Our Weekend in New Hampshire AMBC’s November 2015 weekend “Work”shop at Jeff Ballantyne’s Parcel Room in Portsmouth, NH By Marty Johnson Is there anything quite so beautiful as autumn in New England? Early November was the perfect time to hold our latest AMBC “Work”shop weekend. Parcel Room in Portsmouth, NH, was the perfect venue. Jeff Ballantyne and his marvelous staff at Parcel Room were the perfect hosts! If you’re not familiar with Jeff or his operation at Parcel Room, you need a quick crash course. In addition to volunteering on the AMBC Board of Directors and serving as CFO, Jeff is AMBC’s freight guru. He runs AMBC Freight and consistently goes the extra mile to help members work through their freight shipments, accessing spectacular rates through the extensive network he’s created. Parcel Room is a freight supercenter. Everything in the front customer area is on wheels, so counters and stations can easily open into a wide pathway to the double doors for easy access to trucks, which are a regular sight at Parcel Room. The back of the business is warehouse-like, with pallets and crating supplies stacked high, even filling a loft Jeff constructed for extra storage. Jeff’s box making machine is a thing of beauty. Pallets of double weight cardboard sheets surround the unit, ready to be fed into its wide, hungry mouth and come out the other end, custom cut and ready to assemble. We had a special box making demonstration during our weekend, and it was hard to peel everyone away to get back to classes! So you can understand why we were super stoked that Jeff graciously volunteered to host our most recent AMBC event. Without hesitation, we moved right in and invaded Parcel Room for the weekend, setting up a classroom in the back warehouse and buffets full of delicious delights on the packing counters. We kicked off our weekend on Friday night, November 6th, with refreshments and a tour of Parcel Room for FasTrac™ participants. Saturday was FasTrac™, AMBC’s intense eight-hour new owner/manager/ employee training seminar. The room was packed and the participation was wonderful! Sarah Rohde led the class and the other board members and I had the privilege of assisting. Throughout the day, as is common in FasTrac™, different vendors stopped in to introduce themselves. ShipRite provided a delicious Panera lunch on Saturday and PostalMate treated everyone to a delightful Saturday evening dinner at the Olive Garden. I ate entirely too much. On Saturday evening, Kevin Keating from Pacific Office Automation hosted refreshments back at the hotel pub. Sunday was the “Work”shop, and golly was it packed—not just with attendees, as we had over 50, but with classes, demonstrations, announcements, and breakouts. And food. There was so much food! We kicked off Sunday morning with PostalMate user training led by the dynamic duo, PC Synergy’s own Henry Heller and Rhonda Ward. Next on the agenda, Sarah led her very popular Customer Service – from Satisfied to Loyal Advocate class, followed by a PostalMate-sponsored break. After refueling, Steve Merrick from MPC Coaches gave us a good look at new and proven-successful POP (point-of-purchase) items, as well as a new way to think about store traffic patterns to maximize impulse purchases and minimize customer wait time. Then, innovative and jovial Jan Sangl presented an important session on risk tolerance. Lunch on Sunday—a chowder and fish sandwich feast from local hotspot Newick’s—was outstanding. Thank you, FedEx, for such a perfectly appropriate and particularly palatable feast! Linda Falch, FedEx Worldwide Account Manager, spoke to the group about the FedEx Authorized ShipCenter® program. We’re so glad to have such a devoted partner in FedEx, and such a fabulous friend to our industry in Linda. After lunch, we got into the heart and soul of Parcel Room with a freight class by the freight guru himself, Jeff Ballantyne. We learned all about the right tools, right attitude, and right mentors. After we were freight satiated, ShipRite sponsored an afternoon break. We had a special treat on Sunday afternoon with a very helpful representative from the USPS stopping in to talk about the Approved Shipper program. Kevin Keating then gave us great information, as he consistently does. Some of the samples he shared made my eyes bug out in amazement. It’s hard to believe that we can have affordable access to equipment in our stores that is capable of such professional, amazing output! Later in the afternoon, I had the opportunity to present my latest Marketing with Marty session: Inside Out Marketing 2.0. Then we closed the day with ShipRite user training, led by ShipRite President Mark Ford. We can’t thank our vendors enough for their participation, presentations, and sponsorship. All of the meals, drinks, snacks, activities, and entertainment that our outstanding partners generously provided went above and beyond. For each vendor, vendor representative, and vendor contribution, we are truly grateful. Feedback from the weekend in New Hampshire was overwhelmingly positive. We’ve taken it all into consideration, knowing our 2016 events will be our best events yet.