Posts tagged ‘maple ridge’

Vancity Savings – an example of great customer service

I had a great customer service experience at Vancity Savings, the credit union I deal with. And as they say, when you have bad customer service you tell 10 people, and when you have a good experience, you tell 1. Well I think that is wrong, so I am telling the world.

I was doing a wire transfer out today from an account that, in its classification as a “high interest savings account”, required that a $5 fee be imposed should I withdraw funds while interacting with a teller. It sounds like one of those rules that a bureaucrat makes up, though I assume it had some thought put into it.

Anyhow, after I said “that’s fine” and was more than willing to pay the fee, the teller offered this up, “How about I log out of my terminal, log onto our website, and then you could transfer funds from this account, into another one of your accounts. From here, we will do the wire transfer out of your other account, saving you the $5 fee?”

Pardon? What happened to the concept that all banks are evil, money-hungry, and only interested in their bottom line?

Well maybe they are still interested in the latter point, but the empowerment of the frontline staff to suggest things like this would generate way more revenue for them than a measley $5 fee. After all, not only do I do a lot of business them, but with good service, I will tell someone else. And that is exactly what I am doing.

Kudos to Vancity and the staff in Maple Ridge. And thank you.

March 20, 2009 at 11:11 pm 3 comments

Paid Search Advertising Course in Maple Ridge?

I am considering conducting some sort of paid search advertising clinic for small businesses here in Maple Ridge. My motivation for this is two fold:

First, I bought a few good domain names the other day that are highly relevant in, and And while I am focusing the Marketing Clinics website on a new venture focused on paid search marketing for chiropractors and dentists, it would be a shame to just sit on the domain.

Secondly, I truly enjoy sharing knowledge about search marketing, paid search advertising, and some of the techniques that I am using. Am I a teacher? Well, I haven’t taught anything ‘officially’ since about 1995 when I was teaching some adult literacy courses. But I do sit and coach/mentor people one-on-one about these opportunities on a weekly basis.

What I am pondering aloud (and in the oh-so public forum that is this medium), is if there any interest in a hands-on course geared towards the small businesses owner/manager that would run for about 4 evenings over the course of a 4-week period? Is there a market for this? I figure that the course would entail some hands on campaign development so at the end of the session, you would have your advertising campaigns built out for your business? I would think I should be able to talk Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft out of some vouchers to sweeten the pot. Hmmm….

Let me know your thoughts and if there is any interest.


November 12, 2008 at 2:21 am Leave a comment

The Golden Ears Gateway, Maple Ridge BC

I attended the Ridge Meadows Chamber of Commerce’s mini-tradeshow and networking event tonight. It was mostly a chance to get ou of the house after being headsdown busy for the past couple of days, but I have been trying to make a point on keeping connected within the business community (though normally I attend events that are in downtown… not out here in Maple Ridge).

Anyhow, one of the things that attracted me to the event tonight was to hear a speech by the President, Dean Barbour, on the Chamber’s current direction and mandate. While I won’t regurgitate, I did like what I heard. One of the key things that resonated with me was Dean’s vision and discussion of “The Golden Ears Gateway”. Basically, anything that is within site of the Golden Ears Mountains, should be within the marketing catchment of the Chamber and local businesses. And a big part of the growth will be in using the new website to promote the region and its businesses.

And then Dean announced, “The Chamber website will be re-branded under

I don’t know if Dean or anyone else in the room saw me convulsively twitch when this was announced. Pardon? That was “Open For Business Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows .com” in case you missed it the first time. Part of me almost feels bad for going home and registering I guess this now complements the other local domain I registered the other day:

Me thinks I am going to get involved with the Chamber and help them with their marketing.

October 24, 2008 at 1:59 am 1 comment

Reliable Flagging, Maple Ridge – Read this before calling them

Thinking of calling Reliable Flagging of Maple Ridge for your flagging and traffic control needs? Then please read this post first.

Back in July, I wrote about the weekly wrong numbers that we were receiving for Maple Ridge’s Reliable Flagging (see the post here). I wrote the post to seed the search engines with the right phone number. Well the calls stopped for a while, but they started up again a few weeks ago [I was bumped out of the top position for the keywords “reliable flagging” by an Industry Canada profile]. And then the calls started again. For the calls we’ve been answering, it works out to be 2 to 3 calls per week. From an SEO perspective, this shows the power of being in the top slot as opposed to being number 2.

And every time someone calls, we’ve been dutiful in trying to help out and pass their actual phone number along (it is now written on a permanent sticky-note next to the phone and I have it memorized 604.466.3524… 604.466.3524 …604.466.3524 … 604.466.FLAG). And every time we get a phone call, we ask the caller to “say hi from John” when you call the right number.

But not any more. No way. No how.

Here’s why. I had another phone call today from someone looking for flagging services. I told him the correct number without a beat, and he mentioned that I must get a lot of phone calls for them as this is the number that I got from the Internet. I said “I did”, and “please say hi to Jane for me.” After hanging up, I did a quick search on Google revealed that we are no longer ranked number 1 for reliable flagging. Hmmm… I pondered. Let me call Jane directly again as last time when I tried to find a solution, she wanted to know why I didn’t call her and let her know about the problem.

The response that I got from her today was appalling in my opinion. She is saying that she only gets business from the Yellow Pages and never from the Internet [hands up if you simply recycle your Yellow Pages when it arrives on your doorstep]. And she certainly has never had anyone say that they got her phone number from me. She kept on insisting that it is an issue between me and Telus if we are getting those phone calls [think about that one for a while].

Then I tried to interject the berating and threats that she is “going to sue my ass off” with a creative solution. I offered to get her a website built through some of the contractors that I use overseas at cost … as in I am not going to be making money… and for a basic brochureware site, you are talking $100-$200 max. But at least as a website owner she could control her own name and her own business. But I forgot… she doesn’t get any business from the Internet.

I cannot comment on her business skills, customer service abilities, professional  demeanor, traffic control skills, or anything else in that regard. I do hope that for whichever customers do choose Reliable Flagging over other great businesses offering flagging services, your experience in dealing with Jane has been better than mine (please post a comment below if you agree or disagree). I hate to admit it, but I actually hung up on her. I never hang up on anyone. I am even polite to telemarketers.

So for the last time, Reliable Flagging’s phone number is 604.466.3524. And this time, when you speak to Jane, please say “Hi from John”. And do tell her that you got her number from my blog and the Internet.

Oh… and for those looking for flagging services in Maple Ridge or the Vancouver area, these websites look interesting:

Ansan Traffic Control

Valley Traffic Systems

October 9, 2008 at 5:12 pm 9 comments

Reliable Flagging, Maple Ridge BC, Phone: (604) 466-3524

Reliable Flagging of Maple Ridge, BC, has turned me into a momentary domain squatter today, and I’m not proud of it.

It all started around four years ago when we moved into our new home, sampled some VOIP technology that was before it was time, and had to get a new phone number. The number that was assigned to us apparently use to be owned by a Maple Ridge flagging company called Reliable Flagging (as in traffic control to make sure construction happens safely).

The phone calls started coming in immediately. At least one per week that we answered, and that is with call screening where we ignore pretty much every number that we don’t recognize. After the umpteenth wrong number we found out that their phone number in the phone directory was still listed as our number. We contacted the phone company and they said they would fix it … they didn’t say that this fix would take two years mind you.

Anyhow, even after this correction in the phone book, we kept on getting calls. “Is this Reliable Flagging?” No. No. No.

I am not sure if it picked up more over the past few months or it is just that I am working from home more often and now sitting next to a phone without call display, but the calls seem to be increasing in frequency. And then I had a phone call this morning from a prospect looking for flagging services. In the midst of a Seinfeld flashback with Kramer answering the mis-dial for MoviePhone, I thought I would help him and Reliable Flagging out by trying to find the real “Reliable Flagging”, or if I couldn’t, at least source someone from another flagging company who could help him.

So I started searching. First it was a basic “Reliable Flagging” search on Google. The first response was from a company called iBegin that had a listing for Reliable Flagging. The phone number listed… yep… our phone number. A few listings down, there was another listing, our phone number once again.

I think I realize what is going on. Apparently, a trend started a couple of years ago where people are taking advantage of some loophole in copyright law where they were sending out-of-date phone books overseas and having the whole thing copied in tandem to reproduce their own directory listing. These copies then form the basis for many of the web directories that are popping up in various places [note: I’m not saying this is what iBegin has done]. In any case, wrong numbers are being perpetuated, and now thanks to the power of web search (especially local search), they will never go away.

So after I hung up the call today, I did some more internet research for Reliable Flagging, and found a phone number that was also out of order. And the I found another one that didn’t ring through. I then called a competitor who ranked at the top of organic results for the search phrase “Traffic Control Vancouver” (who I will not promote by naming them for reasons that will come clear below). They expressed that Reliable Flagging was no longer around. Which made sense to me, and I didn’t doubt this given the calls that I received.

And this is when I became a Domain Squatter. I registered the domain name My intent was to try and use the medium to my advantage. If I could outrank the earlier listings, I had hoped the calls would stop. This is also why Reliable Flagging and Maple Ridge Flagging Services keywords are peppered throughout this blog post. Fight fire with fire.

And then in a further act of defiance, I posted my tale of woe on Craig’s List with an offer for any flagging company who wanted these phone leads to let me know, and I would be more than happy to sell them to them.

A mere 6 hours later I had a phone call from someone who worked for Reliable Flagging. While I was happy, they were pissed that I was trying to make money from their name. I said, “Good news… you’re in business! Tell me your number and I will tell everyone who calls what the new number is” They didn’t like this, and they refused to give me their new phone number.

Another hour passes by, and I had a phone call from Reliable Flagging’s owner (Jane). As my wife said to me just a few minutes ago, “Ah the immortal Jane Baker.” We felt like we had gotten to know her through her calls… especially for my wife whose first name combined with her maiden name sounds phonetically very similar, especially when it was said with an accent — a factor that only contributed to confusion over the years.

Anyhow, Jane was also not too pleased that I was trafficking on her good name and business. She threatened to sue. I said I am just trying to do the rightful thing [I did take the Craig’s List ad down as soon as I heard that Reliable Flagging was still providing traffic controlling services to Maple Ridge]. I have even offered to transfer over the domain to her at no cost to her and help her with her web presence. I guess I am not very good at this cyber squatting thing. And really, who am I kidding, this is more for my sanity than anything else.

Hopefully, WordPress works its SEO magic, and Reliable Flagging’s traffic control services will be found by all Maple Ridge residents very soon. With the correct phone number. Which, for hopefully the last time, is 604.466.3524.

And for those who weren’t paying attention, the moral of the story is that you should control your web presence. Your yellow pages ads are not enough. It could be a simple website (even a free one). Your audience is searching for you. If they can’t find you, how much business are you leaving on the table?

July 8, 2008 at 10:44 pm 3 comments

Startup Incubator to Launch in Maple Ridge, BC?

Can a small-business startup incubator exist and thrive in Maple Ridge, BC? Well that is what I am going to find out. You see… I am about to start one. Sort of. Eventually. Well it is a bit of a long story.

Two weeks ago, I was let go from Reinvent Technology as part of a corporate reorganization. Quite the shock to me I admit, and I was not ready for the, “It’s not you, it’s me” speech given by Kevin Ham, “The Man That Owns the Internet.” You know the one that starts with, “Your work has been top notch, you are well-liked by your peers, and you are very enthusiastic and passionate, but…”

That word hangs out there. But. But what? But.

In any case, the cheese has been moved, and I must dive back into the maze, but…

There’s that word again. But. But what? What on earth am I going to do?

I’ve spent a large part of the past two weeks trying to decide exactly that. Am I going to go back and find a “real job”? You know… the kind of job that your parents attempt to understand and the kind that makes your wife happy that you have a corporate benefit plan and a steady pay cheque [even more important when your wife is also self employed]. Or am I going to do something completely different?

But what?

You see…I am an ideas man. I always have been and always will be. I am also entrepreneurial and a bit of a dreamer. I get my kicks out of imagining the impossible. I derive incredible satisfaction from listening to new business concepts and pitches, offering my two cents, and then sending the concept back for further grooming. In essence, this is what I have been doing for the better part of the last ten years. While yes, I have ran a startup. But I am more referring to my experience within the local hightech scene. Be it as an active participant in early stage ventures, restarts, or well-established companies looking to reinvent themselves. My role has always been the painter. The one that crafts the vision, spit-polishes the product line, or sets the direction of the ship heading over yonder. But…

Damn that word. But… But how does that pay the bills?

Well, this is where the leap of faith comes in and my vision for the future. I am going to launch a small business incubator that caters to the entrepreneur in suburbia. Kind of like Bill Gross’ IdeaLab, but without the initial bankroll. And I am going to be my first client.

For those of you who may, in some off chance be reading this and have no idea who I am or where Maple Ridge is, it is a suburban town about 1-1.5 hour’s drive out of downtown Vancouver. And there is no industry to speak of. Just commuters. But there are also a lot of people who work in home offices, and there are also a lot of the techies who are commuting. The way I see it, it is about demographics. Those who are young entrepreneurs and heavily vested in the technology sector can’t afford to live downtown anymore. They (as I did) are at the stage in their lives where they are thinking about starting a family. But as soon as that young family comes, it really can be challenging to work out of the home.

 Yep… I am going to get out of the house and incubate my own startup (or startups), perhaps inviting others into the mix in the near term as well. But first I need a business plan. You see that is what every good business has. I read something earlier today when I was reading about the government-subsidized Self Employment Program that 9 out of 10 businesses that don’t have a business plan fail, while 7 out of 10 that do have a plan succeed. Quite the statistic if it is accurate.

So I need a plan. But… But what is the business?

Well initially it is a business that is … a business. One that will be focussed on surviving through scratching and clawing and doing whatever contract work I can. Whether this is by helping others with their business plans, writing marketing strategy documents, creating product specifications and market requirements documents, or even freelance advertising copy. I am sure I will even try my hand at trying to win the occasional government issued RFP and then leveraging freelancers to fill in the gaps where they exist. Or at least… I will do this for 80% of the “work” day. I will do this to pay the bills and survive. The other 80% of my time (or really, 20% plus whatever I can spare), I will invent.

Some ideas will be in stealth mode, and some will be public. Some will succeed and some will never get off the ground. In today’s economy and technology world, any good idea can be outsourced and grown quickly, organically, and with near complete automation. My goal is to have 5 companies by the end of 2008 each making $1000 in profit (or with a clear line to that profit marker). In 5 years, I will have 5 companies each making $1 million in profits. I will also have incubated and helped many more get off the ground.

This is the launch point of the business. Blast off.

March 26, 2008 at 6:54 am Leave a comment