Unwind

As usual, my weekend went by way too quick! One minute it was 5 o’clock Friday and then POOF! Monday morning! It was one of the first weekends we haven’t been out of town in a while. For Brian, that meant doing a little yard work and unwinding. For me it meant, “let’s repaint the kitchen & living room ceiling”. I don’t know what I was thinking, but it’s done. I can’t move my neck…but it’s done.


Isn’t it funny how unwinding is so different for all of us? I admit I’m pretty OCD about things being clean. Cleaning soothes me. Maybe it’s the overwhelming smell of Windex knocking him down, but Brian always knows when I am stressed LOL. I make no apologies that I get immense gratification out of my microwave glistening. Brian tells me all the time he loves me, yet when I am in crazy cleaning mode, he tells me I am weird. Don’t get me wrong, Brian likes a clean house as much as I do, but he’s so much better at not stressing out over fingerprints on the fridge.


What do you do to unwind? What’s your go-to? Recognizing what soothes you creates a peaceful state of mind. When we are internally at peace, it will reflect externally. Find your go-to this week. Take time for yourself. Read a book, turn your music up on the way to work, do whatever it takes to get in YOUR ZONE and make it a great week!

Make them Bloom

I ran out to the Walker Sayle Unit this morning to meet the new warden. On my way out I was admiring the beautiful lilies along the sidewalk.  I have to admit, I got a little jealous because mine don’t look nearly that good. They were bloomed so full and colorful and they made me smile.

I was still thinking about them as I drove back to the office. I thought, I know why they are prettier than mine… they are cared for more. They are nurtured and watered and shown love.  Mine would be the same if I invest in them more. 

Isn’t this the same as with our employees? If we care for them and invest in them, they too bloom.  If we ignore their needs, or step on them, they wither and are unproductive. Of course, people, like flowers, go through a blooming process. Once a seed of hope is planted, we don’t see results overnight.  It takes both time and patience.  Be patient with employees and give them time to show their beauty.

Not to be a “downer” but, I also think that one ugly plant can take away from the overall appeal of a flower garden.  If someone walks in your business and an employee doesn’t make them smile, it can make your business less appealing.  Remember, having a striving business (just like a beautiful garden) takes work. Help your employees bloom, and watch your business grow!  

Summer Memories

Congratulations parents!  You survived the first full week of the kids being out of school. I’m sure no one has heard “I’m bored” yet. HA! HA! Entertaining kids through the summer can be a challenge.  But, the Breckenridge Aquatic Center can help!

What better way to beat the heat than by diving into some cool water? Some of my favorite childhood memories involve the water. My grandparents would load us all up and we would spend the day at the creek. My Maw-maw always made the best picnic lunches! Why did her peanut butter taste better than what my mom had at home, lol? Everyone always laughed at me about “the water making me hungry”. It was true. If you took me to the lake, the pool, or near any water, be prepared to feed me.  I’m serious! The water made me hungry!

Isn’t it fun reminiscing over those summer memories? What about your kids and grandkids? Will they be able to do the same?  Grandparents!!! Pack up the grands and plenty of snacks and go spend the day at the pool! I know it’s hot, but it’s harder to notice the heat when you are watching those beaming little faces bobbling around.  Make some memories for your grandkids to share. Parents, it’s easy to get bogged down. Take a few hours off and unwind with the kiddos!

The swimming pool is open Tuesday- Saturday 1pm-4pm and 4:30pm-7:30pm; Sunday 2pm-6pm; and closed on Monday.  It’s only $2.50 per person for each swim session and 3 years and under are free.  

For more information about the Breckenridge Aquatic Center, to rent the pool, enroll in water aerobics, or schedule swim lessons, call the city offices at (254)559-8287. Check out the tips below to help keep your family safe in the water and go have some fun at the Aquatics Center!

 WATER SAFETY TIPS

  • Enroll children in swimming lessons.
  • Keep children under 10 years of age within arms-reach of you at all time.
  • Never allow children to swim alone.
  • No diving in less than 13 feet of water.
  • Always walk (do not run) when in an aquatic facility.
  • Only use USA coast guard approved life jackets that are properly fitted for the child’s weight and body size.
  • Do not allow children to ride on your back, do hand stand or any type of horseplay in swimming pools.
  • Use sunscreen, apply 30 minutes before being exposed to sun.
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration before expose to a heated environment.

Road Trip Ready???

It’s summer time, and that means lots of folks will be traveling. Is your vehicle road-trip ready? From tires, to that customizing you’ve been wanting, getting those ‘whiskey dents’ repaired, to simply getting all the crumbled goldfish crackers out of the cracks, Breckenridge can get you road ready!

We all want our family safe while on the road, yet often we neglect ensuring that safety. Simple things like replacing windshield wipers can help prevent accidents. They have an enormous impact on performance and safety, and they can kill you if you ignore them. If you aren’t certain about tread and wear, stop and get them checked before you head out!

Last year I was on the road with two 16 year olds and the a/c in my car quit cooling. We were stuck on the interstate in Dallas and it was over 100 degrees. Talk about miserable! I’m not sure what was worse, the heat or the complaining. Have those Freon levels checked before you leave. Trust me!

Once you know your vehicle is in great shape, time to shine it up. (If you are like me, when you get back home you will be exhausted and need it cleaned again). Not only does a clean vehicle look great, personalizing can add that final touch! Still not satisfied? Want more power? Get your engine revved up and hit the road in style!

Of course, there are lots of great things for “stay-cations” here Breckenridge. But, reality is we all travel for various reasons. Be safe when you do! Check out the list below of businesses that would love to help! – Carrie Holson, Executive Director

Roberts Tire & Auto (254) 559-5446

Big Country Muffler & Auto Repair (254) 246-1164

Breckenridge Auto & Engine Supply Inc. (254) 559-8241

Baxley Auto Lube (254) 559-2565

3C Auto Group LLC (254) 212-8124

Yoes Customs (254) 522-2054

Walmart (254) 559-6579

Gaylon’s Body Shop (254) 559-3232

Kel-Abby Collision Center (254) 559-4771

MLR Graphics (254) 559-1108

CRIME STOPPERS

Hooray for Breckenridge! Stephens County Crime Stoppers organization is up and running AND already producing results! Within 24 hours of launching, a tip was reported that lead to an arrest. How awesome is that?!

Like with many things in life, people often have a misconception about Crime Stopper organizations. We as a society, assume/speculate way too much. How many really know how Crime Stoppers works? How are tips made? How do we report tips? How do tips remain anonymous?

Don’t assume!  Join community members today at 5:30 pm at the National Theatre for a Kick-off meeting and get the facts. Then, be an active supporter!  This is a community based program.  All support stays in Stephens County and will be used to stop crime right here!

For more information about the Kick-off meeting or to get answers to your questions, visit Stephens County TX Crime Stoppers on Facebook or the website at www.877500tips.com. Let’s all be CRIME STOPPERS!

Good Vibes

Have you ever noticed how your mood effects your shopping? I know I enjoy shopping more when I am in a fun, upbeat environment. A little music, smiling faces….it makes a difference. As a business what do you do to help elevate customer moods? While the specific atmospheric elements you chose for your store can vary significantly from your competitors, the fundamentals remain the same. That is because it is about creating a pleasant shopping environment that encourages customers to stay in your store for longer and, while there, spend more.

I read an article by William J. Lynott, “5 Ways to Put Shoppers in a Buying Mood”. He had the following suggestions for appealing to the senses:
“1. The Powerful Influence of Scent
Eric Spangenberg, an environmental psychologist and the dean of Washington State University’s College of Business, was one of the pioneers in the effects of scent on the buying experience. According to his research, the right scent in a retail store can help to put customers in that all-important buying mood.
Among the more obvious challenges of scent in a pet shop that offers pets for sale or adoption would be avoiding the unpleasant scents resulting from careless housekeeping. The scents of clean and healthy animals resulting from meticulous attention to cleanliness in cage areas sets an atmosphere that will help to put potential pet buyers in a receptive mood. Smell is one of our most powerful and influential senses. Research confirms that we are 100 times more likely to remember something we smell than something we see, hear or touch, so it’s logical to harness that power in helping to set customers in a buying mood.

2. Music Helps to Set the Mood
We all know that some types of music help to set a romantic mood; savvy retailers know that music can also help to set a buying mood. A 1982 study by Milliman Inc. found that when background music was played in a supermarket, customers spent 34 percent longer in the store, with a corresponding increase in sales.
But what kind of music? What music will influence shoppers in a pet store in a positive way? There’s no simple answer to that question, but there are some helpful guidelines. A 2000 study found that familiar popular music has a negative effect on shopping. It tends to distract shoppers, causing them to concentrate on the music instead of their shopping. According to the study, unfamiliar but pleasant music has a positive effect on shoppers. One British study found that classical background music increases the amount that shoppers are willing to spend. Tempo also has an effect. Slower tempo music causes people to move slower. Thus, retailers who want customers to spend more time in their stores should play slower, softer music in the background.

3. The Color of Your Store
What are the predominate colors in your store? Is there an overall color that customers perceive when they cross your threshold? That’s an important question because scientific studies indicate that colors stimulate our nervous system and bring about changes in our overall state of mind.
The effect of colors can be very different in different cultures. For example, in the U.S., white is a happy color, associated with weddings and a general feeling of innocence. However, in many Far Eastern and Middle Eastern cultures, white signifies death. In the U.S., certain combinations of colors are associated with holidays: red and green are mindful of Christmas, while black and orange are used to signify Halloween.
When you decide on predominant colors for your store or specific displays, you might want to keep in mind the associations people often make with various colors in the U.S. Some examples:
• White: clean, neutral, youth 
• and innocence
• Red: danger, the heat of 
• passion, excitement
• Black: high fashion, power
• Yellow: happy, friendly
• Purple: upscale, royal, dignified
• Blue: relaxing, peaceful, loyal (true blue)
Colors are also used to create brand images. Consider those ubiquitous UPS brown trucks used to signify trustworthiness and dependability. 
Most important in your store: Colors have meaning to customers. Make full use of colors to create the effect you want.

4. Watch Out for Dust in the Corner
In retail, as in life, first impressions are lasting impressions. That’s why it’s so important for your store to greet customers with an overall impression of neatness and cleanliness. Major retail chains have long recognized that shoppers will always prefer a neater, cleaner store over an untidy, dirty one. That’s why they spend the time and money needed to clean and polish the floors and tidy up the displays before their stores open in the morning.
An unclean impression can make people feel uneasy. When a shopper doesn’t feel comfortable, they will want to leave the store sooner and aren’t likely to make a purchase. In short, cleaner stores make better profits. The more time a prospect spends browsing in your store, the more likely that person will make a purchase. 
Depending on the size and complexity of your store’s layout, it might be in your best interest to rely on professional cleaning services. In any event, it’s important to do whatever is necessary to make sure that your store gives off a clean and tidy impression.

5. The Importance of a “Happy” Mood
Every customer who enters your store brings a mood with them. It might be a “happy” mood based on something that happened earlier in the day, or it could be a decidedly unhappy mood brought about by an unpleasant experience. Either way, according to Vladas Griskevicius of the University of Minnesota, the customer’s mood will influence their buying behavior. Research has shown that positive feelings produce a sort of rose-colored glasses effect, causing products to appear more desirable. Conversely, negative feelings will have an undesirable effect on buying decisions. In short, customers who find themselves in a happy mood are more likely to make a purchase than those in an unhappy mood.
It’s the retailer’s job, then, to help put customers in a happy mood, and the best opportunity to do that is in the greeting that each customer receives as they enter the store.
Perhaps the most powerful tool available to the retailer is a warm smile and an engaging personality. Every employee should be trained to understand that moods tend to “rub off.” A positive, warm greeting to every person entering the store is one of the most powerful mood-influencing tools in the retailer’s toolbox.”

Stop and take a moment to evaluate the atmosphere at your business. Then, use these tips to improve the mood of your shoppers! 

Memorial Weekend

As Memorial Day approaches I want to express my appreciation to those who have fallen serving our country. I am so grateful for the sacrifices that have been made.

Memorial Weekend seems to kick off “lake season” and Hubbard Creek Lake is a great place to splash into summer! Fishing, boating, camping, swimming and fun in the sun can ALL be found.

Brian, the kids and I drove out to the lake yesterday evening. It was really windy, but it was so nice! We had a picnic, fished from the bank, goofed off and skipped rocks. (Okay, so maybe they skipped rocks and laughed at me trying, but it was still fun).LOL

Sometimes I think the unplanned, simple outings are more fun than the elaborate vacations we stress for months over planning. No cost, no hassle, just fun with the fam! AND… No kids complaining about a long drive! So often we forget about the things right here at home that can provide hours of entertainment, for the young and old.

As my dad would say, “the sheep were grazing” on the lake pretty bad yesterday, but despite it being so rough, we saw a boat out. It made me extremely nervous. Please remember as you enjoy the weekend to be safe and responsible. Don’t drink and drive OR operate watercraft. (Visit https://tpwd.texas.gov/fishboat/boat/safety/safety_tips/ for more safety tips)

Oh, and FYI ladies…If you need a last minute outfit, I have seen some really cute patriotic items around town this week! I hope everyone has a safe and happy weekend! 

CENSUS

The 2020 CENSUS is just around the corner and it seems to always be such an issue in communities. WHY???? I don’t even know where to begin on this topic. 
First, let me say, I understand people think the government is in everything and people want privacy. 
I. GET. IT. But, please…hear me out! Participation in the Census can be a HUGE asset in a community. I worked in city government for 21 ½ years and have personally seen the Census help a small community. I have also seen the lack of participation and false reporting hurt communities.

Do you know what the Census is used for? I’m advocating because data is used to determine if a community qualifies for state and federal funding. When cities apply for grants such as a Texas Community Development Block Grant to do infrastructure projects (often to pave streets, or expand/repair water and wastewater systems) the state funds based on certain criteria. Certain demographics are favored and the population served has to qualify as 51% low-mod income. Now, this gets to be a problem. No one wants to fill out a form saying they are low income. Pride kicks in and people tend to exaggerate. PLEASE! Do not do this. I have seen streets full of potholes, in desperate need of repairs, have funding be denied because a low income area did not qualify. The information is confidential; answer honestly.

IT IS ONLY TEN QUESTIONS! 10! That’s it. Did you know answering those 10 questions also can help your school district? Schools receive funding based on population and demographics served as well. FILL IT OUT! You can even fill it out online! 
I know we are hit from all angles now days wanting information. I hate surveys. However, I love seeing my communities get funds for improvements. Funds are allocated and if we don’t get them, the next community will. It only takes a few minutes and could help bring funds to Breckenridge and Stephens County!
I could go on and on with examples, but instead, if you have questions…CALL ME! Be informed, and take part in the 2020 Census! 

Complaints…

How many of you reading this love taking complaints? How about criticism? Chances are, none of you do!  When you deal with, or work with the public, it is inevitable.  Often, whether we want to admit it or not, the complaints are even legit.  How do you handle complaints?

I have found being empathetic is a good start.  I try to put myself in the other person’s situation.  This gives us perspective.  I have also found not getting defensive helps.  When we get defensive it seems like we aren’t hearing the other person.  Take time to listen.  Sometimes people just need to get a bad experience off their chest and need to feel heard.

I have to be careful when addressing issues not to raise my voice. PEOPLE!!!!  I. AM. LOUD! I talk loud in a normal voice. When I get emotional (whether mad or not), I get louder.  This is something I have to work hard on. If I get emotional because my feelings or hurt, or I am upset I hurt someone else’s feelings, I have to work hard not raise my voice and come off as angry.   Know your strengths and weaknesses! 

Be sure you get all the facts when dealing with complaints.  Then, offer a solution.  It’s okay to ask for suggestions.  Sometimes it’s even helpful to ask the person complaining how they would like you to handle the situation.  When their solutions is far-fetched, be graceful in offering a counter.

The customer will NOT always be right; but, we should treat the customer with respect.  Social media is full of hilarious comical responses to complaints. Remember to find humor in your mistakes. Being able to laugh about issues with a customer will make you both feel better.   Laughter is always good for the soul-even an angry one!

FEELING GRATEFUL

What an exciting weekend we had here in Breckenridge! I attended, (and helped host) my first Frontier Days….and I LOVED IT! Of course, you can’t please everyone, and there is always room for improvement, but overall, I was glad to see folks having a great time!


Although I’m not new to chambers and events, this is still my first year for this particular event. To be honest, that is a hard position to be in. There is a lot of pressure and worry of meeting the expectations of the community. However, as we dove into the planning, my nerves quickly began to settle. I saw how much support the community and our chamber members have for this event. This guys…having people to reach out and lend a hand… made my job WAY easier! Having Bo and Virgil who have been through a few years was invaluable. Volunteers and community leaders have stepped up over the past few month and THEY all are the reason this event is a success! Words could never reflect the appreciation I have for the community, volunteers, Bo and the Chamber Board of Directors!!! I also want to thank the City of Breckenridge and their employees (especially the Public Works Department who worked tirelessly all week setting up, worked all weekend, and continue working this week tearing down).


For everyone who was involved as a sponsor, vendor, volunteer, hosting an event, (or any capacity) I hope you know how much I personally appreciate you! Thank you all for making my first Frontier Days experience a great one! Like I said, there is always room for improvement, but we are making notes of things to work on, and looking forward to next year!