Free Telescope Night at the Lucile Miller Observatory

Telescope night

Come out to the Lucile Miller Observatory on Friday, August 17 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. for a beautiful night of stargazing. Though donations are appreciated, this is even free and open to the public, meaning you don’t need any reservations – all you have to do is show up to enjoy this free-of-charge event. If it rains, no worries! There are lots of indoor activities the whole family can enjoy, along with informal indoor presentations during every observatory event. Located at 515 North C Avenue in Maiden, NC, the Lucile Miller Observatory is conveniently situated for residents all around Hickory, NC.

About the Lucile Miller Observatory

This local astronomical observatory is located inside Maiden High School and is owned and operated by the Catawba Valley Astronomy Club. This observatory consists of a wheelchair-accessible classroom and observing pad that can hold up to 40 people. Of course, there are some large scopes at this observatory you can use, though you can also bring your own telescope, and the staff here will help you learn how to use it. That way, you can stargaze by yourself at home when the observatory isn’t open to the public. These guys can teach you all about stargazing and give you tips to truly take your hobby to the next level.

Find the Perfect Night to Stargaze in Maiden, NC

Some nights are going to be better to stargaze then others due to weather conditions, so it might be helpful to take a look at the Lucile Miller Observatory Clear Sky Chart to find the perfect night to enjoy the sky. This chart is basically an astronomer’s forecast that tells you when the sky is going to be cloudy and when it’s going to clear up to be just right for using your telescope. Just look at the chart, pay attention to the row labeled “sky conditions,” and the columns of blue blocks are going to tell you whether you should get out your scope or wait another night.

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Don’t Miss This Free Night of Stargazing

As we mentioned, this is a free event. However, the Lucile Miller Observatory doesn’t receive funding from the school system, so we do encourage you to make a donation you feel comfortable with, if possible. This is a great opportunity for the whole family to spend quality time together while learning more about our magnificent planet and experiencing all its beauty.

Higher Customer Retention Means Higher Profits!

Customer retention diagram

We’ve all heard it a hundred times: “Acquiring a new customer can cost 6 to 7 times more than retaining an existing customer.” And yet, we still can’t seem to find a few dollars each month to spend on customer relationship marketing.

Customer Retention Figures

Let’s set the stage for the cost of customer acquisition versus customer retention.

  • The cost of customer acquisition versus customer retention could reach as high as 700 percent*
  • Over a 5-year period, customer natural attrition rates could reach as high as 50 percent
  • Businesses which boosted customer retention rates by as little as 5 percent saw increases in their profits ranging from 5 percent to a whopping 95 percent

Benefits of Marketing to Current Customers

Now I think we can all agree there’s some opportunity here to refocus more on our existing customers, rather than chasing down new ones. By simply automating the process of service lane marketing, content marketing, email marketing and social media marketing, you’ll have huge success:

  • Staying in touch with your current customer base
  • Reminding your customers of upcoming events and seasonal tips
  • Maintaining a professional appearance all the way to the inbox
  • Taking advantage of opportunities to reach out to clients you have not talked to in years; you have new makes and new models to offer them
  • Get a few more referrals sent your way

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Making Equity Mining Seamless

This is why service lane marketing is vital. Think about your regular service customers. They are more profitable, more loyal and of greater lifetime value to the dealership. Service lane marketing attracts the richest mix of loyal customers. Many dealers are wasting marketing dollars on disloyal customers who will never stick around long enough to pay back their acquisition investment.

Many dealers have been turned off to equity mining because they may have had inadequate training, didn’t use it or had improper processes in place at the dealership. Others have invested in poor software where the numbers didn’t add up and lost confidence with their staff. Either way, having an easy-to-use software solution installed is essential. Partner up with a vendor that is committed to your success. Being able to serve up customer information that is accessible at a moment’s notice is crucial. Your staff needs to have a seamless process that encourages them to use the software. Once they have bought in, it becomes part of their daily routine.


*Source: Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company.

Meet Prospect Vision’s New Digital Press: The Xerox® Versant® 3100 Press

Prospect Vision is proud to announce the newest addition to the office – The Xerox® Versant® 3100 Press. Equipped with groundbreaking technology, this state-of-the-art printing press allows for maximum efficiency while delivering unmatched quality. As one of the most powerful, advanced, and innovative presses on the market today, the possibilities are endless when it comes to providing our customers with the high-quality materials they desire.

What Does This Mean for Our Customers?

With the new Xerox® Versant® 3100 Press, our customers can now expect even higher efficiency when working with Prospect Vision. With the ability to print from such a powerful production press, we’re now able to do even more in less time. Ultimately, this means we can provide you with even quicker turnaround times, getting you the materials you need as soon as you need them. This doesn’t mean we’re sacrificing quality, though. Far from it. With technology like the exclusive Xerox® Ultra HD Resolution and Production Accurate Registration, we guarantee you’ll be stunned by the quality of your materials with each delivering jaw-dropping detail. From banners to envelopes, we can handle any job you need with a minimal turnaround time.

Details on the Xerox® Versant® 3100 Press

For those who are curious to learn exactly how efficient this press is, take a look at some of the impressive stats below.

  • Prints at 100 ppm on stocks, specialty media from 52-350 gsm, and auto-duplex up to 350 gms
  • Exclusive Xerox® Ultra HD 10 bit Resolution with four times more pixels than other presses
  • Average Monthly Printing Volume of up to 250,000 and maximum monthly duty cycle of 1.2 million
  • Fully automated color and production print optimization via Full-Width Array
  • Automated Color Calibration and Production Accurate Registration with tolerances to within a half millimeter
  • EA Toner, 2400 x 2400 dip with 10-bit RIP and an advance Compact Belt Fuser

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Contact Prospect Vision Today

If you’re looking for a partner in printing, we are now, more than ever, your go-to source. From booklets, brochures, and catalogs, to reports and newsletters, and even wire-bound products, we can do it all. Get the materials you need with one of the shortest turnaround times in the industry, and ramp up your marketing today. Teaming up with Prospect Vision may just be the best business decision you’ve ever made. Contact us today to find out what we can do for you.

Spend Your Weekend with the Western Piedmont Symphony

Western Piedmont Symphony

For residents of Hickory, North Carolina, and surrounding areas, finding events the whole family can enjoy is incredibly easy this June! With so much going on, especially for those that enjoy listening to and supporting the Western Piedmont Symphony, there’s something exciting to do every night throughout the weekend.

Take a look below at some of the events going on in Hickory, NC, throughout the rest of June, and mark your calendar to attend.

Sails Original Music Series
Friday, June 22

Here’s a chance for you to enjoy live music under the Sails on the Square. Happening every Friday evening through September, gather with the community starting at 6:30 pm to listen to a range of unique artists. Friday, June 22, will feature The Moon and You, which is a duo that includes Ryan Furstenberg playing the banjo and guitar, and Melissa Hyman on the cello. The following Friday, June 29, Twisted Pine will be playing their music full of rich harmonies, including the latest pop music in acoustic form.

Dueling Pianos at Market on Main
Saturday, June 23

Along with taking in the beautiful music of the Western Piedmont Symphony, this fundraising event on Saturday, June 23, also features a dueling piano bar. Come watch Western Piedmont Symphony favorites Gregory Knight and John Coffey play some of your favorite songs one after the other. You can either bid on your favorite songs, or just sit back, relax and take it all in.

Tickets to this fundraiser are $125 per couple, and you can purchase them online now. By purchasing tickets, you can be proud to support your local orchestra, which is only one of two professional orchestras in Western North Carolina, while also helping them sustain their performances throughout the season.

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Symphony Under the Stars
Sunday, June 24

Come catch the Western Piedmont Symphony perform once again on Sunday, June 24, from 6 pm to 9 pm at Union Square in Downtown Hickory. Part of Summer Pops on Sunday, this event is located under the Sails on the Square, making it the perfect spot to bring a blanket and let the family enjoy a beautiful symphony under the stars before the work week begins.

If you’re not already a lover of the Western Piedmont Symphony, attending just one of their events this June is sure to make you an avid supporter of this local orchestra. While their mission is to provide musical performances that enrich the Hickory community, these events are open to the public and a great chance to teach your children about this musical genre. So, don’t miss out on the local community fun and the chance to support your area orchestra.

Trucks and SUVs – An Equity Mining Opportunity

equity mining trucks

There are two kinds of vehicle owners in this country, those that drive a truck (SUVs included) and those that want a truck. In the latest 2018 May sales recap, trucks commanded 62 percent of new vehicle sales. This paradigm change in the market is so complete that Ford will quit producing cars in 2020.

This presents a tremendous opportunity for equity mining. Every “car” in the service lane presents an opportunity. It’s not that people just want trucks – they need trucks.

American culture, both young and old, is increasingly focusing on wellness. Trucks and SUV’s are now crucial for hauling gear. Paddleboards, kayaks, biking, hiking – you name it – are all facilitated by owning a truck. Previously, those who owned a pickup truck also had a car in the driveway. But now, that second vehicle is an SUV.

Equity mining

The desire for trucks and SUVs is an opportunity to create incremental sales, shorten the customer trading cycle, and to establish a significant profit center for a dealership. These opportunities turn into success when equity mining their database and equity mining the service lane are married to the right process and the right tools. Dealerships that set up a full-time department/team and have them focus on equity mining for service lane sales can convert from 2 percent to 4 percent of their total customer pay and warranty repair orders into new vehicle sales. Additionally, they can convert 3–5 percent of the eligible database equity mining contacts into sales monthly.

A little push

Make no mistake about it, a new vehicle purchase is still an impulse item. Very rarely does anyone have to have a new vehicle. A truck or SUV is an impulse buy for very rational reasons: “It’s so handy for chores around the house.” “It provides greater visibility and safety.” “It allows us to haul paddleboards and kayaks.” And so on.

Place an SUV or Crossover equipped with a bike rack, paddleboards, or kayak in the service drive next to the customer lounge entrance. Have artwork on the customer lounge walls featuring trucks, SUV, and crossovers in lifestyle settings. We have always said that two of the most influential factors in sales are social acceptability and a compelling reason to buy. Trucks and SUVs give you both.

Another tactic is to incentivize buying with YETI giveaways. Try displaying these coolers near the truck, and advertise that they come free with vehicle purchase. These coolers are known for their high quality and cool factor – pardon the pun. Leveraging the outdoor and adventure lifestyle associated with the YETI brand will help you connect this image with the purchase of a truck.

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Prepare to win

Create an atmosphere for equity mining to be successful. We have all heard the quote, “The key is not the will to win… everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.”

Taking time to stage the service lane can give an extra push to your equity mining and provide a leg up for your salespeople.

3 Must-See Exhibits at the Hickory Museum of Art This Summer

art museum

Whether you’re an art lover or just want your children to develop an appreciation for it, the Hickory Museum of Art makes for a great rainy-day adventure for the whole family. While the museum always has fascinating works of art to see, this month is particularly a great time to visit due to the exhibits currently on display.

From the unseen artistic endeavors of Mathew Diffee, to the landscape paintings of Hickory native, Paul Hunter Speagle, these are three exhibits you do not want to miss this summer.

One Man Group Show: The Cartoons and Other Art of Matthew Diffee

The One Man Group Show exhibit includes many of Matthew Diffee’s cartoons and illustrations that have been published in The New Yorker Magazine. These cartoons are well-known for their craftsmanship and aesthetic design. While you may have seen many of these before, the main attraction is his paintings of landscapes and abstractions that are being put on display for the first time. If you’re a fan of his cartoons, then you must visit this exhibit before it ends on July 8.

Walking the Dog: Paul Hunter Speagle

Paul Hunter Speagle grew up in Hickory, North Carolina, and his artwork reflects the landscape of his hometown. Along with the mountainous landscape paintings, this exhibit is topped off with nature sounds and the smell of moss and apples to excite all your senses. Visitors will also be able to use the giant crayons, which Speagle engineers himself, on the massive coloring book of North Carolina Mountains until the exhibit closes on July 15.

Embracing A New Form: Paul Whitener’s Later Works

Paul Whitener was the founder and first director of the Hickory Museum of Art. He was also a well-known portrait artist and landscape painter.  In order to continue painting after doctors removed a brain tumor, leaving his right side paralyzed, he taught himself how to paint with his left hand. This led to him developing a more abstract style with the use of cato ink and casein paint. You’ll see both finished and unfinished paintings on display until June 24.

Visit the Hickory Museum of Art in North Carolina Today

The Hickory Museum of Art is located in the same building as the Catawba Science Center on the SALT Block. While general admission to the museum is free, tours are only $2 a person. An added bonus is the science museum that is just steps away, making a visit to these two museums a great way to spend the day with the family!

4 Unique Skills Your Employees Possess that Can Help You Sell More Cars

All employees are different. They come from different backgrounds, have different past experiences, and possess different skill sets. While you probably already know about certain skills that make them great in their position, you may not know about others that are completely unrelated to their job titles.

By discovering the strengths your employees aren’t currently putting to use, you can find ways to utilize them around the dealership. Not only will this benefit the company as a whole, but letting them do something they’re good at can make them more engaged and happier in their day-to-day role.

While uncovering these unique skill sets can be extremely easy with some employees, it can be a little harder with others. The easy way is, of course, just asking the employee about their hobbies, interest, likes, and dislikes. On the other hand, it may take you watching them as they work to get a better idea of their strengths and unique skills.

So what type of skills should you be on the lookout for? We have a few unique skills below that one or more of your current employees is likely to possess, plus how you can utilize them to sell more cars.

Social Media Skills

You know the guy or girl that checks their Facebook page at every possible chance and stays up-to-date on all the new social media trends? This is the employee you want helping with your social media. Whether or not you have an agency in charge of your social platforms, this employee has an inside look at the dealership and can provide valuable insight on what you should be sharing with your audience. While they can help write posts, they may also be great for creating interaction and engaging with potential customers on social media.

Photography Skills

In today’s online world, images are so important, and with just about everyone owning a smartphone with a quality camera, you don’t have to have an expensive photographer at all times. From snapping inventory shots of your new vehicles to capturing the fun at dealership events, there are a number of ways you can make use of an employee’s love of photography.

Organization Skills

You likely have some employees who can’t keep up with deadlines and often misplace important papers, but you probably have others with impeccable organization skills. These are the ones that would be great for helping you plan events or assisting you in other projects that you just can’t seem to keep your head above. Letting them take the lead on these tasks won’t only help you keep your sanity, but also get them more involved in the dealership.

Fundraising Skills

Being part of the community is something most dealerships strive to do. But often, it gets left to the wayside when things get busy. If you really want to get your dealership involved in charitable causes and fundraisers for various organizations in your area, leave it to the employees that genuinely enjoy helping others and have a knack for getting other people excited about charitable causes. While this will obviously benefit the dealership, this employee is sure to find even more fulfillment in their position.

It may sound tricky at first, but by simply taking the time to learn more about your employees and uncovering their unique skills, you can find countless ways to make them a more valuable employee, plus make your dealership more successful at the same time.

The Kiwanis Splash Pad is Ready for Summer

splash park

The splash pad at Kiwanis Park in Hickory is officially opened for the season, making now the perfect time to get the kids out for some water play and cool off from the heat. Located at 805 6th Street SE, the splash pad is right by the Zahra Baker All Children’s Playground and Kiwanis Park baseball fields.

If you haven’t been yet, you should know that this splash pad is a blast, for kids and even adults. All the elements of the splash pad, like the giant dumping buckets and water jail, allow the kids to run under, run through, and sit underneath the water, keeping them entertained for hours.

While the kids are playing around, you can sit in the shade in the pavilion and easily keep an eye on them. Once they’re done at the splash pad, there’s a playground right beside it, along with the Zahra Baker All Children’s Playground right up the hill where they can continue the fun. Oh, and did we mention the bathrooms are close by and clean? That’s a perk with any family.

So Many Kiwanis Park Activities

While a lot of people specifically go to enjoy the splash pad, the Kiwanis Park has a ton more activities the whole family can enjoy, like tennis courts, outdoor basketball courts, horseshoe pits, and walking trails. With all the energy exerted, you’re bound to get hungry, and that’s when you’ll appreciate the grills and picnic tables located on the park, so be sure to bring some hot dogs and buns for a fun, easy meal.

Made Possible by the City and Local Kiwanis Clubs

First opening in July of 2016, the splash pad continues to be a favorite spot in the community, and a few local organizations are to thank. Along with the City of Hickory, the Hickory Kiwanis Club and Western Catawba County Kiwanis Club partnered together to build the Kiwanis Park Splash Pad.

The Kiwanis Club strongly believes in giving kids opportunities to learn, be curious, and to thrive, and creating places where they can go have fun in their community is one reason they raised the funds to build this splash pad. The idea actually came about when the Club was looking for a way to celebrate their 100th anniversary in 2015. They wanted to celebrate with a project that would have a big impact on the local Hickory community, and most would agree, that goal was more than accomplished.

Take the kids out for some fun on the splash pad today, and you can take our word for it, they’re sure to be exhausted by the time you leave!

The Key to Managing Your Service Department’s Online Reputation

reputation management

Customers do their research online before deciding who they want to do business with, and even more than they tend to trust their friends and family, 84 percent put their trust in online reviews left by strangers. Low star ratings, bad reviews and even non-existent profiles, can all lead to a poor digital reputation – and a major problem for your dealership’s service department.

Don’t let a bad online reputation cause your customers to go elsewhere. Learn how you can effectively manage your service department’s digital reputation and win more customers by taking a few simple steps.

Establish ways to continually learn about your service department’s online reputation

Learning about your service department’s reputation isn’t a one-and-done type thing. It’s a continual process that never ends, but it can pay off big time when done correctly. As a dealership owner, your job is to employ ways to regularly get customer feedback. Fortunately, there are many ways you can go about doing this.

One of the best ways to elicit feedback is to email your customers a survey shortly after they’ve visited your service department. While you won’t get a 100 percent response rate, customers that are extremely happy or extremely unhappy are likely to respond. From here, you can encourage your happy customers to leave a review online.

Other than soliciting feedback, you should always be monitoring review sites and social media platforms. These include your Google Listing, Yelp Profile, and Facebook Page, to name a few of the most important. By simply watching these sites, you’ll be able to get a good grasp on your online reputation to see what areas are exceeding customer expectations, and which might need improvement.

Proactively respond to the good, and more importantly, the bad

While you should always thank your customers for taking the time to leave a positive review, those left by unhappy customers should be responded to just as promptly – and the quicker, the better. Waiting around hoping they’ll go away isn’t an option in today’s online world and will likely make the problem worse. Instead, look at the problem as an opportunity to one – show other potential customers that you truly care about their experience, and two – make improvements within your department.

In your response to the frustrated customer, first make sure you thoroughly understand the problem or situation. Then, focus on solving the problem and making the customer happy. Once you’ve done that, you can ask the customer to edit their review, and you’ll likely find that most are happy to do so.

Of course, your job doesn’t end there. Now that you’ve handled the complaint with the individual, it might now be time to correct the problem on an operational level, especially if this isn’t the first time the problem has occurred.

Online reviews and ratings can leave potential customers feeling like they’ve found the perfect place to service their vehicle – or they can make a customer want to steer clear. But if you actively monitor and manage your online reputation, you’ll know for a fact that it’s bringing customers in and not shooing them away.

Beer, Wine and Grub: Check out the Selection at Olde Hickory Tap Room

olde hickory tap room

As a locally-owned restaurant, Olde Hickory Tap Room is a favorite among Hickory, NC, residents. Located on Union Square, this place consistently has great food, amazing customer service and a selection of beer and wine that’s hard to beat. When you go here, you get much more than a tasty meal, you get a much-needed night out!

Olde Hickory’s Beer and Wine Selection

The Olde Hickory Tap Room serves none other than fresh brew from the Olde Hickory Brewery right down the street. Housed in the 1880 Historic Landmark building in downtown Hickory, this beer is brewed using select grains, robust hops, and cultured yeast without the use of additives or preservatives. From their famous Piedmont Pilsner to the Brown Mountain Light, many say they brew the best high-gravity beers in the state.

While the beer selection may steal the show for some, this place caters just as much to the wine lovers out there. With a selection of red wine like Rock and Vine Cabernet and Cypress Merlot, this place is sure to have a glass of red with all the flavors you desire. Same goes for the assortment of white wines, offering anything from citrus flavors to summer blends. There’s even a special selection of wines that have been handpicked by the owners.

Daily Specials You Can’t Miss

Another great thing about this place, aside from the beer and wine selection, is the daily specials they post on their Facebook page. While many crave their burgers and buffalo chicken sandwich, they have daily specials that are off the chart. Take for instance the Salmon BLT with salmon tips, bacon, lettuce, tomato and mayo on a fresh hoagie roll, or the Grilled Chicken Breast Rolled in Jerk Sauce topped with swiss cheese and grilled pineapple. Just a couple visits here, and you’ll see why many locals call this place “Ole Faithful,” as you’ll never be let down by any their dishes.

Events at this North Carolina Tap Room

No matter when you come out to the Olde Hickory Tap Room, you’re likely to enjoy live performances from a variety of musicians, or at least a great deal on the drink of the day. Every Thursday and Saturday night, you’ll get to see bands from around the region perform. Of course, Sunday’s are famous for the “Jazz on Tap” music program that features live jazz performances organized by local musician Rick Cline. There’s even other stuff to look forward to at the first of the week. Monday night is Pint Night where you get to keep your pint glass, Tuesday is none other than Tequila Tuesday, and Wednesday is for the whiskey connoisseurs.

Bring your friends along for a trip to the Olde Hickory Tap Room to devour some delicious food, drink some fresh brew and enjoy live music. Before you know it, this place to sure to become one of your favorite local spots in Hickory, NC!