To survive, any business needs its customers to know where it is.
One of the best methods of ensuring people know who you are and where you are located is with a bright, attractive, easy-to-read sign. I stopped in at Woods Clothing in Bracebridge solely because of their signage and have been back a few times since to purchase more. The signage brought me in the door and the value proposition kept me coming back. You need your customers to come through the door to demonstrate to them your value proposition.
At my family's building in Muskoka, we have been assisting our tenants in putting up signage that has impact. Each of the signs is unique, easy to read, vibrant and makes it clear where you can find the business within the building.
We also have a large pylon sign out front of the property. You can see how it acts as a building directory for the businesses in the building. Our tenants pay to be on that sign because it makes their businesses extremely visible to the abundance of traffic on Highway 118 and is a great method of showing potential customers where they are.
We also created directional signage for our smaller tenants in the building, also shown. It allows customers to know where they are going and also facilitates knowledge of who is in the building. Our tenants appreciate it because it is then easy for their customers to find them.
Superb signage helps a building look professional and assists the building's tenants attract more business and thrive. Happy tenants, happy landlord.
Paint creates such impact for such a low cost.
When people want to update their homes, the best investment by far is always a new coat of paint. Bright or subdued, matte or glossy, paint changes a room's dynamic and is the least costly fix you can do.
My family owns a building in Muskoka. It used to have a hodgepodge of different door colours along with some rust, scratches and chipped paint. My mom chose a cranberry red for the south side of the building and we have now painted all of the exterior doors that bright cheery colour. It makes such a difference.
The building now looks coordinated and inviting.
My children look forward each year to receiving their hockey team apparel...winter hats, baseball hats, winter coats, spring jackets, shirts, pants and shorts. It makes them feel proud to be part of a team, to be part of something that they have earned.
We as adults are no different. If our employer gives us a nice looking hoodie or T-shirt or golf bag or briefcase, we are generally excited to receive it. Assuming we enjoy our jobs, we are more than happy to wear it because again, it identifies us as part of a good group of people working together to achieve something positive.
I've always felt that the investment in corporate apparel was money well spent. Go team!
I like entrepreneurs and always want to hear the stories of how they started their businesses.
Live-work space often ideally suits an individual who has a dream to start their own business and starts to move towards that dream. Live-work space balances keeping expenses low while having workshop space to create your product and grow your business. I have seen yoga studios, painting galleries and esthetician services all thrive in live-work space in Toronto.
In our Muskoka building we have a talented woodworking entrepreneur who creates these beautiful carved custom wooden signs. He has this somewhat messy studio with a huge laser machine running constantly where he both lives and works and the space is perfect for him.
If you are thinking of starting up your own business, it is important to keep expenses low. A live-work studio is often a good choice at the time of your launch to permit you to afford your living expenses while investing time in growing your business.
Fixing Broken Properties
Last summer my family and my friends bought a former industrial property in Muskoka. It was purchased out of receivership and it was a mess. I help manage the property and it has been a challenging fourteen months.
After a lot of hard work and a few sleepless nights we are just now starting to see the building stabilize and the cash flow turn positive. One of the best ways we have found to increase the building's value has been to invest money in building out commercial spaces for our tenants to their specifications. In exchange, they sign five year leases with us to guarantee an income stream for the building going forward. Although the build-outs require capital which is expensive because it comes from owner's equity, every dollar the owners have invested in build outs has been money well spent.
I have found that if you are prepared to spend the time and money doing the build out yourself or supervising someone to do the build out for you, the money is well spent in the long run.
One of the prettiest build outs was for a Muskoka Yarn Store. Her space is just gorgeous, a shining jewel box in this big industrial building. The high ceilings and industrial-style loft space really suit her products, and her clients love the ample parking.
She signed a five year lease and the income from her each year will permit us to pay back the cost of the build out within about 18 months.
The Magic of Setting Goals
If you aim for nothing you'll always reach your goal.
There is something magic about writing down what you want. Somehow you become far more likely to achieve it. I have found the following often works:
1. Take the time to consider your life, where you are at right now, where you want to go, what would make you happy, and consider what you want to accomplish. That in my view is an important first step.
2. Next write down your goal based on your thought process above. What do you want to accomplish? In your personal life, do you want to lose 15 pounds? Do you want to get married? In your work life, do you want to train to become something different than you are now? Do you want to make more money? Do you want to save more money? Do you want to start your own business?
3. I find that if you then break down the baby steps you need to take to move towards your goal, that will help you get started without feeling overwhelmed. That will also help you timeline achieving your ultimate objective. You can break down how long each baby step will take.
4. Keep your written objectives and those baby steps handy so you can refer to them on a regular basis. The ongoing reminders keep you focused both consciously and subconsciously to move forward. Perhaps put them in your electronic calendar? Or write them in your notebook? Or post them on your fridge.
5. Get started.
As you begin to accomplish the baby steps in pursuit of your ultimate objective, you will notice you can then start to visualize actually achieving your goal and how you will feel when you do. That exercise helps you move there faster.
Using the above tools should allow the magic to kick in.
Happy at Work
I am happy at work.
There are four components to my work life that make it enjoyable:
1. I like the people with whom I work...a lot. They are kind and funny. They are the sort of people I would befriend if I didn't already work with them.
2. I like my office. I have a window looking out onto the beauty of the outdoors. One wall is plastered with photos of everyone I love. The other walls are full of vibrant paintings and a world map.
3. I like what I do. I am a Real Estate Asset Manager and I thoroughly enjoy trying to fix broken real estate. I also enjoy subdividing land for sale. Anything real estate related is fun for me.
4. I try to only work about 40 hours per week, which allows me a good balance between home and work.
I am grateful every day that I am happy at work.
The Benefits of Landscaping
Landscaping is already recognized as enhancing and improving residential houses. When you drive your neighbourhood, there are very few if any houses that don't have grass, trees and flowers of some kind in the yard and many have seats on the front lawn or front porch.
Less common is landscaping of commercial and industrial properties. Yet good landlords understand the importance of landscaping their buildings.
People respond to nature. At work, people need to be able to sit outside on their breaks. They want a place to eat together. When they enter and exit the building, they wish to look at a pleasing landscape that includes some greenery. They want to be able to walk around the building and the parking lot. The aesthetic should cause the workers to feel good about where they work.
At my family's property, we have spent some time and money softening the formerly industrial edges of the building. We have installed gardens with trees and flowers surrounding the walkways into our tenants' spaces. We have some large and beautiful trees out front. We try to ensure we weed and screen the beds around the property to make them look the best they can. We have pots of flowers welcoming you into our storage portion of the building.
We recognize that we need unobstructed access to dock doors. We require the parking lot clear to facilitate snow plowing. We have to be able to cut the lawn without difficulty. With those strictures, we still have tried our best to soften all of the edges to try to create an aesthetic that will resonate with our tenants and make them feel good about working in our building.
In my view, no matter the type of property, whether industrial, institutional, commercial, residential, or multi-residential, there is value in landscaping. Look at installing trees, planting flowers, growing grass, creating beds outside your tenants' spaces, building arbors, constructing gazebos, placing picnic tables, creating seating, buying a barbecue, laying some stone work, and creating functional yet attractive landscaping around the property.
These investments will usually pay off because they make people feel good about being at your property. As a landlord, the better people feel about their workplace, the more likely they are to stay in your building.
Entrepreneur and mom to four amazing kids
Q: Why did the can crusher quit his job?
A: Because it was soda pressing.