A sign that used to hang in a Craig hardware store read, "If we don't take care of the customer, someone else will."
Chuck Lardner thought that was some of the best business advice available.
He and the Small Business Development Center are working to help Craig business owners implement that advice.
The SBDC hired Lardner to work as its small-business consultant and is working to hold a business development workshop in Craig every month.
Running a business in Northwest Colorado means encountering some special challenges.
The economy is rather slow and it's hard to keep the name of a business in the front of people's minds, Lardner said.
Wednesday's SBDC program, which is co-sponsored by the Craig Chamber of Commerce, could help with some of those issues.
The program will focus on smart marketing for small businesses and improving sales technique.
Jerry Pradier, a former teacher at the Air Force Academy who holds a master's degree in marketing, will speak.
In May, the SBDC hopes to host another program focusing on starting a small business.
Marketing and starting a business are issues with which Lardner can help.
Lardner has been consulting for the SBDC for the past month.
He has a background in accounting and financial analysis.
Lardner said he could help business owners write business plans, too.
Many business owners haven't written a plan.
But successful business owners constantly review their plans to see whether they are on track. The plans include alternatives to implement if the customer level is greater or lesser than expected.
Already Lardner has noticed some trends found in successful businesses.
Like the hardware store's sign said, it's important to take care of customers.
"If you listen to your customer, by God you'll have their patronage," Lardner said.
It also is important to have at least 40 hours a week to run the business and be frugal with money, especially in the retail industry.
All businesses go through cycles, and business owners need funds in reserve to get through the lulls, Lardner said.
Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.