Monthly Archives: July 2012

    • Kazakhstani Students Tour US Businesses

      Take-Aways From Their Experience

      Kazakhstani group Check out Jeff in the Kazakhstani hat! A gift from the students he met.

      Six college students from Kazakhstan, in Eastern Asia, were chosen to visit the Seattle area to learn about business and entrepreneurship.  These students toured Trophies2Go’s Awards Factory in Renton, WA along with our Awards Design Center in Issaquah, WA.  Over the next three weeks, the students visited area businesses each weekday morning, with English lessons in the afternoons.  At the end of the three weeks, these students treated their teachers and leaders to a traditional Kazakhstani meal and power point presentations about what they learned over the three week period.

      After listening to their presentations, I was amazed how each group of two was able to distill their experience at each business into a single take-away.  Below are some of the business strategies they found successful and really stuck with me.

      Know who your customer is.  How can you provide services and products if you don’t know who they are going to and what the customer needs? Target in on your customer and what they want to be successful.

      Treat your employees well.  That seemed to be a common theme for many companies.  If you put your resources into your employees, they will treat your customers right.  From training, to perks, like bringing your dog to work, many businesses take good care of the people working for them.

      Use horizontal management vs. vertical management.  It sounded like in Kazakhstan, many businesses were run vertically, with the manager issuing commands with employees to follow.  (The students thought this might be left over from the Soviet Era, which I found interesting).  Of the businesses the students visited, most used horizontal management, where employees and managers were more equals.  In horizontally managed companies, ideas were shared among all employees of the company and employees were more empowered within their jobs.  This was an entirely new concept for these students.

      If starting a business, you don’t have to know everything.  If you don’t know about accounting, bookkeeping, or marketing, for example, there are experts out there who can help you get started and show you the way.  Don’t be afraid to jump in even if you don’t know everything there is to know about business ownership.

      Take your time and be patient. The students visited a video production company, and the take away from that experience was that videos took a long time to make, and if they’re rushed, they don’t turn out well.  Patience is key.  This is something we could definitely use more of at our company, and was a great reminder for me.  Also, they visited a shellfish farm, and the time it takes to grow an oyster from seed to market is over two years.  It takes a lot of time, investment, and patience to see a profit from this type of business, but if you can wait, it pays off.

      Use good equipment.  It saves time and energy if you have the right tools from the start.

      Concentrate on service rather than sales.  This point was from a car dealership; they were more interested in taking ongoing care of the customer than making the big sale.  However, since they were so customer focused, the sales did come, and they are one of the largest dealerships in the Seattle area.

      Be precise in your product quality.  The students visited Paccar, and learned how important it is to be exact and precise when creating a high quality product.  If a part doesn’t meet exact specifications, it needs to be redone.  Quality matters.

      Expect low profit margins.  In Kazakhstan, entrepreneurs expect large returns quickly when they start businesses.  However, in the US, it doesn’t always work that way.  It must be our free economy at work!  Slow and steady wins the race.

      Persevere.  The students visited Amazon.com, and even though it’s a rockin company now, it took 10 long years to get going.  Yet they didn’t give up, and now look at them!  If you start a business, there are always going to be rough patches that try you and your team.  Treat them as challenges and rise to the occasion.

      It was a really great experience to learn from these young people, and it makes me want to visit Kazakhstan and learn more about their country and culture! Above all, here is the theme of their experience and the ending slide of the power point presentations:

      “The future belongs to those of us who are still willing to get our hands dirty.”

      Cheers, Jessica

    • Top 7 Ways We Take Care of You

      At one time (in a previous professional life) I managed a national inbound call center for a very large fortune 500 company.  Customer Service was our biggest priority.  It didn't matter what the call coming in was about, the person who answered it owned that order, question, issue or problem until it was filled or resolved.  When I started working at Trophies2Go almost 5 years ago, I was happy to see that the same Customer Service work ethic was in place here.

      There are many places you can get recognition awards and trophies, but  I think our Customer Service is better than any other awards supplier.  Here's the Top 7 reasons why...

      It's me! Call if you need help with your order.

      #1 - It's easy.  We have an incredibly easy-to-use website (www.Trophies2Go.com) where you can place your order anytime, at 3am if you'd like.  But if you need to talk to someone regarding your order, or if you're not comfortable entering it yourself, you can call us at  877- 926-4700 and talk to a live person. We want your ordering experience to be easy.

      #2 - We'll get your stuff.  Once your order is placed, our Customer Service staff will make sure we have the products you want, and if we don't, we'll order them.  For most products, we have a 3 day production time from when the order is placed to when it leaves our Awards Factory.

      #3 - Your engraving will be perfect.  After your order is placed, we take a look at your engraving and reach out to you if something isn't quite right.  We'll work with you until it's how you want it with email proofs.

      #4 - Call us anytime.  You can call us anytime to check on the status of your order.

      #5 - We follow up with you.  After you receive your order, we check to make sure you're happy with the products and service you received.  In fact, I got this note from a customer just today "Received medals yesterday, which was a day earlier than promised.  They look great. AWESOME JOB!!!!!! Thank you so much."  We love notes like that!

      #6 - We fix mistakes.  If something needs to be fixed, we fix it.  If your award gets broken during shipping, as occasionally happens, let us know and we'll replace it.  We want you to be happy.  We want you to come back, order again, and  tell all of your friends about us.

      #7 - My favorite reason:  Everyone that works here gets this Customer Service thing.  From the people who answer the phone, to the engravers, to our assemblers, to our shippers.  We ALL care.

      Bottom line: We want your experience with us to be over-the-top.

      Give us a try at  www.Trophies2Go.com .  And if you're already a fan, please  'Like' us on Facebook  www.facebook.com/trophies2go  and sign up for our newsletter with coupons inside!

      Blessings, Anne

    • Help Us Donate to the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk

      Every quarter, Trophies2Go/Issaquah Trophy & Awards, selects an organization to be the recipient of our Awards for a Cause program.  This quarter it is the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk.  When you purchase selected products, a portion of the sales will be donated to the 3-Day.  Help us Walk all over breast cancer by choosing these products!

      We also have 4 employees that will be volunteering at the 3-Day, cheering on those brave walkers!  We'll post our experiences after the event.

      The event closest to us is scheduled for Sept 14-16 in Seattle. If you’d like more information, or to find the 3-Day event closest to you, please go to www.the3day.org or find them on facebook at www.facebook.com/the3day.

      Have you ever walked in the 3-Day?  Tell us about your experiences.

      Are you planning to this year?  What are you looking forward to the most?

      Post your answers here or on our FaceBook Page at http://www.facebook.com/trophies2go.

    • Employee of the Month Rewards

      I have read a lot of articles about why it’s a good thing give employee rewards.  It’s harder now because manager's budgets are being cut, or they are stretched so thin they don’t have the time to recognize others.   On the other hand, employees feel insecure in their jobs and fear downsizing.  Recognizing employees would help them to feel valued and create a more productive and creative environment. It’s a vicious cycle.  The bottom line is, reward what you want repeated.

      If you want great effort, Reward Great Effort

      If you want creative ideas, Reward Creative Ideas

      If you want incredible customer service, Reward Incredible Customer Service

      Everyone wants to feel appreciated, that they did a great job.  Think about it.  The last time you were recognized, how did you feel?  Be honest.  Did you feel like doing more of the same so you could be rewarded again?  I did.

      There are many ways to give employee rewards.  At Trophies2Go.com we have many awards that will tell your employees that you appreciate their hard work.  Sometimes, it's an Employee-of-the-Month plaque.  Sometimes it's an acrylic award to recognize the end of a specific project or the launch of a new product.  Sometimes what you need is less formal, like a hand-written thank you note or a gift card to a favorite restaurant.  All types of recognition are important.

      Here are some ideas for Employee-of-the-Month,  Project Completion and  Product Launch.

      I also found a great book for ideas on more informal rewards, The 1001 Ways to Reward Employees by Bob Nelson, Ph. D.

      I'd love to hear some of your favorite ways to reward employees.  Please share in the comments!  Or you can share with us on Facebook.  Please 'Like' us while you are there.

      Blessings, Anne.

    • Emily Dickinson Elementary Wins Our 100K order

       Outstanding Teachers Deserve The Awards!

      Mr. Meisner and Ms. Jensen pose with their awards. Mr. Meisner and Ms. Jensen pose with their awards.

      Our 100,000th order, for Emily Dickinson Elementary in Redmond, WA, went to 2 amazing teachers.  These educators received fun, personalized awards to honor their successes in the classroom and wish them well as they move on to new schools next year.

      The “Dynamic Dragon Award” was given to "Professor" David Meisner for 10 years of dedication to the education of Emily Dickinson Elementary's 6th graders.

      His co-workers tease him about being a professor because of his multiple degrees, huge vocabulary, and the manner in which he conducts his classroom. Mr. Meisner was given the plaque to recognize his years of service, his loyalty to the school, and to honor him as he moves on to teach at the local middle school.

      The “Microphone Award” was given to Hadley Jensen in honor of her 5 years of dedication to teaching 6th graders at Emily Dickinson Elementary.

      The microphone was selected for Ms. Jensen because she loves the spotlight! She ran the 6th grade camp, was the DJ at all of the school dances, and MC-ed at assemblies. Ms. Jensen is leaving to teach in her home town of Olympia, WA. Their school community will greatly miss her, as her enthusiasm is contagious!   Ms. Jensen’s students know that learning is fun and they leave her classroom as stewards of our Earth, well read, and as talented mathematicians.

      What a legacy both of these amazing teachers leave at Dickinson Elem!  We’re so honored to create these meaningful awards for two individuals who make a difference in so many lives.  Way to go teachers!

      Cheers, Jessica

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