I will celebrate 3 years the first of June for Travel Backroads. It's exciting because it was the culmination of a dream that started in 2014. If you follow me, you know what I'm speaking of.
Since my start and a loan to begin my first business, I have put money into a variety of ways to market my clients such as Apple Marketing (Siri and marketing), Ads on social media as well as listing on approximately 6 platforms and last year I joined SD Tourism. I won't be able to do that any more because they have a policy of their membership that about kills a mission like mine. If I'm representing several businesses, and not just myself whose mission ironically is to promote them, it costs an expensive amount for a membership. When I started "Backroads Dakota" there was only a mention on the website of traveling Highway 14 and stopping in several towns along the way, and since that time there has been an explosion of backroad travel and rural. This is great because most of SD and our region is rural so I'm happy that the state is on it.
Giving free advertising to small businesses would be nice if I could manage that, but my time is valuable and what I do to promote businesses is of value. I can talk myself blue in the face about how I am loyal, fiercely so, or how I'll do it non-stop but the buck really stops with the faith and trust from your business and you as an owner, in me. My heart is in this for the long haul, so I'll keep doing what I can for small business. I hope you do however take a chance on me and let me promote yours.
The future is uncertain now for a great deal in our lives. It's interesting too because at the risk of sounding dramatic, what does the future hold? I am not an economist and it worries me for all the local businesses, entrepreneurs, and even our society as we know it as we move into this time of uncertainty with the CoVid-19 Pandemic and that uncertainty grows daily. Where will our businesses be in a month or our lives in 6 months? What we're experiencing now is obviously unprecedented and time will tell. I hope we can explore new ways to support local and ways to assist those in need.
Let's hang in there; help your neighbors, help your businesses, keep the tax dollars flowing best you can, buy gas in your communities, your groceries, eat out or carry out when you can, don't get caught up in all the media of blaming others or our government because this was not done, or that. To me that makes us all bullies--laying blame non-stop. Let's hope; that what we've learned we won't repeat, that we correct the problems, and we support each other. We see a shift in values, families hanging together, working together, and lives changing forever and loved ones dying. We've got to make it for the long haul and of course, we can do what it is going to take.
My thoughts are with you as we move with hope & faith into the future,
A Rousing Discussion on Customer Service
Recently I had a great conversation between friends; even a bit rousing. Customer Service was the topic of the day. This is bits and pieces from it and most definitely not all. Remember to bare with me because I write like I talk! 😉
One point of view that came up between us was basically 'a person should NOT do business with any shop/service in their town if their character is questionable, or the consumer has been snubbed, or ignored as a customer.'
Part of that discussion was what if that owner/manager does not know or understand how they come across to others?
Meaning-- maybe it's their personality but they have no idea they come across cold and indifferent? OR, maybe they do have an idea and don't care or don't think it's related to their ability to do business.
What if the person doesn't understand they come across like they do to others? Maybe they cannot do anything about it and perhaps they should never be with the public, but they are? What do we do to support our small businesses? Ignore it? Point it out to them?
There are many aspects that enter into a retail or service business. It's not cut and dried and many cannot get past the demeanor, character, the treatment and more. But, if we do not, do those businesses stand to close? Can our communities afford our 'non-support'? If you're feeling it about them, chances are you are not alone. Others feel it too. Will that business blame it on everyone else, but not at themselves if they fail? Is there an answer?
As I shared long ago, I was snubbed once at a pharmacy. I went elsewhere. I figured that I had the right to be treated better. I learned later that was just the pharmacist's personality--I was not picked out to be rude to; it was just poor customer skills. Do we help by pointing it out or telling them? (Good luck with that.)
I don't have the answers and not that I have to have them. In the greater scheme of things is this important? Maybe not, but it sure makes good conversation fodder between friends. (And yes, we're still friends and we agreed to pick the discussion up again!)
Hello 2020!! Just recently my husband and I ventured to Tacoma WA over Christmas to see our daughter and family. It's always fun to visit new places, yet we're not big travelers. If my site was about our travels via flying, I might was well give this up. We do travel back roads a great deal and it's because of that, this directory got it's start.
While we were there, my daughter knows I'm all about local business, new, quaint, and special little businesses. Our first visit the morning after arrival was a favorite donut shop of theirs. (Sidenote here: I noticed the business calls them "doughnuts" and out in the Midwest, we call them donuts. Now I have to know if that has to do with locations much like soda versus pop. Ha! Does it matter? No but it's how my brain works! )
Legendary Doughnuts was an amazing little shop full of doughnuts, calories, and unique decadent little goodies; so much so that you wanted to try each one. Bakeries and donut shops are getting with it I notice, because I had been in a similar one in Tucson AZ, yet this one had more of a personal touch to it. These donuts were more along a gourmet specialty type for lack of a better way to describe them. The menu offered so much more in way of selections, but we were only there for their amazing donuts. Unbelievably amazing.
Near there were some murals and my husband drew my attention to them. There were a great deal of murals on older brick walls throughout the suburbs. Murals have been on my mind lately because it's been the talk of Ec.Developers to create them in our communities. It is a terrific idea because it brightens up the community, pulls everyone together to work on a project, and like some communities such as Faulkton, SD people come just to see the murals. That is a part of economic development; to pull travelers into the community.
With the visit to this donut shop and seeing local murals, I've decided to expand our locations for the directory listings across the country. The murals are on the Destinations page on the menu. More small local businesses/services outside the borders of SD are going to be included too. I love experiencing them all--all "diamonds in the rough" around the country. I know, without a doubt, everyone has been to one of those places they'd love to tell others about. Since that is how I started this whole business; let's do it! Another one I shared is Bite Me BBQ in Witcha KS. I'm not a ribs eater, but oh my gosh, I'll turn into one there. You want to hit up this locally owned restaurant downtown Wichita. I realize that we don't all go in the same directions, but you never know...
Another, not to be forgotten, is a change in my pricing. Since starting my online directory, pricing has been difficult for me to figure out (a trail needing blazed). The business owners come first and my time to promote second, hence the pricing change. So for businesses to be promoted in Travel Backroads, they only pay a one time membership fee. It's affordable, quick, easy and the way to go. If in the future a business wants to update pictures, information, add more or less, it's a very minimal fee to do so of the Ala Carte menu. Also again; chambers of commerce, clusters of towns, commercial and community clubs can be listed on the Destinations page; Events too and Stories. I am fiercely loyal to local business. If we do not promote them and leave their support up to just their local towns people--they are in trouble. Let's collaborate!
I hope you'll take me up on this and get your business listed.
Hoping for a great, healthy, prosperous New Year for all!
Driving the Passion to Go Local
It's taken a while, but I finally feel I have my ducks in a row concerning how I want to handle the pricing of my business for local. I was with a group of women last night discussing local and talking about the size of our community back 30-40 years. It was sad to hear them talk how much change there has been in our particular 'rural' community. Now, compared to the 50's-60's our community of 1300 was around 2400 at that time...a thriving metropolitan rural community. I did not know the community in which I live, then, since I am a transplant. I would love to have seen it in it's heyday. I can only imagine now.
The women commented that there were farms everywhere and most everyone had a dairy cow or two along with their other cattle. Parents, grandparents and children were farming together on these small farms. Fast forward to today and the land is blotted with abandoned farm houses and barns, our schools have consolidated, and the land is more vast it seems now that so many of the individuals farmers have lost or sold their farms and big corporation farming has come in and taken over. The young farmer concept was a concept of the past, not of the future, or so I am thinking. Young farmers that want to get into farming, really cannot now because land is selling for too much and much of the land when it does come available is being sold at a higher price to those corporation farmers.
Big corporation farming too hits a rural community where it hurts as well. No longer do they buy gas, feed, seed from the local area in which they farm. They support those communities from where they are from, or bring in their own gas or their own feed and seed. I think relaying this to you I am doing pretty good at stating the problems. I listen to others and talk around the local watering hole, but I was raised city like I've said. The closest I came to a cow was seeing it from my car window on the land, or watching the "Ag kids" load a school bus at a location set apart from where the city kids did. So I think I have learned something these years living in rural America. I do know too I have a lot more to learn.
I don't have as much to learn as the professor from UC in Berkeley CA. The instructor Jackson Kernion that is teaching actual classes to students and took to Twitter to shame "rural Americans" and those who aren't "pro-city." Fox News quoted, "They, as a group, are bad people who have made bad life decisions...and we should shame people who aren't pro-city."
He said "they" should have higher health care, pay more taxes and be forced to live an "uncomfortable" life for rejecting "efficient" city life," Really? REALLYYY? And this guy is paid by UC of Berkeley to teach his 11 philosophical courses? If you were to ask me, they should hang their head in shame. Jackson Kernion is really so far off the mark, and since receiving so much backlash from his comments, he's deleted his tweet. I sincerely hope that he is discredited overall and with that thinking run out of town. He has no clue about rural life, and it angers me the venom he used. Why open your mouth at all about something you know nothing about? Only because you can and you can mislead students who are gullible and listening in earnest? Man, it angers me.
Rural America is alive and well, by the way, and loved by many. Small communities are thriving and some even growing because citizens love where they live. Ben Winchester, a rural specialist from the University of Minnesota Extension and promoter of the rural brain gain migration concept supports this. One reason why the government's statistics reflect that the rural areas are being depleted is mainly because those rural areas are being eaten up by the metropolitan areas. But the brain gain is reflecting:
So here I am, working for small and local through my employment, business and website www.travelackroads.today. My business is not just about rural but small business whether they're on the country roads or on a city street. I do believe in rural because I have lived it for 35 years, and see raising children and living in rural truly as a lifestyle and one that we want to keep. The difficult part may come that in order to keep ruralism, we have to support it. We cannot run to the Walmart's, the metropolitan areas for their health care, and other businesses IF we have them in our communities. An occasional out-shopping trip will happen because that has become a pastime for Americans, but when it comes down to it; we snooze on this we lose. Or in Pat McGill's words, if we don't collaborate, we evaporate. Small rural cannot afford that, so working hard is required in educating our youth, our adults and working together as retailers and citizens to thrive. Once there is thriving, growth hopefully follows.
Joe Bartmann with Dakota Resources, at RuralX '18 Summit encourages us to be rural-shapers and it's up to us. There is a new rural happening and I want to be a part of it. So Jackson Kernion, you deleted your tweet and found out that surrounding yourself with only people that believe like you can come back to hound you when you share thoughts that are very much asinine. I'm thrilled personally that you felt you needed to take your tweet down and that there was feedback on it. I hope someone takes you by the ear and drags you into a ruralistic lifestyle you know nothing about and get some education. I just had to speak up.
(Posted on LinkedI & Facebook)
I'm sitting in west river South Dakota near my home and with family enjoying time together. It's great to have a few days off from work. But even greater to spend some time with family because we do not live near each other.
As I spend this necessary time with the business of Travel Backroads; my day job has been quite demanding. My day job, if you are not aware, is helping Deuel County in SD with economic wellness, growth and thriving. It seems like a thankless job sometimes, but I learned a long time ago that pats on the back are not required and that kudos come with seeing a job finished or well done. I survive with the latter by helping entrepreneurs, housing, business awareness, business collaboration, and community betterment. I personally thrive on it and I commit fully, not haphazardly to this passion of mine. If I meet with criticism, I'm not too shook as I know I'm doing the best I can with what I have as knowledge, and grateful that I'm always learning. Someone new, one day, will be able to too their hat in the ring and work their magic.
While in the Black Hills I had the chance to stop in, at one of my all time favorite businesses, and that is the House of Scandinavia. (Anyone notice my different car? My white one met a deer one night last month.)
Carmen Graves, daughter (and her siblings), of the Watkins, have been handed down the scepter of operations since their parents' retirement. I have been going to this store since I was a little girl. Stopping more in my adult life I have come to the realization that I'm grateful and blessed to have an appreciation for my Scandinavian roots; thanks to my Grandmother Nordin and the traditions we celebrated at Christmas. However, when my grandfather married and they started their family in Rapid City, having come from Milaca, Mn and Sweden, my grandfather Bernhard Nordin said "We're in America now, we will speak English." Much of the language and extras were not passed down through the generations, much to my dismay.
I've made my final decision within my business Travel Backroads to change my pricing. Keeping it affordable was always my goal and making it easy for businesses to get in the directory was the aim.
It's a one time listing fee; then you're in, like Flynn. The membership gets you in the directory on all the pages that apply. It also gets you social media coverage on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube for videos, and Yelp. Hiring Apple for a brief period has helped me get recognition on other platforms and Siri! This next summer you find my business as part of Glacial Lakes & Prairies Tourism publication as I've paid that price for my small & local business listers. I love promoting and have a new page also for "Testimonials." I so appreciate my customers' backing my business, and saying so.
I think one of the biggest aspects of my business are the maps. I reiterate; there are so many great stores and businesses that are on the backroads or on a city street, why miss them? Why not let others know they are there. I love it!
Travelers SHOULD know these stores are near them. Wouldn't you want to know? Like Clear Lake has these amazing women's clothing stores for ALL sizes (even curvy)
--why go I-29 when you can go Hwy 15 in east central SD. Then, if you get there, keep heading north to Milbank and stop at Linda's, or Milbank Flower or Whimsy on Main.
My next quest as part of my business is to show "Specialty Products" in their own category. (Homemade donuts like at Wall Drug--do you know this particular passion?) I KNOW for certain that others have their favorites --homemade malts, caramel rolls, specialty coffees, truffles, and more. Why not showcase these places just for what they are known for?
My next focus are Murals. They are not a trend, and seem to be artistically showing up on rural South Dakota community walls. So, I'm starting a category too for those. Organizing on the directory is a challenge because I want everything found easily; and I'm a self-appointed and self-taught webmaster; videographer too. Murals tell their own story and what communities want to say. They're great and the SD Art's Council is helping many with grants for their creation.
So, call me. Let me work for you. I want to promote you. I want to promote your business, your town, your product. I will do my utmost to show you how fiercely loyal I am to you. Check out my directory, follow me on social media and get on my blog's emailing list.
If you're not a biz, then please "say it forward" to your town's businesses, Chambers of Commerce, or a friend who's a store owner. I would really appreciate your help in my quest to drive the passion to go local. We cannot sit back, it's up to us to drive traffic to the diamonds in the rough.
Simply put, I'm always working, learning and growing with new things in-store.
with Travel Backroads
When I started the “Dakota Backroads” Facebook page in 2014, I never envisioned it becoming a website and going as far as I have. After sharing with others about my page at the time and how it started, the bigger picture started to take fruition. The name was changed to include more states than the Dakotas; my excitement and purpose became more solidified and my business was born. If you're new to my blog and stories, I can recap a bit to for you about my business’ beginnings.
My mission was and has been to share the best parts of small and local business in order to get others to stop and see. Loving that idea, it grew to where it is today, but not without question and frustration. As Mel Robbins says…
I cannot say I’m the best salesperson but I can say my passion has only grown and I can definitely tell you my mission. Small and local business’ and entrepreneurs need support. They are risk takers and dreamers. They “believe it before they see it.” Or in the words of Thomas Edison about himself as an entrepreneur, “I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” So I’m definitely an advocate for my very own business and what I’m trying to accomplish. Our country was built by entrepreneurs.
This then leads into my trial and errors as business owner of Travel Backroads and the questions I have had since starting. Pricing digital marketing and promoting business on and off the main highway, city street or someone’s home has been a challenge, especially if you're looking for perfection.
You'll want to know this...
I now am launching a new way for entrepreneurs to become part of the Travel Backroads Online Directory.
A "one-time membership" is all you need.
Google Reviews on the a la carte menu...
All will lead others to the website and utimately to find your biz.
What's the price??
1) The one-time business membership fee is $100, INCLUDING mentioned perks. Should you later decide you want updated pictures, new links, new information shared with the public; the A la Carte menu will address those additions.
2) To include a video it is $150; again a one time ever fee and included in social media. You help provide photos and we can work out the specifics.
Digital and online marketing has been a challenge for me. Personally I feel I'm blazing a new trail. Without reading 101 ways to go about it and experimentation, I'm learning the right way to approach this, it has been a journey.
Chambers and Community Clusters --Are you a Destination??
There will be opportunities for Chambers or Community Clusters to join as well and TB to promote for a one-time fee of $200; additional updates later come in the A la Carte menu. (Businesses to be mentioned within these join separately.) Feel free to ask questions.
There is opportunity as well, for large and small events to get promoted.
This is a great opportunity for YOU to get your business listed in the directory that is growing and being promoted daily.
I am following my passion—it’s marketing the small and local business owners, events, chambers, and communities.
You Snooze, You Lose,
The Website Membership Agreement is also located on the website on "Services".
(Read at your own risk😉):
I’m sure I am getting more outspoken in this position and I never mean to offend anyone, I care. I find I’m always looking from the Ec Dev perspective and how my training and education affects my thinking. My desire is to provide food for thought and possibly cause action, not saying I’m right. My 🧠 never stops thinking. 🤦🏻♀️
Today while driving, I’m seeing in other communities “Hotel For Sale” “Gas Station For Sale”, homes and businesses run down or vacant. Even Clear Lake’s bowling alley/restaurant is for sale. It saddens me as I glance the countryside; it really does. What if those businesses stay vacant and more join them? We don’t know what the next 10 years holds for Deuel County.
It’s not all the ED Director’s job to find a business for this, a buyer for that. This job has a great deal happening behind the scenes. The DADi directors serve because this is important to them.
At the risk of sounding a broken record...It takes ALL of us.
It takes ACTION, on everyone’s part.
It takes collaboration, no grudges, forward thinkers, and loyalty to our communities and to one another’s’.
It means loyalty; trying hard to buy “AT home”— pay taxes support infrastructure etc.
It takes businesses getting websites to at least having a fighting chance against big biz “Amazon” et al. We’re not going to go back in time.
It takes our future government entities, officials and leaders, to be ‘in’ the 21st Century— email, webinars, smartphones, and not looking from the 20th Century.
Money, grants, tenacity, pride, repurposing old buildings, tearing down/building up, civic responsibility, volunteers...its endless...
What doesn’t it take??
We know it does NOT take RAIN 💦💧from our perspectives today. Oh the struggles our areas are facing from that.
It takes us to keep progressing ...in my humble opinion.
I know you’ve missed my blogging! 😉
So here is my latest... Mini Blog: “Loose Gravel” My Online Blog for rural, small and local--
Dissension; now there’s a word.
Do you know that families, communities, and friendships get torn up over it? Of course you do.
Collaboration, I’m finding, is an art, and FEW are very good at it.
Working together, especially in a community, doesn’t happen easily.
Have you ever known someone to run for office because they have their own agenda?
Have you ever met someone who forged ahead like a bull in a china closet because their way is the right way? Or maybe they don’t have a clue really... but,
People! We’ve got too much at stake in our rural, small and local communities to get caught up in pettiness. We don’t need to have our own way. Our towns’ take the brunt when we can’t see a vision or need for change. Even our area “communities together” pay the price when they can’t work together to form an alliance to be a destination together.
Economic and Community Development takes hard work, TENACIOUSNESS, willingness of heart, sometimes forgiveness, most the time patience. It won’t happen over night. It takes a long time, that’s why we have to work together. Negativity is like venom.
Our communities can thrive and grow. Our communities need us and we them. As a friend of mine just recently quoted “positive people cannot be passive.” Pettiness, private agendas, re-living old feuds, having our own way, negativity, selfishness, and control issues will undermine work that needs to be done for rural livability. Make collaboration your goal... #RuralLivability
“Start anywhere, head everywhere” ~Tuesday Ryan Hart
These are precious times.
I am not a BLOGGER to just write to keep you on the hook. If I write something and you follow me, great. But if not, that's ok too. I write to express something in me to share with others on topics and ideas that hit me; they usually have to do with rural, small, local, entrepreneurs, communities and anything else related. Of course I'm always hopeful someone gleans something from them. I might very well repeat my blogs even! ;)
When I, this so called "city slicker" matched up with this "rural dude", I began learning all things small and local, and I noticed the 1 or 2 finger wave over the steering wheel in Harding County, SD. Uh huh...that's right, the "1 or 2 finger wave".
His finger would come up off the steering wheel as he waved to vehicles passing him on the highway, or city street. I wanted to know why one got a single finger, or two fingers. (If you know me, it was fun to do it in jest.) But why wave at all, so I applied all the questions. Do you know them? Why one finger? Why two fingers? Maybe use the whole hand wave? What's with that? Turned out that he knew some of those he passed, and others he did not. Who knew.
we moved to the community of Philip, SD. Driving through downtown Philip in our moving van, not one, but EVERYONE that passed us (even walkers) gave us a 1, 2 or whole hand wave! I kid you not, enough of them anyway to notice. Apparently this "waving thing" had gotten 200 miles south as well! So, we waved back, my husband easily followed suit and I got in to it as well. It was no longer after living there that I noticed it is what they did in Philip. It must have been something in the water there as drivers even waved on the rural highways there.
To this day, Philip's friendliness stays with me. I was literally a stranger when we first moved there. I wanted to write a Reader's Digest article about the 1 and 2 finger wave. Crazy, but I wanted to acknowledge Philip for what I discovered; what I was taught by my husband Hans; and what I soon tried to emulate as well. To me it seemed to all mean something deeper; friendliness, welcoming and acknow-ledgement. As an observer, I liked and enjoyed these acknowledged greetings. Was I crazy? Do others do this or think about it?
Brings me to the question...How is your town for friendliness? Can you relate to the 'wave'? Do you acknowledge complete strangers you pass? Have you ever been the first to reach out to a newcomer, or some one new to your community? How about inviting them to sit with you at a ball game or event? These are not always easy steps, but a p p r e c i a t e d steps. Doing all this might be easier in a small community. There are ways to do them too in a city. Perhaps it's customer service or saying hi to that stranger you pass on the street. Friendly, is friendly. No one person or community has a corner on the market. Do you believe you either have it or you don't? We teach our children "stranger danger", but there is a way to teach them friendliness and keep them safe.
I appreciate towns that are welcoming.
I do not like when I walk into an establishment and everything stops and all eyes are on me. Can anyone relate?
Customer service is huge. I love being acknowledged when I am a customer,. watch me leave their store if they do not. I have left stores when employees appear to care less. You've heard me in previous posts talk about customer service and experiences I've had. I've been trained well and I think we are doing our children and our employees a disservice if we are not teaching respect and friendliness.
Maybe it seems corny to some, but that 'first impression' of a community sets the tone and pace. There are so many elements to it as well; more than what I mentioned here. Whether or not you live rurally or live in a city, there are ways to step it up and to reflect friendliness in your personhood or in your place of business. I challenge you to use that 1 or 2 finger wave symbolically or literally, in ways you never even realized yet.
It Starts with Us,
TravelBackroads.Today has a new brand!
Woo Hoo!! What a way to kick off Spring and 5 years of existence (two as a business for hire)! Thanks to a very talented and good friend Michelle Gross, TBT has this new, fun and effective brand to accompany the business and marketing! She used her time and talents to help my biz get some pizzazz. Words do not describe my gratitude. It's exciting!
TB will be using both logos, as in this day and age it's not uncommon. Our logo points towards the ".today" part of the website address. She uniquely incorporated that into the design as it's important that when you search you need to add .today rather than .com.
Another new marketing event will be for Travelbackroads.today to join SD Tourism this year through SD Glacial Lakes & Prairies in the northeast region of SD. Rack cards will be placed in the seasonal tourist rest stops in SD and these rack cards (see below) will grab the attention of travelers. Because Travel Backroads uses a digital platform for marketing, having a physical copy of promotion is not something that is always done by us. This time however, it is designed to usher tourists, weekenders, destination travelers to all these little businesses that sit along the byways and highways. Also marketed are those downtown city streets and in homes, wherever they maybe. Businesses in TBT don't have to have a physical address and some businesses even take their business on the road or strictly online. We're here to market all styles of small and local business.
Again, a reminder, is that TBT can be found on smartphones. For example, if you use an iPhone, search on Safari www.travelbackroads.today. Once you find it, save the site to your home screen. It will become an App you can use on your phone and be easily accessible while you're driving down a highway, city street or planning a weekend getaway. Use it and find out for yourself how easy it is.
I am on a mission to promote business. I am on a mission to promote entrepreneurs. I'm also on a mission to drive customers through doors of those "diamonds in the rough" whose unique businesses add color and flavor to their communities or area. Come along for the ride; if you own a business contact me and let's work out a plan for you.
Excited for the Big Reveal!