Tuesday, July 29th22.9°C
Common Sense Business Solutions

Labour shortage in BC

The mainstream media are finally waking up to something unusual in British Columbia – a labour shortage.

If the experience of Alberta is a guide to our own future, the highly skilled labour will disappear first. The newspapers and radio are already talking about a shortage of welders and machinists. Then the semi-skilled labour and finally the low skilled labour will be recruited to the oil and gas projects.

In Alberta, some fast food joints cannot operate a full week because they simply cannot hire enough people. And Alberta has already drawn in people from all the other provinces. What happened there in a decade will happen here in two years.

I explained this to my wife, a strata manager at Coldwell Banker. Landscapers and gardeners who can operate a bobcat and earn $16 per hour will leave Kelowna for a bulldozer job paying $80 per hour. Hold on to your hat and get ready for increased costs and not being able to get plumbing, electrical or renovation work done on your home or building at any price.

It gladdens my heart that some companies are already taking full advantage of the opportunity, though. By training for job specific skills, we employ more people with great paying jobs. We improve the tax base and finally pay people what they are really worth, so they can support a family and pay their bills. An example? First College in Westbank, is offering courses on non-destructive testing. The graduates clamber over structures like drilling platforms, oil storage containers, bridges and pipelines looking for signs of imminent failure. Some work in labs. It pays extremely well, takes only grade 11 math skills and with a current shortage of 1000 people, everyone gets a job. Oh yes, women are very welcome because they have better attention to detail and paperwork that the other half of mankind.

A noisy minority of poorly informed NIMBY’s (not in my backyard) will not deter the projects that the province so dearly needs and so richly deserves. Those ignoring this vast opportunity should return to their long slumber, like Rip Van Winkle, and rouse themselves when it is over.


How to sell more - lots more

Proven revenue-generating strategies from the leaders of Canada's Fastest-Growing Companies

Profit 500 is all about revenue growth. The firms that make the ranking every year have cracked a code that countless others have struggled with: how to sell more. Some of their tactics are highly sophisticated; some are dead simple. All are proven to be effective. Here are some of our favourite strategies, courtesy of the leaders of Canada's Fastest-Growing Companies:


Show your cred

"I spent many years as a sales rep on the phone, and I really take pride in motivating the staff with that experience. It's an 'in the trenches' approach, not a giant fluffy hierarchy. They can get behind someone who has done it.'"
—Anthony Boyle, president & CEO, HR Downloads Inc. (No. 12)


Show the love

"When you have a sales challenge with a client, the key is to show the customer a lot of love and be prepared to make a significant investment to show your value."
—Thomas Ligocki, president & CEO, Clevest Solutions Inc. (No. 112)


Don't discount small sales

"We slog it out every day. We do 400 or 500 deals a year; they are all tough ones. But you have to manage both big wins and the small ones. Small $1,000 deals can turn into $100,000 deals quickly."
—David Urquhart-Knopf, founder and CEO, Cue Digital Media Inc. (No. 21)


Make everyone a salesperson

"Even though there's a dedicated team of sales and marketing professionals in the organization, in some respects, everybody wears a business development hat. For example, if someone on the business development team needs a technical architect to take the time to specifically respond to questions that need a tailored or custom response, that's not a problem at all because our entire team in some respect or another are part of sales. So we end up with a culture in which the sales team receives tremendous support from top to bottom."

—Johann Starke, president and CEO, FCV Technologies Ltd. (No. 155)


Train your reps yourself

"We do our own sales training with green recruits. We have a program by which new salespeople have to spend three months off and on working on the floor, in the warehouse, etc., so they learn our entire business. This essentially models them after how we want our people to work. It's worked."
—Shawn Sicard, CEO, PiiComm Inc. (No. 162)


Stand out to your clients

"We screen clients as much as we screen our job candidates. We knock on the doors we want to. It's difficult, because it's a tough market. But it shows we're different, showing up old-school in person with coffee versus sending a contract with terms via e-mail."
—Sean Dawson, president, Bluelime Enterprises Inc. (No. 78)


Keep your reps motivated

"We've created a culture in our business to motivate our salespeople to want to be part of this organization and grow this business. We have certain meetings and we divulge and certain topics; we do question and answer periods. It helps people understand each other."
—Gianpaul Callipo, co-founder and CEO, R&G/CPL Group (No. 249)


Get everyone thinking big

"We're big on goal-setting. If we didn't have goals we wouldn't grow. So, we have revenue goals, and we sit down with every person on the sales team to break that down so they understand how they play a part and achieving the goals."
—Jonathan Ward, president and CEO, Ward Technology Talent Inc. (No. 198)


Spring for the pros

"We hire professional salespeople, not industry people. Then we teach them our industry. We have in-house training program and we bring our road warriors together on a regular basis—four or five times a year. It is costly, but worth it; it's much more expensive to have a salesperson go off-track."
—Bill Graham, president and CEO, Rifco Inc. (No. 261)


Give your reps the tools they need

"We equip our salespeople with knowledge so they can educate our clients. We invest in their display materials—uniforms, brochures, iPads We give them a good branding background and professional support. They have a stable backing."
—Eric Gilbert-Williams, founder and CEO, The Roof Hospital (No. 20)

"We invest in constant education for the sales team. The more they know the better they can pitch."
—Chris Ambridge, president and CIO, Provisus Wealth Management Ltd. (No. 259)


Look to unconventional leads

"It's helped us a lot to build relationships with suppliers. A lot of our suppliers are strong brands (including Keurig and Starbucks). Because we build strong relationships with them, they generate a lot of new leads for us. We usually get first dibs on warm leads, giving our sales team access to potential clients who are already looking for the products we offer."
—Claudio David, president, Office Coffee Solutions Ltd. (No. 223)


Let your reps guide your direction

"We're accountable to the sales staff. What they promise, we deliver."
—Justin Bobier, president, Crystal Creek Homes Inc. (No. 113)


Create reasons for customers to talk to you

"We're constantly giving our salespeople reasons to talk to customers. Sales, marketing, product development: we all have a role in sales. So, we like to make sure if something cool is happening, it gets into the hands of everyone so they can start those conversations with clients."
—Christopher Thierry, president, Etelesolv Inc. (No. 231)


Offer great carrots

"We offer a strong incentive plan; it motivates our salespeople to sell. They get a base salary, but the targeting that they can achieve is very aggressive. They obviously want to get deals done."
—Jason Tryfon, president and CEO, Vital Insights Inc. (No. 196)


Try the "no-bull" approach

"We have something we call a ‘bold attitude.' It's the way we converse with our clients. We don't hold back what we need to tell them, and we don't play politics. They like us because we're transparent. We instill that in everyone we bring on board."
—Kevin Gauci, managing director, Optimus SBR Inc. (No. 87)


Encourage a shiny, happy workplace

"It really helps to have an engaged, happy staff. When you pick up the phone and have a smile on your face, I think the customer knows it. And they sure know when you don't."
—Greg Burghardt, president and CEO, Arrow Engineering Inc. (No. 168)


Follow this simple rule

"We do what we say we're going to do. It makes it very easy to sell your services if you leave a trail of goodwill behind you, rather than angry customers."
—Jeff Jessamine, president and CEO, Sprague Group (No. 267)


Originally published by PROFIT staff || June 12, 2014.

This column focuses on business problems and how to solve them. Andrew Gregson, BA, MA , M.Sc.Econ is an economist, author and a Senior Partner in iNTENT Financial Inc, a Kelowna based finance and consulting company. The 4 partners specialise in finance, pre-determined profitability, sales and marketing. If you need further information, please contact us through the website at www.intentfinancial.com.

Why retailers are slashing prices

A new survey suggests that nearly half of store owners plan to lower prices this year in order to retain customers.

 - Michelle DiPardo for Marketing || June 4, 2014


Nearly half of Canadian retailers (48%), plan on dropping prices this year to retain customers, according to the Canadian Retail Insights Report, released Tuesday by American Express Canada.

The findings represent a dramatic increase from the original study conducted two years ago, which found that only 35% of those surveyed would reduce prices to promote loyalty.

The report—which surveyed 375 Canadian businesses in the gas, grocery, pharmacy, restaurant, fast food, apparel and general retail sectors—focuses on what's top of mind for Canadian merchants, including their industry and business outlook, challenges, growth strategy, and customer loyalty and acquisition.

"Canadian merchants are clearly serious about cultivating and maintaining customer loyalty, and they're reducing prices to get them in the door," said Jennifer Hawkins, vice-president and general manager of merchant services, American Express Canada, in a release. "As a result, I expect we'll see increased competition among retailers across all verticals as they fight to retain and reach new customers."

Across verticals, the report revealed that beyond simply slashing prices, 83% of Canadian businesses will offer sales, promotions or discounts as the top strategy to promote customer loyalty, with general retail, apparel and grocery ranking highest.

Canadian businesses are split when it comes to focusing on either acquisition or retention as their key business strategy. Gas, fast food, and general retail are all working on reaching new customers, and pharmacy and grocery are putting their efforts into retaining current customers.

Customer service continues to be of vital importance for all sectors, with 89% of retailers agreeing they need to put more attention into customer service.

The acceptance and use of new technologies in retail continues to grow with 72% of Canadian businesses agreeing that e-commerce is helping their company attract a new type of customer, with the general retail and apparel sector driving growth, ranking it a top priority for the year ahead.

Commissioned by American Express Canada and conducted by Nielsen, the survey was conducted between March 17 and April 3, 2014.


This article originally appeared at MarketingMag.ca.and re-printed by Profit Magazine

This column focuses on business problems and how to solve them. Andrew Gregson, BA, MA , M.Sc.Econ is an economist, author and a Senior Partner in iNTENT Financial Inc, a Kelowna based finance and consulting company. The 4 partners specialize in finance, pre-determined profitability, sales and marketing. If you need further information, please contact us through the website at www.intentfinancial.com.


Anti-Spam Legislation has some teeth

On July 1st The Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation CASL will come into effect. The law has far reaching effects for all businesses and carries some serious fines. I have asked Frithjof Petscheleit from BlueBird Business Consulting to give us an overview of the regulations and what businesses have to do to comply.


CASL applies to all “Commercial Electronic Messages (CES)” so it covers emails, newsletters, social media messages and even text messaging. A CES is any electronically transmitted commercial message even if it is sent by a non-profit or government organization.


The law applies to all electronic messages received in Canada, regardless of where they originate. Internationally this makes the Canadian regulations some of the most far reaching but experts expect that other countries will follow suit. Unsolicited commercial messages also known as SPAM are a huge drain on economies everywhere. Only 1% of all SPAM messages originate in Canada but Canadians waste millions of hours every month dealing with SPAM.

The CRTC, The Competition Bureau and The Office of the Privacy Commissioner will be enforcing the law. Fines can reach up to $10 Million and can lead to criminal charges.

To avoid facing these fines we have to get and document consent from the recipients of our electronic messages. This means that a potential client will have to agree to receive electronic messages from us. The best kind of this permission is called “express consent”.  An example for this is when someone gives consent by signing up to your email list online.

The second kind of permission is “Implied consent” and you can use it for two years. Implied consent would be someone that you have had business dealing with in the last two years. After the two years are over you have to move them to express consent.

Some practical tips to make sure you comply with CASL:

  1. Be up-front about your intentions – If you are asking your customers to enter their business cards for a draw, make sure they know that the addresses will be entered into your mailing list
  2. If you are currently sending out your newsletters with your regular email program, now is the time to switch to a professional email marketing program which records express consent
  3. Make sure your social media direct messages are not commercial in nature unless you have express consent to send those messages

There are more questions than answers about the new law right now and I am not qualified to answer legal questions. But I can suggest two upcoming events in Kelowna that will provide more guidance and let you ask your questions:

BlueBird Business Consulting helps businesses use websites, social media and email marketing effectively. I am happy to answer your questions about CASL or anything else in this area on my website: http://businessbluebird.com .


This column focuses on business problems and how to solve them. Andrew Gregson, BA, MA , M.Sc.Econ is an economist, author and a Senior Partner in iNTENT Financial Inc, a Kelowna based finance and consulting company. The 4 partners specialize in finance, pre-determined profitability, sales and marketing. If you need further information, please contact us through the website at www.intentfinancial.com.

Read more Common Sense Business Solutions articles


About the Author

Andrew Gregson, BA, MA, M.Sc. (Econ), holds a Master's Degree in Economics from the London School of Economics.

Andrew's experience working with an international business consultancy and being a business owner for 15 years was the impetus for his book "Pricing Strategies for Small Businesses". He brings his expertise in finance, pricing and debt restructuring to the table to help struggling manufacturing and service companies to return to profitability. This has helped companies to rebuild value and often to sell at much higher dollar values.

Andrew has contributed to trade journals, "Spark" on CBC National Radio and has been a guest speaker at business networking groups, colleges, universities on his topics of expertise - pricing, exit plans and debt. He is also a frequent contributor to blogs and online postings for business help.

Andrew is currently the President, Board Of Directors intent Financial Inc., his role is overseeing intent Financial Inc., Intent Investment Corporation and other related ventures.


Website link:  www.intentfinancial.com

Contact e-mail address:   [email protected]


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories

RSS this page.
(Click for RSS instructions.)