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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Repositionally Positioned

Back in 1995, I was sitting in my top floor corner office in Dearborn, MI. I remember it as a day of incredible entitlement. After all, I had 23 years with Ford Motor Company. A dozen people were working for me and we were very busy. I thought my job was invaluable. It has been a good year. Work just another 10 years, and retirement would arrive with a nice pension and full paid health benefits. I was amazed at how many of my friends moved into different careers and into different job avenues all the time. I could not understand that. Not me, Vogel was staying until they took the Ford keys out of his cold hands. A Ford guy is forever.

As you might imagine, 16 years later, I am not retiring any time soon and I am not at Ford any longer. The economy got me. It got me good. In less than five years after that eventful day, we left Michigan and moved to a little bedroom town of just under 9,800 people, Apex, North Carolina. After 25 years began again.

My next 10 years were spent in retail automotive with the Hendrick Automotive Group, eventually making it to the Director of Training and Recruiting for the Cary Auto Mall. Back in September, 2008, the car business fall off the economic ledge and every dealership in America was bleeding buckets of money. I was again sitting in my corner office at Cadillac, this time surrounded by cherry wood, marble, and sitting in a cushy leather chair. I had it good. I had just finished the week training a very large class of new salespeople. Hendrick was forever. I was invaluable. The only one in the entire complex that did what I did, there was that sense of security. Staying until they took the HUMMER Alpha keys out of my cold hands, I was a Hendrick guy forever. BUT, the economy got me good again.

I started VTR Consulting LLC the day after I left Hendrick and took my training and recruiting into microbusiness-ville.

I was confident; but the economic situation got very ugly. I soon found out that training retail sales in a bad economy is like selling Alaskan ice cubes in Juneau. There is still a market. Most of the time people can go scoop their own ice off their property.

Then came very long days going door to door for business. No one would buy the training. I was getting infrequent customers and inconsistent income. The economy got did it again.

In February 2010, I started over. I spent a year doing commercial insurance. It was a challenge to start a new endeavor without a great list of leads. Trying to blend training with insurance was tough. I went back to training full-time.

This past July, I decided to go back to a core passion. Half of my career at Ford involved publications; I was a division editor doing an array of writing. With 300 blogs out there in e-space over the past two years, I decided to throw all my marbles into content writing. I created a division of VTR Consulting LLC and called it I.M.U. Social Media.

I am now writing social media content for 16 clients plus Dale Carnegie in six states and the Netherlands. Money is finally coming into the house on a regular basis. I am writing until they take the Vibe keys out of my cold hands. I am an IMU guy.

There are multiple lessons from this insanity that we can call repositioning. The first is that "stuff happens". Always be ready. Keep your reputation, your sense of honesty, and your integrity sound. Your reputation is really all you have in life you can be assured is yours.. Get your education. No one can take college degrees away from you. Be flexible. Be positive. Find people who you can collaborate with as you grow. You cannot do it all alone. And finally, understand you have no clue where you will be ten years from now, a week from now, or even tomorrow. Be prepared to reinvent yourself at anytime. Remember when “stuff” happens, step forward and around it. And keep the faith. The economy is S L O W L Y changing for the better again. If it gets us this time, we all will be ready.

919 533 9069
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Monday, October 24, 2011

Social Media FUN!!!!


IMU Social Media is now a division of VTR and partners with three other companies to bring full-service business and personal social media to fruition for all organizations who want visibility and brand awareness!
919 533 9069

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Idle Thoughts Return

Apex Command 7-8-11

My mind is racing idly… slow but sure… here are the current event thoughts of the day.

Saw a bumper sticker yesterday that read, "Stop Crime! Vote Politicians Out after the First Term."

The hybrid vehicles are just too quiet. Can't we put cow bells on their antennas?

Casey Anthony... WOW!!!! No wonder the jury never took notes.

Gas prices are tied directly to the economy. When one goes UP, the other goes DOWN and vice-versa.

Cottage Cheese this morning at Lowes... $3.99... Must be Angus Milk.

Consumer confidence is down. Unemployment up. This all started back in August 2007, and clobbered all of us in September, 2008. It is now 2011... Maybe we all should hose Congress and the White House down with Bactine. What? Bactine is pain relieving spray. Washington seems to thrive on the golf course though. Speaking of golf...

O.J. Simpson... WOW!!! No wonder the jury never took notes.

Our Ford Fusion Sport, anti-hybrid, 3.5 V-6 270 HP, got almost 31 mpg on the highway and it was stock full of people and stuff. Think about it. You do not have to drive a butter dish. At least those things look like a butter dish. Remember that Detroit hybrid sheet metal is good looking.

Pull your map out. The Republic of South Sudan is the newest world nation. Their favorite beverage of choice is White Bull Beer; I like that! Congrats Juba!

The News of the World, after it unofficially changed its name to BRUISE of the World, is a tabloid no more. Rumor is that it could become a coloring book. I have my box of 16 Crayolas ready!

Horrible Bosses looks like a great flick. Allegedly, it has to be a documentary :).

Groupon is mad at the Groupon Clones... Personally I love TWONGO!

Almost 20% of North Carolina is on food stamps. That is the population of Raleigh and Charlotte. Thought of that as I bought my Forever Stamps at the Apex PO this morning.

Have a great weekend! Buy some cottage cheese!!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Business Lessons of Weinergate

The Business Lessons of Weinergate
1.If you are not humble, you will tumble. Often our ego is the biggest enemy in our personal and professional decisions.
2.There is a big FAT OH-OH in the middle of Google. Everything you do in and on the Web and Social Media is non- erasable and can and will come back to haunt both you and your business.
3.Be kind and nice to everyone in every situation; you will need friends, fans, and family if you screw up big time.
4.Be competitive in everything you do; but being “in your face” never sheds a good light on you or your brand.
5.This is a visual world first, a written one second. Go to TMZ if you do not believe me. Put only G and PG videos on your site, Facebook page, Twitter account, and blog. Pictures do tell stories.
6.Take care of your best friend. We all have one. No surprises.
7.You are what you say, both good and bad.
8.You are what you do, both good and bad.
9.Reaping and sowing go hand-in-hand.
10.In an apology, never forget honesty. If you fib, it can get very complicated.
11.If you must lie to get out of a situation, walk away first. Keep your mouth shut second.
12.Henry Ford II once said, “never explain; never complain.” Believe his advice.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Living Large in Small Business

Double dip recession, consumer dissatisfaction, high gas prices, jittery Wall Street, job creation, lack of growth, real estate concerns, the federal debt ceiling; what is a small business to do with the challenges of 2011 all over the news and the web?

The answer that separates the wheat from the chaff is what is has always been, take care of your employees and have the best customer service in your industry. The best restaurants have the best service. The best retail stores have the most friendly and helpful staff. You can get a great burger in a number of restaurants in town, but how they serve it is incredibly important. A friendly smile is often better than fries.

It is that simple. Great service separates businesses in only two categories. Those businesses that get it and those businesses that do not.

Do an employee/ customer audit this week by simply watching people. Are your employees listening? Are they empowered? How is their attitude? How do they convert problems of any and every size into major opportunities? Now, how do your customers react? Are they enjoying the experience? How do your customers respond when your manager, or you the owner, visit with them for a minute and thank them for being there? How many of your customers know you by your first name?

Small business achieves large rewards when they put both the customer and the front-line first!

VTR Consulting LLC is on a mission. We want to make every business the largest it can be by focusing on the little things. In this thrifty economy, you want to say, “Be my guest!” and mean it.

Our customer service sessions start as low as $129.00; the classes, ranging from Listening to your Customer to our full menu of service ingredients with short sessions on Positive Attitude, Empowerment and Problem Solving, are upbeat and interactive. If you do not like the training, we will not take your money. That is the VTR Guarantee! Remember, we are after all, at your service!

Call us today at 919 533 9069. Mention you are small business and we will do your first one hour session for just $99!

Happy Service is Happy Selling!
Jim Vogel

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Customer Service Jekyll and Hyde

All of us are familiar with The Strange Case of Jekyll and Hyde, the riveting, classic novella about split personality. It was wonderfully and vividly written by Robert Louis Stevenson in the 1880’s. It was THE read back then and by many estimations, his most famous work.

But this is a “blog-ella” about the Jekyll and Hyde of customer service. Last Thursday night, we went to a local restaurant where the employees must have been trained and nurtured by Hyde University. Crabby and ignoring, every employee shared the same common temperament, indifference with a touch of rudeness. They did not seem to want to be there, especially on a day filled with terribly heavy rains. There were not many patrons in the establishment because of the storms but we probably felt like most of their customers that day, we were more than willing to go outside without an umbrella for relief. It was our first visit and our last visit.

On Sunday, we went to another local restaurant; this one was also for the first time. This time the staff had to have been personally trained by Dr. Jekyll himself. Upbeat and engaging, not only did every employee exceed expectations, they all actually enjoyed their work. When they ran out of a beverage a customer had requested, they substituted another that was more expensive. We even received a free appetizer just to try it, and we truly enjoyed the experience from beginning to end. We certainly will be back. We are now raving verbal billboards of what the culture of this establishment is all about. It is a fairly new restaurant and is quickly building the reputation for excellence. It just took one visit to hook us forever.

How can one restaurant be so different from another? The answer is very simple. It is all about people. If you find upbeat, friendly people who love to put in a day’s work, you will attract the best customers as well. These customers are the ones who, in a thrifty economy, will be back time and again. People pay for a good time and they pay for outstanding service and entertainment. Major League Baseball tickets are not cheap, but raving fans go and spend money regardless of the economic times. Las Vegas is still an experience that is worth every dime; even if you lose a couple of heavies at the table.

Recruiting, interviewing, on-boarding, and training new employees are expensive payables. A bad employee, there for the money only, is a high cost to pay over and above the monies spent to hire.

Businesses who do not vet their perspective employees, or just hire numbers and take the losses as just part of business expense, are making a mistake that affects the future of the companies they run.

We have so many people out of work. We have much more than the public unemployment percentages. We do not include the under-employed and the people who just give up and stop looking for employment. These are good people. What a pool of talent to have in these times. Find the good ones and hire them.

The successful Jekyll business has no trouble finding good people. Word gets around. People stay and grow. When there is a single opening, it is filled quickly. When Jekyll employees need to attend to a personal issue, they can. And these employees never feel guilty, when they are working, the customers have fun; customers enjoy. Everyone shares in the avenue of success.

Jekyll Service is special. Here are some ingredients: active listening, reactivity, great attitude, problem-solving skills, positive focus, expertise and excellent solution finders.

The Hyde businesses operate with unhappy indentured workers who feel trapped, yet the fear of escape to the unknown is greater than the misery of the day-to-day grind. In a strong economy, the workers leave for better opportunity, but the times are still tough. Often too tough to leave.

Will Hyde companies eventually ”jekyll” themselves into the environment of empowerment and contribution? Some might, maybe, but not all transition to, or move to customer service excellence.

Customer Service is doing the right thing at the right time. Not everyone wants to do it.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Hold the Mayo

If you run a business and have unhappy people who work for you, you just might want to hold the mayo. The mayo is Elton Mayo, the Human Relations Theorist who coined the fact that if you take care of your people and pay positive attention to them, performance increases. If you grab hold of the Human Relations Theory, and put into the work environment, your business will be more successful.

Companies in desperate mode will often go to their employees and ask them for ideas that might help save the business. But businesses today need to tap the human capital in the best and the worst of times to give the business continual life.
Give real and honest positive feedback and make an employee’s day. Give your people an early afternoon off. Give them some flexible scheduling if you can do it. Pay them fairly and give them bonuses when they exceed performance levels. You do not need a $1000 ad in the paper, when your employees are your advertising. And it is contagious; your customers also become your advertising and marketing arm. Surprisingly, great employees lead to great customers.

The VTR Consulting LLC series of relationship building and agreement selling classes have this critical theory as the bedrock of growth and opportunity. Your Business DNA (Desire, Need, and Attitude) just gets better when you communicate well with your employees as growth partners.

The next time your business has employee issues, open up your menu of opportunity and hold the Mayo.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Ingredients to Relational Success

Being at your best every day at in relationships is not complicated. In Sales, you must first physically take care of yourself. You cannot have a six pack and a pizza every night and be on your A-Game every morning.

Mentally and physically, here is how to maximize opportunity, especially if you sell for a living.

1. Come to work to work; socialize at work only for the benefit of the sale and the customer.
2. Have a definable plan. Goals and objectives are essential.
3. Know your product and services better than anyone else; what is in stock and what is coming.
4 Always be there to lead, help and serve. The customer notices servant leadership.
5. Actively listen with minimum distraction. Be very active, have eye contact, and lean into the conversation.
6. Never have anything less than a POSITIVE attitude from within you. Anything else is unacceptable.

People buy from smiling, listening, organized, energetic, and knowledgeable individuals who want to win for them.

People buy from people like themselves.

Now you are ready for agreement selling. Google "agreement selling" and you will find very little information. It is based on saying YES (Yields Excellence & Success) and is integral to VTR Consulting LLC Sales Training. The customer usually has a problem that needs what we call Opportunity Conversion. Once the problem becomes an opportunity for both you and the customer, regardless of product or service, closing ratio is greatly increased and happiness becomes an objective.

None of this is rocket science, Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, or brain surgery. If you do everything right, there usually is nothing left. It is so simple that we often don't think it will work. Our base human tendency to OVERTHINK is the biggest challenge in any relationship, no matter if it is personal or professional.

It is the responsibility of all of us to bring process that makes clear and definable results. Everything must be definable, measurable, trainable, and do-able, or we should not do it. Relationship success, especially in sales, is a math game NOT a numbers game. Making your numbers are much easier than creating the strategy to make the numbers. VTR calls this SELL-gebra. You sell in an equation of both variables and constants, and things must equal and balanced for both you and the customer to move forward.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Find Jobs - Sales Representative Jobs in Raleigh- Durham, NC, North Carolina - The Hcard

Find Jobs - Sales Representative Jobs in Raleigh- Durham, NC, North Carolina - The Hcard

It's a Pain in the Gas!

Now, as fuel prices climb daily from the Valentine’s Day level of under three bucks, to over four bucks by Memorial Day, it is time to play some Archie Bell and the Drells and “tighten up”! The year was 1968, gas was 27 cents a gallon and I was cruisin’ on five bucks ALL night long in a car that got seven miles to the gallon… Ahhhh, the good ole’ days… Driving for no reason and in no direction. WOW!!!! What very cool memories!

Well, it is 2011 and I have come up with tighten up ideas.

Find the nicest Dollar Store and buy your soups, shampoos, toothpaste, detergent and crayons. These stores carry name brand stuff.

DO NOT have a car payment! If your car payment is $350.00, even at $4.00 a gallon, you can get almost 88 gallons a month. Yep, EIGHTY-eight gallons.

Consolidate your trips like you are driving the downtown bus; minimum miles, maximum stops.

Get your gas where you spend your grocery money. A nickel is a nickel.

Call your insurance agent ASAP and get higher deductibles on every single policy. You don’t play with fire and you do not take the family mini-van on the Saturday night dirt track. Go with the odds.

Remember Wal-Mart has jeans, slacks, dresses and golf shirts.

Clip coupons and get on every store’s discount mailing list. Double and triple coupons are a must on everything you buy.

Get your shoes professionally repaired rather than buying the new ones.

Wear things until holes develop. In fact, with some things, holes are in fashion…

PLEASE spend your money locally; our restaurants need a break too. And the kids need a night out. In fact, you need a night out. Use Twongo! Go to the restaurant sites and print the coupons.

Plant the garden you always put off this year. Cucumbers, squash, and tomatoes grow like weeds in the Triangle. Have you noticed the price of tomatoes?

Time –Warner has 14,622 channels! (Seems like it!). Get the basic back and watch TV movies for free.

Got a green thumb, fertilize your own lawn.

Now, the economy will turn down the road. Just carry these same strategies when gas goes back down to $3.00; you can take me out with all that extra cash!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Commercial Insurance is Essential

Running a business is complicated enough without having to worry about insurance. Just like homeowners, every business owner needs to protect their hard work and investments. Whether you paint for a living like Schleter Painting and Drywall, or you sell beer for a living like the Beer Dispensary in Downtown Apex, insurance can sometimes be considered an occupational hazard. But there is good news.

Woomer Group - Insurance and Financial Services offers a nice menu of commercial insurance for all kinds of businesses. And there are essential reasons to stay protected. Here are four of them.

1. Property Protection: Your property and business are your livelihood. Any chance of loss is something that must be considered. Investment protection is an integral aspect of your business plan.

2. Loans and Lending: Lenders will require you carry business insurance in exchange for offering funds. They consider your property collateral.

3. Risk Transfer: The risk of financial loss should be in the experienced hands of an insurer in exchange for regular premium payments. General Liability, professional liability, workers comp, and business auto are ingredients to less worry and more focus on what you do best... the business.

4. Legality: Professional liability is essential for errors and mistakes. It is sound and wise, especially in higher risk businesses like the medical arena where exposure can really hurt your future.

Our new website lets you quote right on the website or call Jim Vogel at 919 533 9069.

We are independent for you since 1932.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The End is Near!

Hi Blog Spots!

We need you again, and thank you ahead of time for possibly being one of our regular VIP's (Very Important PINT!). Please go to and take the two minutes to sign up again for our Spring Kiwanis/ Jordan Lutheran Church/ REX Blood Services Drive. We need 100 pints a day to serve the needs of the Triangle community, seven days a week, and every pint helps so much.

Monday March 28th from 3-7 p.m. at Lowes Foods supermarket (5400 Peakway) in Apex. WE NEED YOU!

If you have already signed up today... awesome... if not, this is a sweet reminder of the the most precious gift we can give, the gift of life!

Thank you for your continued support of community and civic responsibility! We want to continue to be a big part of your calendar. Don't be shy, pass this e-mail to anyone you know who shares our focus of continued life for those less fortunate because of disease, accident or injury.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Apex Chamber: The Peak of Great Opportunity

I was in a meeting recently, when the owner of a small business I often frequent complained to me about the lack of things her local Chamber does for her business. She also commented that being in the Chamber is not a great value to her and her business . She plans on leaving it when her membership renewal comes due. She stated to me that there are absolutely no benefits from a Chamber membership. Now, this is not the first time I have heard of unhappiness with one’s local chamber. But this is the first time I want to tell you about why she is wrong.

I respectfully and politely disagreed with her comments and I told her that the local Chamber of Commerce is often the best vehicle for business opportunity. This is what I said.

As a current four business member of the Apex Chamber of Commerce (Kiwanis Club of Apex, Woomer Insurance and Financial Services, T.O.P.S Club of Apex, and VTR Consulting LLC) I have a unique opinion of my Chamber, both as a profit-driven small business owner and as a non-profit organization member.

Without a second thought, my Chamber, the Apex Chamber of Commerce, is where my businesses need to be. The Apex Chamber offers many opportunities for growth. It offers continuing opportunities to participate in the community. It offers key opportunities for business success. With an outstanding website and an excellent business public directory, the Apex Chamber is a continuing investment with very large professional and personal return.

Morning and evening networking events create even more opportunities for meeting the people you need to meet to help your local business grow. Joining the member supported committees within the Chamber give you not only a communal sense of accomplishment and participation, but a straight and true focus of making businesses better.

But it is up strictly up to you. You must make the most of what is offered. Opportunity is an action word. The Chamber is what you put into it. It is a conduit for so many things. And there are many additional byproducts that are benefits for growth. For example, the byproduct of an effective and well established Chamber is a stronger local economy. Another byproduct is having all of our businesses on the same page under the same umbrella moving forward in a tough economy in the same way. Success is a team sport. “We” are always stronger than “me”. An ancient African proverb states this: “no person is truly a person until they are with other people.” This is the true purpose of a Chamber filled with opportunity. The Apex Chamber of Commerce is the principal vessel of local business prosperity through participation.

Finally, here are some things I know the Chamber is not. The Chamber is not an extension of your marketing department. It is not an organization that automatically makes your business more successful. It is not a profit making apparatus. The Chamber is simply what you make it to be. The Chamber works full-time setting up success. But it does not create it. It puts into place the professional opportunities to help you grow. The Chamber is only as successful as the businesses it supports.

In my view, the best move any business can make is to be a visible and contributing member of the local Chamber. Let’s hope this business owner stays in her chamber and makes it a little better.

Friday, February 11, 2011


Apex, NC


Joy Over Budget Success! We simply need more JOBS!

Squeezing every dollar for value is central to getting our local and national economy back to even 2007 standards... Raleigh is now the 10th biggest coupon clipping city in the US. And it is no wonder. Gas is UP to three dollars and silly, up a little more silly each day. My favorite grocery store has all my regularly bought items like cheese, cream and cereal priced thirty cents higher than the prices in December. On the back of the grocery bill is a coupon for a $7.99 large extra cheese pizza; that coupon was $5.99 last year.

Have your pay checks gone up as well? Thought so...With confusing signals from the stock market and even more confusion with lower unemployment coupled with lack of job creation, it is indeed no wonder Dave Ramsey's show about personal financial strategy on the radio has a huge audience base.

Ahhh, but I am a crazy optimist first, well before my realist persona ever sets in. We are managing our household budget strategies very well as Americans. We indeed squeeze every dime out of that nickel.

Many of us are bustin' bugs to get our taxes done. We are assessing our financial and insurance profiles to see where changes can be made. This simple awareness is making us stronger. We no longer pound our charge cards with impulse buys. We are fixing our cars rather than buying them; and we are cutting our phone and cable bills at a furious pace.

Welcome to the New Normal. It is great to be back at our roots with real world, down home values again. Where a penny saved is indeed a penny earned. It is refreshing.

We now know, we can never return to mindless spending and speculation that created the collapse of the economy back in September 2008; that is pretty cool. You just cannot put a price on that.

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Year of the COMEBACK!

With just two weeks in, 2011 will answer a lot of business questions for many of us. There is economic energy out there across America. The best thing about any challenges we face is that they are front and center. We have been with them for about two years.

Housing and employment are still in struggle mode. Steel, beef, pork, and gasoline are increasing in cost; and inflation is opening its eyelids...

But the car business is breathing with both lungs again. The Detroit Auto Show, where the cars are the stars, is seeing a renaissance of energy with awesome products that consumers want at $3.25 a gallon. Ford is leading the way with technology and with quality. Pictured is the new 2012 Escape. Detroit is less dead now and much more competitive.

Because as Detroit goes, so does our country.

Credit for small business, although tight, is available. Things are getting better. But be prepared to budget what you have in this New Normal. Gas will continue to creep up at the pumps. My guess is $3.35 or so before it slowly goes back under three bucks. There is no way gas will be four and five dollars; OPEC and most economists know the real reason why we were pushed off the financial cliff in September 2008. At four dollars a gallon, people stopped buying EVERYTHING but the essentials and confidence vanished.

This consumer behavior affects everything we do and everything we buy. No one blows $80 bucks on dinner today unless it is a celebration. We ALL clip coupons. We know what the Dollar Tree is and we want generic at the drug store.

So this indeed will be an interesting year. Everything is LOCAL. Take advantage of it. We need to know what you do and how we can help you succeed. Lots of energy goes on right on your block. And it is very simple. I help you, and you help me, and 2011 will indeed be, as my friend Brian Woomer coined, THE YEAR OF THE COMEBACK!