How did we get picked to be on the show? We’ll let our president Susan Braverman tell you in her own words:
A couple of weeks ago, I applied to be on the CBC TV Show called The Big Decision. Its two hosts, Arlene Dickinson and Jim Treliving, are both on Dragon’s Den. Here is a link that gives you a brief overview about the show: http://www.cbc.ca/thebigdecision/about.html
Unlike other businesses on the show, my company Textile Image (The Flag Shop Head Office) isn’t in financial despair. In fact, we are stronger than we’ve been in years. But I decided to apply to be on the show because I think we have a great story and that one of the hosts may think we are a worthy investment. In my application I explained our past, what I did to turn the company around, and how we now find ourselves in a strange situation where we aren’t in ONE specific industry anymore. We are a “flag & banner” company that makes signs and promotional products, and we are a “sign company” that also makes flags & banners. The days of selling just flags are long over. And with our digital printing equipment, we can do even more than we even realize we can do. And we have 12 locations across the country! And our block-out mesh street banners have taken off…. and, and, and, and…
So I submitted my application and told my story. And last Tuesday night, CBC phoned me and explained that my application was sent in too late, that they are in Vancouver filming right now, but that one company had to pull out for financial reasons and so they offered me the spot. The host would be Arlene Dickinson, whom I consider one of the top marketing icons in Canada.
That was last Tuesday night at 9:30pm. My life has not been the same since.
CBC has spent several days filming the day-to-day activities in the plant and interviewing me on camera. I have filled out enough questionnaires to have completed a new business plan. We have had cameras installed throughout the building so that they can capture staff working naturally, and I had a microphone strapped to my bra for 3 days full days, so that they could hear every word I said. All the video and audio footage was shared with Arlene.
The CBC crew needed to film us making a banner/flag from beginning to end. So we decided to design a Gamma Jumbo banner of Arlene and have it on display for when Arlene came to see me. The film crew filmed every step of making this banner, right from the beginning when I came up with the idea. Arlene was blown away.
Arlene spent last Thursday with me at the shop. She got to see the premises, she asked questions, and we talked about my challenges. The day ended with me doing an “ask”, which is where I ask her for what I want from her. I asked for $750K. $550K was to pay off old debt that I inherited (it was accumulated before I took over the company in 2006), and then I asked for $200K to be used to move the company forward strategically (e.g. hiring a consultant to do benchmarking, assist me with a new business plan, marketing plan, revised job descriptions), plus money for new staff (e.g. general manager, another sales rep, etc.).
Yesterday I found out what “challenges” I have to accomplish before Arlene will agree to invest in Textile Image. I was driven out to a corn maze in Surrey and had to walk through the maze to find Arlene. I got lost (of course), and the message that she wanted me to get (which I got right away), was that I needed a map in order to get where I wanted to go. When I finally found Arlene, she presented me with the 3 challenges, all of which have to be completed within one week.
Challenge #1: Since I think that block-out mesh street banners are the best thing to happen to the street banner industry (Arlene says she doesn’t know if this is true), I need to sell one big block-out mesh order to a new client. And I have to personally look after it. (I got the feeling the Arlene doesn’t realize that I actually LOVE selling.)
Challenge #2: Arlene is bringing in the #1 business consultant in Canada. When HE arrives (cause she won’t tell me his name), I have to do everything he says. (That’s all I know about this challenge.)
Challenge #3: Last week I told Arlene that I inherited a bunch of dead stock, which is in our inventory and sitting in our shelves. Arlene wants this stock sold, to help our cash flow. So I have to sell all of our dead stock within one week, with assistance and in cooperation with my 11 Flag Shop franchises across the country.
The 7 day countdown is officially on, and I have my work cut out for me. Fortunately I have a great team to support me.