Want to know what is really on the minds of today’s small business owners? Ask the Chase for Business team. Last year, Chase created the Chase for Business BizMobile, a traveling consultation center that toured the nation to provide entrepreneurs free advice on digital marketing, financing and other practical topics.
Twenty-six cities, 500 in-person consultations, and 22,000 miles later, the BizMobile crew is reflecting on its inaugural journey. Turns out, those offering advice got just as much as they gave. Let’s take a behind-the-scenes look at the BizMobile 2018 tour and what’s next for the roaming resource.
Many small business owners are so entrenched in day-to-day operations that it feels near impossible to spend time and money attending a conference or training class. That is certainly the case for Dayne Bartscht, founder of Eastern Market Brewery Co., a craft brewery and taproom in Detroit.
Bartscht started the business in October 2017 with five friends from college. In the beginning, they were “naïve enough” to think they could get the business up and running and then return to their day jobs, he says. They quickly realized that would not be the case. (For more on Bartscht’s story, check out this video.)
Today, growing the business is Bartscht’s full-time job, and he is always grateful for resources that can help him do so. The problem, though, is he just doesn’t have a lot of time to find these resources. He first learned about the BizMobile from his local Chase banker. For Bartscht, popping by for a free consult was a no-brainer. He sought input on how to expand his brand, seek financing, and use social media to engage audiences beyond just millennials.
At some locations, Chase invited small business customers to showcase their products and services. In Detroit, Ken Porter, founder of Porter Media Group, a strategic communication and marketing company that specializes in futuristic printing, was given the opportunity to promote his business right alongside the BizMobile, which generated multiple leads.
Porter also met with BizMobile consultants to get advice on finding top talent. He implemented their advice on LinkedIn paid search and received more high-potential applicants than ever before. (To learn more about Porter, watch this video.)
Porter’s relationship with Chase runs deep, too. In 2016, he received funding through the Entrepreneurs of Color fund provided by J.P. Morgan Chase. This allowed him to move production in-house, in turn increasing revenue by 110% in just one year.
Providing in-person guidance has always been a core part of Chase’s DNA, says Brent Reinhard, chief marketing officer for Chase Business Banking, adding that no digital interaction is as powerful as hearing a customer’s story firsthand.
But still, Reinhard wasn’t sure what to expect when Chase launched the BizMobile, in partnership with two Chase for Business clients, Dallas-based Zen Media and Detroit-based MRA, Inc. He knew small business owners were hungry for advice and insights, but the response to the concept exceeded expectations.
Reinhard was struck by the diversity of the participating companies, which ranged from microbusinesses to multi-million-dollar organizations, digital startups to established brick-and-mortars. In Detroit, BizMobile advisors even met with a 10-year-old and 12-year-old boy, brothers who had invented a mobile app and wanted to know how to drive downloads.
As predicted, finance and marketing were hot topics for business owners. Common financial topics included cash flow, access to capital, and account expense management. BizMobile marketing experts fielded a mixture of basic questions, like how to best use social media, and more advanced ones, like how to launch a customer loyalty program. Throughout the tour, those giving the advice gained as much as the business owners they were counseling. When Shama Hyder, chief executive officer of Zen Media,asked her employees what they enjoyed most about their job in 2018, the top answer was working with the BizMobile. “They said it was so rewarding to watch business owners’ faces light up as we solved an issue that had been keeping them up at night,” she explains.
Reinhard says small business virtues came through in every consultation. He was inspired by the way entrepreneurs approach hurdles. “They never say, ‘Oh man, now I have to deal with this problem.’ They say, ‘I can’t wait to solve this challenge.’
The Journey Continues
Chase is now working on the 2019 tour schedule for the BizMobile, drawing on everything it learned last year--about locations, time of day, and topics--to make the next tour even better.
But the core design will not change. The BizMobile will continue to offer free advice to small business owners, whether they are a Chase customer are not. And no business is too small, notes Reinhard. “We want to serve your business from start to finish; from day one all the way until when we can take you public.”
That approach resonates with Bartscht. “Going down to local Chase branch to open a bank account was probably the first formal step we took as a business,” he recalls. Now he, like so many small business owners across the country, is using Chase resources to help his business grow.
Didn’t make it to the Chase BizMobile last year? No problem. Check out what you missed and stay-up-to-date on the 2019 tour schedule by following Chase BizMobile on Twitter @ChaseforBiz or visiting ChaseBizMobile.com.