West Valley Taphouse

The Taphouse industry has been taking the beer community by storm.  Each one provides its own culture and vibe.  The owner of West Valley Taphouse in Dallas is no exception.  His boldness is evident in his taglines.  “No crap on tap.”  And, “Life is too short to drink lousy beer.”  West Valley Taphouse is a favorite stop for many locals and tourists who enjoy delicious beverages and featured locally sourced foods.

West Valley Taphouse is Dallas’ premier food and beverage stop. Their family-friendly menu features appetizers, sandwiches and entrees made with only the best locally sourced ingredients. Their 65 taps feature the best craft beer, cider, local wines, kombucha, craft soda and more. They also feature Bike Friendly Business Amenities.

Here’s what their visitors have to say:

Sam and his staff are excellent to visit with, and the WVT ALWAYS has the BEST brews, wines and ciders on tap.”

“Passing through Dallas stopped in found a very pleasant surprise had a very good French Dip and special of the day!!”

“Awesome craft brew selection, local wines on tap, really good menu.

The Genius of Asking ‘What If?’ Questions

Again we feature a guest writer.  John Hittler, Father of 7, husband, difference maker, transformational business coach, generous, bold. Author of The Motivation Trap (Oct, 2018)  Featured writer for forbes.com

“Ever wonder how leaders change the world? It’s simple, really. They make declarations that do just that. They can sound something like this:

  • “I’m going to get into the best shape of my life this year!”
  • “Our team is building our second product, and it will be twice as profitable as the first.”
  • “We’re going to take the White House and change the course of history!”

Declarations can be pretty dramatic, or they can be simple and straightforward. But one thing is certain: Without them, nothing changes. We simply stick with the current paradigm or the old declaration.

Where, then, do declarations come from? The most effective place is a “what if?” question.

Why Start Things With A Question?

That’s a great question, really.

Questions literally open up (and close) pathways in your brain. Like an itch, questions need to be scratched. When a great question is posed, whether in a team meeting or at a family dinner, our brains race to answer them (or in the case of teenagers, avoid them like the plague).

Consider the relative power of questions that we hear often:

  • “When will you be home from the movies?”
  • “Where are we going on vacation?”
  • “How do we get this project moving forward again?”

With questions such as these, our brain knows pretty much what to do since there are similar precedents and experiences we have from the past. Our brain uses these precedents to find or quickly create an acceptable answer.

So why, then, is a “what if?” question so much different? And why do leaders and visionaries use “what if” questions so fluidly?

The Power Of A “What If?”

With a normal question, your brain quickly and transparently uses previous information, data or situational experiences to concoct an acceptable answer.

With a “what if?” question, your brain usually holds no previous precedent, paradigm or example to rely upon for an acceptable answer, so the answer heads to a different area of the brain. When this happens, we often say out loud, “Great question!”

“What if?” questions force us to imagine or create, often calling forth strong emotions. Consider the structure and possibilities of the following two questions:

  • “Where are we going on vacation this year?”
  • “What if we enjoyed our best vacation ever this year?”

Both deal with the quality and details associated with an annual ritual for many families, a great break designed for fun, relaxation and togetherness.

With the first structure, “Where are we going on vacation this year?” notice how your mind immediately conjures up options that are most likely known entities: perhaps a traditional family meeting spot or a favorite “comfort” vacation like a lake house or cottage.

With the second structure, “What if we enjoyed our best vacation ever this year?” you notice that the structure of the question produces a new mandate: “best ever!” That standard or mandate could certainly be achieved by the structure of the first question, however, it is not required. Hence, the power and the subtle genius of “what if?”!

When SpaceX was founded, which question do you suspect Elon Musk asked: “How do we create private space travel for individuals?” or “What if we create a private space travel company for individuals?”

The second question leads much more easily to a beautiful, powerful act, namely a declaration of a previously impossible (or improbable) outcome.

How To Start

If “what if?” questions are so powerful, when can you utilize them best? The answer is simple: Anytime when a change, large or small, is what you’re after.

Consider these areas/themes to ask great “what if?” questions:

  • Health: “What if I felt energetic, focused and ready to go every morning?”
  • Adventure: “What if I took the most outrageous adventure of my life this year?”
  • Wealth/Investments: “What if I had $5 million in liquid assets invested by 2025?”
  • Learning: “What if I finally learned to paint with watercolors?”
  • Team: “What if we doubled our sales this year?”

The list seems endless. Where the mind can conceive it, the question can be asked and then answered in the form of a powerful, world-changing declaration. Declarations have that power. Simply asking the question and making the declaration to change shifts your entire world and the quality of your life.

What Comes First For You?

If you are going to change the world, or at least your little part of it, start with one theme or category. Pick a simple theme that will pay big dividends. Health is a great one, as everyone can envision a higher version of vitality, energy, weight and strength.

Ask a simple question, like, “What if I were in the best shape of my life?”

You’ll transform your world more so than if you were standing still.”

Member Spotlight – Dallas Best Western Inn & Suites

This cozy Dallas, Oregon hotel is near many wonderful attractions such as several local Oregon vineyards and Western Oregon University.

The oversized rooms of this Best Western offer high-speed Internet access, cable satellite television with HBO®, a single serve coffee maker, a desk, complimentary in-room toiletries and more. While staying at this Dallas, Oregon hotel, guests can also enjoy a guest laundry, valet and an exercise facility.

Guests of this Oregon hotel can get the perfect start to each day with a complimentary hot breakfast. No matter what you or your fellow travelers have a taste for, there are many diverse restaurants within less than a mile of this Dallas, Oregon hotel, including Hong Kong Restaurant, Figaro’s Pizza®, Rio’s Tavern and North Dallas Bar and Grill.

Many guests enjoy seeing if luck is on their side at the nearby Spirit Mountain Casino or partaking in some retail therapy at the Salem Center. Visitors can also enjoy the beautiful scenery at the Oregon Gardens and Lincoln City beaches.

Located near the western side of Salem, Oregon, the Best Western Dallas Inn & Suites is only a short drive away from many local Oregon wineries, where the guests of this Dallas, OR hotel can also relax and unwind while taking in the gorgeous scenery.

Many guests of this Dallas, Oregon hotel stay to partake in the area’s wide range of events, such as golf tournaments, Western Oregon University sporting events or the latest local happenings at the Polk County Fairgrounds. Those visiting students and faculty at the Western Oregon University, as well as the Valley Community Hospital and Forest River RV, only have a short commute from this Oregon Best Western.

For a wonderful stay with exceptional service at a delightful hotel in Dallas, Oregon, reserve a stay online at the Best Western Dallas Inn & Suites!

National Get to Know Your Customers Day

In light of today’s national “get to know your customers” day, we’re featuring an article from woocommerce.com author Maria Scarpello, “a classically-trained designer who is passionate about the customer experience, and strives to deepen research practices among designers.” Find her on Twitter at @msdesign21.

“At WordCamp US 2016, Matt Mullenweg’s State of the Word outlined a vision for WordPress being design-led. Since then, WooCommerce has doubled down on our efforts to follow suit.

From growing our one-person design team to five (and still hiring!) to talking more to our customers — hearing what’s most important to them, and how eCommerce fits into their lives – we’re just getting started on our journey to make this transition, and we’re learning a lot!

Our hope is that you can take some of the lessons we’re learning and apply them to your business, no matter how big or small.

It’s never too soon or too late to start talking to your customers, understanding who they are, and how they made their way to you today.

  1. Understanding and mapping a customer journey

One key component of the design process is understanding your customer’s experience, often referred to as mapping a customer journey.

This involves examining a customer’s path from the first moment they interact with your brand to the endpoint of that task. For example, purchasing a product, completing a course, or booking a reservation.

These touch points can then be mapped to understand the overall picture.

To understand and apply this to your business, ask yourself:

  • What tasks am I wanting them to complete?
  • Why would someone need or want to complete this task?
  • How easy is it for them to complete the task?
  • What are the blockers?

From here, write out steps for each task.

We use the diagram below to help map each step, ensuring we consider what customers may be thinking and feeling alongside external factors that could interfere.

For example, if there are limitations with their device, connectivity, or environment that prevent them from easily completing a task and leave them feeling confused or frustrated, we note that.

Once every touch point is mapped, you can then vote on which are the most important areas to focus research.

When thinking about tasks, it’s important to consider what stage your customers are in via interactions with your brand and products.

Each stage has its own sets of needs and states of mind. For WooCommerce, we apply the Six Universal Experiences from IBM, which breaks down the customer journey into six distinct phases:

  • Discover, Try, and Buy
  • Getting Started
  • Everyday Use
  • Manage and Upgrade
  • Leverage and Extend
  • Get Support
  1. Talking to customers: smart listening and uncovering insights

One way to examine each of six phases is to talk to customers while they are in each stage. What initially brought them to you? Why did they want get started? How do they use your product or service? What happens next?

When talking to customers, it’s critical to ask the right questions. Rather than having them to talk about what they want, ask customers why they do what they do. Have them show you how they use your product or website, then observe how they go about it. Listen to what they say, but also take notes on what they do.

“To design the best user experience, pay attention to what users do, not what they say. Self-reported claims are unreliable, as are user speculations about future behavior. Users do not know what they want.” — Jakob Nielsen

For example, asking our customers what they think of a new WooCommerce feature that we have yet to develop would produce the wrong insights: they’d only be able to speculate on what they think we mean or want to hear. A better approach would be to observe customers complete a related task for the new feature, such as adding a new product.

By observing and talking with customers, we may discover that more control over customizing the product page could be useful because they want to be able to cross-sell a few related items but the theme layout isn’t what they wanted. Asking them what they want would not produce the same result.

As Erika Hall, author of Just Enough Research and co-founder of Mule Design suggests:

“Good research is about asking more and better questions, and thinking critically about the answers. It’s something every member of your team can and should do, and which everyone can learn, quickly. And, done well, it will save you time and money by reducing unknowns and creating a solid foundation to build the right thing, in the most effective way.” — Erika Hall

Erika is an advocate of good research and knows what it takes to uncover insights that can influence how customers use the products you’re creating.

“To make the best use of your time and truly do just enough research, try to identify your highest-priority questions—your assumptions that carry the biggest risk.” —Erika Hall

  1. Laying down assumptions, building empathy and cultivating curiosity

Anything you think you know about your customers should be considered an assumption that needs to be validated, when diving into research. Build your hypothesis and start exploring. For example, if you were to outline high priority questions for your eCommerce website, you might ask:

  • Can my customers easily make it through checkout?
  • What’s blocking them from making a purchase?
  • What information are they looking for?
  • Can they find the information they need to help make the decision to purchase?

From here it’s a matter of finding customers to talk with, setting a time to meet, and planning for your session. Ideally this can be done in person, but that shouldn’t stop you from talking to your customers in other ways.

There are many tools we use for remote user research. If you’re interested in learning more about various research methods and best practices, Usability.gov is an excellent resource.

In addition to Erika Hall’s Just Enough Research, Steve Portigal’s book, Interviewing Users: How to Uncover Compelling Insights goes in depth on interviewing techniques, tools, and how to analyze results. Both books can be purchased via Rosenfeld Media, which we’re proud to say is powered by WooCommerce!

In conclusion, know thy customers!

Learning more about customers and how your product or service fits (or doesn’t) into their everyday life allows you to relate to who they are on a more personal level.

Building empathy for your customers is key to helping ensure your offering is as useful, desirable, and accessible as possible. It’s important to take time to understand the needs and expectations of your customers as it’s been proven time and time again:

“Across sectors, satisfied customers spend more, exhibit deeper loyalty to companies, and create conditions that allow companies to have lower costs and higher levels of employee engagement.” —The CEO Guide to Customer Experience McKinsey Quarterly, August 2016″

 

Free Resources for Businesses

When you start a business, the path that awaits isn’t always a straight shot. The good news is there are a plethora of resources both locally and at the state level that can help guide you along the path that is best for your business.  Many resources are free to you, well you pay for them in your taxes so I guess they are prepaid. Below are a few resources to help you get where you’re going.

The City of Dallas can assist business owners in finding business resources, locating available properties, understanding local government permitting and approval timeframes & understanding current Dallas demographic and economic trends.

Chemeketa Small Business Development Center (SBDC) gives small business owners the tools and environment they need to make great decisions they offer classes, small business advising, and resource materials on loan.

Small Business Administration (SBA) is committed to helping small business in the US succeed. As such, several programs and laws have been sponsored that directly affect small business owners. Here, you can learn more about how legislation such as the Small Business Jobs Act and SBA initiatives such as Emerging 200 program can help you and your business succeed.

Micro-Enterprise Resources Initiatives & Training (MERIT) asks the question. “Have a business idea, but don’t know where to start?”  If you’ve been thinking about starting a business and you’re not sure your idea will make you money, they can help. They can guide you toward the information resources that will help you make a great decision.

Go to our weblink for more details and links to each of these resources.

https://dallasoregon.org/business-toolkit/

Member Highlight – Yolanda Zuger Keller Williams Cornerstone Team

Yolanda and her family have lived in Polk County since 1966. She currently lives on the farm where she grew up, along with her husband Craig and a variety of critters. She has made the Central Willamette Valley a base for her business because of her familiarity with the area and the beauty of this part of the Valley. In the Valley, we are located within an hour of the amazing Oregon Coast, the Oregon Cascade Mountains and downtown Portland.  Yet, the local community of Dallas has a population of just over 15,000. She says, “I can’t think of a better place to live!”

Yolanda is a member of the Polk County Association of Realtors and has held the posts of Executive Officer, President and Director. She was chosen as their Realtor of the Year in 2001 and 2012. She has been a full time licensed Realtor since 1998, and received her “Graduate of the Real Estate Institute” designation in 1999, her “Council of Residential Specialists” in 2003, and her “Accredited Buyer’s Representative” in 2008. She passed her Principal Broker’s License test in 2019. She is also a graduate of the Oregon & Washington Association of Realtors “Leadership Northwest” program. Yolanda is committed to continuing education and the use of technology in her business so that she may be of the highest value to her clients.

With that in mind, she moved her Real Estate License in 2018, to Keller Williams-the largest real estate company in the United States. She is part of the Capital City Branch (Salem) with an office in Dallas, Oregon. Keller Williams’ focus on technology and training has resulted in the best of the best when it comes to agents; she expresses that she is proud to join their ranks, expressing, “I am a graduate of their 7 week BOLD program, which teaches Business Objectives and a Life by Design. The program taught how to respond to changing markets and the best avenues for getting properties sold and further confirmed my belief that buying and selling real estate really is all about you.”

We asked about her mission statement and she shared the following”

“My philosophy is simple: clients come first. I pledge to be in constant communication with my clients, keeping you fully informed throughout the entire buying or selling process. I believe that if you’re not left with an amazing experience, I haven’t done my job. I don’t measure success through achievements or awards, but through the satisfaction of my clients.”

Thanks, Yolanda, for providing excellent service to your clients here in the Dallas Area and beyond.

Member Spotlight – MAK Grills

MAK Grills is a family and veteran owned, US-based company rooted in over 25 years of metalworking and fabrication experience. An acronym for Matt, Alex & Kal, MAK Grills got its start from our desire to create a pellet grill that measured up to our high quality standards. We wanted to create a pellet grill company that truly put quality and customer service squarely where they should be, at the core of who we are.

Upon discovering pellet grilling, we instantly loved the idea of precision-control and genuine smoke flavor, but we had long been disappointed by models that kept falling short of what we knew a pellet grill could be. At MAK, our grills have been designed without cutting any corners to be nothing short but best-in-class, reaching the peak balance of temperature control and real smoke flavor.

We are often asked, “Why do your units cost more than most of your competitors?” The simple answer is, their units are built overseas and have a fraction of the features found on MAK Grills.

The saying, “You get what you pay for” has never been truer than right now. In a world filled with disposable products, MAK Grills stands out as a manufacturer that cares about building long-lasting products that customers can enjoy for many years. Many of our grill components are made of stainless steel, so they won’t rust, and will last for years to come. We design our grills to exceed your expectations for a quality product.

https://makgrills.com/

Red, White, BOOM! Happy Independence Day!

Independence Day 2018, also known as Fourth of July, is a federal holiday observed yearly on July fourth. It is the anniversary of the publication of the declaration of independence of the United States of America from Great Britain in 1776.

Dallas will once again be celebrating the Fourth of July in a big way; Red, White, BOOM! We invite you to join us Wednesday for a spectacular day and evening for family fun as we recognize our service men and women with a beer garden, vendors, non-profit hosted games, field games, live band, a DJ, food trucks, and of course the first-rate fireworks show at dusk. The celebration will continue on July 6th with the sanctioned BBQ Competition Smoke of the Dragon!

All activities will be held at the Roger Jordan Community Park. Dallas Fire and EMS Department will light off the show from LaCreole Middle School. Citizens are encouraged to grab their chairs, blankets and family for the celebration. Come down early to pick your spot!

If you are headed to Keizer to celebrate this Fourth of July be sure to pick up your ticket to the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes 12th Annual Patriotic Tribute baseball game. With his family in attendance, the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes will Thank, Honor, and Salute the “Ultimate Sacrifice” of Fallen Marine, Sergeant Ian Tawney of Dallas.  This annual salute to fallen heroes will honor one of our own local heroes.  Tickets may be close to sold out but check for yourself by clicking here.

Look At People As People

Our chamber hosts a monthly business education luncheon. This last month brought the owner of Salem company, Bob Dalton of Sackcloth & Ashes, who talked about using Instagram for business growth. He made some excellent points about the value of Instagram as well as some great tips on using it to its fullest potential.

However, what he closed with was potentially the most impactful thing he said. I asked him to give us some parting words of wisdom. What he shared with us had little to do with social media. He said the greatest piece of advice he could give is to begin viewing people as people as people. We must consider their identity, not their role in the community or the struggles they have or even their best qualities, we must consider them as a fellow person.

It may seem like semantics to say, a person who is homeless verses a homeless person. Or, owner of “business X” verses Lisa. Or drug addict versus person with a drug addiction.  Or, Republican verses Joe. But in reality, when we can think of people for who they are, we place a value on them. A positive value. When people have value in others’ eyes aren’t they more likely to respond well when disagreed with? In my experience, they are.

It may sound like I’m trying to portray a “Pollyanna” sort of reality where everyone thinks positive and the world is better. That’s not realism. But we can be real and kind. Next time you’re tempted to sling mud at a person because they differ from you, think of them as a person like you are a person. No better, no worse. Maybe, just maybe, we can take Bob’s second final word of wisdom and “start to focus on promoting solutions rather than just opposing problems.”

Dallas School District #2

Dallas School District serves a large geographic area of nearly 250 square miles. The students enrolled in the school system represent nearly half of all students served by Polk County schools. A staff of 169 licensed and 152 classified people work in six schools and one administrative building. The District also sponsors Luckiamute Valley Charter School (formerly Pedee School and Bridgeport Elementary)

They believe the school is one of the major institutions through which our cultural, political and social heritage is transmitted from generation to generation and the means by which the members of our society are prepared intellectually to evaluate and control cultural, political and social changes.

The primary purpose of Dallas School District is to provide opportunities for the full intellectual development of each child. The child has the responsibility to himself and society to purposely pursue the educational opportunities provided him. Dallas School District has a shared responsibility with parents and with other institutions and agencies for the social, physical, and emotional growth and development of the individual child.

It is an obligation to our children, community and country to institute those programs necessary to fulfill the education needs of our children and to provide the facilities, materials, technology, and staff required to do so.

Dallas School District is working hard to shape the future.

https://www.dallas.k12.or.us/