Local businesses from downtown Galesburg were invited by the Knox Business Club to share their success stories. Students who went to the event left with not only business advice, but also a deeper connection to the surrounding Galesburg community. On Friday, Jan. 26, representatives from Globar, Community Treasures and Landmark participated in a panel, as well as a Q&A session with students. Questions included how the owners put together a responsible team, how they created business strategies and what mistakes they had learned from.
(Graphics by Michelle Dudley/TKS)
Tiffany Springer is the owner of Community Treasures located at 444 E. Main St. Coming from a background as a marketing director, Springer was used to having a busy schedule and managing her time. Despite having experience, she quickly became overwhelmed and started using a calendar to document her tasks with the hope of making the work load more manageable. However, she felt that simply using a calendar was not enough.
Now, Springer deals with her overbooked schedule by splitting her week into thirds, and enlisting the help of volunteers and two paid employees.
“I currently have 40 volunteer men and women that come every week. When I first started, I made a point to sit down with each and every one of my volunteers to learn their story, learn where they’re coming from,” Springer said.
She took time to learn the strengths of her employees and how to effectively communicate with each individual employee. As most who contribute are unpaid volunteers, she aims to work with them and make them feel appreciated for volunteering out of their own generosity.
“Having a staff that was already in place, it was really about learning everyone’s strengths, hearing their stories, how best to communicate with them in order to get a job done,” she said.
Springer emphasized the importance of heart over head when working in an organization like Community Treasures. She wants her employees to have an open mind and be open to other ideas and possibilities.
Married couple Megan and Casey Robbins own GloBar located at 337 E. Main St. Together, the two bring vegetable and fruit based foods to downtown Galesburg. Though Megan and Casey are typically the friendly faces customers run into, GloBar has employed a total of six people on staff over the past three years.
“When I think about my team, I don’t know if I’d call us a small business, we’re like a micro. But I have to say—and Casey agreed—that without our team, we wouldn’t work,” Megan said.
However, relying on her staff comes with its fair share of anxieties. Megan recalled having a panic attack the first time the GloBar was opened for business by her staff without either of the couple present.
“But I think that was so beautiful to see that you created something that existed without you and I think that needs to be your goal. In whatever you’re doing, it needs to be something that can have a life or it probably won’t succeed,” Megan said.
When picking a staff, both Megan and Casey stated that they wanted people who are independent, creative and have the same spirit that they do. It is important that they are willing to try things and to take risks.
“[The Robbins] don’t hire staff, they hire souls. You go in there and it’s like you’re walking into somebody’s living room. They just get so damn excited that you’re in there you kind of get caught up in it,” Phil Dickinson of Landmark Cafe and Creperie said.
Landmark Cafe and Creperie
Phil Dickinson is the owner of Landmark Cafe and Creperie on 62 S. Seminary St. When Dickinson hires people to work in his restaurant, he isn’t looking for technical skill. Instead, he wants people who have what he refers to as “intangibles.” For his line of work this means people who come to to the restaurant with a friendly attitude. Other important traits include how his potential hires act, if they use proper grammar and how happy they are. In the past, Dickinson had some trouble with former employees. He recalled a time in the 1980s when labor and management were not getting along. Dickinson realized he wanted the Landmark to be a place where employees came in and felt good about themselves and their environment.
“What I do now isn’t what I did then and that was to my detriment. Now what I look for is qualities in a person,” Dickinson said.
Another big part of Dickinson’s job is to make sure he is managing his time properly. He states that one of the most important rules in the restaurant business is that there “is no later.“ Restaurant owners must make sure they get through their daily tasks, even if that means working over-time.
“You’ve got to get ready for tomorrow. I think my record is I did seven weeks of 100 plus hours because we were opening up a restaurant and there was an immense amount of stuff to get done,” said Dickinson. “With time management, the biggest thing you’ve got to structure some time for yourself first. As much as you want to love others, there has to be a brief period where you take care of yourself.”
For Dickinson, working hard is easy because he is motivated by the people around him. For him, success is not something personal—it’s a collective.