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Long Branch Business News League Workshop Manna Restaurant’s Provides Surprising Dominican Difference Tips for Success Portraits of Long Branch Business

What do people want most from a restaurant? Great food? Cheap prices? Wrong, and wrong again! What people want most in a restaurant is cleanliness. This surprising fact was just one of many business success tips provided at a July Marketing and Business Development workshop organized by the Long Branch Business League and held at Clifton Park Baptist Church.

Manna Restaurant features the food and culture of the Dominican Republic. Quick – don‟t look at a map -- where is the Dominican Republic? No, it is not in Central or South America. It‟s an island. In the Caribbean. According to Manna‟s co-owner Francisco Marcial, many people have no more idea about his country‟s cuisine than they have about its geography. Firsttimers often assume their offerings will be similar to Mexican or El Salvadoran food. Not true! “Dominican food is totally different from Salvadoran and Mexican food,” Francisco says, with emphasis. “We don‟t use hot sauce.” Instead of corn, Manna serves plantains, potatoes or rice. And they feature a lot of fish, most often red snapper, sometimes salmon, quite often cooked in homemade coconut or lemon sauces. The sauces, by the way, are delicious.

Presenters included some of the area‟s top business consultants. Keynote speaker Casey Willson, founder of a highly successful men‟s clothing chain, now teaches short courses for the Maryland Small Business Development Center (SBDC).* Retail and restaurants are his specialty. It‟s a very tough world out there, Willson noted right off. A few years ago, “Fifty percent of shoppers carried a shopping list, today, 83% do; customers are splitting entrees and buying fewer drinks.” In such an environment, stores need to think especially carefully about the customer‟s in-store experience. A great marketing campaign brings customers to your door. But what do they find when they get there?

The Back Story

According to a university study, Willson said, an attractive façade – one that is well lit, uncluttered and communicating a single theme – improves your store‟s sales by 16%. A shop window “is no place for handlettered signs.”

When Francisco and Francisca Marcial

Inside, the store must be clean and full

(See Manna, page 3)

(See Success Tips, page 2)

October 2012 Volume 5, Issue 4

“¿Que es lo que más le interesa a la gente de un restaurante? ¿Buena comida? ¿Precios baratos?” Para la respuesta a esta pregunta, ver el articulo en la segunda pagina, “Taller de mercadeo ofrece sorprendentes consejos practicos”.

Inside this issue: Taller de mercadeo 2 Tax Credit deadline! 4 Free workshop

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(Success Tips, from page 1) of the merchandise you advertise. Bare shelves create doubts in the customer‟s mind: is this place really in the business?

Restaurants In addition to cleanliness, what else do people look for in a restaurant? Extensive industry research, Willson said, has revealed the following order of customer priorities: 

Cleanliness

Upbeat and friendly service (two times more important than the food!)

Someone visibly in charge on the floor

Good food

Location

Atmosphere

Value for your dollar

What is fascinating about this list is that being cheap comes last! And note the importance of well-trained staff. It is not enough, Willson said, for your staff to know the specials. “Your staff has to be high-energy, and be people who like to be [working] there.” Willson said.

Standing Out Lots of places sell inexpensive things. That‟s not what will set you apart. The key to success, Willson says, is to be the best in one, or preferably several categories. Have the best selection; do things in new ways (be the most innovative); have the best staff; have always new offerings; be the most convenient. Another way to stand out, Willson said, is to “be the coolest or hippest” store in the business. But, he added with a smile, be aware that “it takes six months to get known, six months to be hip, six months to die, and then six more months to reinvent yourself.” Merchants themselves can become celebrities, Willson said, if they organize.

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Taller de mercadeo ofrece sorprendentes consejos prácticos ¿Que es lo que más le interesa a la gente de un restaurante? ¿Buena comida? ¿ Precios baratos? No y no nuevamente!

de compras; en la actualidad, el 83% lo hacen. Los clientes se están compartiendo platos y comprando menos bebidas”.

Lo más importante para la gente es que un restaurante sea limpio.

En esta situación los propietarios de tiendas deben tener presente el tipo de experiencia que su clientela tenga sobre sus negocios. Una buena campaña de mercadeo podría atraer a su clientela a sus puertas. Pero ¿Que es lo que encuentran cuando llegan allí?

Este hecho sorprendente fue solo uno de muchos consejos empresariales proporcionados en un taller realizado por la liga de negocios de Long Branch que se realizó en la iglesia de “Clifton Park Baptist” en julio. Los oradores fueron algunos de los consultores de negocios más importantes del estado de MD. El orador principal, Casey Wilson, fue fundador de una de las más exitosas cadenas de ropa para hombres. Hoy en día el Sr. Wilson trabaja unido con el Centro de desarrollo de pequeños negocios (SBDC para sus siglas en inglés) impartiendo cursos cortos. La especialidad del Sr. Wilson es en venta al por menor y como ser exitoso en la administración de restaurantes. El mundo esta muy difícil hoy en día, señaló el Sr. Wilson. Hace unos años, “Solo el cincuenta por ciento de los consumidores utilizaban una lista al ir

El Sr. Wilson señaló que según un estudio universitario un local con un bonito frente, en otras palabras un frente que este muy iluminado y bien ordenado, mejora las ventas de su tienda en un 16%. La ventana principal de su negocio no es lugar para colocar señales escritas a mano. El interior de su tienda debe estar limpio y sus anaqueles deben estar llenos. Anaqueles vacíos fomentan una mala impresión en la mente del cliente. Estos pueden preguntarse ¿Es este realmente un negocio? Además de un local limpio, que mas busca la gente en un restaurante? Una (ver. Pag. 3, Taller)

He suggested the League might someday become a Mainstreet Organization. Main Streets are a national program with resources focused toward revitalizing specific neighborhood commercial centers. “Merchants are what give a town its flavor,” he explained. To make a place really work, though, takes not just one or two great stores, but the right mix. What‟s that? Willson defined it as a street with a couple of stores from each of three key categories: 1) local services like banks and post offices; 2) eateries and other destinations, 3) things for kids to see and do. To get this mix right, however, “rents have to be realistic for small businesses.”

Casey Willson, keynote speaker.

*The Maryland SBDC is a joint venture between the U.S. Small Business Administration and University of Maryland. It offers free education and consulting to small businesses.

Long Branch Business News


(Taller, de pág. 2) amplia investigación nacional ha revelado, dijo Willson, el siguiente orden de prioridades para los clientes:

Brother - Sister Team Offer Dominican Fare (Manna, from page 1)

things just right.

1) Limpieza 2) Servicio al cliente muy optimista y amable (es dos veces mas importante que la comida!) 3) Un administrador pendiente de los clientes 4) Buena comida 5) Ubicación cómoda 6) Ambiente 7) Valor por su dinero

took over Manna Restaurant in 2005, this brother and sister duo had already been a team for a long time.

“If a client says, „This dish is too salty,‟ she won‟t say, „Oh, this customer is always complaining‟; she‟ll say, „let‟s analyze what happened and make some changes.‟”

Lo mas fascinante sobre esta lista es que el bajo costo es lo ultimo en la lista! Un personal bien capacitado es muy importante también, obviamente. Pero no es suficiente, dijo Sr. Wilson, que su personal conozca que son las ofertas especiales del día. Su personal tiene que ser de alta energía y debe asegurarse que le gusta de trabajar en su negocio.

Then, when Francisco was 14 and Francisca 17, their mother left for the U.S. to take a job as a tailor and try to build a better life. The expectation was that the children‟s green cards would quickly be issued and the family reunited. But it took 11 years for that to happen.

Muchos negocios ofrecen cosas baratas. Esto no es lo que los distinguirá. La clave del éxito dijo el Sr. Wilson es dar lo mejor en diferentes categorías como por ejemplo, tener las mejores selecciones o tener el personal mas amable, etc. Se puede que los comerciantes lleguen a ser famosos -- si se organizan, Willson dijo. "Los comerciantes son los que dan su sabor a una ciudad ", explicó. Para hacer una ciudad con encanto, sin embargo, no es suficiente tener sólo una o dos tiendas interesantes. Es necesario contar con la combinación correcta. ¿Qué es eso? Willson lo definió como una calle con un par de tiendas de cada una de estas tres categorías principales: 1) los servicios locales, como bancos y oficinas de correos, 2) restaurantes y otras atracciones; 3) actividades interesantes para los niños. Para obtener esta mezcla correcta, sin embargo, "las rentas deben de ser realistas para las pequeñas empresas".

Volume 5, Issue 4

It started when Francisco was 11 months old, and his mother, a seamstress, began working outside the house. A few years later, Francisca, who is three years older, was already picking Francisco up from school, feeding and taking care of him, acting as a second mother.

During the separation, Francisca took on even more the role of a mother to her younger brother. Later, Francisca started several small retail food businesses, with her brother playing the supporting role. Francisco isn‟t shy about giving his sister the credit for taking the initiative when it comes to business. It was Francisca again who had the idea for starting Manna. “She‟s very good at business,” says Francisco while sitting at a table next to the cozy order window on the recently remodeled first floor. “I‟m more cautious. Francisca will say, „I think this has potential, let‟s just do it!‟” Like successful entrepreneurs everywhere, Francisco and Francisca are open and optimistic. Francisca adds to that mix a willingness to experiment until she gets

More differences It‟s not only the cuisine that is different at Manna Restaurant. Loud conversation and music make it sound like a party is in progress. What‟s up with that? “That‟s the way Dominican culture is,” Francisco says. “In the Dominican Republic we like two things very much: loud music and baseball.” OK. But what explains the big portion sizes? “We tried making smaller portions, but a small red snapper has no meat on it, it has a lot of bones. People would complain. People prefer to pay a little more and get a lot of fish.” Francisco says it‟s no problem at all if people want to split a dish with a friend. It‟s normal. In fact, sharing things is a typical feature of Dominican culture, Francisco says. For example, the pretty mural on the second floor dining room at Manna‟s was a gift from a close friend, a guy who used to paint for tourists back home. Adds Francisco: “Our mom used to tell us, if we have only one egg, we have to split it between us. „Don‟t fight alone – fight together. You‟ll have more chances to win.‟”

Business and Marketing Advice Available for YOU 

SBDC: Casey Willson (301-403-8300, x-12) or Marisela Villamil (habla español: 301-8021963, mvillamil@mdsbdc.umd.edu)

SCORE: Diane Royall (202-272-0390, diane.royall@scorevolunteer.org). SCORE is a national small-business counseling organization. Ms. Royall presented at the July workshop.

Edith Yanez, independent marketing consultant (habla español: 571-332-0083, edith_yanez@yahoo.com). Ms. Yanez also presented at the July workshop.

LEDC (Latino Economic Development Corporation, 202-588-5102) and BB&T Bank (301-929-2005), both offer small business-friendly financing and micro-loans. Representatives of LEDC and BB&T met with Long Branch businesses at the July workshop. Page 3


Enterprise Zone Tax Credit Expires Soon The Enterprise Zone Tax Credit, as you may recall (see Long Branch Business News, May 2011), reduces County taxes on improvements to real estate. The credit expires June 14, 2013. A June deadline may seem far off, but now is definitely the time to get started if you want to take advantage of the credit. After all, there is paper work involved and you need pre-approvals to qualify. Pete McGinnity, who administers the credit for Long Branch, stresses that the EZ tax credit applies not to your entire property tax bill, but only to any increased assessment in your property value caused by an improvement. Another important point: only property owners may directly apply. But renters of commercial space may still be able to take advantage of the credit. Depending on the nature of your lease agreement, tax credit savings can be passed on to renters. To find out about your

own case, talk it over with your property owner or your attorney. The Enterprise Zone (EZ) tax credit was created by the State of Maryland as an incentive to encourage growth and employment in areas such as Long Branch which have not seen enough investment. In our area, several office buildings and a drug store have taken advantage of the program. The amount of the credit is 80% of the taxes due on any expansion, major renovation or capital improvement of the building over the first five years. For the next five years, the credit decreases 10 per cent annually (70%, 60%, 50%, 40%, 30%). After the ten years are up, the property returns to the tax rolls at its full assessed value. Questions? Contact Paul Grenier at 301 622-2400, x 41; pgrenier@MHPartners.org; or Pete McGinnity, administrator of the EZ credit for Long Branch, 240 777-8126; peter.mcginnity@montgomerycountymd .gov

Free Social Media Workshop Sponsored by Crossroads Development Authority Just down the street from Long Branch there is another small business association headed by Melanie Isis and called the TakomaLangley Crossroads Development Authority (CDA). Many shop owners will recall Melanie from her days coordinating the Long Branch Business League. On Thursday, October 4, from 6 till 8 p.m. the CDA is holding a free workshop on how to benefit from the wide variety of social media tools available for marketing today, from Youtube to Facebook and beyond. Speakers include Christopher King (King Connections) and Kimberly Pichot (Complete Success). They will present tools, strategies and examples of how businesses are using social media to grow their business. The workshop takes place at 7676 New Hampshire Avenue, Suite 303.

Long Branch Business League Meeting Reunión de la Liga de Negocios de Long Branch El dia martes, 2 de Oct. 2:30 p.m.— 4:00 p.m. Restaurante El Golfo 8739 Flower Avenue

WHEN: Tuesday, October 2 2:30 p.m.— 4:00 p.m. WHERE: El Golfo Restaurant 8739 Flower Avenue

Agenda de la Reunión

Meeting Agenda

 Organización de eventos comunitario

 Organizing community outreach events

 Necisitamos un logo nuevo?

 Does the League need a new Logo?

 Como conseguir asistencia tecnica de equipo sobre su negocio

 Getting assistance from a team focused on your business

Long Branch Business News, a quarterly publication Paul Grenier, Editor 301-622-2400, x 41 pgrenier@MHPartners.org

October 2012 Newsletter  

Newsletter featuring descriptions of Long Branch businesses and information useful for small business owners.

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