategy. This can be a great option for the enthusiastic homeowner, but be sure you’re aware of the skill and time needed to accomplish your task; many homeowners underestimate these basic constraints and end up frustrated or exhausted.

    For larger projects, such as exterior home painting, consider employing the assistance of a local, trusted contractor, such as College Pro PaintersPainting experts such as College Pro will assess the condition of your home, offer color scheme recommendations, prep all exterior surfaces and complete the job to your satisfaction. Choosing a professional home renovation company can save you time and money, but if you choose to paint your home on your own, be sure to thoroughly research paint types, equipment needed and safety.

    Keep Budget in Mind. Avoid renovation “money pits” by carefully assessing your budget ahead of time. Take into account all possible additional costs, such as extra paint, tools and fixtures. If you are going to use a profession service, such as College Pro Painters, be sure to get detailed estimates on all related expenses. If you stick to your budget you will achieve your home improvement goals without “breaking the bank.”

    With some careful planning and a little imagination you will be sure to meet your home improvement needs. But remember, you’re not alone! Professionals such as College Pro Painters and College Pro Window Cleaning are here to help; College Pro offers professional solutions for exterior home paintingdeck and patio paintingshutter and door repaintingfence painting, and window cleaning, and gutters and eaves cleaning. Call today for your free estimate,  1-800-327-2468, or schedule your free estimate online atcollegepro.com.

    About College Pro Painters:

    College Pro Painters, the premier student run exterior painting company in the United States and Canada, has been providing students and non-students alike with jobs inside the company as well as outside since they opened over 40 years ago. College Pro offers part time work while giving you the opportunity to develop skills that will prepare you for success in the long run.

     Find College Pro Online:

     Facebook

    Twitter

    Pinterest [NEW]

    LinkedIn 

    YouTube

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  • deck stain

    Tips on How to Stain Your Deck

    May 31, 2012

    Your deck can really suffer and take a toll from year-round exposure to the elements—wind, rain, sun, snow, and foot traffic.  Your deck’s finish will inevitably start to wear off, leaving the wood looking old, peeling, weathered, and battered.  If the wood loses its protective layer of stain, the harsh elements can eventually split or rot the wood.  For these reasons, maintaining your deck is extremely important, and it does take a bit of work.  If you have a weekend to spare, here are some tips for how to stain your deck.  If you are not the “do-it-yourself” type, College Pro Painters specializes in exterior staining and painting, and provides free estimates to do the work for you!

     Inspect your deck:  The first thing you need to do is figure out if your deck needs to be refinished.  It is sometimes very obvious that your deck needs a fresh coat of stain; however, the simplest way to test if your deck needs a fresh coat of stain is to drop several drops of water onto the deck.  If the water beads up, the deck is still protected and doesn’t need to be refinished now.  If a drop soaks into the wood, it means the old finish has worn away, leaving the wood unprotected. This means that it is time to stain.

     Get the necessary supplies and products:  If you have determined that the deck needs to be refinished, you should head to your local Sherwin Williams store for some advice on what products to choose.  If you have determined that you want someone else to do the work for you so you can actually enjoy your weekend off, the experts at College Pro Painters can also help provide advice on what products to use, and can provide a free estimate for the project.

     Prepare the surface:  Before you start the work, everything must be removed from the deck, including furniture and potted plants.  If you have any delicate or fragile plants near the deck, cover them loosely with a tarp or drop cloth.  Next you should sweep off any loose debris with a broom, and sand any splintered areas, repair damaged boards and hammer in popped-up nails.

     Clean the Surface:  Many different deck cleaning products are available, and some offer a special bleach formula for eliminating mold, mildew and algae. Be sure to follow the instructions on the cleaner to ensure you let it soak into the wood long enough (typically about 15 minutes).  First, clean the deck using a garden hose or a pressure washer to spray the surface of the deck, forcing away dirt, dust, oil and grease. Be very careful when using a pressure washer as the pressure you choose may damage the wood.  Apply the cleaner, and let it soak for the required amount of time.  After the cleaner has been allowed to soak, rinse the deck thoroughly with the hose or pressure washer, and scrub any tough areas with a stiff brush.  Let the deck dry completely before starting the staining process.

     Apply the Stain:  This is the fun part!  A big tip to ensure success is to not apply stain in direct sunlight as you want the stain to absorb properly and not dry too quickly.  You should start by applying a thin, even coat of stain using either a paint roller with an extension handle, or a spray applicator as that provides the most even application.  Be very careful and do not allow the stain to puddle as it can lead to uneven coverage.  Repeat this process until the entire deck is covered, using a paint brush to cover corners and other difficult areas such as steps, railings, board ends and cracks. If necessary, apply two coats of stain.  You should wait a couple of days to allow the stain to dry completely before allowing anyone to walk on the deck, and before putting any furniture or potted plants back on the deck’s surface.

     Clean Up and Regularly Maintain the Deck:  Once you have applied the stain, the last thing you need to do is clean up!  Clean up varies depending on the product you selected, so ensure you read the manufacturer’s product information carefully.  Keep in mind that a new deck should probably be refinished every six to 12 months; however, as your deck ages, the stain lasts longer so you don’t have to refinish as often.  If you have any questions on if it is time to refinish again, test the deck by dropping water on it to see if it is absorbed (the first tip above).

     These tips should help you if you decide to stain your deck yourself.  If you read this and decide that you would much rather have a free weekend to yourself, the experts at College Pro Painters can stain your deck for you.  Contact us at collegepro.com, or 1-800-32-PAINT (1-800-327-2468) and we will give you a free estimate!

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  • exterior

    Think Exterior Painting is just a “maybe” home improvement project? Think Again!

    May 22, 2012

    Painting or staining the exterior of your home can make a dramatic difference to the look and feel of your home.  It is also one of the most cost-effective ways to change the appearance of a home and increase your home’s value at the same time!

    At College Pro Painters, we take a lot of pride in caring for your prized possession, your home, and have created an album of what can happen when we paint your home.  Some of the changes are dramatic, and really make a huge impact on your home, and how you feel walking through your front door.  Click here to see some of these “Before” and “After” images.

    We are in your neighbourhood now, booking for our busy summer season.  Contact us today for your free estimate, and you will be on your way to renewing the beauty and value of your home’s exterior!

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  • home improvement worth it

    Is home improvement worth the cost and effort?

    May 18, 2012

    Is home improvement worth the cost and effort?  How do you decide what home improvement projects to tackle?

    Many homeowners have a wish list of projects they need or want to complete on their home.  How do you decide what projects to undertake?  How far should you go with each project and how much should you spend?  These are very important questions to consider as you start the planning process as the investments you make in improving your home will not only bring you pleasure now, but may reward you later if you decide to sell your home.

    When planning your home improvement projects, you need to first consider what you want to do and why you want to do it:

    • Will the home improvement project increase the value of your home?
    • If you do not tackle the project, would it hurt the resale value of your home?
    • Do you want to improve your quality of life?

    Our homes are our sanctuaries, our prized possessions, the places where we go to feel our best, relax, spend time with family and friends, and simply be.  Spending the time and money to maintain our homes is increasingly important, and there are a few home improvement projects that have been shown to actually increase the value of your home.  Adding a second bathroom or ½ bath has been shown to make a home more appealing to potential buyers, as does finishing your basement.  If no major structural work is needed on your home’s exterior, home painting is the most cost-effective approach to changing the appearance of a home, and can also increase your home’s value.  Also, painting some interior rooms can dramatically alter the look and feel of a room, and can simply “freshen up” the look of your home.  The painting and staining experts at College Pro Painters, www.collegepro.com, can tackle most interior and exterior painting projects across Canada and the Northern US states.  In the southern US states, we recommend you contact CertaPro Painters for your painting needs.  Another project that can actually increase the value of your home is adding a deck.

    There are also some projects that you, as a homeowner, must tackle if you hope to gain as much value for your home; not tacking these projects has been shown to actually hurt the resale value of home.  If a potential homeowner finds out that the roof has damaged shingles or needs to be replaced, your home’s resale value is impacted.  Another project that should not be overlooked is replacing any old, damaged or stained carpeting or flooring.  A home could be spotless, but if there are stains all over the carpeting, potential buyers have a very different perspective and can be left with a very bad feeling about the home.  We recommend you contact the experts at Floor Coverings International to discuss any flooring solutions you may be considering for your home improvement projects.

    Lastly, there are some projects you want to consider that simply will improve your quality of life.  There is no real “need” for projects of this nature, other than they make you feel better.  In my opinion, these projects are sometimes the most fulfilling ones!  A project that may fall into this category is adding a sunroom.  While this project does not add value to your home, or help or hurt your resale value, it makes you feel better because you have a quiet, relaxing space in your home, where you can simply be.  Another great project to undertake that can help you feel better about your home is organizing your closets.  A company that specializes in creating custom closet storage solutions is California Closets.  There is no better feeling than when your home is clutter-free and you can easily find everything in your closets!

    Before you choose which projects to undertake this year, be sure to really think through what you want to do, and why you want to do it.  As we describe above, some projects are more necessary than others depending on what needs you want to satisfy.

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  • contractor

    Tips for selecting the right contractor for your Home Improvement Project

    May 15, 2012

    Let’s face it…we all have to do lists and really like getting our hands dirty and accomplishing things.  The reality is that there are some jobs that are best left to the professionals.  But choosing the wrong contractor can cause all kinds of problems, lead to delays and additional costs, and potentially cause legal problems.   Who wants to deal with that!?  Since May is National Home Improvement month, we thought it would be helpful to provide you with some tips on choosing the best contractor for your needs to ensure a good working relationship and a successful project.

    • Go with your gut:  Whoever you choose for your home improvement project will potentially be working on your home for days, or even weeks, to complete the project.  They will be interacting with you and all of your family members, in and around your home.  You need to be able to trust this person 100%, and if you don’t like or feel comfortable with them for any reason, do not hire them.  Choosing the wrong person could really make a project much more painful than it should be.
    •  Check that the contractor has worker’s compensation and liability insurance:  You want to ensure that anyone who works on your home provides proof that they are fully insured.  In the event of any worker injuries or damage to your property, you want to be sure that you are not liable in any way.
    • Detailed, written contract must be in place before the work begins:  The contract should be written and should provide all the details of the work to be performed.  This ensures that proper expectations are set, up front, before the work begins, so there are no surprises down the road.
    • Discuss guidelines for working in and around your home:  Whomever you choose should sit down with you and review over the details of working in and around your home.  Some details to include in this discussion are start and stop times during the day, where to put the equipment, if music can be played on the job site, where to park their vehicles, when the baby naps, etc.  No detail is too small to discuss, and the contractor you choose should be very open to discussing these details with you.
    • Find out who is doing the actual work on your home:  In this day and age, a lot of companies subcontract out to other companies.  How would you feel if the person you trusted and hired was not the person who was actually working on your home???  You should ensure that these details are discussed up front so you feel comfortable with whoever is working on your home.
    •  Know who is responsible for what on the project:  There are projects that require you to do some things prior to the work beginning.  Are you clear on what needs to be done?  If your deck is being stained, have you moved the grill, table and chairs off to a safe spot?  If you are having your dining room walls painted, who needs to remove the priceless artwork and china cabinet items?  These details need to be clear up front before any work is completed, and the contractor you choose should be very open to working through who is responsible for what on the project.
    • Check references:  Past performance speaks volumes.  If a contractor is not willing to share previous customer information with you, you should not choose them as they are probably not as good as they are selling themselves to be.
    • Think locally:  It is always best to choose a company that has been in your neighborhoods and communities for years.  If they didn’t do good work, they would not still be around.

    We hope these tips are helpful as you choose contractors for your home improvement projects.

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  • window cleaning

    How to Properly Clean your Windows

    May 11, 2012

    For May National Home Improvement Month, Some Tips on How to Properly Clean your Windows

    Nothing renews your home’s sparkle like bright clean windows.  This is a home improvement project that can instantly reveal the brightness and light you have been missing, and make a huge difference in how you feel about your home.

    Window Cleaning all the interior and exterior windows on your home is also a home improvement project that you can do on your own if time allows, or you can choose professionals like College Pro Window Cleaning to do for you.

    Window Cleaning is a science.  There are many ways to clean your windows, and the experts at College Pro Window Cleaning have created a “7+1 Step process” to ensure clean, streak-free windows.  They have created a “How to Clean A Window” video to explain the process steps below in detail.

    1. Wipe down frames and edges
    2. Wash the window
    3. Dry the 1st two edges
    4. Squeegee the window
    5. Dry the final two edges
    6. Wipe away any excess water from frames and sills
    7. Inspect
    8. Buff the glass

    Following the steps above will ensure that you get a clean, streak-free window.  If your project is too large or time does not allow you to clean your own windows, you can contact the experts at College Pro Window Cleaning for a free estimate, www.collegepro.com or 1-800-268-4248.

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  • home improve

    May: National Home Improvement Month

    May 01, 2012

    May is National Home Improvement Month—Have you finalized your projects yet?

    Spring is here, the flowers are blooming, the weather is starting to warm up, and many homeowners are spending more time enjoying their home’s exterior spaces.  With the warmer weather comes the inevitable creation of the “to do” list, and many homeowners have probably already started to make their lists of the projects they want to complete for their home.  There is no better time than May’s National Home Improvement month to put the finishing touches on your project plans to enhance curb appeal or add value to your homes.  Here is some information on projects to consider.

    Check Exterior For Any Needed Repairs:

    The first thing you should do when deciding what projects you want to complete is to determine if there are any projects that absolutely need to be completed; projects such as roof, window, siding or door repair or replacement.  If there is major structural work needed, you must prioritize that above all else, and these types of projects definitely add value to your home.

    Exterior Painting or Staining:

    If no major structural work is needed on your home’s exterior, home painting is the most cost-effective approach to changing the appearance of a home, and can also increase your home’s value.  If you are not ready to paint the entire exterior, painting or staining a fence or deck can also go a long way to adding value to your home.  Companies like College Pro Painters, www.collegepro.com, provide free estimates for all your exterior painting or staining needs, and can help tremendously in choosing color schemes for your home.

    Adding Curb Appeal to Your Home’s Exterior:

    Beautifying your home’s exterior with some landscaping, flower boxes and containers, and hanging plants can go a long way to increasing the curb appeal of your home.  Additionally, painting your front door, adding a new mailbox or new house numbers can also create a warm, inviting entrance, and can immediately improve your mood every time you enter the home.  All of these subtle changes will enhance your home’s curb appeal.

    Creative Storage Solutions:

    I often hear homeowners comment on the lack of storage in their homes, and that there is just not enough room for their prized possessions.  If one of your goals during May’s National Home Improvement month is to organize your home, custom closet storage can go a long way to helping you achieve “clutter-free” interior spaces, and can even add value to your homes.  A company that specializes in custom storage solutions for every part of the home is California Closets, www.californiaclosets.com.  California Closets sets the standard in the industry for experience, quality, and customer satisfaction.  There is no better feeling in the world than having an organized garage, laundry room, or bedroom closet!

    These are just a few projects to consider as you plan out your home improvement projects this month.  Don’t wait to start planning any of these.  Choosing the right projects, contractors, and designs does take time, so start planning now if you have not already!

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  • cp looks back

    Looking back on College Pro

    April 30, 2012

    After 6 years, a College Pro Alumni looks back on his experience and shares the following sentiments:

    “Hands down, the Most Important stepping stone of my journey and entrepreneurial process was College Pro. I had a lot of growing to do both before and after CP, but who I have – and am becoming thanks to the experience is phenomenal. Extremely Grateful to this incredible company, and the doors that have opened being a business person!”

    Arthur Tubman | Franchisee | Staten Island, NY | 2005 & 2006

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  • amazing race

    Two College Pro Staffers Participate in the Southern Ontario Amazing Race for Charity

    June 21, 2011

    Two College Pro Staffers Participate in the Southern Ontario Amazing Race for Charity race

    College Pro Northern Ontario General Manager Patricia Seaton and Erin Scheel, head of Special Projects, recently participated in the Southern Ontario Amazing Race for charity. The two raced as Team College Pro, proudly sporting their CP headbands, for the second year in a row. Between last year’s race and this year’s, they raised $6,500 for the Children’s Foundation, and half of that money was thanks to their College Pro network.

    Erin Scheel shares details about the race here:

    The Southern Ontario Amazing Race is a completely insane race weekend modeled after the televised Amazing Race. The race takes place over 2 full days and it combines a series of physical, mental, and completely random challenges. Along the way you need to ask a lot of strangers for help with directions, and you even hitch rides from strangers to get around. We’ve now competed for 2 years—and have completed 20 challenges over the course of each race. In the same fashion as the Amazing Race, you’re traveling around to different regions and completing a series of challenges along the way to get your next clue to your next challenge.

    Below are some of the crazy challenges they completed during the race, which had them traveling around to different regions and completing a series of challenges along the way in order to gather clues that point you to your next destination.

    Toil: we had to move a full skid of 18kg bags a sheep manure from one skid to another without breaking any sacks and without letting the stack falling down. Each team member had to move all the bags, which were approximately 100, in one direction.

    Pysanky: At a Ukrainian church, one team member (in this case Erin) had to replicate a demonstration egg using the traditional Ukrainian Pysanky technique using melted wax and a series of dyes to decorate your egg.

    Collaborynth: This challenge took the two about 1.5 hours! One had to be the mover and one had the director. The challenge was to get a golf ball through a crazy plywood maze full of holes. Erin had to give Patty verbal instructions on how to tilt the platform to get the ball through the maze while keeping away from the holes.

    College Pro is proud of Erin and Patty’s charitable efforts!

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  • exterior paint

    College Pro Exterior Home Painting

    June 03, 2011

    With better weather coming on and the advent of more sunny days throughout summer, many homeowners are wondering whether now would be a good time to consider painting or repainting their house.  Often times, the cost and headache associated with doing a home improvement job yourself leaves many looking for a contracting option, but even then, many options are simply too expensive.  For this reason, countless customers have turned to College Pro painters to help with their exterior decoration plans, saving time and money compared to other exterior design or landscaping services.

    College Pro works with college students or recently graduated college students to supply both the labor and the tools needed to completely paint or re-paint any part of a house.  Rather than pay more money for unionized labor, College Pro allows you to cut back on expenses, all the while allowing college students to gain valuable work experience.  This successful business partnership has not only kept millions of college students employed but provided the quality service needed for homeowners frustrated by traditional contractors.

    Why should you trust College Pro?  Unlike some contractors who are content to hire out their services and ignore quality control, the college students themselves have the franchise rights with College Pro, and they are responsible for individual successes and failures — meaning that they work hard in order to deliver superior results!  Painting may be the most popular choice of customers, but it is far from the only service offered by the company: College Pro also offers interior and exterior window cleaning services.   With service in twenty eight States, and  seven Canadian provinces,  and three decades of experience, there is no job that this company cannot handle with superior results and a lower price tag.

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  • tims

    Summer Work Season Under Way

    June 03, 2011

    The summer work season is under way for College Pro, and we are taking the opportunity to feature the work of our franchisees with Q&A’s from clients. The below Q&A and photos feature the work of Michael Gore-Hickman, College Pro Painters franchisee in Saskatoon North West.

    College Pro Standout Job

    Customer: Rick Barzeele, Tim Hortons Franchise Owner

    When did you first hire College Pro to do work on your home?
    Mike actually came into the store first and asked the on duty manager if he could paint the building. He gave her a card, which she gave to me, from which I called him a few days after and promptly got a quote!

    What work did you have done on your home?
    We had Mike’s team paint the top area on three sides of the building. 

    How was your experience working with the College Pro franchisee?
    Excellent. 

    What did you think about the work done by College Pro?
    Looks great!!

    What impressed or surprised you the most about your experience with College Pro?
    The speed. From the time of the estimate until the time it was finished was six days.

    Would you recommend College Pro to your neighbors and friends?
    Absolutely.

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  • alum

    College Pro Alumni – James Snyder looks back at his time with us

    May 26, 2011

    Name: James Snyder
    Current Position: Director of Operations
    Company: PacNorthwest Drive Ins, LLC

    James Snyder, current Director of Operations at PacNorthwest Drive Ins, worked for six years with College Pro, first as a franchise owner and then managing franchise owners. In the following letter, he reflects on his time with College Pro, what he learned and why College Pro is an ideal place for future business leaders to get their start.

    “Looking back on the last six years of owning a franchise and managing franchisees with College Pro, I feel very lucky to have been a part of this company.  It’s an extremely unique experience that I have been through and I am grateful for the leadership that I have been surrounded by at College Pro.

    For the past two years, while running my franchise, I have also been involved with a family restaurant franchise.  Throughout the last two years, I have experienced the other franchise’s corporate support and it has been an eye opener for me.  I have come to realize that not all companies operate like College Pro.  I think to myself, ‘What if this other franchise had the core structure and support that College Pro has?’   The corporate structure at College Pro is world-class, and there are going to be a lot of people who are successful in the future because of this company.

    It’s especially interesting to think about the last two years (2009-2010).  They have been the worst economic years that my generation has experienced and the majority of small businesses have been struggling.  However, if you were a successful business owner, you did something different.  Why were we at College Pro successful, when most others were not?  It’s because we looked past the poor economy, low consumer confidence, and proactively took control of our businesses.  College Pro instilled those values to look past the excuses and to own your destiny while coaching you along the way.

    Throughout the last six years I have taken many things that I learned from College Pro and implemented them into my new business.   I have soaked up the culture, accountability, leadership, and coaching I learned at College Pro and have applied it to our restaurants.  Every Monday and Tuesday I do a ‘GSR’ with my team.  I have field visits and have created coaching forms.  In our company awards ceremony that we had last month, I gave out a Success, Star, and Quality Outlet of the Year award.  I learned all these concepts during my time at College Pro.

    In summary, I believe that College Pro wants to create business leaders and I am grateful for that.  College Pro is not about painting and anyone who has ever worked as a Franchisee at College Pro will back me up on that.  College Pro is about building business leaders and pushing people to realize their potentials.”

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  • alumni

    College Pro Painters Alumni Interview with Jim Mathewson

    March 17, 2011

    College Pro Alumni Interview with Jim Mathewson 
    National Account Manager
    AkzoNobel Canada

    We recently caught up with Jim Mathewson, a former College Pro franchise manager, and now a National Account Manager over at AkzoNobel Canada, which is the largest global paints and coatings company and a major producer of specialty chemicals.

    When did you work for College Pro, and how was your summer experience?
    I was a college pro painter in 1999, franchise manager in 2000 and 2001 in Streetsville, Mississauga, and field advisor there in 2001 as well for Golden Horseshoe. I was then hired full time as a General Manager for 2002 and remained until 2006. I was responsible for Golden Horseshoe, then South West Ontario, and then was transferred to take over Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Northern Ontario.

    My experience with College Pro Painters was amazing. It’s really funny how when I was in the moment of working with College Pro Painters, I realized that it was hard, and that I was gaining a ton of experience, but it wasn’t until I was out of CPP and in a different business sector that I truly realized how much training, support and skill I had developed.

    What are the most important lessons you learned while working as a franchisee operator?
    As a franchisee, the most important lesson I learned, which I still use to guide myself today, is that the customer is number one. They write the check, and they are the ones that spread the word, so it is first and foremost important to do whatever possible to make them happy while still realizing that not everyone can always be made happy.

    What is your current job and title, and what was your professional path to reach the point where you are now?
    I am currently the National Account Manager at AkzoNobel; AkzoNobel is the largest paints and coatings company in the world.

    When I left College Pro, I purchased a TFC franchise: Floor Coverings International. After running that for three years, I took the opportunity to shift out of the franchise world and in to the corporate world.

    How did working for College Pro influence your career path?
    Working with College Pro allowed me to take the skills and confidence to run my own business, followed by being a large influence in getting the current role I have. My current boss specifically interviewed and hired me based on my previous experience and skill I developed through my years as a College Pro General Manager.

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  • smb

    Is there a Small Business Ghost in your Closet

    December 29, 2010

    As an SMB owner, the face of your business is the same one you see in the mirror every morning.  Sure, you might be able to file a document and convince the IRS to tax you twice, but that doesn’t mean that your potential customers will accept a distinction between your private and public life.  Your personal reputation is a huge factor in your business’ health; if you’re known as a flaky party animal, you’ll have to overcome that every time you try to close a sale.  For every Martha Stewart, whose business is still thriving despite her own personal financial transgressions, there are a hundred small business owners who have lost their businesses after huge downswings due to bad publicity.

    Fortunately, muckraking is a resource-intensive task, so until you hit a certain level of notoriety, run for a public office, or find yourself arrested, you are the primary source of potentially damning information.  By taking a few steps to control the information you make available via the various social networks (Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn), you can significantly decrease the chance that your personal life will lead to bad PR:

    1.  At least once per week, view your Facebook profile and click on “view pictures of me”.  If you find anything embarrassing, remove your name from it and ask the person who posted it to consider removing the image altogether.

    2.  Think twice before posting on your friends’ pages.  Compliments are fine, but be extremely careful with sarcasm.  Keep in mind that a potential customer viewing your page might not understand your sense of humor.

    3.  Make sure your friends understand the reason you want to tone things down and are willing to support you.  There’s nothing wrong with revisiting that one party in college; just insist on doing it over the phone rather than in public.

    Remember, as a business owner, every person you meet is a potential customer, and while you’re engaged with a customer, she is your boss.  Like a kickin’ tattoo on your bicep, you can be proud of your wild past, but you don’t want it to be part of your future customers’ first impression.

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  • hiring small business

    Hiring for your small business

    December 22, 2010

    When contemplating your approach to the hiring process, it is essential to emphasize the attributes and qualities that accompany successful individuals in the business world.  Nearly all managers would agree that ideal employees display exceptional work ethic, strong organizational and communication skills, and a consistent tendency to exceed goals.  Qualities such as these can often be superficially determined by a brief look at a resume, however a piece of paper (or .doc file) does not provide a detailed perspective of a candidate’s complete skill set.

    Yes!  A Statement of Purpose, a brief description of Education, and a list of previous Work Experiences and References do enable us to determine whether an applicant is qualified for a position on a basic level.  However, this does not provide us any information about the intangible attributes of a candidate.  When interviewing an applicant, remind yourself of what it is you are really looking for in your employees and how you will identify it.  Far too frequently, employers fail to notice and utilize the nonverbal communication offered by their candidates.

    “The concentration and dedication – the intangibles are the deciding factors between who won and who lost.” – Tom Seaver

    Unflinching eye contact and a firm handshake versus anxious facial expressions and nail-biting nervousness?  An attentive and professional posture versus over-confidence and arrogance?  Nonverbal cues such as these can offer valuable insight into an applicant’s personal accountability and interpersonal skills.  Effective communication skills are not reflected on a CV, however they often translate to more effective customer service and more cohesively efficient work as a team.

    Basically, we hire employees to increase the likelihood/level of success for our business.  Depending on the situation, this could be accomplished by hiring individuals that share our business ideology or complement us by offering a different perspective and set of skills.  When preparing your strategy for the hiring process, it is necessary to identify what is beneficial for your business and how it will be obtained.  Keep in mind that a holistic and comprehensive approach to the hiring process often guarantees the best results.

    Here are the top nine tips for hiring the right candidate:

    1. Know what you need
    2. Recruit continuously, even if there is no position open. You never know who may quit unexpectedly.
    3. Interview MANY candidates. Don’t settle
    4. Ask probing questions
    5. Check references
    6. Clarify expectations
    7. Offer an attractive compensation package. If you want to keep the candidate around for a long time, make sure they are well taken care of.
    8. Develop your employees to their full potential once hired.
    9. Conduct exit interviews.

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  • video

    How to use video for your business

    December 21, 2010

    Since its invention, film has been used  as an effective way to reach and influence the masses as a form of advertising; the most common of these being television commercials.  With time it has naturally evolved and adapted to function in the digital age we currently live in.  The current surge in household Digital Video Recorders in North America is steadily making TV commercials obsolete by providing viewer with the option to simple fast-forward through them, thus  turning TV advertising budgets into an unnecessary expense.  For that reason many companies are switching their focus to the Internet.  Currently approximately 37% of Internet usage is made up of video streaming.

    So how can companies use such a high number of viewership to promote their brand?  One way is to sponsor an entire television show episode on major TV network websites (go.abc.com, nbc.com) or Hulu.com.  The benefit for the advertiser is that by sponsoring an episode your commercial will be the only one shown for the duration of show so you don’t have competitors with conflicting messages stealing your thunder.   This of course comes at a price so for a smaller company looking to grow it may not be a viable option, but not to worry, there are other ways to use Internet videos at little to no cost.

    While Pringles is a large corporation their tactics can be translated for use by small businesses.  They have created several viral videos that are then bounced around on-line attracting attention and creating a following.  Why can this be used by small businesses? IT’S FREE!!! Video sharing websites like YouTube.com are free to use and subscribe to.  Also, with the easy access to movie editing and recording technology now available, production of these videos is possible by just about anyone (i.e.- iMovie by Apple  or Windows MovieMaker by Microsoft, plus most digital cameras now have High Definition video functions).

    Another great feature of YouTube are their “channels” which are a kind of homepage for registered users which holds all the videos they have uploaded.  As far as reaching a specific market and getting people to actually view your posts, YouTube can help with that too.  The simplest way is to link your account to other websites like Facebook or even embedding the video directly onto a blog.  However, probably the most effective way to reach the people you want is by using tags.  Tags are descriptive words tied and related to the content of your video.  Using these keywords, Youtube can then recommend the video on your behalf to people viewing other videos with tags in common to yours.  For example, if you own an organic food store and have health food as one of your tags, if someone is watching videos about following a healthy diet which also have health food as a tag, YouTube can recommend your video as something they might also be interested in, in turn directing them to your “channel”  where they can see all your videos.

    Have fun with it! The more entertaining they is the more effective they will be.  See these Pringles videos to get an idea…Fun Pringles video and another funny Pringles video (More homemade)

    At College Pro, we have shot some funny videos ourselves.  Check out our ‘Cribs‘ videos.

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  • ent

    What is entrepreneurship to you?

    December 20, 2010

    What is entrepreneurship to you? entrep anatomy

    Entrepreneurship to me is freedom. Freedom is challenging and can be challenged by others who are not of the same beliefs. Some people work hard for freedom and will fight to gain it, and will inspire others to follow them on their quest for success. The Entrepreneur is a special type of person who is not afraid to blaze their own trail and go against conformity.

    Kris Gabriele
    Senior General Manager

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  • links

    College Pro’s top links of the week

    December 17, 2010

    The World’s Facebook Relationships Visualized [PIC]
    According to a Facebook social graph, the world is lit up with Facebook relationships.  See for yourself how Facebook makes the world a much smaller place…

    3 Lessons I Learned From Launching a Product
    Sean Coleman discusses the trials and tribulations of starting a product based company. From first design to product launch to talking to your customers for feedback…

    You’re Not an Entrepreneur
    A prominent online blogger discusses what/who really IS an entrepreneur. It may not be who you think …

    How Twitter Users Changed in 2010 [CHARTS]
    Facts. Stats. Facts. Stats. This post discusses the shift in Twitter users from completing their bio’s to gaining more followers …

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  • interview

    College Pro Interviews Kevin Vincent, Hi-Rise Windows and Doors

    December 16, 2010

    One of Entrepreneur Magazine’s Top Entrepreneurs of 2010 tells College Pro his story on starting up.

    My newly acquired assistant recently questioned how I got to where I am today, I told her: “I have a Ph.D. in success.” After she mercilessly laughed at what she assumed was another of my “bad jokes,” I informed her that unfortunately, I could not take credit for this one.  A little over 10 years ago I heard renowned author Anthony Robbins state these six words– and it stuck with me ever since.  True to its sentiment, I have learned through the trials and tribulations as an entrepreneur, that one does not need an Ivy League education or a family connection to be successful.  On the contrary all one needs is a little confidence in their god given abilities.  As a highly successful self-made entrepreneur with neither a trust fund nor your typical four year degree I can vouch for that.

    All one needs is confidence in their abilities to succeed.

    While I’d love to regale you with the stories of the nights I slaved away in school while working full time as a software engineer, I won’t.  (Partially because I have a word limit I can’t exceed) but mostly because the truth of the matter it’s not all working hard, but working smart. After 15 years in the corporate world I was on top of my game.  I was making 6 figures and held an influential position at a top corporation yet I was still miserable.  While the money was nice (don’t get me wrong, very nice) It wasn’t what I wanted to be doing.  I wanted to make my own schedule, to execute my own ideas and to essentially play by my own rules.  So after a friend offered me a gig as a project manager for a window company I decided to take it while I figured out what to do next.  It was during my time with him where paying attention to my surroundings led me to my niche.  While replacing windows was certainly not my passion, owning my own company was – and clearly there was a need for it – e.g.: an opportunity. It was then that my company, Hi-Rise Windows and Door was created.

    If this is something you too are interested in, remember, like anything else, it’s not all fun.  When you have your own business all the responsibility lies on you, the work seems never ending and sometimes you’re the only one who can do it.  But, if you’re a go getter, you have great attention to detail and you can hustle then this could be the path for you.  So what now?  Whatever your interest or your passions may be, figure them out.  Think about what you’re good at, where you excel and find your niche.  If you’re not sure, look around you.  By keeping your eyes and ears open you can catch a great opportunity others will often miss.  Furthermore — It’s never too early to test out your ideas.  As Donald Trump (an entrepreneur I admire) once so accurately said: money you can always make, but time you won’t always have.

     

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  • finance

    Startup financing – A tricky step

    December 16, 2010

    What Business School forgets to teach us – Financing

    I just graduated business school at the Monfort College of Business in Northern Colorado and to graduate I had to write a thesis paper on why Entrepreneurship fails in the market. The top three reasons I found for failure in Entrepreneurs was:

    1. Lack of a business coach

    2. Lack of financial knowledge

    3. Not knowing your target market (or pushing the wrong product).

    I also learned that typical Entrepreneurs (the 30-50 year old entrepreneur) fail at a rate of 60-80%. This means that 6-8 individuals in 10 will try to start a business and fail. This is astronomical, and the question should be posed why start a business?

    To follow up on the original question: How do young people gain financing to startup a business? Well, that is a hard question to answer. There is not a lot of opportunity for young people to find money in today’s market, and if they happen to get it from an angel, a parent, or some ‘magic’ they often don’t know how to manage it or make it work for the business. I believe that our schooling is the reason why. We read a book and are expected to be able to go out in the world and run a business or start a business. But the truth is that this is not enough. It’s like trying to win a Super Bowl after going over ton’s and ton’s of X’s and O’s with your coach. No matter how well you know it on paper you will never be able to execute it efficiently and properly until you do it. This is why it is important for youth to get hands on experience at a young age, and to learn how to manage the money in order to have access to it.

    “I ran a business and learned how to finance myself for the rest of my life.”

    This leads in to the extra challenge and responsibility I took on while I was a sophomore in College. I ran a College Pro Painter’s franchise in Northern Colorado while I was attending school full time and working full time at Texas Roadhouse. I had no money as a Freshman or Sophomore, I was working two jobs just to pay for school and the mortgage on my home. I always wanted to run a business, but could not see any feasible way to get the “real” experience I would need to convince someone that I could turn their money into real profit. This is pivotal in order to get ahead in the competitive market I would be entering in a couple years. Thanks to a bit of luck and good faith College Pro fell into my lap and I got to fulfill my dream as a 20 year old College student living paycheck to paycheck trying to survive. I ran a business and learned how to finance myself for the rest of my life.

    Now I can say it was not easy, in fact it was the most challenging thing that I have ever done, and I have always challenged myself. I went through the lowest of lows and the highest of highs, sometimes in the same week! I also learned that if you put your mind to it you can accomplish a lot more than you think. I learned how to lead people, manage finances, deal with customers, sell myself, manage my priorities, schedule my time, build a network, balance personal/work/school/family time appropriately. Most importantly I took control of my future, paid for school, invested in my home, invested in myself, and am on the path to retire by the time I am 35. I do not know how I will do this, I just know that through the hard work ethic and personal potentials I realized through College Pro I will be much closer to this goal than had a stayed on the bench and kept running X’s and O’s!

    This post was contributed by a former College Pro Painters franchisee based out of Denver.

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  • amazing race

    How are small businesses taking advantage of the Green Movement

    December 14, 2010

    After the blockbuster hit “An Inconvenient Truth” hit the big screen, we all got a bit of a shock as to the current state of our environment.  With extensive media coverage and current advancements in technology covering issues around environmentalism, we are now more environmentally conscious. Many if not most companies have begun to capitalize on this Green Movement and guess what?  Consumers love it.  Consumers like buying “Green” because it makes them feel good about helping the environment in some way however small it may be. Businesses are continually trying to find new ways of doing their part in the fight for a better planet. When a company is looking to become “Green” they must first understand what being “Green” mean;  to actively strive for the improvement of humanity, the environment and the world as a whole. This may seem like an impossible task, but it is not, as long as everyone does as much as they can to help.

    Going ‘Green’ is an affordable process that all businesses should adopt. It goes beyond corporate responsibility to encompass necessary steps to foster awareness and promote environmental change and sustainability.

    Small businesses are helping by taking action on a very harmful habit of today’s society; exceeding waste.  These initiatives have taken the form of new and innovative ways of recycling, re-using and reducing the waste. Companies all across the world are finding ways to take a specific garbage item that fills our landfills and turning it into something useable. For instance, EvCo Research, in Atlanta, Georgia, specializes in finding uses for recycled PET products such as plastic bottles using them as adhesive, water repellent coating, binders and other products.

    Ways small businesses are going “Green”:

    1. Organic Products have been exploding into the market unlike any other.  There are organic products ranging from lipstick to beer to toiletries, and there is still room for more. All it takes is a little imagination to find a way to make a generally harmful product organic.
    2. Recycling waste to make new useable products is a growing trend with eco-friendly companies.
    3. Taking advantage of government grants and cash prizes offered by large companies; like GE and Chevrolet, to small businesses that are taking a “Green” initiative. Even banks are rushing to invest their money in these businesses.
    4. Using environmentally friendly office equipment and switching their company cars for Hybrids. Tax benefits are a bonus for those companies that do their part for the environment.

    So do you think that that it Is feasible for small businesses to go “Green”? Of course, the initial start up cost may seem steep but it more than pays for itself financially and environmentally. And really, turning the thermostat down a few degrees is a small price to pay for the longevity of our planet and it will save you a couple of bucks as well.

    Once you have started this don’t be shy to talk about it and encourage other people and small businesses to follow suit.

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  • ent vs inv

    Entrepreneurs versus Inventors

    December 09, 2010

    While distinctly different in nature, entrepreneurs and inventors are invariably dependent upon one other. There cannot be one without the other.  Entrepreneurs are commonly recognized as the business minded individuals that improve upon an existing idea, innovating and adapting a product to a chosen market, while inventors, on the other hand, are credited for being the creators of an entirely new product or service.  It is necessary for both to collaborate in order to obtain the success and financial rewards they both desire.

    An example of a good invention that failed because of poor marketing is Sony’s Betamax.  In 1975, Sony rushed to introduce the World’s first video tape for home use before it was completely ready. The original was capable of recording up to an hour of footage.  A year later JVC introduced VHS tape which was cheaper to make and could record up to 2 hours of footage.  Betamax had superior sound and picture was great for home videos but because of VHS’ longer recording time it was favored among consumers.

    That minor advantage gave VHS the lead in the Video-format market which even with the increase of Betamax’s recording time; it could never reclaim its rightful place as a superior video-format.

    Traits of successful Entrepreneurs:

    • The ability to spot patterns and make a distinction between relevant and irrelevant data
    • The ability to make well-informed decisions based on limited information
    • Knowledge of your faults
    • Successful partnerships with people who complement your expertise
    • The humility to learn from mistakes
    • You need sheer survival skills

    Traits of successful Inventors:

    • Unbridled curiosity
    • Strong commitment to a goal
    • Must be very creative while still remaining practical
    • Protection of your ideas is key
    • Open to suggestions and criticism

    There cannot be one without the other because you can be the best inventor in the world but if you do not have the knowledge of how to market your product you will have very little success. In contrast, if there is no product to market then there is no need for entrepreneurs.  A successful partnership is realized where each party compliments the other, supporting the faults of one another with their own strengths.

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  • motivation

    Tips for Motivating Staff

    December 07, 2010

    Your business might not have the funds yet to pull off what Google does for its employees and provide sports facilities and housing for everyone, but knowing how to motivate staff is essential to running any business effectively, no matter the size (or budget).

    Below are some pointers on simple, low-cost ways to keep your employees positive, productive and doing their best.

     Acknowledge their work and make them feel appreciated. When your staff knows the boss is clued-in and their work is noticed, they will feel more responsible for their activities. They also are more inclined to go above and beyond when they know you will recognize it and credit them for a job well done.

    Give them (important) responsibility. Sure, there are some things only you can do, but for important business and assignments others can carry out, delegate. When employees are trusted with a task they know is meaningful, they will feel more motivated to work hard and do their best. They will recognize it is their opportunity to learn, show their potential and shine.

     Check in with them about their goals. Get to know your employees’ professional goals, and ensure they have assignments and opportunities that align with those personal interests. When they know there is something in it for them — not just the company — long-term, they are likely to put more effort into the job.

    Set reasonable expectations for your employees, and let them know. The important part, though, is to build employees up and let them know you believe they can reach the expectations you have set for them.

    Plan surprises. Bring in bagels or organize some post-work activities now and then. Friendly surprises like these show you care about your employees and find their work worth rewarding. The unexpected also keeps people excited to come to work.

    Plus, one caveat:

    • Don’t make things too competitive. Pitting employees against each other, even in the name of fun and friendly competition, can be dangerous. People respond very differently to internal competition, and while some might thrive knowing they are being directly compared to their cubicle mate in any way, many end up feeling threatened. Motivation and productivity among your staff should not be a zero-sum game — everyone, and especially the company, can win.

    A company’s employees are what hold it back or move it forward, so a motivated staff is essential for a progressive business. Keep these tips in mind, and develop your own, too, that are particular to your business and staff.

    Here are some motivation quotes to get you motivated to motivate your staff:

    “There’s always the motivation of wanting to win. Everybody has that. But a champion needs, in his attitude, a motivation above and beyond winning.” –Pat Riley

    “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing — that’s why we recommend it daily.” –Zig Ziglar

    “The only way to get people to like working hard is to motivate them. Today, people must understand why they’re working hard. Every individual in an organization is motivated by something different.” –Rick Pitino

    “Money was never a big motivation for me, except as a way to keep score. The real excitement is playing the game.” –Donald Trump

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  • links

    Starting a business during a recession. Go for it!

    December 02, 2010

    It is no secret the U.S. economy is still not the most stable.  With foreclosures, job loss, and an increase in crime, the U.S. is still feeling the effects of the 2009/2010 recession. It has caused a ripple effect into other countries like Canada. However, this is no excuse for holding back on that great business idea you have. In fact, a recession can offer some ideal opportunities for entrepreneurs to get a successful business off the ground.

    Here are a number of convincing reasons why the recession is a good a time as any — and in some cases better — to start a new business.

    • Creativity is flowing – When money is tight, people start thinking more inventively and searching for alternatives. Harness that creativity and momentum to finalize your idea and get started.
    • Products and services are cheaper – Most businesses require some sort of products and services to get started, and in a recession, chances are those will be available for cheaper.
    • More creative, qualified people are available – One of the unfortunate aspects of a recession is layoffs, which means many professionals are out of work. The positive side is that many people are looking for a career change or stimulating professional activity after a layoff, and probably would be more inclined to jump on board with a new business.
    • People are looking to save money – Businesses as well as individuals are pinching pennies, and as a result looking for potential alternatives for services, products and partners. Take advantage of this window to reel in clients.
    • There is a distrust of the real estate and stock markets – During recessions, people shy away from investing in real estate and stocks. For many, it is more favorable to invest instead in someone (and his or her business idea) they trust, know and want to see succeed.

    For additional inspiration, here is an impressive list of products and brands launched during a recession, all of which have become fully incorporated in American culture.

    For the full story on these downturn-launched products, click here.

    What stores do you know of successful businesses started in a recession?

    Sources:
    BBC News
    Money
    Entrepreneur.com
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  • amazing race

    What’s the deal with foursquare?

    November 30, 2010

    Foursquare is a mobile app with the purpose of letting your friends know where you are and who you’re with while encouraging you to explore your city through a points based game.  The system utilizes “check-in” locations where you are awarded points and badges for venturing into new places or frequenting your favorite spots.

    Venturing [What does Foursquare provide?]
    So what does this mean for owners of new, up-and-coming businesses?  Foursquare provides the opportunity to quickly expand your customer base.  Since it can be linked to such popular social networking sites as Facebook,  by checking-in a single user has in a sense recommended your business to hundreds of people who are more likely to trust a friend’s opinion than any other type of marketing.  If their interest is peaked and they decide to try your venue for themselves, they will in turn check-in, thus spreading the word about your business to a whole new network of people and so on; like a virus.

    Frequenting
    So you’re starting to see repeat customers, how do you maintain their loyalty?  Well, it is in your best interest to not only keep your existing customers but also keep them checking-in using Foursquare.  Obviously not everyone that sees a new location posted by a friend is going to jump up and go, however, if they see that their friend is going there on a regular basis they will probably start to wonder why and check it out.  To stimulate this consistency many popular brands have started using their rewards programs in conjunction with Foursquare.  Wouldn’t it be nice if instead of printing pesky punch cards for a free cup of coffee customers could just check-in a certain number of times? People have their phones on them all time anyway!

    One of the bigger names experimenting with this tactic is the supermarket chain Safeway (Found throughout the US).  They are currently testing the program in 200 of their stores in Southern California.  When customers swipe their membership cards they not only earn reward point and discounts on their purchase like they would anyhow, the system automatically checks them in through Foursquare.  Mutually beneficial? Yes.

    Tens of thousands of businesses are already registered and benefiting from what Foursquare has to offer them.  What can you do to utilize Foursquare to grow your business? Be creative, it’s amazing what we can do with the Internet now a days.

    From Seattle to Boston, Minnesota to Maine, Toronto to Vancouver, Foursquare can help your business.

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  • customer rep

    Develop a Customer Service Manifesto

    November 25, 2010

    Never before in the history of business and marketing has customer service been at front and center as it is today. So much so that it is being transformed and reborn infront of our eyes as arguable one of the most mission critical components that can make or break a business. –  Joseph Jaffe in Customer Service Manifesto

    In today’s business world, selling the appropriate products is not enough to stay in business. Customer Service is the key advantage to any business owner, whether you are as big as Microsoft or as quaint as us, College Pro Painters. Satisfying your customers and keeping them coming back to your business is the best small business advice. To do this, you must write your own Customer Service Manifesto and stick to it.

    There are a few key things you should say when you write your manifesto.

    1. Make sure to mention that you will always (Do your best) to give the customer what you have promised them. This is important so the customer doesn’t feel ripped off.

    2. Mention that you are always willing to listen to your customers concerns. Even customers that just call to complain need to be listened to, this will make them feel empowered.

    3. Mention how your business is different and provides more value than your competitors. Make sure your customers know that you are above and beyond them.

    4. Mention how you will announce changes to policies or services, if you do so. Tell customers that you will tell them prior to the changes; this will allow them time to accept them.

    5. Think about how to make your customer’s day better, and try to achieve this. Don’t just try to get them off their phone and solve their problem in the minimalist way. Make them feel special and glad to be with your company. Clue: Always smile when talking on the phone.  Customers can ‘hear’ it.

    6. Tell your customers how quickly you can resolve their problem and how you plan to compensate them if it takes too long. Your customers want to know that their problem can be resolved and in a timely manner. If you can’t achieve this, then they want to know what is going to happen for them.

    7. Make sure your customers know that you aren’t going to spam their email, phone lines, or mailbox. Don’t send out material on every little thing that the company does. Your customers only need to know what is going to affect them. If you send too much information, then customers are likely to ignore it.

    These are just some of the things that you should write about. The best thing to do is make sure you take the needs of the customer into consideration. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself “what would I want to know?”

    Do you have any good examples of great customer service? Think of the Zappos model.  Who else is doing such a great job?

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  • marketin branding

    Worlds colliding – Branding vs. Marketing

    November 23, 2010

    Branding Contributor: Edward Leaman

    I work in the realm of brand and marketing and I have lived by my definitions of both. Brand is a world where promise must meet delivery, and where that delivery must then be measured. And marketing is the world where the acquisition, retention and management of a customer  – over time – is the fundamental rule of law.

    Marketing is the world where the acquisition, retention and management of a customer is the fundamental rule of law.

    Yet now we are in the midst of a revolution in both those spaces, ignited by technological innovation and the internet. We are moving so fast that what was once the most innovative idea in marketing – Customer Relationship Management, or CRM, is already being challenged by the new idea of Customer Managed Relationships, or CMR, in which it is not brands and companies that need to manage their customer relationships, but rather that they need to react to how their customers are choosing to interact in relationship to them when and how they chose. These are, indeed, interesting days.

    My view is that we are going to see the golden era of brands because now brands must really stand for something to be able to win and keep a customer’s heart and mind share. As trust is a combination of character, competence and common sense of purpose held between two parties, so brands in order to win and keep trust and therefore relevance for the customer must exude both emotion and evidence to mean anything to them. By emotion I refer to the element of human belief and truth inside what a company does and who works for it, and by evidence I refer to the proof as expressed by customers in the guise of customer satisfaction and repeat and referral business given to the company. Brands are now the holder of customer memory about their reality, transparent containers of testimony for others to touch and feel.

    In this new world, caused by the collision of the worlds of brand and marketing of old, creativity and invention must live alongside honesty not artifact, and so we will see and have brands who will truly deliver what they promise because they will promise and deliver the truth, because, in turn, the measurement will be the truth. This is a brand world of sustainable relationship enterprise, one anchored to the fact that companies are grown by growing people and that brands are drivers, not riders, of growth because customers and markets can and will spot fakes, bench warmers and has-beens. It will be a challenging world indeed but at last great ideas and deep hearts will have a real chance to make a new world of meaningful worth.

    About the Contributor:  Edward Leaman
    [A branding and design innovator who has worked with a number of global retailers such as GAP, Nike and Giorgio Armani. He also writes for the Huffington Post]
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  • smb

    Using your network to spread the word

    November 19, 2010

    The scope of small business marketing has changed dramatically in the last two decades. Where once there were newspaper ads, TV, and radio, now there are internet ads, Twitter, and Facebook. Fame is no longer found through purchased ad-space, but through word-of-mouth and buzz. Once you find a way to get people talking about your small business, success is around the corner.

    That just leaves one problem; how do you get people talking? That’s where networking comes in. If you’re thinking globally, the internet is tailor-made to network, with social sites providing free exposure via rampant traffic, many sites receiving millions of unique hits daily. However, when it comes to networking locally, old-fashioned methods still have a strong foothold. It’s all about who you know.

    Take us, College Pro painters as an example of a locally based start-up business. To stand out, we need to generate word-of-mouth and interest as many customers as possible. Flashy logos and catchy slogans don’t mean much if no one is paying attention. So, we have to rely on our network. It can start small, getting friends and family to talk to people about the business, but that’s just the beginning-we look to other businesses, as well. Many local businesses are happy to post flyers for non-competing businesses in their stores, which helps generate attention. When it comes to really networking, though, the ultimate source can be a local influencer.

    Influencers are people or businesses within particular communities that hold a strong sway over group opinions, usually as trendsetters or trusted icons (Think Lagy Gaga. Her influence turned the fashion industry on it’s head…and that meat dress, yuck!). In our example, we sometimes seek out the local interior design firm or premier paint supplier. These influential businesses are in direct contact with our potential customer base, and can recommend the start-up to clients in need of labor. In this way, business can be generated easily, and with no cost, simply by using a network.

    Some important things to consider when networking:

    Realistically assess the ideal customer base for your business. Does your product or service appeal to families, young professionals, seniors, parents, etc?

    If your business operates out of a store front, take time to get to know the neighborhood. Most neighborhoods have a distinct style, follow certain trends, and embrace specific ideals. Learn them and market towards them.

    Put a human face to your business. With the advent of social networking, businesses succeed more with an approachable personality and customer inclusiveness. Give your potential customers a ‘behind the scenes’ experience for your business to build familiarity.

    Study your customers’ habits. What other businesses do they frequent? What other products appeal to their specific demographic?

    Never underestimate the influence of underground culture. Many networking groups socialize and gather in unexpected places, such as local hotspots or internet forums. Find them and join in to better plug your business.

    Avoid being too upfront with your networking. Using a network to your advantage takes a certain amount of subtlety; market too aggressively and your audience may lose favor. Instead, invest in a few influencers, keep the campaign small and let talk do most of the work.

    Embrace feedback. Good networking will create a lot of attention, but keeping that attention requires constant interaction. Be ready to present your business concisely and answer questions new customers may have. A positive customer experience will always be the easiest form of networking possible.

    Oh, and if you haven’t heard already, there is a movie coming out called Influencers:

    INFLUENCERS TRAILER from R+I creative on Vimeo.

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  • amazing race

    Revamp your marketing to pull in new customers

    November 18, 2010

    Reaching Customers Digitally: Moving Your Business Forward

    The world has changed, and customers young and old are going online to learn about and buy products. It isn’t just the teens and 18-24 year-olds anymore either, so if you want your marketing plan to be effective, you must have a killer digital strategy.

    Do you know how to use social media as an effective marketing vehicle?

    Have you thought about building a community around your business?

    One of the most well-known social platforms, Twitter, provides excellent answers to these questions through a few straightforward examples.

    You’ve certainly heard of Twitter, but if you aren’t using it regularly, you may not know the best ways to integrate it into your older marketing plan. Twitter is great, especially for small business marketing. Think of it as another communication vehicle, another way to do all the things you already do. You can talk to customers, keep them updated, make special offers, etc. Here are a few steps to leverage Twitter (as a tool) to pull in new customers:

    Step 1: Tweet / update frequently
    This will ensure adequate content when people finally make it to your Twitter / Facebook account or webpage. The same would go for a Facebook update, a blog post, or any other social platform with content you can update regularly.

    Step 2: Collect Followers 
    Collect Twitter followers wherever you can – at checkout, on the phone, etc. Make Twitter names a part of your customer’s basic information – just like name and address. The same goes for other social platforms – Facebook, YouTube, etc. All have some form of grouping or “following” – get as many people involved as you can.

    Step 3: Experiment with exciting content
    Even if your business is plain vanilla, like a hardware store, you can use Twitter to energize your marketing. Having a sale on hammers? Don’t simply Tweet it – offer a free hammer to the customer who re-tweets the sale the most times. This is a simple reincarnation of an age-old marketing strategy: “Tell your friends!” Twitter will simply enable you to track, monitor, and reward your customers’ behavior. Building successful promotions in this way will also build newfound community around your product – even if it’s something as ordinary as hammers. Everyone who follows you on Twitter will see everything you Tweet about in the future, and they’ll keep the same capabilities to discuss and share it as well. Again, the same would go for a Facebook update, a blog post, or any other social platform with content you can update regularly.

    You need to be thinking creatively to reel in sales and create incentives for customers and potential customers to make purchases

    Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, or the latest fad in social media, re-energizing your marketing plan successfully will rely on creative ideas like the above example. Too many businesses simply hang out their shingle online, but simply being there won’t bring in the bucks. Just like in the physical world, in the digital world, you need to be thinking creatively to reel in sales and create incentives for customers and potential customers to make purchases.

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  • amazing race

    Top SEO Tips for Your Blog

    November 16, 2010

    Quality search engine optimization (SEO) is essential to getting great traffic and staying power to your blog. Without it, your blogwill be nothing more than an empty writing space. Here are some good tips for a small business to get you started:

    Article Writing
    Article writing is a very good way to get traffic to your site. Using high PR (page rank) sites likeArticlesBasePRweb, and PRlog will help with getting quality backlinks to your blog.

    Content
    Quality content helps to keep your readers interested, and Google favors unique and quality content. This can help you get a higher PR, which will make your site more search engine friendly.

    Backlinks
    (The link from another site to your site)
    Having as many quality link backs as possible is another way to increase your SEO. Leave a signature of your website on forums or blogs you regularly use that relates to your topic. [Many blogs have commenting sections tat allow you to insert your URL as you respond.  Take advantage of those opportunities]

    Update your site
    Regular updates to your site keep it looking fresh. If you have the time, blog at least 5 times a week.

    Titles
    Good and interesting titles help to attract readers to your site from first glance. Not only that, good titles will help your keyword power and make you are more competitive.

    Use anchor text
    (The text that is used to create a link)
    Instead of using a phrase such as “Click Here”, go for something that relates to your site such as internet marketing or social media. Embed the link directly to a topic that goes to a specific webpage to your site.

    Use Social Media
    By installing a social bookmarking button or plugin to your site, you will spread your topic out to different social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Digg, StumbleUpon, and MySpace.

    Keyword Research
    (Any word used in a reference work to link to other words or other information)
    Find keywords and phrases that attract high level searches, but have little competition. This will help you tremendously as far as getting more search words to your site.

    Discuss your topic
    Getting your readers involved is good for feedback and helps you stay in contact with them on a personal level.

    Keep your readers in mind
    Look at your site from the perspective of a reader. What kind of topics or things would you personally want to read? This will help you attract a broader audience.

    Let’s be honest, if you do ALL this there still is not guarantee that your blog will come up on top, and especially not at first.  But keep on working on these tips and you will surely see a difference. At College Pro, we too are working on these tips.

    Happy Blogging!

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  • kimbel

    Interview with Kimbal Musk: Former CP franchisee

    November 15, 2010

    Kimbal Musk (born September 20, 1972) is an entrepreneur who has helped found, advise and invest in several software and technology companies. He is the chef and owner of The Kitchen restaurant in Boulder, Colorado. Musk sits on the board for Tesla MotorsOneRiot, and SpaceX, and the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship. He is a former College Pro franchisee.

    1. Explain your College Pro experience.
    I did College Pro Painters in the summers of ’93 and ’94. In ’93 I worked an area in Toronto and won rookie manager of the year. In ’94 I worked an area in Kingston, Ontario.

    2. Why did you choose College Pro?
    I chose CP because I had tried a corporate finance job the summer before and I hated it. Wanted to try an entrepreneurial opportunity. So I reached out to College Pro and wound up managing my own team.

    3. What skills did you learn at College Pro that made a difference in your business career?
    Unbelievable skills, from hiring to firing, to project management, to financing/acccounting, to learning and dealing with the stress of a small business, to selling and customer management.  You learn it all in one summer.

    4. What advice can you give other students who are considering starting a franchise?
    My advice is “just do it.” There’s no other way to learn those skills that quickly and you’ll use those skills in any job/ business you take on afterwards.

    5. In 140 characters or less, give us your thoughts on entrepreneurship
    Make sure you love what you’re doing. Being an entrepreneur is awesome, but it is also hard. If you love it, you’ll never work a day in your life.

    Make sure you love what you’re doing. Being an entrepreneur is awesome, but it is also hard. If you love it, you’ll never work a day in your life.

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  • show us ent

    Show Us Your Entrepreneur

    November 10, 2010

    Next month is the much anticipated Global Entrepreneurship week.  A week dedicated to celebrating entreprepeurship across the world.  Millions of young, ambitious entrepreneurs are coming together to generate new ideas and to seek better ways of doing things.  This year College Pro is honoured to participate.

    College Pro recently synced up with CYBF to shoot this video in honour of the Show Us Your Entrepreneur campaign.

    show us entreprnuer

    Show Us Your Entrepreneur! from CYBF on Vimeo. Entrepreneurs have affected each one of us. Show us your inspiration and share your story, in three easy ways by November 30, 2010: 1. Upload a photo 2. Create a virtual postcard 3. Send a postcard to CYBF We did it. Now it’s your turn. [Details here]

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  • payroll

    Six Tips for Small Businesses To Streamline Payroll Process

    November 04, 2010

    It’s definitely an exciting moment when you decide to open and operate a small business. Nevertheless, it is important that you spend enough time doing your due diligence to understand your role as an owner of a company and how that affects other parties that will be involved in your business. Your payroll is a huge responsibility and one that no organization should take lightly; therefore, here are some tips that will help you with this process:

    1. Familiarize yourself with your responsibilities as an employer. Canada Revenue Agency’swebsite is a great way to start.
    2. Prepare a contract between you and your employees, making sure that they understand what they should expect from you and vice-versa
    3. Collect all the necessary information from your employees so that they can get paid on time and have their government contributions deducted appropriately.
    4. Preparing a payroll budget is extremely important. You should always have extra cash flow in your bank account in case of unforeseen circumstances. Many new small businesses create a business plan to start their operations; however, sometimes, they forget to create cash flow projections and find themselves trying to figure out where they can get the extra cash needed in particular circumstances. A simple example of this scenario is within the service industry, where most of the time, an organization is not compensated until a certain job/task is completely delivered to the satisfaction of the customer. However, various payroll periods may pass before you actually collect that paycheque. Therefore, plan for these types of scenarios to avoid any problems in the future. It may be helpful to speak to your bank representative and arrange for a business line of credit.
    5. Define a clear system for tracking employee hours and availability. The Microsoft website has some great templates that can be used as a starting point.
    6. Lastly, as a small business owner you want to choose the right payroll company working for you.  They will make your life easier from obtaining the necessary information from your employees to making all the necessary payments related to payroll.  Once you fill out the proper documentation and you provide them with all that is required, the rest of the process is on them.

    Good luck with the new venture, and remember these 6 tips when planning for your payroll process within your company.

    Post by: Rodrigo Robalino
    Former College Pro Painters Franchise owner
    R&R Professional Services Ltd.
    Payroll, Accounting and Income Tax
    rrprofessionalservices@gmail.com

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  • marketing tipds

    Five marketing tips for your service business

    November 02, 2010

    1. Create a brand worth talking about.
    - Think Twitter, Zynga, Coca-Cola. Sure, these are big brands that have traction, however they all started somewhere.  What can you create to make a lasting impression?

    2. Be consistent with your messaging.
    – Whether it’s a tent card, a website, your Twitter account, or a radio ad, all your visual, audio, and creative messaging needs to be consistent.

    3. Formalize your brand so everyone knows what you stand for. Write down the elements of your brand and refer back often so that you never diverge from your foundation.
    – Make sure that everyone on your team knows the purpose and goals of the company.  Hold weekly team meetings and avoid a bureaucratic environment.  Make sure it’s easy for your employees and customers to talk to upper management.

    4. Understand what makes your business different from others and own that difference by building it into your marketing materials.
    – Create something unique and OWN it!

    5. Build and maintain your online presence. Twitter and Facebook are fantastic opportunities to create conversation with and amongst your customers. Ensure you’re updating your profiles on a regular basis to keep your audience engaged. Remember: who you attract is more important than how many impressions (ie. friends) you make.
    – Social media is about being social, so reach out to your customers and create dialogue.

    Post contributed by:  Jessica Squibb
    Media Relations Coordinator
    Canadian Youth Business Foundation

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  • turn idea into business

    Turn your idea into a business

    October 26, 2010

    So you’ve got a great idea for a business that you’re sure is going to be a huge success and make you millions.  Or at the very least, give you control over your career and allow you to make a decent living.

    So now what?

    Becoming an entrepreneur takes more than just having a great idea.  You need to take the necessary steps to turn that brilliant concept into a viable business.  Steps like…


    Creating a business plan

    A business plan outlines the path you plan to take with your business. What it will do, how it will make a profile, what will be the expenses and how will it be different from the competition.  Here is a great post to figure out which plan is right for you.


    Getting start-up financing

    Your business is going to cost you money before it makes you money. Getting funding to cover initial start-up costs is vital in launching a start-up. Where can you start?  well, the options are limited, however here are a few: Bootstraploansangel investments, and Venture Capital can get you going or on to the next level.


    Developing a marketing strategy

    The only way to get clients and customers is to make sure they know about you. Word of mouth, advertising and social media campaigns get your business out there. Make sure that a detailedmarketing strategy is a part of your business plan.


    Finding a business mentor

    Getting advice and suggestions from someone with experience is an incredible tool. A mentor can provide fresh eyes on a problem, offer suggestions in unfamiliar areas, and spread the word about your business.

    That’s why an organization like the Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF) can be invaluable. They can guide you through the unfamiliar territory that comes with launching a business, provide valuable seed financing and match you with a mentor who can provide some support through the early years of your business. With CYBF’s help, your great idea can become a great reality.

     
     Lori Paris
    Manager, Communications
    Canadian Youth Business Foundation
    www.cybf.ca
     
    The Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF) is the ‘go to’ place for youth entrepreneurship. As a national charity, we are dedicated to growing our nation’s economy one young entrepreneur at a time. We look at character not collateral, when providing youth, age 18-34, with pre-launch coaching, business resources, start-up financing and mentoring, to help them launch and sustain a successful entrepreneurial business. www.cybf.ca.
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  • amazing race

    10 Advantages to Buying A Franchise

    October 22, 2010

    1. You are buying into an established brand name and company.

    2. You are buying a proven successful business system.

    3. You get good training.

    4. You have the incentive of owning your own business with the additional benefit of continuing assistance from the franchisor.

    5. You receive the benefits of bulk purchasing.

    6. You have the benefit of head office specialized knowledge.

    7.  Your business risk is reduced;  but remember, there will always be risk.

    8. You will have the assistance of the field operational staff in reputable franchise groups.

    9.  You have the benefits of the use of the franchiser’s continuous research and development.

    10.   As a franchisee, you can share ideas with fellow franchisees.

    This is a guest post from Andrew Patricio, co-founder of BizLaunch

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  • mark graham

    Interview with Mark Graham – Right Sleeve Founder

    October 20, 2010

    1. So Mark, you were a manager while attending Queen’s University, what was your experience like?

    I loved it. It was terrifying at first as I had never run a business on this scale before, not to mention having no idea how to properly climb a ladder. It was an all encompassing job: production during the days, cold calling at night and paperwork whenever I could find the time. Being a franchise manager taught me a lot about what it’s really like to be an entrepreneur: a lot of hard work, a lot of rejection mixed with that indescribable feeling you get when you finally succeed.

    2.  Why did you chose this opportunity?
    I was naturally drawn to entrepreneurship. I was the classic lemonade stand kid with big dreams. For my first summer job, I wanted an experience that would really teach me about the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. I was also interested in the potential to make a lot of money (after running a franchise for 2 years I was able to pay for my entire undergrad education). I was naturally drawn to entrepreneurship. I was the classic lemonade stand kid with big dreams.

    3.  What skills did you learn during your management days at College Pro that you are still using today?
    Hard work ethic. Persistence. How to sell. Hiring and motivating a team. Articulating a vision. Success as an entrepreneur is 5% inspiration, 95% perspiration (pardon the cliché).

    4.  What advice can you give to other students considering starting their own franchise?
    If you are interested in entrepreneurship, this is a must-have experience. It will teach you how to run a business. The training is excellent, but you are also given freedom to make choices about how you will run your business. The sky is the limit with this opportunity. Like anything in life, this is not for everyone. I think students need to be realistic about what they want out of a summer job.

    5. In 140 characters, what advice can you give an aspiring entrepreneur?
    Entrepreneurship is the most fun and terrifying job in the world. If you have the passion, anything is possible.

    6. Anything else you would like to add?
    When I decided to start an online promotional merchandise company out of school (www.rightsleeve.com), I had many misgivings about the opportunity, especially since so many friends of mine had taken corporate jobs. What was I thinking? Now that I had graduated, wasn’t it time to get a real job?

    10 years later, the corporate career track is not as secure (or as fulfilling) as many of my friends had anticipated, resulting in several career changes over the past 10 years. I am one of the few people from my graduating class that has done the same thing  for 10 years straight. Bottom line? The corporate path is a siren call for many young graduates, but it often fails to deliver on its initial promises (security, happiness, fulfillment).

    The corporate path is a siren call for many young graduates, but it often fails to deliver on its initial promises (security, happiness, fulfillment)

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  • last

    Why start a College Pro franchise?

    October 15, 2010

    When I was 19  and in my first year university taking business, I didn’t even know what business really was. I had been working part time jobs for several years, but none that prepared me for a career in business. I saw a poster to be a franchisee for College Pro Painters. I have to be honest, coming from an Italian family, the last thing I wanted to do was get any job that even remotely related to the construction industry.  And what did I know about owning a business. NOTHING ( as my parents reminded me when I told them I signed on). I read the poster- the attributes were interesting- goal orientation, leadership, responsibility, hard work, desire to be my own boss, desire to make money and gain experience.  Too good to be true?  Seemed that way.  I took a step, I applied, I succeeded, I was challenged. Its been part of my life for over 25 years.

    You might say- SO WHAT?.  That was then this is now.  You are an old guy, we are young- who wants to paint or wash windows?  Painting and window cleaning are not sexy, but being an entrepreneur and your own boss is.  Always has been, always will be. We take a “ skills “ approach to entrepreneurship.  We want to work with someone’s’ entrepreneurial spirit and give them skills in a market where we have a brand name and significant demand for services. Hence painting and window cleaning.  The hands on training and skills a young entrepreneur receives in how to run a profitable business is unparalleled.  What would you prefer- to learn leadership and management skills  AND try to figure out if your product or service has a demand? Or just focus on leadership and management skills in a business

    Unemployment rates for youth are above 20% in North America.  You know what will make a difference?  Your talent and experience.  That’s what our program does- it gives you an experience that sets you apart from your peers.  25 years ago I took a small risk and applied.  If you have some entrepreneurial attributes- you owe it to yourself to find out if you have what it takes.  In fact, we have an assessment that tells you if you are well suited to run a business.

    Tony Valle 
    CEO, College Pro

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