Current New Yorker Emma Melrose says finding a trustworthy contractor to renovate their 1929 three-story Georgian Colonial in Beverly Hills was so important to her and her husband, Joe, that they interviewed several before deciding on Kastler Construction. What clinched the deal was owner Rick Kastler taking the time to show them other older home renovations he had done and respect for their home’s existing features.
As a result, along with building a three-story addition and three-car garage, installing new hardwood floors and expanding the kitchen and master bedroom, Kastler restored the glass kitchen cabinet doors and their wood grilles, retained all of the original doors and arches in the home, rehung the dining room chandelier and in one room left untouched the Pewabic tile floor from the historic Detroit pottery.
“They restored it, but with modernized conveniences,” Emma Melrose says.
Kastler understands the importance of finding the right contractor, and blogs on his company web site that consumers should pick a firm that’s licensed, insured and experienced in the type of work they want done.
Staying in touch long-distance from her current home was challenging, Melrose says, but was made easier with electronic communications and monthly visits she made to the couple’s home state of Michigan.
Kastler points out that communication—like that with the Melroses—is key in his business. For that reason, he’s created a new position in the office for customer relations.
Also critical is honesty, Kastler says. Clients do but shouldn’t shy away from stating their budget for a project, and contractors should be upfront about costs. Otherwise, the deal can suffer from the HGTV effect, where remodeling costs are drastically understated on home renovation shows.
To be transparent, Kastler estimates budgets for typical projects on his new-lead form. For example, additions are a minimum of $200-250 per square foot, basements without a kitchen or bath start at $30 per square foot, and kitchens up to 150 square feet range from $40,000-60,000.
With a staff of five field employees, seven office staff and a roster of sub-contractors, Kastler Construction builds custom homes and additions and renovates whole homes along with remodeling bathrooms, kitchens, basements and exteriors. Trending now are additions to allow for large kitchens, family gathering space and master suites that can include a bedroom, bathroom, walk-in closet and sitting area.
In 2017, the firm did $6.5 million worth of business and 2018 promises to remain as high, with four or five leads coming in every day, Kastler said. That’s more than double what the firm made 11 years ago, equivalent to about $3 million in today’s dollars accounting for inflation.
After 22 years, Kastler says he’s never tired of running his own firm. In fact, he spun off a sister firm, Visionary Cabinetry & Design, with partner Paul Kozicki.
“I actually love what I do,” he says. “I like the feeling of making people happy.”
425 S. Main Street
Clawson, MI 48017
One of the most challenging parts of a health care professional’s job is explaining complex information about conditions and treatment to patients and making sure the patient has the right information when they get home.
It is a frustration that Novi-bred optometrist Dr. Ryan Corte faces regularly in his Charlotte, NC practice. Last spring he had a patient come in about blurry vision in his left eye. It turned out that he hadn’t seen a doctor in years and had very advanced diabetic retinopathy and wasn’t even aware he had diabetes.
“As I was explaining to him the likelihood that he had undiagnosed diabetes, I could see the look on his face how perplexed he was that glasses, at that time, were not a likely solution to his problem. I referred him to a see a primary care doctor as well as retinal specialist. But he never went to either appointment,” says Corte. “I felt like in that moment, when I was educating him, it was almost overwhelming. I think of how many doctors are seeing more patients in less time and the amount of time they have to educate their patients is too little. I feel like there’s a lot of opportunity to break things down so the patient understands it, so they can follow up appropriately and they can follow through with success.”
Corte wished that there was a simple, video-based resource that he could send his and other patients to for information, but that resource wasn’t out there. So, he created his own.
A photography buff, Corte was one of the few people who had a digital camera in college. He says his passion for photography transferred to video when he realized that it was a great way to educate his patients. He did his research on YouTube, watching videos to see what would be the best format for him and how to set up his production.
The result was Introeyes.com. Founded by Corte, who is also the CEO, Introeyes.com features 30 – 90 second videos that provide information on terminology, conditions, preventative care, disease management, products and services. The topics range from “What is an optician?” to “What is Keratoconus?” In the videos, eye care professionals explain each topic briefly, in clear and simple language, with appropriate photos or diagrams. The videos, which are all hosted on YouTube, are close captioned and each has a transcript below it.
Because the education level of his patients varies dramatically, Corte’s goal was to write the content at an elementary level.
“We’re simplifying the delivery of eye care information for the general public,” says Corte, who believes that video-based content is the wave of the future. “Our vision and our general viewpoint on where we’re going is big. I think we definitely have a very good start. More and more generations are beginning to shift to wanting info digitally.”
Introeyes.com is the first website for Corte, who also owns several other domains, including Introwellness.com, Introtherapy.com, Intromovement.com, Introdiet.com, Intromeds.com, Introsmile.com. His plan is to fill out additional sites with wellness, exercise, diet, medication, and dental content, and have content on all sites by the end of 2018.
“You have to walk before you can run,” says Corte, who got Introeyes.com up and running in approximately two months. He is a self-taught video producer, developing the scripts with a team of eye care experts, mostly in the Concord area, but now branching out across the country. The simple format makes it easy for the professionals to shoot the video themselves, and Corte edits them, and adds photos and graphics to the footage of the professional explaining the subject.
His goal was a simple, professional-looking presentation.
“I built it into my schedule to learn to use the Adobe tools,” says Corte, who devotes one day each week to developing the site. “It’s like riding a bike, the learning curve is pretty steep, but once you learn how, you know.”
All that work paid off with a recent win in the Skimm email newspaper’s Moving On Up startup competition. From a nation-wide pool of entrepreneurs, Corte lasted into the semi-final round of 10, was flown out to Seattle for the final round of 3 competitors, and ultimately won a $2,500 cash prize, 6 months of financial mentoring from Chase Bank, and 6 months of startup mentoring from the Skimm.
Corte grew up in Novi, where his parents still live, and where teaching may have been coded into his DNA. His mother teaches at Mercy High School in Farmington Hills. One of his three older sisters teaches at Saline High School and one teaches at the University of Chicago Hospital. His father just retired from Hewlett Packard, where he was a computer consultant. Explaining things, it seems, is a family affair.
Corte attended Michigan State University, went to Ohio State University for optometry school, and then did his residency in Chicago. He had family in South Carolina, so he was familiar with that part of the country. When he was looking for a place to settle down and start a practice, the weather, the economy, and the stringent licensing in North Carolina, which meant more opportunities for those who qualified, sold him on the Charlotte area, where he recently met and married his wife Alison.
When he’s not teaching himself video editing or seeing patients, Corte lectures to residents on how to fine tailor their clinical skill sets to adapt to the ever—evolving health care industry. He and Alison are involved in Young Affiliates of the Mint, supporting Charlotte cultural institution, the Mint Museum, and running, working out, socializing, being outdoors, and carving out time for their 6-month-old marriage.
Plus, Corte loves to run and work out. “I enjoy every sport you can imagine,” he says.
To often small business owners explain their marketing as being “word of mouth” which they mean; they don’t engage in marketing/advertising because everyone finds them through (you guessed it) word of mouth.
First of all, word of mouth is what happens because of the way you run your business. Good word of mouth is the result of running it well and delivering what you promise, this is what business owners confuse with good marketing.
I always assume that people go into business because they are passionate about what they do, it’s their ego, they think they should start a restaurant because they make the best burgers, sushi or pancakes that the world has ever seen. That’s a good thing, if after you open your business you notice that new people are coming in because someone told them about your incredible burger, sushi or pancakes, this is your opportunity to invest in marketing without risk.
Why without risk, because you already know that what you’re doing is working, people are referring you to their community, the odds of someone coming in and liking what you’re doing has been confirmed. People don’t return to businesses because of good marketing, people try a business because of good marketing, they return and tell their community about a business because the business is good. A business that continues to attract new customers results in those customers encouraging new people to come in, it’s a vicious cycle but very profitable when done well.
Think about this; if 10 people accidentally find your business and they each tell 3 people how great you are and then they visit your business, you have 30 new customers. Now, if through your marketing effort 100 people find you and they also tell 3 people how great you are, you now have 300 new customers.
There are five things that you should do if your business has a “word of mouth” following:
Pursue media attention to introduce your business to the broader marketplace
Use social networks to connect with potential customers
Use social networks to connect with current customers and encourage their return
Advertise where your customers have already noticed you
Encourage your new customers to tell their community about you (word of mouth) with incentives
When you have created a word of mouth following, you have created an accelerated opportunity to succeed, this is the time to embrace marketing, now is the time to advertise, now is the time to reach out to the community with the confidence that now that you’ve built it, they will come!
At Local Business News (LBN), the featured businesses and healthcare providers are not charged a fee to be covered by us. We share their article with the local media, who are typically happy to receive a quality story that is publishing-ready at no cost to them.
They are not required to buy advertising, in fact, we don’t sell advertising in that way, we simply report their newsworthy events. What we sell at LBN are sponsorships to corporate brands that have products or services that local businesses or healthcare providers sell or prescribe to their customers or patients.
Everyone benefits from this arrangement, the business gets a journalistically created article that they can post on their website and social networks where potential customers and patients can get a better feel for who they are and what they do.
The sponsor receives exposure to the business’ current customers and to the viewers of their websites and social networks that are looking for a local service or product. This participation conveys the corporate brand’s support and connection to the local business.
What we cover:
Our editorial staff and freelancers are journalists with extensive experience in newspaper reporting and editing. We use the same criteria for our stories as a newspaper would for theirs, focusing on the newsworthiness of each event.
How newsworthy something may be is determined by asking a simple question; “is this of benefit to the reader.” So, blow-out sales, reduced prices or mid-night madness sales are not the types of things we cover, this is the difference between news and advertising.
We look for grand openings, expansions or new locations, business anniversaries, additional staff, new equipment or a new owner of an existing business. There are many events that are considered newsworthy, the best thing business owners or doctors can do is email a brief description of your event to; email@example.com and we will respond with interest or a reason why we don’t feel it’s a newsworthy story.
We’re creating an LBN series for; eye care, pet care, home design, auto care and a variety of other local business and healthcare categories. The LBN Oral Care Series launching in March, features dentists and orthodontists. A sponsor, the maker of toothpaste, dental floss or other oral care related products would sign an agreement for LBN to create articles in as many markets as they are interested in reaching.
From prescription drugs to motor oil, corporate brands are sold everyday by small independently owned businesses. So what would happen if those local businesses became better marketers? A win-win bottom line explosion!
Owning a small business is a heady job, it’s one of the few jobs where you need to be good at everything; bookkeeping, sales, marketing and human resources to name a few. When you lack in ability in one area you risk the survival of all areas.
Then you have the reason that you started the business, the actual work, the thing you do, interior designer, mechanic, baker or doctor. The obvious answer is to focus on the thing you love to do and hire qualified people to do the other things.
Unfortunately, qualified people want to be paid and most small businesses start out barely supporting the owner. Wearing many hats is a reality of business ownership that only changes once the business starts to grow.
Marketing could accelerate growth but most business owners are great doctors, bakers and candlestick makers but are typically poor marketers.
Marketing a small business should start with a story, a journalistically created newsworthy article that features the business owner, while describing the business and how it adds to the community.
We created Local Business News (LBN), to cover those stories, we look for newsworthy happenings at local businesses and healthcare providers that fit into a particular category; eye care, oral care, home design and restaurants are some of the categories we’re interested in.
The completed article is posted on the business’ website and social networks, it is also offered to the local media.
This is not an advertorial or conventional sponsored content, the business does not pay anything for the article.
A single corporate sponsor pays a fee to be connected to the business by having an advertisement placed in the body of the article. This advertisement creates a partnership with the business and announces the brands support of the business to the community.