Suzanne Meyer, President of The Welcome Committee, has a passion for connecting newcomers to local businesses and service providers! She took the time to tell us about how she got started and what has contributed to her success!
Charlotte Business Resources (CBR): Thank you for taking the time to talk to us about The Welcome Committee! Please tell us a little about yourself.
Suzanne Meyer (SM): My husband and I moved to Lake Norman from Florida in 1994 for his job with Duke Energy. At the time, I was a stay-at-home mom with a 6 month old and an 18 month old but was ready to get back to work.
Shortly after our move, I was visited by the neighborhood Welcome Wagon Greeter. It was an awesome experience….she provided much needed maps, valuable community information and helped connect me to a pediatrician, to story time at the public library, etc. I knew right then that I wanted to help connect newcomers too, so I called the Welcome Wagon home office and asked for a job!
I was a Welcome Wagon Greeter for 3.5 years. It was the perfect job as I was able to set my own hours and still be at home with my children. In 1998, after having my third child, I received my pink slip when Welcome Wagon was bought out and the format changed to direct mail. Many of my former Welcome Wagon sponsors encouraged me to start my own Welcome Service Business to continue the valuable face-to-face marketing, introducing their business to new customers and forging long-term relationships.
With nothing to lose, I incorporated The Welcome Committee in December 1998 to continue the mission of connecting new residents with local business and professional services.
CBR: What services do you offer?
SM: The Welcome Committee is a Word-of-Mouth Marketing (WOMM) service that connects new residents with local business, community and professional services. Most newcomers have no shopping loyalties and are looking to establish relationships with area businesses at a critical time in their decision-making process. Our friendly introductions help ease their transition to the community and they are receptive to receiving our information. Our visit is always FREE to the newcomer (the businesses pay a fee to be represented in the basket. Civic and non-profits are pro bono). The Welcome Committee provides state & local maps, civic and community info (DMV, library, recycling info, private & public school info) as well as coupons and gift certificates from local businesses who wish to welcome new residents to the community. In addition to WOMM, we also provide event marketing services at trade shows, health fairs, business expos as well as press release services to further promote our clients. We serve Huntersville, Cornelius, Davidson, Denver, Stanley and Mooresville.
CBR: What challenges did you face while starting this company?
SM: It was overwhelming at first – from writing new contracts, advertising agreements, press releases to hiring and training staff. There was so much to do and I had never owned a business before. I wore all the hats from HR to Sales and Marketing, Networking to Public Relations to Collections. I made many costly mistakes in those early years.
Despite that, I wouldn’t change a thing! The mistakes I’ve made have taught me valuable lessons.
CBR: Do you have advice for new businesses?
SM: Yes, first and foremost, write a business plan. Know your strengths and develop them further. Don’t waste time on the things you’re not good at or don’t like doing…outsource or delegate your weaknesses! For me, I despise numbers, so I found a competent bookkeeper who handles the things I abhor, like payroll, taxes, invoicing, etc. I also didn’t know how to build and maintain a website, a necessary tool for every business, so I outsourced that as well.
Also, join your local Chamber and network! I’m a big advocate for partnering with the Chamber of Commerce and using local resources. Welcome Committee is active in the Lake Norman and the Mooresville-South Iredell Chambers of Commerce.
Networking on behalf of The Welcome Committee has led to several other fun “jobs.” In January 2015, I began co-hosting a radio show on WSIC 100.7 FM, 1400 AM and TV 21.2 on Thursday mornings from 8:00 am to 9:00 am called “Around the Lake”. It is so much fun interviewing Lake Norman’s movers and shakers and informing the community about all the events and fundraisers going on in the area. And in March 2014, I was offered a job as the Sponsorship Consultant for the Town of Cornelius PARC Department for special events and programs. Life is good and I feel very blessed to be doing what I love.
CBR: Is there anything else you would like to share?
SM: The Welcome Committee was ranked #2 of 36 small business finalists in the Charlotte Business Journal’s “2014 Best Places to Work” competition. Working Mother Magazine ranked Welcome Committee a “Top 25” Best Mom-Owned Business in America in 2007 and StartupNation.com has ranked The Welcome Committee a Top 100 (ranked #21 in 2014) Home-Based Business in America. We are so humbled and honored to be recognized but most of all, it is our privilege to serve the greater Lake Norman communities and to help make a difference.
Also, after receiving several requests to purchase a Welcome Committee franchise, I eventually released a self-published book and DVD in 2006, “Home-Based Business: The Complete Guide to Owning and Operating a Successful Welcome Service Business” so that others could emulate the Welcome Committee business model and start a similar greeting service in their communities.
I decided not to franchise my business model…it was too expensive and it would also not be affordable to others. The book offers a step-by-step instruction on how to properly launch and operate the business, what to do and what to avoid (those early, costly mistakes). There are currently 150+ WSB’s operating throughout the US and abroad.
Thanks so much Suzanne for sharing with us! For more information, you can contact The Welcome Committee at 704-660-1155 or visit their website at www.TheWelcomeCommittee.net!