The Village of Park Forest hosted a Business Breakfast on Thursday, Nov. 2, at Dining on the Green. Representatives from approximately 50 Park Forest businesses were in attendance. The morning began with a welcome by Mayor John Ostenburg, and continued with opening remarks by Village Manager Tom Mick. The focus of the morning was a presentation on Customer Service Training by Linda Baxter, head of Baxter Consulting, Inc., a Park Forest business.
In his introduction of Ms. Baxter, Tom Mick explained the importance of customer service for the Village of Park Forest. "Residents tell me, 'I pay your salary.' They're right. Their money pays our salary."
In her presentation, Ms. Baxter stressed the importance of recognizing the diversity of customers in Park Forest. Differences in the types of customers means "differences, not deficiencies," she told business owners.
Ms. Baxter conducted an exercise where business acted the part of the customer. They were asked first to model worst case scenarios. Several reflected on times when they were faced with less than satisfactory service. "I shouldn't have to be driving the transaction as the customer," said Scott Blitstein, of eSeMBe Technical Services.
Ms. Baxter stressed the importance of good customer service, "Service the customer and the customer comes back. That's customer loyalty. If customers have a bad experience in your place of business, people talk. People talk about good experiences as well." She stressed that showing respect is a strong reason for a person to want to come back and do business again.
At the conclusion of the presentation, Park Forest Director of Economic Development and Planning Hildy Kingma gave some business updates. The Taco Bell on Sauk Trail is in the process of picking up permits. The owners plan to demolish the restaurant and build a new one. Kingma anticipates that the new restaurant will be in place by the end of the year. In addition, the Legacy Square project continues. There are contracts on at least 13 of the new homes. Bigelow Homes have purchased 41 lots, and are working on putting in slabs for all 41 so construction can continue through the winter. Their plan is to start a new home every 5 days.
Kingma also reported that the Park Forest Plan Commission is interviewing candidates to conduct a Strategic Planning Study for some key areas in town. The purpose of the study is to come up with plans for development and redevelopment for those areas.
Sandra Roos of the Park Forest Business Network informed business owners that there would be another Business Expo in April, on the last day to buy vehicle stickers. She reported that last year over 500 stopped by for information.