By Anne Dewvall | November 18, 2014
Dozens of entrepreneurs from across the country fill a conference room in Longmont, Colorado. They were enticed away from their businesses for the week to attend Destination BootCamp, an intensive workshop for business owners who want to accelerate their growth. After working with Kansas entrepreneurs for seven years, I know how miraculous a feat this is; business owners are notoriously difficult to convince away from their posts. Some entrepreneurs go years without a vacation. Yet, businesses from Kansas, Colorado, Georgia, and New York were sitting together in Longmont with me this October, eager to invest in their businesses via this unique educational engagement.
Destination BootCamp founder Jon Schallert focuses on the term “destination” and the course revolves around making a business a stand-out, a must-see attraction with unique competitive advantages. The principles of Destination BootCamp are especially applicable to businesses with a physical presence, like retailers, restaurants, and attractions, but all businesses can benefit. I gleaned more than a few ideas for my marketing consulting business. The businesses at this BootCamp included a marina, jewelry store, furniture chain, spa, sign-making business, several art galleries, and many others.
According to the Destination BootCamp website, “Destination BootCamp is for business owners, retailers, entrepreneurs thinking of starting a business, or a community leader interested in learning the strategies of creating a Consumer Destination. This intensive training is for business owners who want to accelerate their learning curve, receive in-depth instruction, strategies, and specific tactics on how to become a dominant Destination Business that can pull consumers past your competition.”
I attended Destination BootCamp on behalf of NetWork Kansas. I was curious about the value businesses received, as well as the benefit of the training for a “community leader” since we count so many economic development directors, foundations, chambers, and others among our network of partners. I had heard praise for the workshop from several economic development directors and wanted to see if it lived up to the hype, if it was “worth it.”
In a word: Yes. Destination BootCamp impressed me with its thorough, engaging curriculum. Jon Schallert is a dynamic, effective teacher. The business owners remained attentive and excited: not an easy feat when class runs from 8 AM – 6 PM. Instruction is based on Jon’s years of experience working in both marketing and as a business consultant and speaker. While some business gurus are all fluff, Jon’s course is full of meaty substance. Attendees have the opportunity to receive customized advice, with appointments scheduled with advertising expert Rich Carraro and with Jon himself.
Fun is a key element at Destination BootCamp, but beware, because teachable moments are everywhere. In my haste to submit my registration for the event, I didn’t complete my questionnaire. I figured it was for the businesses attending and I didn’t want to waste Jon’s time since I was auditing the class. One of the questions I didn’t answer asked attendees their favorite beverage and snack. After lunch on the second day, we returned to the classroom to find desks peppered with M&Ms, Starbucks lattes, even a rum and Coke; everyone’s favorite snacks and beverages. On my desk? Zilch. It was one of those moments of delight and superlative, memorable customer service that Jon had been preaching about businesses creating for their customers. It was also a philosophical moment about goals. You have to ask for what you want, Jon told us, and the more specific you are, the better. Coffee is vague, Starbucks is better, a Starbucks grande nonfat latte with two pumps of vanilla is even better. I could see the wheels turning in my classmates’ minds as they contemplated the metaphorical requests they wanted to make for their business growth.
One of my favorite aspects of BootCamp is the opportunity for ongoing engagement. Many classes end at the door but it’s crucial for business owners to have ongoing support, education, mentoring, and networking. Destination BootCamp provides opportunities to extend the relationships fostered during the 2 ½ day event. Attendees are awarded exclusive access to the Destination Success Network, which involves one-on-one monthly coaching sessions among other benefits.
Other learning options include Destination University, a members-only, online training network where independent business owners, entrepreneurs, and business leaders can access the newest information to help grow their businesses. Memberships to Destination University start at $29.95 a month.
Business owners leave Destination BootCamp with a new language and strategy. They leave excited about the opportunities facing their business, even in the face of stiff challenges like competition from big chain stores. More importantly, they leave with tools and resources to make their business more competitive. I especially liked the focus on using entrepreneurship as a community development strategy. Several entrepreneurs from the city of Norton, Kansas attended the same bootcamp as I did and I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of a difference it would make to Norton’s economy if all of those businesses became more profitable and started to redefine Norton itself as a destination.
Destination BootCamp dates for 2015 are being announced soon. Find out more information here:
REGISTRATION FEE TO ATTEND:
Cost to attend the BootCamp: $1,395.00.
Additional persons from the same business (up to 2): $1,195.00 per person