Put a Fork In It!
Put a Fork In It!
PAFII Episode 1: Kathy Prizzia, Executive Director, New Paltz Regional Chamber of Commerce

Welcome to the first episode of the new podcast “Put a Fork In It!” Thanks for giving me a listen. On the podcast, I will be featuring guests that will give us ideas, insights and inspirations about business, marketing, food, creativity and health!

Kathy Prizzia, headshot by Caylena Cahill/CC Photo & Media Hudson Valley NY PhotographerThis first episode features Kathy Prizzia, currently the executive director of the New Paltz Regional Chamber of Commerce.  (That’s her headshot that I did last year!)

As the leader of an organization with a small staff, she takes a super active role in growing the organization on the ground level by meeting and working directly with members on their businesses. So, she is very aware of what’s going on in business in the area and the issues local businesses are dealing with right now.

In addition to all that and having been the chair of the Taste of New Paltz multiple times, she was also the proprietor of her own restaurant, 36 Main, in New Paltz, worked as the director of food and beverage for Rocking Horse Ranch, and was previously the general manager at a New Paltz favorite P&G’s for over 15 years.

In the podcast, we discuss various topics, including:

  • the current state of business in the Hudson Valley
  • the different mentalities and skills required going from a role as a GM to a proprietor
  • the different marketing mentalities and strategies used for a new startup versus an established business
  • the importance of preparation and followup before and after participating in a marketing event
  • the Taste of New Paltz and how to be successful in food and marketing events
  • the importance of proper staff training and listening to your customers
  • the value of effective marketing and high quality graphic design and photography

Leave a comment below to let us know your favorite insight and how you’ll apply it!

Give it a listen and if you like what you hear, share the episode with any friends or fellow business owners that might find it valuable.

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Episode Transcript

[Host: Caylena Cahill] (0:00 – 1:22)
Thank you for joining me on my first ever podcast. I’m excited to have you on to talk about your experiences in hospitality, business, marketing, and specifically the taste of New Paltz. For the listeners out there who don’t know, our guest today, Kathy Perzia, is currently the Executive Director of the New Paltz Regional Chamber of Commerce.

And, as a leader of an organization with a small staff, she takes a super active role in growing the organization on the ground level by meeting with and working directly with members on their businesses. So, she is very aware of what’s going on in businesses in the area and the issues local businesses are dealing with right now. In addition to all of that and having been the Chair of the Taste of New Paltz multiple times, she was also the proprietor of her very own restaurant, 36 Main, in New Paltz, worked as the Assistant Director of Food and Beverage at the Rocking Horse Ranch, and was previously the General Manager at a New Paltz favorite, P&G’s, for over 15 years.

So, today we’re going to get some of her thoughts about marketing, particularly for small businesses and restaurants, as well as the taste of New Paltz and how to get the most out of doing such events. So, firstly, thanks for taking the time to talk with me and share your knowledge with the listeners out there.

[Guest: Kathy Prizzia] (1:22 – 1:24)
My pleasure, happy to be here.

[Host: Caylena Cahill] (1:25 – 1:48)
So, our first question today is kind of a general question about the state of things in the area. So, you have a great ground level approach to running the Chamber. I know that because you’ve taken a bunch of time to sit down with me and meet with me about various topics to grow my own business.

So, being that you’re so involved with the members on a personal level, how would you describe the current business climate in the Hudson Valley?

[Guest: Kathy Prizzia] (1:48 – 2:42)
I think the current business climate in the Hudson Valley is doing very well. We’re in July, which is the busy season and peak busy time for the Hudson Valley. The summer and fall are particularly good.

We’re a very large tourism driven area and the weather’s been fantastic. It’s proven well for some major events in the area, the major events that are coming up and our apple picking and picking season and our leaf peeping season should also be very positive. I base this also on, I look at Dutchess County and town of Ulster in Kingston and Ulster County and there’s a lot of growth.

There’s a lot of building. You see large projects moving forward in health care and car dealerships and that tells me that, you know, people are out there spending money and that’s a good thing.

[Host: Caylena Cahill] (2:43 – 3:07)
Awesome. So, I don’t know about you but I have noticed a particular mentality among certain struggling businesses in the area, a mentality of being small and not needing to do marketing or, you know, something to that effect or not even being able to afford to do marketing, things like that, or do professional photography like what I do. What would you say to those businesses?

[Guest: Kathy Prizzia] (3:08 – 3:52)
I think marketing is as important to a business as making a budget for your payroll. You’re promoting your business and what you spend on promoting your business should come back in return, you know, at least five times that. Marketing should be in your budget every year.

I think there should be a marketing plan for different strategies, whether your marketing includes radio advertising, print advertising, digital advertising, mailings, how you gather that information, and I think that there are at least four or five different angles that you attack your marketing from. It’s all of your customer base is not one dimension and I think that your marketing needs to be in many different platforms as well.

[Host: Caylena Cahill] (3:54 – 4:22)
And I also find a lot of local businesses tend to misunderstand the terms marketing, branding, and advertising and either conflate them or simply have a negative view towards them. They think, oh, I want to grow organically, or that maybe they’ve tried one type of marketing tactic and didn’t necessarily see the results that they wanted. Have you noticed that as well?

And if so, what would you say to businesses that say they’ve tried it and it doesn’t work?

[Guest: Kathy Prizzia] (4:23 – 5:47)
Well, I think what’s equally as important of marketing is finding out how people learn about you. What, how you have to have in place, how to learn how your marketing is working. And that’s really telling you, you know, you know, how you’re getting the word out there, how effective that word is for you and where you want to invest more of your marketing dollars.

Again, when you’re creating the budget, are people finding you via Google searching? Are they finding you by word of mouth? If they’re finding you by word of mouth, then you create a stronger customer appreciation base and you do like a friends and family discount or that sort of thing where someone gets a reward for being able to promote your business.

And then that person that they promote to gets a discount for coming in. There’s a lot of really great avenues to do this that doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. And I think depending on what the business is, there’s, there’s a lot of really great opportunities.

Again, there’s, there’s many different avenues to do that. Whether you’re marketing via social media, which a Facebook ad can cost as little as $5, or you can spend more on it. Or if you’re looking at a billboard, you know, there’s different price points.

And I think that there’s different opportunities that people can take and it doesn’t have to cost a lot, but you really want to know how people are learning about you and strengthen that. And then, you know, where you can invest more money.

[Host: Caylena Cahill] (5:48 – 6:03)
And if you have very limited resources and you’re still kind of starting out, what would you recommend for tools to be able to market on the cheap or find out how people are learning about you?

[Guest: Kathy Prizzia] (6:04 – 8:19)
I think it’s very simple as, you know, market from within your business. There should be proper signage on your business, the outside of your business. There should be proper, there could be a note at the cash register.

How did you hear about us? You can have a little drop in card where people can fill out a card and fill out their name, address, phone number, email address. Then you’re creating your database for sending out, say a digital email and that newsletter that you could send out, whether it’s once a week or once a month, you’re making contacts with people.

You can send them discounts, you can send them coupons, sales material, programs such as Constant Contact. I believe that’s free still. You can use that.

There’s also creating events on Facebook. I think that they’re very effective. A lot of people spend a lot of time on social media.

You could set it up that you can post your events on Facebook, connect it to Twitter, have your LinkedIn all make connections, do across the board a social media connection. These things are free. They’re very valuable.

People are very connected to their phones. They want to constantly be stimulated. I think they’re very easy.

A very organic way is really from your employees. I think that your employees need to be able to talk up not just what’s in the store, what’s in your business at the time or whatever program you’re promoting, but then be able to say, find us again because we’re working on this, and we’ve got this coming up, or our chef is working on this menu, or we’ve got this sale coming up, or come check out this new material that’s coming in. I think those are really great ways to inspire people more.

It might not occur to them to put in a new walkway or try something else for dinner. Then at the same time, take some photograph work that you’ve already done, whatever that may be, and pictures sell. Pictures sell tremendously.

I think if you’re able to share those pictures on social media, in a newsletter, and show what the finished work is because that’s what really gets people’s attention. It’s not even so much words, but what those photographs are. Photograph work that you’ve done and use that to promote.

[Host: Caylena Cahill] (8:20 – 8:31)
Can you talk a little bit more about how to understand if your marketing is working other than, say, more sales? What are other things that you can use to judge whether your marketing is working?

[Guest: Kathy Prizzia] (8:32 – 9:20)
I think it’s as simple really as having your staff trained properly. Absolutely. It could be when you answer the phone and someone’s calling you to make a reservation, say, this is great.

How did you hear about us? Really get some feedback that way. I also think that you can put a little card.

Again, if people are filling out to win a gift certificate or some discount, you’re gathering that marketing material and creating your database, but you can ask them also, where did you hear about us? There could be a little check mark at the bottom, whether it was a Google search or whether they heard about it from a friend or they just happened upon you. If they’re a tourist or in the area or maybe they saw your ad in a publication or even heard about you through the Chamber of Commerce.

[Host: Caylena Cahill] (9:22 – 9:35)
Can you talk a little bit about the importance of quality in terms of having a quality-looking website or having quality-looking photography or quality of graphic design, those types of things?

[Guest: Kathy Prizzia] (9:36 – 10:20)
Tremendously huge. I think that, as I said earlier, photographs sell. Photographs are amazing.

They look fantastic. Websites, that is your face. Until people step in your store, in your location, in your business, your website, your Facebook page, your photographs, that is a sample of your work.

Whatever your work is, that’s a sample of your work and it needs to look excellent. It needs to look amazing. It needs to be perfect, absolutely perfect.

Then from there, you entice them to try your restaurant or call you about landscaping. That’s got to be your best face. You’ve got to put that out first.

There’s a lot of competition out there and I think that’s critical.

[Host: Caylena Cahill] (10:21 – 10:45)
When I’m talking to people, and as people listening to this may or may not realize, I’m a photographer. When I’m talking to potential clients or new startups, a big thing I hear is, oh well, we’re so new and we don’t have the budget for that and that kind of thing. How do you decide when is the right time to say hire a designer or hire a photographer to promote you?

[Guest: Kathy Prizzia] (10:47 – 11:28)
That’s a tricky question, tricky answer. I think that all different businesses have different budgets. I think that it needs to be more important even than your own payroll in the very beginning.

I say that simply because when you’re marketing yourself properly, you’re guaranteeing your payroll in three months and in six months. So to sacrifice one or two paychecks for yourself in the beginning to be able to invest in your business, and this is investing in your business because you’re going to spend some money on some really quality photographs that you’re going to be able to use for the next couple of years. That to me is really, it’s investing.

It’s investing in putting your best face out there. Absolutely, it’s important.

[Host: Caylena Cahill] (11:29 – 11:43)
I want to talk a little bit more about your experience specifically. So can you tell me about how your understanding of the word and the concept of marketing has evolved throughout your career and the role it played in your successes or failures in various roles?

[Guest: Kathy Prizzia] (11:45 – 14:28)
The places that I’ve worked have had different marketing strategies in place. I really started my career as general manager at P&G’s and I was there for a very long time. I was there for 15 years and Michael Beck, the owner, is really very smart.

He’s very community-minded. Born and raised here, raised his family here, and I think he’s just got such a great philosophy. You put yourself out there donating gift certificates to local organizations who then might use them for raffles and such.

That’s bringing people in. It’s getting them to use that gift certificate, feel that they’re able to treat themselves. They might spend a little bit more on something or spend a little time and that’s fantastic.

You want them to experience your business. So I think that in a sense, marketing, absolutely, donating gift certificates should be part of your marketing. P&G’s has been around since 1947, so they did not necessarily have the same marketing approach that I had to apply when I started 36 Maine.

36 Maine, I started from scratch. So our marketing there was totally different. We did marketing in Hudson Valley Magazine, food publications, really tried to put ourselves out there.

We used a lot of social media. This was 2008 when Facebook was really just starting. MySpace was out there.

MySpace was starting to become defunct and Facebook was up and running. And you learned as you were doing it that you could really take a picture of your specials from that night that your chef created and drink specials and put it out there. And you had people so looking to be inspired and entertained.

And that’s really when the food movement was taking off also and food shows were really starting to get popular and people weren’t just going out to eat anymore, they were going out to be entertained. The food itself and the dining experience was the entertainment. They were definitely looking to be wowed because they could just stay home and try a new recipe and probably save some money.

So going out really needed to be a fantastic experience on many levels. So marketing was very different and social media and technology was changing a lot then. So I think that at that time it was really staying flexible.

And things changed as we were open. 36 Maine was open for four years and we had started with a website and then it was really about keeping the Facebook page really interesting and ever-changing. Interesting, that’s really the best word I can put for that.

[Host: Caylena Cahill] (14:29 – 15:07)
So I know 36 Maine was obviously on Main Street and for anybody that has never been to New Paltz, Main Street is where it’s at. There’s pretty much not anything else going on on most other streets except Main Street. So if you’re on Main Street you can walk by and see what’s there.

So where would you say most of your customers from 36 Maine actually found you? Were they mostly college students or people that walked by or people that found you online or through your ads? What would you say was the most successful way that you found customers there?

[Guest: Kathy Prizzia] (15:07 – 16:09)
Well the beauty of New Paltz is that we are located, there’s a college located in our town and we are definitely a very large tourist destination and that is critical in bringing a new dollar to our community because we really need that, it’s critical for us. The majority of our customers, definitely tourists in tourist season, but at the same time we were very much a very comfortable local neighborhood restaurant and I really liked that. I liked that people would walk there in the winter or come and you know enjoy an appetizer or a beverage and it felt very at home there.

It was not pretentious at all, it was warm and welcoming and I think that that really made us feel very accessible, excuse me, accessible and I appreciated that. A lot of business, definitely locals and even people from Dutchess County would come over and check us out. It was lots of fun.

[Host: Caylena Cahill] (16:11 – 16:26)
So I know that we all crave success and it’s often said that you learn more from failure, so what would you be able to share as a failure that you’ve had while you’re running your restaurant, what you learned and how you were able to bounce back?

[Guest: Kathy Prizzia] (16:28 – 18:17)
Well you know I think that there’s learning opportunities every day and there’s certainly trial and error and again I’ll go back to technology, how much that has changed since 2008. You know I think that we always have to keep our eyes and ourselves open to opportunities to learn and try new things and things do work and sometimes things don’t work. You know one of the things that was a plus of 36 Maine is that we were a very creative restaurant and we changed our menu seasonally.

So we generally did four menus a year and we really prided ourselves on being you know individualized in that way and creative again is really the key word here but then at the same time we would have people come in and not stay because we didn’t have a really like approachable chicken dish on the menu, something that really spoke to someone’s comfort level or if someone wasn’t a foodie per se that wasn’t really a place for them to eat, they would kind of struggle.

Towards the end of the 36 Maine’s run we had a burger on the menu and you know it was high-end burger, really fantastic ground beef, hand-cut fries, the whole nine and that ended up really being like the go-to approachable safe food item for some people and you know again at a time where you know food was booming I think that there are people out there who are going to go out to dinner and really want something that’s comfortable and easy and reliable and we weren’t that.

So what was our strength was also a weakness at the same time so it’s interesting.

[Host: Caylena Cahill] (18:17 – 18:25)
That is interesting, yeah. I mean that kind of speaks to the fact that not every business is for every person.

[Guest: Kathy Prizzia] (18:25 – 19:52)
No, not every business is for every person, not everyone, not every individual and customer base has the same needs and not everyone offers the same product so I think what does do well for some might not do well for others and you know the beauty of that is there’s different price points and there’s different opportunities and you can’t be everything to everyone. I think the key, the true key to success is to stay flexible because you’re not just being focused on whatever that one craft is, your focus is on being successful. So I think really listening to your customer base or listening to if a price point might be too high or something’s not selling, is it the product, is it the price, why might that not work and I think you know throughout 36 Means tenure there were times we had a $5 bar menu so that I could get people to come in and spend even $5 on you know a little appetizer where $8 and $10 might not get them in regularly but if they came in and had two $5 appetizers that would cover what I needed to cover to you know still cover our overhead, our payroll, our rent, all the expenses of running a business. So you know I think the real importance here is you’re committed to being successful which you never want to lose sight on that and you stay flexible in order to do that.

[Host: Caylena Cahill] (19:53 – 20:16)
And I think it’s also important to remember that because not every business is for every person it’s sort of it’s very important to like you said listen to your customer base and really know who your customers are so that that way you can actually serve them even better and kind of not worry about the people that are never going to be interested and really cater to the people that are interested.

[Guest: Kathy Prizzia] (20:16 – 21:44)
Yeah when we I remember you know we first opened our doors I watched people come in and sit down at the bar and I was really reading their body language and I know up to that point I was spending so much time over the wine list and making sure this was from California and this was old world and this was new world and different price points and really making sure it was creative and fun and then it occurred to me I would watch people come in and sit down and not even look at a wine list and say I’ll have a glass of Chardonnay.

So that glass of Chardonnay or I’ll have a glass of Cabernet and it was like okay so some people really they’re not going to know what brand Chardonnay or Cabernet they’re drinking but they’re going to remember how much they spent on that glass of wine and their perception is oh was that eight or ten dollar glass wine too much and what that really should be. So I definitely really I learned a lot from our customers I would watch them and really see you know what it is that they were doing and you know study the check and what what some feedback was on something that might be too expensive or not expensive enough and you want people to return and have a good experience so sometimes it was more about the atmosphere it was more you know there were so many other components to it so when you’re looking at I’ll say restaurant because that’s what I’ve had the majority of my experience and it’s not just about the lamb chop on the plate and it’s not just about the Cabernet it’s about the lighting it’s about the sound it’s about you know the whole experience and people being comfortable in a space and wanting to return.

[Host: Caylena Cahill] (21:45 – 23:13)
Right and that’s really important and I think a lot of you know chef turned restaurant owners forget that because they’re coming at it from being a chef and being obsessed with the food and I mean it’s not bad it’s totally fine it’s like me being obsessed with photography and coming at marketing from a photography approach and it’s just one of those things where you got to kind of rein it back in a little bit and remember that there’s other aspects to creating a successful business and it’s not just about having the best product of whatever it is that you’re actually producing but remembering that there’s other aspects to what you’re producing so like with the restaurant it’s not just the food it’s the whole thing it’s the sound the lighting the are the chairs comfortable like what does the table look like is it clean are the people nice you know when for me in photography it’s not just how the pictures look but it’s that whole experience of what’s it like to work with me and what’s it like to you know go through that creative process and are you completely leaving it up to me to decide whatever I want about your pictures or how involved are you in that creative process kind of thing so it’s not just about what the pictures look like at the end but it’s also about how they are made and how you’re going to use them and things like that and in the restaurant

[Guest: Kathy Prizzia] (23:13 – 24:03)
it’s not just about the food it’s about everything yeah as even as the you know as a chamber executive I get business owners to not just look at what their craft is and you know what that proposal is on a piece of paper but step outside and look at what’s your curb appeal you know we you’re talking about photography and photography is creating virtual curb appeal and I think that’s hugely important you step outside and it’s your job to make sure you have a very visible sign that’s easy to read so people can find you and the outside of your business needs to be clean and well maintained and it’s importantly it’s important to be neighborly it’s important to sweep the sidewalk and you know sweeping the sidewalk I think means a whole lot of things to how you really care the front and back of your house it’s just as important yeah I mean how many times have

[Host: Caylena Cahill] (24:03 – 24:21)
you gone to a restaurant and you use the restroom and it’s a disaster in there and that speaks volumes yeah it speaks volumes yeah and and but how different is that experience when you go to a restaurant and you’re not expecting the bathroom to be nice but the bathroom is outstanding

[Guest: Kathy Prizzia] (24:22 – 25:48)
my husband and I actually rate bathrooms and in some sense he’ll come back or I’ll come back be like oh my god you got to check that out they’ve got the coolest sink or you should see the lighting or this or that they had the best hand towels yeah little things and it shows the attention to detail absolutely it speaks to the experience for sure yes so what were the bathrooms like at 36 million what were they so funny okay so the men’s room was different than the women’s room and the women’s room definitely was more girly and a little bit shinier and it had just more feminine fixtures and it had you know a really nice looked like a small piece of luggage a little basket that always had all the lotions and you know feminine needs and everything in there and it was beautiful and really beautiful art in the men’s in the women’s room than the men’s room there certainly more clean lines darker paint there was also a brick wall in the men’s room which lends to the masculinity and we painted that brick wall and just a totally different vibe it doesn’t didn’t have all the little niceties that the ladies room did but really really beautiful art in the men’s room I want to say it was like the picture of a back of a woman with a low-cut dress so it’s a little bit sexy but really beautiful it’s appropriate for a wine bar yeah right I think

[Host: Caylena Cahill] (25:48 – 26:26)
I thought so absolutely no I love it when you go to a restaurant or you know some kind of establishment and in the restroom there’s like a basket of lotion or like various supplies that a woman might need but not carry on her you might want to feel catered to really nice yeah it’s a nice detail it’s been a lot of places don’t think of and it’s great all right so I know that you were the GM for P&G’s for a really long time and then you owned your own restaurant for about four years so what was the biggest shift that you had to go through between being a GM and employee

[Guest: Kathy Prizzia] (26:26 – 30:05)
and being an owner a proprietor of an establishment oh that’s a big question with a lot of different components the answer I would say the the financial stress of owning your own business is tremendous you are not just carrying your own financial stress but 36 main employed I want to say 16 individuals and families and it’s very important and it’s very personal when you are employing people and they are supporting their family on that so there was definitely a tremendous amount of stress on that that I would say is probably the number one stress of it of carrying the financial stress like I said you know P&G’s had been in business since 1947 and I worked at P&G’s from 93 to 08 so I mean that had been around for 50 plus years at that point so it really its customer base was established and you know we weren’t looking at marketing so much there just different ways to be creative and keep the food interesting because we people eat there several times a week whereas 36 main we were really creating who we were and as much as I had this vision in my head it also evolved and that was really really exciting to see really interesting to see how the space came alive and how everyone enjoyed it can you elaborate on that a little bit on that evolution well when you start with something you start with this concept in your head of literally the color of the paint on the walls and how you know how I like to go out to to eat I was 36 when I started 36 main how much money do I have to spend what do I think is a value you know whenever you’re spending money dining out or being entertained there’s got to value in doing that and what that price point is and I think that that changes for people you know that that varies and we tried to hit as many of those points as possible then you know so you’re creating this literally from scratch of like I said paint color on and you’ve got you know I really enjoy picking out the dishware and the flatware and the stemware and I always enjoy really quality stemware when enjoying wine and enough weight in a knife or a fork and the weight the feel of something in your hand I think speaks to the quality of that and that also lends the quality of the meal so the details were there of you know white plates white napkins because the the center point the focus was the food on the plate it wasn’t it wasn’t other components on the table I actually didn’t want those as distractions but then having it just evolve of people use the space and once the space actually got occupied then you realize well it’s kind of loud in here so we battled a little bit with sound and trying to get some cushion in sound in there sound absorption such we originally started with our couches and this really comfortable lounge area in the back of the restaurant and then we eventually moved it up by the bar because we saw that as an extension to the bar and we left the tables in the back so people actually like the cozier table area but then we moved the couches up front and it was an extension for the bar and people had a place to sit and enjoy their drink while they waited for a table so there were some ideas and then again how the space was used it again staying flexible

[Host: Caylena Cahill] (30:05 – 30:36)
and just have it evolve and all good stuff okay so now let’s move on a little bit from from that I know that you have been involved with the Taste of New Paltz for quite some time now on basically all sides that you can be involved on and I know you I’ve heard you say it’s more than just a food event it’s a marketing event that’s true that’s true that is a direct quote

[Guest: Kathy Prizzia] (30:37 – 32:59)
it’s a direct quote and it’s true you know the Taste of New Paltz was started in 1990 and in 1990 there were not food events the way there are today today there’s many food events you know your calendar is flooded with food event opportunities every weekend and how you want to go and what are beneficial to all of them they’re all fun and they’re doing a great job promoting this isn’t just a food event because you’re not just going and having a meal listening to music and sipping a craft beer or tasting wine and going home this is about experiencing something new we offer Taste of Food not necessarily plates of food the Taste of Food are for two and three dollars each and those tastes are then for you to try a restaurant that you would never try or it’s a great opportunity for the restaurant owner to come out and bring their marketing material bring copies of the menus bring copies of their business cards take their restaurant and take a sample of that restaurant set up shop for a day at the county fairgrounds and show what they can do and it gives all of the attendees an opportunity to experience that restaurant and look at their menu and say oh this looks great and taste food you’re taking a bite you’re enjoying it and you’re reading the menu saying this is great I’m going to come back and you keep a copy that menu with you you go home you tack it up on your fridge and you make plans to gather friends and go there for dinner again and check it out that’s what it’s about but it’s not just food there’s also the business expo so if you are some people are moving to the area there’s realtors there there’s lawn guys there tree trimmers bath fitter there’s always life insurance and there’s there’s always opportunities there for you to meet someone even solar companies if you’re a local homeowner and you’re looking for some more information you can go around you get a couple minutes of face time you get to shake a hand and and meet the owner and take some marketing material and again make contacts it’s I think it’s a great way to meet people as community and anyone who’s outside the community who wants to learn more about the Hudson Valley and spend time here either for a day trip or for a weekend or come here on vacation I think it hits all those points it’s a

[Host: Caylena Cahill] (32:59 – 33:12)
great day so can you tell me a little bit about your experience on the vendor side of the Taste of New Paltz you know how many times did you do it as a vendor and what was the biggest challenge that

[Guest: Kathy Prizzia] (33:12 – 35:07)
you faced in doing it kinds of things uh as a vendor well I ran the the um the P&G’s booth many times as the Taste and then 36 Main did it also and when I was running it for the business I was also chairing the restaurant portion of the Taste of New Paltz so I always got both sides of the perspective of it as a vendor as a restaurant vendor you know there’s some fees that are associated with it and those fees are designed to cover renting the fairgrounds marketing the event renting the tents and tables and linens and everything for your space your your space specifically as well as the board of health permit that comes with it so there’s a lot of costs in putting the event on and being a vendor covers those costs and being able to have some money to have a nice advertising budget to promote this event and bring people to the area for the day we promote this event to five different states so I see how that covers it a good portion of it as a vendor you’re going to have a potential new business at the event preparing to be to serve food at the Taste of New Paltz requires being very organized you have to prepare everything on site you’re not just reheating food so like with P&G’s we would bring out our fryer and do chicken wings and we would bring out a gas grill and a big pot and we would make clam chowder and a big grill and grill ribs so there’s a lot of components to staffing you actually have to have your cooks with you and then front of the house staff to smile and hand out your menu and pass out samples and talk up your business so there’s a there’s you’re still creating the front of the house and back of the house as a restaurant there yeah and that speaks

[Host: Caylena Cahill] (35:07 – 35:30)
back to what you were saying about making sure that your staff is trained properly I mean because especially at like events like the Taste I know it’s in September but I’ve gone a few times and it’s really hot yes and and you need to think about like okay are my front of house people still going to be friendly after like three hours in the heat well that that’s definitely a piece

[Guest: Kathy Prizzia] (35:30 – 38:00)
of it the other piece of it is and you know we said this earlier in the podcast of making sure that your marketing is doing its job and I think an important piece of the Taste of New Paltz and participating with the Taste of New Paltz is how do you know if you actually made connections with people there how do you know if those people actually came back to your business again that’s how you know if it’s working so I always encourage people create a coupon create some kind of handout even if you stamp something on the back of a business card where people can come back again and as you know check out your establishment enjoy dinner you know followed up on a lead whether it be about solar farms or any kind of alternative electricity sources I think that’s the biggest return you want to do an ROI return on investment for participating in the Taste of New Paltz how much new business did you get out of it that’s the bottom line and you have to have those components in place before the Taste of New Paltz takes place how many people are going to come back and find you again and how are you going to keep track of that through again proper training with your employees and that information getting back to the owner getting back to literally dollars and cents of whether or not you covered your fees to participate in the Taste of New Paltz and how much new business did you get out of it and would you do another event like it these are all things that you really need to know this is where it really comes down to it’s not just a food event for the day it’s not about one day’s sales this is about creating new business for the next you know six months or years to come that’s that’s the important piece of it again whether it’s a business card phone call follow-up if you’re collecting email addresses and information and you follow up again follow up with a personal email or a phone call say it was so nice to meet you I would love to be able to sit down with you or you’ve got those coupons out there if it’s a restaurant and then come back your wait staff that needs to be trained receiving those coupons oh you came and enjoyed us again there should be a second welcome there really it’s something really making a connection with that new customer because you want them to come again and again and again oh it’s so great that you checked us out so glad you came did you enjoy this did you enjoy that really talk up the the establishment and make sure that card gets back to the owner so the owner knows or a staple it to the check the owner knows how much they came back and spent how much new how many new dollars are in your business yeah and I actually I have a post

[Host: Caylena Cahill] (38:00 – 39:23)
or two on my on my blog about things like this and one of them specifically was about a restaurant week event it’s not quite the same as the taste of New Paltz it’s more like the whole region has you know a special price for a prefix menu and I’m sure you’re probably familiar with it in the Hudson Valley we have one Hudson Valley restaurant week they have them all over the country basically yeah and I have a post in there about how to be more successful through doing these events and some of the things that you just said are definitely echoed in there you know having a plan going into it knowing what your goals are for doing it if it’s to get more business in the future versus just getting more business right now and then the importance of preparation and then follow up and and making making those new customers feel loyal basically yes and following up with that and so specifically that could mean you know at the event you say you collect their email addresses and give them you send them a special promotion to just the taste of New Paltz people you know afterwards within like a month or something you know hey thanks for visiting us at the taste of New Paltz and come enjoy you know a free cocktail or whatever you know something to that effect to get them to come back and and remember the great time and the great things that they did at the

[Guest: Kathy Prizzia] (39:23 – 39:52)
taste of New Paltz or whatever that event was that they absolutely and you know I think that I think particularly in this community and in this area I think that people want to spend money at a business with the owner that they really like and they have a connection with and it and is genuinely a good person and I think that really I think part of that is making people feel comfortable making people feel welcome and really feel like they’re part of an establishment or

[Host: Caylena Cahill] (39:52 – 40:05)
they’re more likely to return absolutely for sure what’s a big mistake that you see businesses make when they participate in taste of New Paltz or other events like this and what can they do to

[Guest: Kathy Prizzia] (40:05 – 41:08)
fix it I think that not properly prepared and I think that it’s important to you know make yourself look the best it possibly can and I think that there are you know nice ways to do that whether you’ve got a logo tablecloth or you’ve got the proper marketing material you know some people might say well it costs so much money to print this or print that but it’s worth it because that’s what people are taking with them and that’s what they’re going to hand to another person oh I checked this out here you go that’s got to look that’s going to make you look your best hands down and then at the same time you gather their information for you to contact people you can’t rely on people picking up your marketing material and then contacting you you need to either have some kind of giveaway at your table and collect email addresses and addresses and be able to reach out to them again make those connections show what your sale is show what you’re capable of show the best side of your business you have to be able to reach them again also yeah and then

[Host: Caylena Cahill] (41:08 – 41:59)
another thing that I see a lot of there’s there’s some local places that do this well and there’s some that don’t do it so well but that’s having a loyalty program and you know I know for example there’s a few coffee shops that I go to regularly and they have a one of them does have a loyalty program and one of them doesn’t and it’s so simple but it’s so nice you know I would always rather go to the one that has it than not to the then to the other one that doesn’t have it because I’m working towards something yeah you know on that car you know on the the 11th drink is free you know it’s so easy and a coffee drink you know I mean it costs a coffee shop nothing practically to to have one drink you know um because it’s coffee and you brew a pot or you know maybe it’s espresso but you know it’s like a such a small cost like what’s the cost of a cup

[Guest: Kathy Prizzia] (41:59 – 42:15)
of coffee to a coffee shop not that much but that other one the feel good that comes along with getting something for free and you’re treating yourself and there you feel like you’re being taken good care of by that business right absolutely and and so that other coffee shop

[Host: Caylena Cahill] (42:15 – 42:46)
that doesn’t have it they I keep bringing it up every time I go in I’m like oh so do you have a loyalty card yet do you have a loyalty card and they’re like oh we’re thinking about it or oh we’re working on it but it’s like I still go to it because that’s the coffee shop I like in that town but it’s very like oh but why don’t you it’s so simple and it’s a great way for to give people that are regulars that reward and encourage people who are not regulars to become regulars

[Guest: Kathy Prizzia] (42:46 – 42:58)
well it’s that is their way of saying thank you and we always want to be appreciated we all always want to be appreciated and we want to know that our business is valued and that’s the way that

[Host: Caylena Cahill] (42:58 – 43:20)
that’s conveyed right and so that’s to to bring it back to to taste and to food events and things like that I mean a great way is if you whether you have a loyalty program or not yet start one and then let the business that is done on the taste of New Paltz day be part of that loyalty

[Guest: Kathy Prizzia] (43:20 – 44:34)
program yeah and it doesn’t have to be something free it could be really a substantial percentage off that you might not normally offer maybe when you normally run coupons if your retail location it’s normally 10% off but after someone has hit so many you know x amount of dollars then you really give them a nice like 25% off you get them to continue to come into your store and see what you have and they’re able to earmark oh I’m gonna save up and I’m gonna I’ll wait and I’ll get this dress and you might actually end up spending more when you get that 25% off or or something you know it’s proven if you look at Stewart’s shops they are a great customer based company they’re based right here out of New York State they’re actually based out of the Saratoga area but they have that loyalty card for buying gallons of milk and it’s proven over and over again when people go in and they get their gallon of milk they’re not just getting milk they’re getting gas they’re getting snacks they’re getting whatever else they need they’re getting ice cream this is true but and it’s proven over and over again they’re stopping for milk but they’re spending more money on other things as well and that’s it’s very smart yeah and it doesn’t have

[Host: Caylena Cahill] (44:34 – 45:18)
to be hard I mean and I know that I always look to like big fortune 500 companies for inspiration because I know that if they’re doing it it works and so figuring out a way to apply those bigger concepts from the bigger companies that have huge budgets to a smaller company that doesn’t necessarily have the budget but wants to be able to take advantage of that tactic or that strategy is is important and I think a lot of local businesses they they either fail to see that or some of them I mean are obviously doing well and some of them are more like held back by by a mentality of being small

[Guest: Kathy Prizzia] (45:20 – 46:04)
interesting yeah yeah I think that you know I think people are are looking for dynamic new ways to grow their business if they’re really looking up and looking out and I think you know just always look at opportunities for taking good care of your staff I think really a business that proves to do well is one that’s cultivating its employees and listen to them because your employees are the customer base and they they know what customers like and don’t like and they know what’s selling and not selling and what that feedback is and and I think that companies that do well typically show that they really listen to their employees and what that feedback is

[Host: Caylena Cahill] (46:05 – 46:34)
and so I’m sure that there are some people listening to this that may not have employees yet what would you say to those businesses that might be a one-person business that don’t necessarily have employees yet or are looking to start hiring or you know maybe they’re you know a freelancer or something to that effect and and they won’t actually have employees ever because they just want to be a freelancer what would you say to them about that well I think that anytime

[Guest: Kathy Prizzia] (46:34 – 48:34)
you provide a service or a product I think that there should be some some avenue for feedback when you when you do that you want to make sure that the customer is satisfied with the jobs that they are either going to use your services again or going to recommend you again we talk about how you’re growing your business and and from a very basic standpoint of recommendation and people bragging about oh I just got this done I just got new kitchen cabinets and look at them aren’t they beautiful and this company did that and I highly recommend it and you want that customer satisfaction not just with them telling other people but again this day and age of the internet you know if you’re not providing service that’s expected you are going to get some bad reviews whether it be on social media and people saying oh I just had this experience getting my oil changed and I’ll never go back well that’s not just going to one to five years that’s now going to hundreds of thousands of people listening or seeing that if it’s shared if it’s commented on so I think it’s really important that whenever you’re putting whatever that product is or whatever that service is out there you want to make sure that you’re doing that really well and that customer is more than satisfied because it will spread like wildfire if they’re not and you’re not going to grow your business that way you want to grow your business you want some feedback how could I have done that better did I meet your your satisfaction and follow up in a month how’s it going is there anything I could help you with is there anything you need that might also be an opportunity to follow up with a sales pitch of some sort well you you know keep in mind we can always upgrade this or do this and and you know I think it’s always important if you’re doing a first-time job for someone keep it really affordable so that they can you know maybe have some financing to do expand on that or do another project again so you know again really having open lines of communication with the customer is really important and making sure that they leave happy.

[Host: Caylena Cahill] (48:36 – 49:09)
So I think we’ve had some really great ideas in this conversation and I just wanted to bring it back to Taste of New Pulse for just a moment so we really stress the importance of preparation and training properly and having your marketing materials all ready to go and things like that do you have any you know tips or or any workshops or anything like that that you can point people to to help them get prepared for going to this type of event oh absolutely

[Guest: Kathy Prizzia] (49:10 – 50:46)
the chamber itself we always hold a Taste of New Pulse preparation workshop if you have any questions you can always call me or email me I’m here I want you to have a successful event I will do everything I can to help you have a successful event.

Our speaker at our September luncheon is Ryan Scott from Pro Printers which is located up in Hudson. Ryan’s just incredibly smart and he really has great ideas of helping people prepare and it’s not just print materials from all different angles and that’s all he’s working on really is helping people build a successful platform and what they need to do so you know now is when you should be looking at the event now it’s you know the end of July do you have all your graphics in place do you have the successful photographs from last year and use those photographs to create your marketing material share it on Facebook come find us come see us make sure you’re connected with the event web page also Taste of New Pulse Facebook page as well as tasteofnewpulse.com you should be sharing that everywhere because we’re sending that out to five different states you want to open your business to five different states that’s huge and then at the same time the day of the event make sure you take lots of pictures of your booth space and yourself and you can tweet it and share it and Facebook it and social media all over the place and you’re creating nice photographs for you to use again to market yourself at another event you want those really great photographs of yourself and your fantastically logoed shirt or apron or area it’s really important don’t forget the food porn don’t

[Host: Caylena Cahill] (50:46 – 51:04)
forget the food porn that’s right that’s great yeah excellent all right so that’s that was really great and helpful and I hope that everybody listening has gotten as much out of this as I have and Kathy do you have any final thoughts that you’d like to leave our audience with

[Guest: Kathy Prizzia] (51:05 – 52:13)
I think that we pretty much covered it um you know join us at the Taste of New Pulse this year if you’d like to be a vendor it’s not too late to sign up the Taste of New Pulse is Sunday September 18th it’s from 11 to 5 we have a really great lineup of musicians bands magicians petting zoo pony rides all kinds of great vendors and it’s going to be a great day it’s at the Ulster County Fairgrounds we did drop the admission price this year it is five dollars at the door to get in 12 and under free so it’s a great kids event we definitely encourage families to come and this year we’ll be offering craft beer ciders local wineries and again the rare beer experience so it should be a great day awesome and how can people get in touch with you they can call me here at the chamber 845-255-0243 or check us out newpulsechamber.org we just got a beautiful brand new website it’s really showing the best side of our business there’s taste applications on there and you can always email me through there awesome sounds great thanks so much thank you thanks for having me

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