What are the effects of social media on your business?

With all the new technology and devices that are coming out onto the market it is hard for the small business owners to keep up! We have been told from news papers, media, e-marketing news letters and tech savvy business owners that if we do not have a Facebook Business Page, Tweet on Twitter or Write a Business Page on Yelp then we are losing out on our share of customers. The challenge which faces small business is how much time to dedicate to all the social media which our customers and competition may be using. The effect can be a lose of revenue, exposure and an untapped new customer client base.

To be successful you should choose to spend at least a minimum of 2-4 hours per week on social media. The best way is to schedule the amount of time dedicated to up-dating this information and keeping it current so that any customers will see that this is a company that is actively seeking their business. The main age group of 15-50 year olds tend to use social media the most and are most comfortable at navigating through the internet. Tweeting, Yelp and Facebook (besides a company website) seem to be the most popular for creating a web presents and especially with the 15-50. This market segment is the most comfortable with the internet and are the most interactive with participating with social media. They will go on-line to shop, browse and spend, and interactive with companies in this manner. It is important to remember who your customer is? 

If your products and services are targeted toward the  55+ age group there is a couple of items to consider. This age group while many are very savvy with navigating the internet they still enjoy shopping in person, asking friends for referrals or colleagues. They will use the internet for information but still want to come out and meet with you the business owner if purchasing a service or see the product in person.

Today in this economy it is important to consider a social media plan that may be right for your business and how the effect will impact you now and in the near future.

"Old Vines, New Wines" is the new sloggan of Spain!

Today, I watched Fanny Kiefer on Studio 4 she had Mireille Sauvé, Sommelier & President, The Wine Umbrella,    as a guest.  I found this show particularly interesting as I am a wine lover and enjoy trying and tasting different varietals. Did you know that Spain is becoming the new France for wine touring? I know countless people that booked their vacation time to go to France for just this reason, to tour and taste. Perhaps France will now have to share some of the tourism and dollars that tourists bring to go on wine tours to out of country destinations.

 It seems of late that every month there is a new wine event, I am not complaining especially if the event planners put on “free” events from time to time. Vancouver, Canada just had the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival in April and this event featured some great wines from New Zealand and Argentina, you can read for the review! With so many choices and places to visit is can be very daunting where we choose to spend our money. It is fabulous that we have so many opportunities living in Vancouver, Canada, that we have access to all the wines from different countries available for us to try and purchase right here. You can also find some of these wines showing up on some wine lists in restaurants and they usually give you the option of purchasing a glass this way you do not have to buy the bottle. I am not mocking a trip to one of these beautiful locations though and the experience that you would have just from being there would be memorable! If you have the resources definitely go and have the total experience if you can not make the trip at this time some of these fabulous wines are available at your Government Signature Liquor Store. 

Some wine facts that you should know: All reds should be uncorked and left for about one hour to “breathe”, not all reds need to be decanted but the more heartier reds like Cabernets that are robust should be decanted. The lighter reds like the young Merlots and Shiraz can be left open and in  the bottle is fine. White wines need to be chilled and typically served cold(between 8ºC and 10ºC ) sometimes even a little higher, which is very close to the temperature in many underground cellars. White wines should not be served colder as they will lose some of their character, whites do not need to be decanted or left to breathe. Most wineries are now considering and some making the leap to screw caps. Before most people related a screw capped wine with inferior quality. This is not the case it actually preserves the wine longer than the traditional corking. If you get a corked wine it will smell like “dirty, smelly socks” this can happen in all wines from champagne, white and red. What happens is the cork has a bacteria that leads to this process, it can be from a small particle that was incorporated in the cork at the time the cork was being produced to the tree that the cork came from may have had the bacteria. It is very unlikely to come from an Oat barrel, but this can happen on very rare occasions. 

Wine regions and the country of  Spain is the feature for June in all Government Signature Liquor Stores in BC and there are approximately 20 of these stores around British Columbia, Canada.  I am going to list a couple of wines that Mireille and Fanny reviewed during this interview and a couple of “Free” events taking place where you can go and try some of these wines. If you like what you try pick up a bottle or two to take home with you, but please remember not to drink and drive! Like the Spanish say ” feliz gustando”

Segura Viudas Brut Reserva $15.99 (Cava)

A dry sparkling wine made in the traditional ‘Champagne’ method, this bottle is one of BC’s best buys in a bottle of bubble. It’s very nice on its own and also makes a perfect base for any Champagne Cocktail.


Burgans Albarino $24.45 (Rias Baixas)

Dry with exotic aromas of honeysuckle, peaches, pears and citrus, this is an inviting white wine which sips well on its own or with food. Made from the Albarino grape, this is a benchmark example of the wine styles coming from the Rias Baixas region (also known as a “D.O.” or Denominacion de Origen) in north-western Spain.


Viña Albali Gran Reserva $22.99 (Valdepeñas)

This bottle is from the 2001 vintage, making it’s concentrated black fruit flavours soft and approachable on the palate. Made predominantly from Spain’s signature Tempranillo grape, this is a spicy red wine with hints of black plum, cherry and vanilla. Grown in the Valdepenas D.O.

Free Events June 5 and June 19 :

3:00PM-6:00PM Saturday June 5th at the Cambie and 39th Signature Liquor Store (complimentary food and flamenco guitar to add to the flavour of the event)

2:00PM-5:00PM Saturday June 19th at the Everything Wine Store in North Vancouver and Victoria ( complimentary food and flamenco guitar at this event)

The Bottom Line.

I have been reading this book called “If Only I’D Said That”  Vol.V by Peter Legge and thought that I would share one of his pages of wisdom from this book. Definitely, something that we can all practice, as this will only add to our quality of life!

The Bottom Line

Face it.

Nobody owes you a living.

What you achieve or fail to achieve in your lifetime is directly related to what you do or fail to do.

No one chooses his parents or childhood but you can choose your own direction.

Everyone has problems and obstacles to overcome but that too is relative to each individual

Nothing is carved in stone.

You can change anything in your life if you want to badly enough.

Excuses are for losers.

Those who take responsibility for their actions are the real winners in life.

Winners meet life’s full challenges head on knowing there are no guarantees and give it all they’ve got.

It’s never too late or too early to begin.

Time plays no favourites and will pass whether you act or not.

Take control of your life.

Dare to dream and take risks.

If you aren’t willing to work for your goals. don’t expect others to.

Believe in yourself!

(contributed to Peter’s Legge’s book by Rabbi Don Pacht, Vancouver Hebrew Academy) The author was anonymous.

New Drinking Laws,in BC!

I just read an article written by Craig McInnes, from the Vancouver Sun Newspaper, about the new drinking laws coming into law this fall. The news of the “New Drinking Laws” has been and I believe will be in the news for the next few months. While it is my personal opinion that drinking and driving laws are a good thing to have to keep us all safe from the chronic drunk drivers, it is also my opinion that the new laws may go to far for the law abiding citizen. I feel that these “New Drinking Laws” are going to have a significant impact on our Hospitality Industry and the restaurant/pub/events services where alcohol is served. I do not believe that these laws are going to have an impact on the chronic drunk driver that regardless of a “New Drinking Law” is going to make any difference. If you want to make an impact on this area then handing out a fine, or taking away their driver’s license does little or nothing to stop them from driving. I believe that you would get more by conducting a group of recovering alcoholics and asking them what they feel would be the solution? Police and politicians need to stop trying to come up with the answers and ask the experts. Stop wasting time and impacting the Hospitality Industry that is already so under the microscope. Bartenders, servers and managers of hospitality establishments already police the average citizen with making sure to serve alcohol responsibly and are certified by serving-it-right. All this “New Drinking Law” will succeed in doing is making the average citizen not order a glass of wine when they go out to dinner. Most people today with all the media attention on drinking and driving act responsibly and take a cab or plan a safe way home. At First Services Hospitality we support tough laws for the chronic alcoholic and offender but believe that the old law of the .08 was just fine.

Baked Cannelloni with Spinach and 3 Cheese Filling!

This is a recipe that I promised to a client that I would post on my blog. You can make the pasta tubes if you like or save time and this step and buy cannelloni tubes that are oven ready. Give this one a try and let me know what you think?

Spinach and 3 Cheese Filling:

8 oz. spinach leaves that have been washed

1 Tbsp of butter

2 c. fresh ricotta

1/2 c of grated Asiago

1/2 c of shredded Mozzarella

1 egg

dash of nutmeg

1/4 tsp of salt and freshly ground pepper

in a sauté pan over med-high heat add the butter, washed spinach cook until wilted. In a separate bowl add the cheeses, nutmeg, salt and pepper and the egg. When the spinach is cool, chop and add to the ingredients in the bowl and mix together, set aside.

Béchamel Sauce (White Sauce)

2 tbsp of butter

2 tbsp of flour

1 1/4 c of milk

1 bay leaf

1/8 tsp salt to taste

1/8 tsp white pepper

Melt the butter then add the flour and cook for a few minutes until flour and butter are combined, add the milk a little at a time constantly stirring with a whisk and sauce starts to thicken. Add the bay leaf, salt and pepper and cook for 3 minutes. Remove and cover with cling wrap to avoid a skin from forming on the top and set aside.

Rich Tomato Sauce

3 tbsp Olive Oil

Mince 2 Cloves of Garlic

2 Cans (355 ml) or 1 Large can of Crushed Tomatoes- (with Italian Seasoning if you can get it)

5 Fresh Basil leaves that are torn and added to the tomatoes

1/4 tsp of mixed dried herbs (Italian style)

1/8 tsp of salt

1/8 tsp of freshly ground pepper

1 125 ml of whipping cream

2 tbsp of chopped fine shallots

In a sauce pan heat over medium, olive oil, garlic and shallots, sauté until the shallots are translucent, add the tomatoes, herbs, salt, pepper and basil leaves, simmer for 5 minutes add the whipping cream and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

In a oven safe dish, spread 1/4 c of tomato sauce in the bottom of the pan, take your oven ready pasta tubes and your spinach and cheese filling and fill the cannelloni tubes (I find using my fingers works best). Place  rows of filled cannelloni in the bottom of the pan. Top with béchamel sauce, next tomato sauce and then sprinkle with grated Asiago. Repeat this step until all the stuffed cannelloni is used, sauce and cheese although on the final layer add shredded mozzarella and ricotta on the top. Bake in a preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or the tomato sauce is bubbling and cheese should be melted and slightly browned on top.

This dish pares well with a fresh garden salad and a balsamic vinaigrette dressing, you can add some shaved parmesan to this salad and a fresh banquette.

How to obtain a Special Occasion License in the Province of BC?

Special Occasion Licenses are also commonly referred to as a Special Event License, both are generally the same thing and you will need to complete a couple of steps prior to getting one to hold your event. You generally decide to get a special occasion license if you are going to be holding an event that is serving alcohol. Weddings, Tournament Awards Dinners, Fundraising Events all fall under this heading it is any event that you have invited guests to attend or you have presale or given tickets to. The general public is not invited as this will change the licensing and you can get yourself in a whole lot of trouble for not following proper licensing restrictions.  Things that you should know are how to obtain the licensing and what are the expectations around holding the licensing. Listed below are some steps that you may need to take depending on your Provincial regulations for your province or state.

  1. The Host must apply for the license, could be a business representative, organization president or anyone that is in a lead position. Caterers, Event Planners and Managers of venues are not allowed to apply or hold the licensing for the event.
  2. The host must be 19 years old and a permanent resident.
  3. You as the license holder have what is called the “Duty of Care” this means that you are responsible to make sure that your guests do not drive intoxicated and that you follow the “Serving It Right” responsibilities.
  4. You will need to have your “Serving It Right” certification in order to apply for the license and you will not be granted a license if you can not produce this certification.
  5. You will be required to fill out the date of the event, hours of the event, number of people attending the event, the location and the amount of alcohol that will be required and or sold during this time.
  6. Then you will return your application with all necessary documents to your Government Liquor store with your $25.00 fee for processing.
  7. You must adhere to hours of operation and this will vary from event type and location- generally speaking an indoor event is held between the hours of 9:00AM-2:00AM (although check with the venue for their hours of operation) or outside events held from the hours of 9:00AM-10:00PM.
  8. You can obtain 2 special occasion licenses in one month maximum.
  9. You will need to follow the alcohol price guidelines as set out prior to the event and you will be expected to pay a 10% tax in advance on any estimated liquor sales.
  10. Police do have the right to alter your license should they feel that there may be any potential problems. Liquor inspectors are allowed to enter at anytime and if they feel that alcohol is not being responsibly served or over served to the guests then they have the right to shut down your event.
  11. You can have minors attend a special occasion event but minors are not allowed to purchase, sell tickets or consume alcohol.
  12. Bartenders should be reminded to check 2 pieces of Government issued ID if the person purchasing the alcohol looks to be under age, or acting in a suspicious manner.
  13. For all other special occasion guidelines please visit
Forums- Are they a Community?

imageMost people join a forum because they like the whole idea of being part of a community that has like-minded people as part of the environment. People are social be nature and like to give their opinions. You are more likely to find people join the same forums from the same industries. As part of this community we do have responsibilities to share your knowledge and experience when and where appropriate. Remember to take advantage of other people’s experience and knowledge and listen and learn don’t limit yourself as a know-it-all! Forums can help to boost your on-line marketing efforts by providing you with contacts that may need your help or may know of someone that does require your expertise. It is well known that customers do visit on-line forums to see what is being said and I know of people that have been hired from being an active participant in a forum. Customers like to window shop before they buy especially if they are going to be spending a significant amount of money. Don’t be pushy in a forum just offer advise on what has worked for you if you are answering a question or providing feedback. You must remember to always present yourself and your business in a professional way. Have fun in the forums, be respectful, don’t spam, participate in conversations and answer all questions appropriately.