Small Business Spotlight: Capt’n Hippo in Toms River

I am pleased to present a monthly blog post which features one of our current businesses, how they got started, and how First Financial has helped them grow their business. If this inspires you to want to expand your business goals or see how First Financial can assist you further, feel free to reach out to me. Keep reading to learn more about our featured Business of the Month, Capt’n Hippo Bait & Tackle in Toms River. — Matt Brazinski, Assistant VP of Business Development

Capt’n Hippo Bait & Tackle:

Fishing or crabbing? Get your fresh bait and gear at Capt’n Hippo Bait & Tackle in South Toms River, NJ. Owners Lenny and Sandy Hahn have over 20 years experience fishing the Toms River and surrounding waters. Capt’n Hippo is proud of their small size.  They have everything needed to get you started at a very reasonable price. In fact, there is nothing in the store that costs more than $100.00! Lenny and Sandy are local, genuine, knowledgeable, and love to help people just starting out.  

Owners: Lenny and Sandy Hahn

Years in Business: 8+

Previous Careers: Lenny was a Civil Engineer CAD Manager for 25+ years. When he was laid off he had the choice of either finding a new job or starting his own business. Lenny had always loved fishing, so a bait and tackle store was the perfect fit. Capt’n Hippo was born!

What do you love most about the business?

The customers!  Making new friends and seeing parents bringing children in to learn how to fish.

What has your biggest challenge been in business?

Getting people in the door and keeping operating costs down.

What do you like most about banking with First Financial?

Ease of use, and the people at First Financial are great!

What is your key to success?

Smiling! All of the shops have the same inventory on the shelves; it is the people behind the counter that make the difference.

You can find Capt’n Hippo Bait & Tackle at:

334 Atlantic City Blvd

Toms River NJ 08757

Phone: (732) 505-3500

https://www.facebook.com/CaptnHippo/

Ready to grow your business? Call the Business Development Department at 732.312.1500, email business@firstffcu.com or stop by any branch location. Learn more about our Business Account products and services on our website.

 

 

Small Business Spotlight: White Lilac Inn in Spring Lake

I am pleased to present a monthly blog post which features one of our current businesses, how they got started, and how First Financial has helped them grow their business. If this inspires you to want to expand your business goals or see how First Financial can assist you further, feel free to reach out to me. Keep reading to learn more about our featured Business of the Month, White Lilac Inn in Spring Lake. — Matt Brazinski, Assistant VP of Business Development

White Lilac Inn: 

Set in a circa-1880 property, this charming Spring Lake Victorian-style B&B with white wrap-around porches is a 2-minute walk from Wreck Pond, less than a mile from the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, and 6 miles from Jenkinson’s Aquarium in Pt. Pleasant.

Airy rooms and suites feature free Wi-Fi, TVs, fireplaces and private bathrooms, as well as air-conditioning. Some offer whirlpool tubs, ceiling fans, and private porches. Suites add extra bedrooms, canopy beds, sofas and/or mini-fridges.

Full breakfast is served in a bright dining area with private tables. There’s also an elegant fireside lounge with antique furnishings, as well as loaner bikes and free beach passes.

Owner: Mari Kennelly

Years in Business: 24

Previous Careers: Art teacher, school picture photographer, wedding photographer, foreign exchange student teacher for students from Japan, real estate sales, and art gallery management.

What do you love most about this business? The people!  It’s so nice to see returning guests, some every year, some every few years. Sometimes it seems the world comes right to your doorstep. It is great meeting and forming relationships with many wonderful and interesting people.

What has your biggest challenge been in business? Trying to schedule time for myself, you learn to take time off and plan ahead. Also it is important to schedule and NOT try to do everything yourself.

What do you like most about banking with First Financial? Very helpful tellers! One gal went out of her way to help me set up my account so I can view it online. Your seminars are very valuable too. They helped me get an idea of what some online placement such as Facebook can do for your business.

What is your key to success? Enjoying people and helping them to get to know the area. Making them feel comfortable, being there but not hovering. They can reach me when they need me, but they can enjoy the Inn with each other.

If you are looking for a great local staycation, or have friends or relatives coming into town, definitely check out White Lilac Inn in Spring Lake!  For more information visit whitelilac.com

Ready to grow your business? Call the Business Development Department at 732.312.1500, email business@firstffcu.com or stop by any branch location. Learn more about our Business Account products and services on our website.

Small Business Spotlight: Certified Auto Mall in Howell

I am pleased to present a monthly blog post which features one of our current businesses, how they got started, and how First Financial has helped them grow their business. If this inspires you to want to expand your business goals or see how First Financial can assist you further, feel free to reach out to me. Keep reading to learn more about our featured Business of the Month, Certified Auto Mall in Howell. — Matt Brazinski, Assistant VP of Business Development

This month’s Small Business Spotlight is Certified Auto Mall located at 5499 US Highway 9 North in Howell.  Certified Auto Mall specializes in sales, service, and towing. Their phenomenal reviews speak for the excellent quality, value, and service that they provide.

Art Stahnten and his family have been in the automotive industry for nearly 40 years and have been helping the hardworking Howell community stay in motion for the last 17 years.

Art grew up in Newark working from an early age at a gas station/automotive repair shop. The owner of the station would repair vehicles on credit so that his customers could continue to drive to work. This drive to help hardworking local people really made an impression on Art and he still operates Certified Auto Mall in this way today.

Art enjoys meeting and helping people and is very grateful to have such wonderful, loyal customers.  His favorite thing about banking with First Financial is that we are local and easy to get in touch with. The staff at Certified Auto Mall has yet to meet one person at First Financial that is not extremely nice and customer service oriented.

If you are in the market for a quality used automobile, reach out to the friendly staff over at Certified Auto Mall on Route 9 North in Howell!

Ready to grow your business? Call the Business Development Department at 732.312.1500, email business@firstffcu.com or stop by any branch location.

Small Business Spotlight: Clarity Salon in Brielle

As First Financial’s Assistant Vice President of Business Development, one of my favorite functions in my role is business to business networking. Essentially I introduce First Financial Federal Credit Union, a not-for-profit organization – with local small businesses. As a community credit union, it is our goal to help local businesses build and expand. Partnering together allows us to use each other’s services, promote each other and help each other succeed. First Financial grows and our local businesses grow, it’s a win-win!

With that being said, I am pleased to present a monthly blog which features one of our current businesses, how they got started, and how First Financial has helped them grow their business. If this inspires you to want to expand your business goals or see how First Financial can assist you further, feel free to reach out to me. Keep reading to learn more about our featured Business of the Month, Clarity Salon in Brielle.  — Matt Brazinski, Assistant VP of Business Development

We sat down with Tracey Mahady the owner of Clarity Salon in Brielle to talk briefly about her business.

After 25 years in the industry, Tracey took a break to care for her father whose health was declining. She wasn’t sure she wanted to get back into a traditional salon setting, so her father suggested that she open her own small place. That small place she opened five years ago is not so small anymore!

Clarity prides themselves on using the best high-end organic hair care products. These products function at a very high level and do not contain harmful chemical ingredients.

Tracey’s favorite part of owning the business is that it truly is hers.  She has cultivated a wonderful working environment for her five employees where everyone is treated fairly. The environment is fun, creative and simply beautiful. Customers are welcomed with personalized service and the finished product is excellent.

Clarity Salon and First Financial FCU have worked together since the start of Tracey’s business venture. Tracey enjoys that we are very personal, reachable and there are no hiccups with her banking. The member service that we provide, is exactly what Clarity prides itself in providing to its customers – so the two business philosophies really go hand in hand.  Obtaining a business line of credit for Clarity was a smooth process and really helped to kickstart the success of the business.  Tracey would absolutely refer First Financial to friends, family and other business owners.

First Financial’s Business Line of Credit features:
• No pre-payment penalties
• No application fees
• Flexible terms and fixed monthly payments
• Advance from the line of credit as you need it!

Ready to grow your business?
Call the Business Development Department at 732.312.1500, email business@firstffcu.com or stop by any branch location.

Down to Business: What to Consider When Writing a Business Plan

Remember writing term papers in high school or college? You had to prove a point using evidence provided by your research of the topic. In many ways, a business plan is proving the following thesis: “I can successfully operate a sustainable business.” So what research do you need to prove this idea?

  • Market Research – Who are your competitors in the area? What are their prices for comparable services? How will you differentiate your product/service from theirs?
  • Financials – Create realistic projections for the money you will make and lose over the next 3 years. Explain how you came up with these figures, and how they will figure in to the growth of your company. Also include the amount of money you, your partners, and your investors (if applicable) are contributing to the start up.
  • Biographies – Who’s who in the organization? What skills, experience, and talent does each of the business owners/partners bring to the proverbial table? Understand how each person will make the business successful.
    • What are the duties of each person employed by the company?
    • Each person should provide a personal financial statement
    • How will matters be resolved if the partners cannot agree on an issue?
  • Marketing Plan – How will your potential patrons know about your business? How much of your budget is devoted to marketing? Depending on the type of business, will you do traditional advertising, or organic word of mouth marketing?
  • The Company Itself – What product or service are you providing, and how will you be doing this? How did you originally get involved in the industry? What makes this industry a worthwhile use of your time, energy, and money?

These are only a few of the aspects to consider when creating a business plan. You can find many seminars on how to write a business plan for little to no cost at local libraries, local community colleges – particularly Brookdale Community College, and of course at First Financial Federal Credit Union. Formal templates can be found at www.SBA.gov or www.SCORE.org. Use these questions provided, along with one of their templates, to prove your thesis – you can, in fact, operate a successful business…once you have the right plan!

For more information about any of First Financial’s business accounts and services, you can contact Business Development by emailing business@firstffcu.com 

Marketing and Sales for Business Tips

DSCN0292Recently, Jack Gottlieb – President of The Total Solutions Group, Inc. presented an information packed seminar, which covered significant marketing and sales for business tips.  If you missed the session but would still like to gain some useful insight in marketing or sales for your business, keep reading!

  • The core of a business is the identity of it, its purpose and values.
  • Two important keys for great service are follow through and follow up. If you are doing these two things, it’s not about large quantities of customers – just stay the course and you’ll see results from your follow up.
  • How you deliver your product or service and the way in which it’s used becomes the customer’s experience – this is very important!
  • Create a sense of community with your business – it forms a connection, sense of pride, and refer-ability for your customers.
  • Marketing at its best is fulfilling a need customers didn’t know they had, or answering a question before it is even asked.
  • Marketing is also about creating value for your service and that unique customer experience.
  • It’s not about how much money you make in your business, it’s about how much you keep and re-invest back into it (literally and figuratively).
  • People open their wallets for your service due to the impact it will have on their lives, so be conscious of this at all times.
  • In order to focus on your results – be clear about what you are really providing, not what you are promoting.
  • As a business, you need to market internally to your staff – the same way in which you do outwardly to your customers.
  • Don’t solve a problem, validate a concern! Key sales tactic: If someone says your product is too expensive, validate their concern and ask them what kind of value they are truly looking for.

DSCN0295Here are some important questions you need to ask yourself as a business owner in regard to marketing and sales:

  • How do you connect the value to your customers outside of your products and services?
  • What are customers thinking when looking at all aspects of my business? This includes website, marketing collateral pieces, articles written about the company, etc.
  • How do I gear my website in a way in which I can extend the customer’s experience and still grow sales?

Always remember – don’t just work in your business, work ON it. 

For any business owners out there reading this article – what are some of the key marketing or sales tactics that have worked (or not worked) for your business?  If your strategies were not initially successful – how did you change them into success stories? Comment below – we’d love to hear from you!

 

Jack Gottlieb is the President of The Total Solutions Group, Inc. a strategic consulting, training and coaching firm committed to driving a sustainable increase to an organization’s results, value proposition and culture. Jack brings 14 years of proven high level success along with the collective capability of his team and advisory board. Jack has also been one of the highest ranked speakers at various state wide SHRM (Society of Human Resource Managers) Annual Conferences as well as the New Jersey Organizational Development Annual Conferences for the past 7 years. Jack also serves on the Executive Board Collegiate Empowerment which is an educational firm committed to driving systemic change and impact for Colleges and Universities. Jack also is actively involved with two universities. The first is Kutztown University where he is one of the key leaders of the College of Business Advisory Board to support their efforts in further development and expansion. The second is with Rider University with their Center for the Development of Leadership Skills.