No Exceptions.

Blog by Clint Elkins, VP of Sales, SB Value

In my last column I wrote about the importance of thinking outside the box and creating new ways to increase your bottom line. Of course, that is business 101 and always will be, but it isn’t always the most personal aspect of your career. 

 A movie based on a true story that teaches us about branding and business.

A movie based on a true story that teaches us about branding and business.

Your brand is your brand, period. One of my all time favorite movies is American Gangster. If you haven’t seen it, it is solely based on business and building a brand. Denzel Washington delivers a great line, “No exceptions.” ‘No exceptions’ sums up his character and his business in just two short words but they are the core of what he stands for.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to attend a catering workshop held at Lon Lane’s Inspired Occasions in Kansas City, MO. I had spoken to Lon a few times leading up to the event and it was obvious that the workshop was going to be spectacular, even before I laid eyes on his facility. All it took was listening to him share his thoughts and visions of the event to know his brand was ‘regal’. 

 Amir, a team member that embodies Lon’s brand.

Amir, a team member that embodies Lon’s brand.

I arrived a day early and was able to spend some time with Lon. As we toured Kansas City and sampled all the famous BBQ places, I almost felt like a reporter in a way. One thing about me is I love to learn and anyone that has ever spent any time around Lon, knows he is a wealth of knowledge on about any subject. So, as I asked question after question about his business it was very clear that he sticks to his brand and his brand is his business. 

The next day at the workshop I need to run a quick errand. There was a market a few blocks away and I needed to run down to pick up something for a friend. I asked a young man who worked at Lon’s for walking directions to the store. Even though the market was only a few blocks away he insisted on driving me there so I didn’t have to waste any more time that I needed to. Once we arrived he joined me inside to grab the things I needed. While standing line to pay, a young mother with a small child in her buggy dropped a few things. This young man not only picked up her things and handed them to her, he thanked her for doing it.

On the drive back I asked him questions about how long he had worked for Lon, where he was from, just generic questions. It was immediately obvious how much pride he took in working there. He knew how important representing that company was because he wasn’t going to let Lon or his brand down. 

 Lon Lane and son, Stewart, research and development chef

Lon Lane and son, Stewart, research and development chef

Lon’s signature was on everything, all the way down to how his staff treated people at the local grocery store. Not for a second do I think Lon trained this young man to treat people like he did. He found employment with Lon because of how he treats people, it’s his brand.

Sticking to your core business values no matter what is your brand. If a bride insists on something your catering company doesn’t want to do, don’t bend if it isn’t in your best interests.  Stick to your guns, we all live in a world where news travels faster than it ever has and with the Yelps and Facebook’s of the world it makes it a lot easier to spread something negative than something positive.

Clint Elkins, VP of Sales - SB Value

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How to Market your Small Business When You Hate Social Media

Guest Blogger, Terri Marascio – President, Mint Marketing Solutions

You really can’t escape social media.  And, it seems like everyone is telling you that you should ‘be on Facebook’, ‘get an Instagram page’ and be ‘tweeting’ 5 times a day. But what if you personally aren’t on social media, or like many…just don’t like it or simply don’t have the time to be on it?

Well, there is something to be said about these channels that provide an instant connection and communication to your future and current customers for a very small to zero monetary investment. The captive audience and ability for people to research you in a few clicks and see your reviews and work are incredibly powerful.

However, if you are still kicking and screaming to hit that blue ‘f’ button*…here are 3 options:

*’f’ for Facebook

Option #1: Build a Strong Email List and Use It. Often.

Research is still showing that email can provide a better return on your investment than social media in certain industries. Emails are a one-on-one conversation with someone that’s invited you into their private space. They have either asked to be on your list, have met you, or have done business with you before. Give them what they want and talk to them weekly – at least monthly if you don’t have the time or don’t have ‘much to say’.  MailChimp is a great way to start. FREE up to 2,000 contacts. Continue to collect email addresses from contests, events, clients, shows, etc.


Option #2: Build and Maintain a Kick Butt Website

If you love your website, have invested time, money, photography, copy, blog posts, email newsletter collection areas, forums, videos, etc. then promote the heck out of it. It’s your hub. It can be your universe. However, don’t keep it a secret! Refer to it often in your email blasts (see #1), optimize it with incredible copy that will help you be found on Google, Bing, etc. Hire an SEO or SEM company to pull you to the top of what your ideal client is looking for online. Keep up with your blogs, and never let it go stale. Install a pop up with a discount or helpful checklist/freebie in exchange for their email address (see #1..again). Capture the data and analyze on Google Analytics. Learn more about your customers and adjust marketing to target them better. In addition, working with a company to help serve your banner ads to people who have visited your website already can help keep you top of mind – this is called retargeting – and these ads can even be pushed to social media.


Option #3: Go Old School

Old school – what does that mean? It depends on where your business is located, and your competition, plus your resources, but consider print, radio, postcard mailings, ‘welcome’ mailer services, billboards, local trade shows, sponsoring events, and good ol’ fashioned networking, hand shaking, business card dropping off. You get the picture. Some of these really are expensive, and hard to determine your ROI, but they very well could bring in your bread and butter (ahem..for catering…).

At the end of the day, you should probably be doing all 3 of these in addition to social media.

If you say – phew, this seems tough, social media might be ‘easier’, don’t view it quite like that. Do what YOU can do or like. If you can’t, hire someone to help.


SB Value Will Provide 2019 ICAEF Scholarship

SB Value is pleased to announce its first ICAEF (International Caterers Association Educational Foundation) Scholarship. The Foundation makes it possible for qualified individuals including owners, managers and employees of ICA Member firms, to attend designated educational conferences in connection with the International Caterers Association. The Catersource Conference and Tradeshow is scheduled for February 24-27, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Catersource is a four-day education experience that attracts over 5,500 attendees from around the globe in all aspects of the catering and events community. Classes cover everything from culinary techniques to event design to business principles for all levels.

The SB Value scholarship, based on merit, includes full registration tuition for the conference. In addition, a $500.00 travel stipend is paid to the member company post-conference, once the recipient completes the mandatory survey and submits their post conference survey.

“SB Value has been a partner of the ICA for more than two years, and we are excited to offer this scholarship to a well-deserving individual,” states SB Value President, Trip Wheeler.

“We know how important education and networking is to a successful career in any industry, but more so with the ever-changing culinary, catering and events community. We would never want a financial obstacle to inhibit someone from absorbing and utilizing all that Catersource has to offer,” adds Clint Elkins, SB Value’s Vice President of Sales.

To apply for a 2019 Catersource Merit Scholarship sponsored by SB Value and other fine organizations, visit:


The International Caterers Association Educational Foundation (ICAEF) is a not-for-profit foundation created to provide educational opportunities to professional caterers worldwide. It was established to foster the advancement of ICA Member firms, in their knowledge of the catering and hospitality industry, as well as the development of sound business practices.