January 24, 2000

Jennifer Tanner
Communications Specialist

Special seminars aimed at assisting Thomasville business owners

Valdosta State University's Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and the Thomasville Main Street program are organizing a series of seminars, the "Downtown Development Institute," for area small business owners and their employees. The programs will be held from Feb. 22 through March 21 on Tuesday nights from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Registration is $39 per session or $149 for all five sessions.

Additional sponsors of the "Downtown Development Institute" include the Thomasville-Thomas County Chamber of Commerce, Bank of America, Commercial Bank and Thomasville National Bank.

This continuing education program is designed to help small businesses be more successful, according to Scott Manley, assistant director of the SBDC.

"This is not just for the downtown business community�anyone can attend," Manley said. Sessions will give participants tips to help them be competitive, offer better service, make the most of profit and take advantage of advertising and marketing tools.

"We start with customer service," Manley said. "To be successful, small businesses must distinguish themselves from the big chain stores�and it all comes down to customer service."

The following sessions will be offered by nationally-known instructors:

* Session 1, "Customer Service that Sparkles," Tuesday, Feb. 22. Participants will learn how to satisfy their customer's needs and give highly competitive service. Instructor Bob Beeland is the senior business education specialist at the University of Georgia Business Outreach Services.
* Session 2, "Salesmanship," Tuesday, Feb. 29. This session will explain techniques and buying signs that will increase sales. Instructor Ron Simmons is the area director of the Gainesville office of the University of Georgia Business Outreach Services/Small Business Development Center.
* Session 3, "Advertising: Maximum Effect with Minimum Investment," Tuesday, March 7. Small businesses will learn why, when, where and how to advertise successfully on any budget. Instructor Jamie Harvey is the founder of the marketing agency, Harvey, Lane & Associates in Valdosta.
* Session 4, "Finance and Accounting: Fun and Easy?" Tuesday, March 14. This session will help eliminate the confusion of financial statements and show participants accounting tips that will make paperwork much easier. Instructor Scott Manley is the assistant director and business consultant for the Valdosta State University Small Business Development Center.
* Session 5, "Digging for Gold: Marketing Research that Helps you Mine for Profits," Tuesday, March 21. Marketing research can help businesses be innovative and desirable to the targeted customer. Learn where to go to find out what customers need and want and where to find prospective buyers. Instructor Suzanne Barnett is the area director of the Valdosta State University Small Business Development Center.

Students who attend all five classes will receive a certificate and be invited to the graduation dinner on March 21.

Registration forms may be picked up at any of the sponsors' locations. Seating is limited and pre-registration is required. For more information, contact Scott Manley at 229-245-3738.