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Archive for November, 2011

Contributed by Charles Lamb, Director of Marketing, Central Bancorp

I’m new to Colorado Springs—a transplant from the Four Corners—and in my four short weeks exploring, living, and working in the downtown area, I’ve grown to love the local small business feel permeating the city.

Sure, there’s nothing wrong with big box stores or national chains. Much of my ‘Black Friday’ shopping was spent standing in line in one. But, during the remainder of the holiday shopping season, I’ll commit to buying holiday cards, wine, coffee, bike parts, and groceries in as many locally owned shops as I can find.

It’s a great feeling to hand a wife and husband your debit card in their wine shop; sip on a latté in a coffee bar named after the area’s famous peak; get served a pastry from the daughter of the bakery’s owner; and bank where the teller knows your name—and you know hers. There is satisfaction in shopping local and knowing that your money will stay in town and have an impact here in Colorado Springs.

Please remember your neighborhood small business during the hectic holiday shopping season. Perhaps you’ll find the experience of buying local so enchanting—as I have—that it’ll become a shopping habit to continue year round.

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Contributed by Steve Condon, President, The Corundum Group

It’s a tricky act, and sometimes perfecting it comes through difficult lessons.

Many firms have learned since 2008 how to operate at optimum efficiency without sacrificing quality. For certain, it was a painful transition for many. But many executives we talk to say it’s been a valuable exercise.

As we lumber toward a recovery that will surely come to pass at some point, the balancing act shifts a bit.

Consider the following scenario:

Company A hires Company B to provide a valuable consulting service. The two companies have worked together for almost 20 years with very few serious issues arising along the way. Company B is a reputable firm with a long history and a successful track record and has already undergone extensive restructuring efforts in order to keep business running smoothly and within budget restraints.

However, in recent months Company A has noticed several instances of less than quality work coming from B, including slow response time, missed deadlines, and even the occasional error or inaccuracy in a project. The staff at Company B seems to be scrambling and constantly apologizing. Company A’s level of dissatisfaction rises to the point where a meeting of the minds occurs to determine whether or not this relationship can continue.

Again, assuming B has exhausted their resources in terms of internal organization, process refinement, etc., it now has two choices:

  1. Hire
  2. Risk losing a client

While it may cause short-term strain on firms, we believe in the long-term this challenge will become more prevalent and will ultimately be a good thing. What this scenario represents is the scale tipping to the other end.

Lean staffs are no longer able to handle any increase in volume. It may not be a shocking or even noticeable rise based on the sluggish improvements we are seeing across the board, but over time we believe firms will be pushed to expand their workforce or risk losing business to a competitor.

As hiring picks up, voila, the recession will be over!

Well, perhaps it won’t be that easy—and all signs point to the fact that it won’t be a quick change. Yet this shift in balancing lean operations and quality service standards will ultimately create more jobs, which is a major key to sustained recovery.

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