Category Archives: Business Builders

Improving the profitability of your small business. Increasing profitable sales, pre-engineered profit systems, managing overhead, increasing productivity, pricing and estimating, financial management, cash control.

Top Business Managers Looking for a Challenge? How About Becoming A Business Consultant?

This may seem a bit off topic for Charleson, but times are tough, and there are people looking for opportunity.  I have been working with the Business Management Consulting Firm IPA since 2000, and thought it would be a good idea to put the word out via this blog that employment opportunities exist for Savvy Business Managers with superior leadership skills.  I’ll give you the bad news first.  The job is 100% travel where leave Sunday night and come home for the weekend Friday evening.  Many people that attempt to get started with IPA are unsuccessful, mostly because the job requires tremendous flexibility and adaptability.  The work can be very gratifying to the point of being addictive, explaining why many consultants stick around in spite of the crazy travel.  Anyway, here are the qualifications for a Business Consultant:

10 Years Senior Management Experience

Bachelors Degree

Ability to work freely with MS Excel and Word

You have to survive a 10 day training/selection process.  My class started with 23 and ended with 13.  The work is very challenging and rewarding for those that have the business and leadership skills to affect change in small businesses, most of which are under $2 million in annual revenue and less than 15 employees. 

If you’re interested, please get in touch with me so I can introduce you to the corporate recruiter.  My email is  I’ll happily provide you with candid answers to your questions about what it’s really like, the good the bad, and the ugly.  Happy job hunting.


What’s Your Story? My wife and I started out in the internet information business and then moved into residential real estate.

Today, receives over 3500 visitors every day and points hundreds of visitors every day to our real estate sites.  When my wife Cara and I first came to
Charleston, her first job was as a Retail advertising sales person for the Post and Courier.  She was salesperson of the year her first, and only year with the company.  It didn’t take long before the good ol’ boy culture got to her, and she decided to move on.  Cara had a very unique approach to selling advertising.  She took the time to talk to her clients about their businesses, and the message that they wanted to send, and then develop with them advertising that would actually make the phone ring, can you imagine that?  So naturally, when her clients began actually making money from their advertising, they would want to do more.  If you’re not in the business, it sounds pretty obvious, but I can assure you, many inside the advertising business are quite perplexed when their small and medium size business clients actually expect their advertising to produce direct results.  Her employer was not used to paying the kind of commissions they were paying her, and before too long, she became discouraged, made her feelings known to management, and the rest is history as they say.

Cara was earning a pretty good income, and to say the least I was quite concerned when she wanted to leave her job and start her own business.  Initially, she wanted to start an advertising company, and she did some work for some small businesses in Summerville.  But she really wanted to do something much bigger.  She thought there was a need for an online guide for
Charleston and that she was the person to do it. 
I wasn’t so sure, but she was undeterred by my lukewarm support.  And off she went.  So in 1995
Charleston’s Finest Online Guide sprang to life. 
Since part of her background was in the hotel industry, she first approached some of the local hotels and inns, but the idea was a little before it’s time.  At this time, many businesses were just starting to design their own websites, and online commerce had just begun.  She started out designing a few websites around town and linking them to  At first, she had someone else doing the code and design work, but eventually learned how to do it herself, so she could create and implement her ideas on the fly.  Early on, the two needs we addressed were web site design, and then online accomodations information.  Having been unsuccessfull at convincing hotel managers and owners to invest in the internet, they were more than happy to pay a commission if Cara could bring in the business.  So she designed basic sites for the different hotel and inn properties, with her contact information.  They would contact Cara by phone, email, or filling out an online form, and she would book the reservations into the hotels, and then be paid a commission.  Travelers from out of town were looking for information on the best places to stay to suit their requirements, and so Cara and her time provided for that need.  It wasn’t too long before she had her hands full with her own sites and the resulting activity, and so only designed web sites only from direct referrals. 

My story begins to intersect in 1999 when I went to work for George S. May International Company as a Staff Consultant.   As a full time management consultant, I left home on Sunday and stayed out in the field all week, returning on Friday, if at all.  It turned out, somewhat to my surprise, that I was able to help small business owners considerably by helping them identify and implement what usually turned out to be pretty obvious changes.  Sometimes, I’d be out for weeks at a time and after about a year had had enough.  It took me another year or so to plan my escape, so I could get off the road.  I tried a couple of things on my own, including trying to start my own independent consultancy, and finally, we came to the obvious conclusion that the best thing was for me to apply myself to improving the business Cara started.  The short of it is that in 2003, Cara and I decided that the best course was for us to work together.  In January 2004, I started working the reservations desk, and began optimizing our websites.  We would tour downtown
Charleston together, conducting site inspections on the different properties, so we could report based on first hand information.  Some of the properties we toured were quite beautiful.  Others were pretty run down.  In between phone calls, I’d study different sites on the web and learn how to increase our search engine rankings and positions.  We had two ends in mind at this time.  We wanted to increase our reservations business enough to allow us to hire a reservationist, and build our traffic to a point that we could sell advertising space and links on the site.  By June, we started calling on businesses to sell advertising, wedding and travel related mostly.  And about that same time hired a full time reservationist to help us with the call volume.  It was that summer that we began speaking to Bob Brennamen with The Group, LLC, a small real estate brokerage firm in

Pleasant.  Bob had experienced some success in real estate through the internet, and helped us realize the obvious conclusion that we needed to get more directly involved in real estate.  As it turns out, over 80% of people looking for homes start their search on the internet.  We already had people contacting us for information, and found that there was a need to help people find their new neighborhood that didn’t know the area.  From our own experience buying and selling our own homes, we learned that their was also a need for more honest, thorough, and straightforward help for people trying to get their homes sold and find a new home.   

So, by March of 2005, I had my South Carolina real estate license and was able to respond to the many people contacting us about finding their home in
Charleston.  By the end of the year, we had completed 9 transactions and chose our current brokerage firm, Keller Williams Realty.  Our first full year, 2006, we completed 27 transactions, mostly with buyers, totaling over $5 million.   Out of about 5800 Realtors in
Charleston and rising, we were ranked at 279 our first full year putting us in the top 3%.  Cara earned her license in early 2006, just so we could keep more of the money in the family to help us grow.  Late 2006, early 2007, the real estate market in
Charleston took a pretty sharp downward turn, with more competition than ever.  But we’re still plugging along thanks to my brilliant, beautiful and industrious wife, Cara. 

In October, 2006, we purchased from a couple that was leaving the state.  We still have our original real estate site, and just created  Cara spends most of her time improving the directories, and shows a few houses from time to time.  She’s so excited, she wrote her first contract last weekend.  She gets a nice sum every month from Google, who advertises on our site as well as from online hotel reservations.  We closed the call center as consumer trends migrated toward online booking.  Cara attracts and manages some group hotel business, generated from and  Because of her experience handling hotel and convention sales, her clients appreciate her knowledge and thoroughness.  We recently launched a blog on Living and Working in
Charleston, and are working on an approach to help For Sale By Owner (FSBO) clients with our online presence, as well as those that would hire us to advertise their homes on our well trafficked websites. 

We hope you’ve enjoyed our little story.  I’m so glad Cara didn’t listen to me when I tried to tell her there were just too many things working against her, that she was undeterred.  There are literally thousands of businesses that benefit from traffic from As we watch our traffic increase, we hope it’s because people are finding the sites helpful in finding the information they’re looking for.  We continue to take many of the dollars that come in and re-invest it into new tools and interactive content.  Most recently, Cara added an interactive events calendar that is very popular.   

We hope that we can find a way that our little internet business can help you.  Maybe we can help you find your home, get your home sold, or get your business to the next level through effective internet marketing.  We’ll find out together where it takes us next.   


OK, So What the Heck is a “Lens”?

For an example, visit, or  A lens is simply a web page that you put up on the internet about a particular area of interest, so that people that are looking for information can hear what you have to say.  So, it’s both an opportunity to express youself, and learn what others have to say about soming that you’re interested in buying perhaps, or a topic about which you are passionnate.  Setting up your own LENS is easy and free.  Just visit one of mine above and you’ll see on the right hand side, MAKE YOUR OWN PAGE LIKE THIS.  In minutes, you can have your own web page.  Until a friend of mine helped me out, I had no idea how easy it was to set up a blog.  Visit  It’s easy and it’s free.  So, start expressing yourself, and hear what others have to say. 

Everyone’s an Expert

Everyone’s an Expert (about something)   by Seth Godin is available at as a free download.  If you own a business, and one of the ways your customers find businesses like yours in on the internet, then it’s worth a trip.  The download is 32 pages, and has some interesting insites into how people find the information they need before making a purchasea.  Although I have no way of validating it, I strongly suspect he is really onto something.  What is it that you really want when you’re trying to make a decision?  Isn’t what you really want is unfiltered opinions from real people?  Testimonials are fine so far as they go, but what salesperson or business doesn’t have two or three happy customers.  How do you tell that they deliver good quality consistently?  Blogs are the first generation, but second generation communication may be “Lenses”.  We’ll see. 


Obvious Adams Ways of Improving Your Small Business Profits

From 1999 to 2001, I traveled across the country helping small business owners and their staff make their businesses better.  It’s pretty hard to explain how we did it because it’s just so unbelievable.  It’s so unbelievable, about the only way I can think of to help you understand it is to go through, case by case and talk about the real results we achieved.  In some cases, it was business as usual after I left.  In others, the differences were pretty major and unexpected.  I’m bound by our agreement to keep the clients anonymous. 

I’ll start with an early case, and the ideas were often so obvious, you might even respond by saying “so what”.  Anyone could have seen that.  That was, frankly, frequently the response of my clients.  So why didn’t they do anything about it???  Because as obvious as it was, they procrastinated, or didn’t dig deep enough to see the actual implications to their business.  Procrastination is our evil big brother whispering into our ears that it can wait, or that it’s not worth doing right now.  To choose the easier, softer way.  In the words of one of my wise mentors, we’re always, “Getting ready to get ready to get ready.” 

 So as a business consultant, I would look for things the ower was obviously procratinating about, and apply my best persuasive efforts to get them to implement things into their businesses.  Think about it.  If I visited your business today, and you were paying me $195/hour to crawl under every rock I could find to look for opportunity, don’t you already have a pretty good idea of what I would find?  Things that could probably get you sales you needed to buy that new piece of equipment that would make you more efficient, and improve the morale of your employees.  Something that would reduce your labor so significantly, that you might be able to price more competitively and win more bids? 

Have you ever wondered why it seems you have just enough money in the bank to pay your business and personal bills?  Do you know the real numbers, based on your fixed and variable costs, what a difference it would make to your bottom line if you increased sales by 10%?  Does the “Breakeven Formula” work for your business?  Or does reality require a more advanced in-depth analysis? 

Did you know that the “Breakeven Formula” is really just a beginning?  Did you know there really was such a thing?  For example, if your business involves delivery trucks, trucks that drive around servicing customers all day, you can pretty much take the breakeven formula and throw it out the window.  In your case, a 10% increase in sales will improve your profitability much more than a retail store with cost of goods.  The contribution margin, which is the difference between your revenue and your total variable costs that goes toward overhead and profit gets larger as sales increase with certain type businesses.  

I wonder, if you knew the true affect on your business of a 10% increase in sales, how long you would continue to procrastinate on analyzing your top 20% customers?  How long would you procrastinate having that customer appreciation night you’ve been putting off because it’s too  difficult for you to implement?  I know how it is…I own a business myself.  Making the time to implement good ideas is difficult in the midst of serving my customers, prospecting, putting out fires, doing administration, working on my marketing, etc. etc etc.  I could keep three people busy implementing all the good ideas that have been suggested to me…it’s really tough to decide which ones to get started on. 

 Anyway, if this sounds interesting to you, tell me about what you’re putting off.  What obvious ideas can we encourage you to get started on.  I’ll be getting started pretty soon telling you about the cases mentioned earlier…real life cases where obvious ideas made a huge difference.