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Q & A with Chandra Blouin of Studiothink

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Chandra Blouin is Director of Strategy and co-founder of Studiothink, a web design and branding agency located in Surrey, BC which serves companies throughout Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. They are a team of designers, strategists and developers who create tailor-made websites, logos and brand experiences for companies who want to elevate their marketing and reinvent their online presence.

Click the questions below to reveal Chandra’s answers!

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I love watching (and helping) brands grow and flourish and I feel that’s what’s happened to the community of Surrey. We’ve worked with clients in Surrey for 20 years now and I’m proud to see how it’s grown though purposeful efforts to support and encourage business. I love the diversity of people, shopping, businesses, and activities. When I was a kid growing up in Langley you would have never wanted to say you’re from Surrey and I feel like Surrey’s brand image has done a full 360 since then. People are now proud to be from Surrey. And I am proud to be part of the Surrey business community.

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I’m a BCIT Marketing Communications grad.

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20 years this year 🙂 Started in 1997.

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My job is to come up with ideas. Ideas that solve problems and get results.

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Sherry and I started Studiothink in 1997. I was a passionate, young marketing professional who was always looking for a challenge. We knew that businesses needed more than just an outsourced designer or an outsourced marketing consultant, they needed a combination of both that would deliver something that looked good and worked. So Sherry, the designer, and myself, the marketer, joined forces. Without a client list and barely a portfolio, we had to get creative to get business. We started a full colour business magazine for the Fraser Valley and published that 10 times a year for 2 years. We ended up losing money on the magazine but did net ourselves a small client list that we were able to build on.

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My favourite, and most challenging, part of my day is coming up with ideas. In addition to listening to clients business goals and challenges and thinking of ideas that get them results, I’m also often immersed in idea storming with team members to help better our company, brand and client experience. Somedays I feel like I haven’t got a anything done, yet leave the studio with an exhausted brain. I wouldn’t want it any other way though, I’ve been an idea person since I was a child and Studiothink is the perfect outlet to exercise my passion.

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One sign that my work/life is definitely off is when I’m having to take my work home at night. When I first started our company I thought that’s what we needed to do to survive and I got used to working late every night. Transitioning and training myself to better manage my days so I didn’t need to take work home took a lot of years and practice, and sometimes I still fall back into taking work home. I have to really question myself as to why I’m taking this work home? Is it because I didn’t properly manage my day, allowing for constant interruptions, or is it truly that I have that much work. And if I have ‘that much work’ too often then I need to solve that resource problem.

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Our five year plan for Studiothink is to continue growing the team and brands that we service. In 5 years my goal is to be spending less time working in the business and more time on the business to further develop our team, processes and help build our own brand and marketing.

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I’m not sure it was a challenge, as I most certainly didn’t see it that way, but being young and female definitely forced me to think differently and get creative, especially when it came to getting financing for our magazine, selling, and managing other (sometimes older) people. My way to overcome every obstacle has been to weigh the pros and cons and if I could live with the worst case scenario…then go for it. I’ve learned the hard way many times, but if I hadn’t been willing to take a risk here and there, I wouldn’t be where I am now.

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Success is loving what you do and getting paid to do it. My heart aches for people who hate their job and only continue to do it for the pay cheque because I know it doesn’t have to be that way.

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Starting my own company has definitely been the most memorable milestone and has resulted in many more milestones and happy memories.

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Absolutely!! Anytime you think or hear the word ‘No’, swap it for ‘How?’. If I had stopped every time I heard the word ‘no’ I wouldn’t have a company. The path to success isn’t a straight line so when you hit a roadblock look in every other direction because there’s always a way around. Then, believe in yourself, know that you deserve to love what you do and never give up. My path to success definitely looked just like the lower diagram!

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There are many, but my current fave is TAP restaurant. I love the locally sourced ingredients, small but spectacular French inspired menu, exceptional service and great wine (especially those recommended by the owner/chef/sommelier Alistair Veen). taprestaurant.ca

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My family loves the recreation centres in Surrey (and we live in Blaine, WA). We have a family pass and love to go swimming and to the gym in South Surrey. There are so many options and love being able to go get some exercise in such beautiful facilities, especially when it’s raining outside.

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I spend my “Me” time with my girls and husband. We love travelling to tropical beaches and exploring in our trailer closer to home. My girls are in Girl Scouts and I’m a leader so I spend a lot of spare time doing those activities and planning.

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I am really looking forward to returning to Europe in the next few years. We did a whirlwind tour in 2006 before we had kids—6 countries in 2 weeks. I would love to go back to France and Italy when we have more than just a few days to explore an entire country. Being able to experience completely different culture, traditions, people and food within only a few hours of travel is amazing. The wine is great too 🙂

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Follow Your Arrow by Kacey Musgraves

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I have no shortage of ideas…so if I wasn’t focused on injecting new ideas into growing Studiothink then I’d be bringing other business and product ideas to life. Probably something to do with aromatherapy or natural skincare and beauty products.

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I’m a Girl Scout leader for a troop of 12 girls Grades 2-4 in Blaine, WA. I want all girls to have the confidence I had as a young person to know they can accomplish anything they set their mind to and there’s no limit to whatever they dream. Girl Scouts is founded on these principles and I try my best to instill this confidence in our group of 12 girls, 2 of which are my own.

Studiothink also has a favourite charity we support in every way we can. It’s called SALI (Semiahmoo Animal League) and is based in South Surrey. They bring together children-at-risk in Surrey with animals that have been neglected or abused, so that together they can help each other heal. We are so proud of how SALI has grown over the past 9 years and for all of the kids and animals they’ve been able to bring joy and happiness to. sali.ca

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Surrey has made huge strides and done an incredible job rebranding this community as the hotpot for business and lifestyle over the past decade. Big companies and people are moving to Surrey in groves. I feel like Surrey saw and opportunity and jumped on it. They’ve worked hard to accommodate and demonstrate the value of this community around the world and they’ve benefitted as a result. The community feels progressive and always changing, which creates anticipation, excitement and pride. Being part of city that behaves and believes in moving forward to create a better life for all definitely makes me Surrey Proud.

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The creator of Surrey604.com, Daman Beatty (AKA 'Beatler') is originally from Sackville, New Brunswick. A longtime media producer, visual designer, marketing and communications specialist, Daman loves travel, technology and being a Daddy.

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Building An E-Commerce Business In Canada? Here’s What You Need To Know

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The consumer market in Canada is changing at a rapid pace. On the west coast, start-ups are becoming increasingly common as entrepreneurs call cities like Vancouver, Victoria, and Surrey their home.

In this changing market, e-commerce is slowly taking the place of traditional brick-and-mortar storefronts in many respects.

As an aspiring e-commerce entrepreneur, there are several significant resources and insights to keep in mind ad you begin to build your business.

Track Your Income & Expenses

Before you can strategize and create lofty long-term goals, you’ll want to ensure you have the financial structure you need to grow your business.

Often, entrepreneurs in Canada struggle with the basics and must look to alternative lenders or online payday loans in Surrey or wherever their business has been established.  To ensure you don’t make the same mistakes, you’ll want to set up a separate account for your professional expenses.

Whether you choose to create monthly spreadsheets or use a budget app, having a money management tool you can refer back to will help ensure you’re never overspending and you’re investing your profits where they’ll best serve you and your company.

Invest In a Web Developer

Many e-commerce brands are as popular as they are today because of the functionality and engagement their site brings to the market.

When you’re in the process of hiring a web developer, look at their resume and past clients — you’ll want to see what kind of sites they’ve created and how consumers have responded.

This hire can make or break your brand before you even launch, which is why it’s vital to do the necessary research.

Email Marketing

There are certain areas of creating an e-commerce brand in Surrey or throughout Canada, and e-mail marketing is one of the most significant.

While social media is becoming increasingly popular as a marketing technique, e-mails remain a tried-and-true method for reaching customers and convincing them to make repeat purchases.

Creating lists for promotions and sales is a skillful way to keep customers engaged, rather than simply e-mailing only when they’ve made a purchase.

You’ll want to continuously test and optimize your emails using A/B testing to ensure you’re maximizing your growth potential.

Prioritize Customer Service

Without customers, your business will be unable to survive, let alone sustainably grow. The e-commerce market is competitive no matter the industry you’re in, which means customers are looking for brands that care about their shopping experience.

If your operation is small, you’ll likely be handling customer inquiries on your own. Remember to prioritize a portion of your day to comb through questions or concerns to keep your potential customers invested. When buyers have a seamless experience online, they’re more likely to recommend that product or service to their network.

If you have the capital to hire a single employee or a small team, you can delegate the customer care tasks and focus on the departments that need your immediate attention. You’ll want to ensure these candidates have strong writing skills and sales backgrounds — because they’ll know how to engage with your customers and ensure their satisfaction.

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Surrey teenage entrepreneur’s food delivery app boasts of 10,000 users, unique dine-in feature

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Surrey-based entrepreneur Ekam Panesar’s home delivery app DishPal is giving competition to the big delivery companies in the Lower mainland.

Two years after starting DishPal, the app now has 10,000 users and 100 active drivers. The app has partnered with 75 local restaurants already with many more to come.

The app was started by Ekam Panesar in Grade 12. The Seaquam Secondary School graduate is proud of its success so far. “This is only the beginning”.

“I was 16 at the time, when my father while eating lunch at one of the restaurants shared a concern of restaurants that they make very less profit on their orders from third-party food delivery platforms because of higher commission fees,” Panesar said.

“That’s when I decided to create DishPal, a smart app for ordering food and delivery online that helps local restaurants earn more by offering a lower commission of 10%.”

Panesar worked relentlessly to transform the idea into reality. After research, trials, and surveying the restaurant industry, DishPal was launched with a unique dine-in feature.

Dishpal

It is a mobile reservation, payment, and menu planning app that enables you to make reservations, order online, pay at the table, and tip. This contactless service helps you ditch your wallet.

DishPal also has a subscription plan called “DishPal Plus” which offers cashback/credit on every order, free delivery, and other benefits which helps you save while you shop.

Users may use the online credit or go to one of our partnered locations in person to pick up the order.

Panesar attributes his success and positive work ethic to his family. “My parents always taught me not to compare myself with anyone as everyone is unique in their own way.”

About the Founder-CEO:

Ekam Panesar is a solution-driven young entrepreneur who balanced his academic life with entrepreneurial dream and community work.

Ekam currently attends classes at Simon Fraser University. His drive to expand his business to the next level is fired by his vision. He wants DishPal to be a name brand in Canada and India that stands for trust, transparency, reliability, and quality.

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How Businesses Are Prioritizing Appointments As They Open Their Doors Again

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Restaurants and retail stores have finally reopened their doors after months of closure. As they reopened, shoppers have lined up and flocked to stores in record numbers, even amid recent Covid-19 surges.

The reopening has been a welcome occurrence for many, not least because of the 24,000 jobs recovered in Surrey. However, while consumers are eager to support their favourite clothing brands, small businesses, and other non-essential businesses, owners and management have had to strike a fine balance between maximizing customer footfall and prioritizing customer safety in-store.

Getting the balance right between generating income and deciding which clients get the first appointments can be a tricky decision. Thankfully, each business is adopting its own ways of prioritizing appointments and maintaining great customer service at the same time.

Dental And Medical Institutions Turn To AI And Scheduling Software

Based on safety guidelines from the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario, dentists are relying on a prioritization scheduling approach for patients. The organization recommends physical spacing between appointments to allow for appropriate sanitization measures between patient visits, along with pre-appointment screenings.

Dental practices are also encouraging patients to practice good dental care at home, and take note of the signs of gum inflammation early on to avoid more severe consequences, such as periodontal disease, which can occur if gingivitis develops and is left untreated.

Patients with urgent dental concerns like a severe dental infection are being referred to emergency dental clinics or earmarked for emergency clinic hours. Dental practice management software like ACE Dental and DentiCon are also being used to schedule and track appointments.

Scheduling software such as these also offers useful scheduling hacks like the ability to group patients as family members – and possibly group their appointments to minimize the spread of infections.

Other dental practices are using AI to prioritize urgent patient appointments, similar to the UK’s NHS approach to working through the patient backlog. Booking and patient interaction software like Dr. Doctor relies on predictive algorithms to help hospitals and dental care surgeries prioritize appointments by urgency instead of seeing patients on a first come first served basis.

Patients are given a patient questionnaire to complete, and graded using a colour-coded charting system. These and other dental booking software systems help to reduce the administrative burden on clinicians, which leaves them with more time to focus on patient care.

Pre-Booked Appointments And Outdoor Dining Feature Heavily For Restaurants

Due to a recent surge in cases across British Columbia, restaurants are closed to indoor dining until April 19, 2021. However, takeaways and outdoor dining are still permitted. Most restaurants have taken their appointment booking and takeaway services online, allowing customers to make reservations based on table availability, or pick up their meals to go.

The use of online appointment scheduling software such as Zoho Bookings and Yocale are popular amongst food establishments to keep track of bookings.

Currently, no more than six people are allowed to sit together when booking a restaurant reservation in order to maintain social distancing, according to reopening guidelines by Work Safe British Columbia. Therefore, larger parties are either being spilt into separate dining reservations (if outdoor space permits) or offered an alternative date.

Retailers Continue To Rely On Crowd Control, Navigation Signs, And Queues

Other retail stores have also implemented crowd control techniques instead of an appointment system. Retail stores in malls are now limiting the number of shoppers in-store at any one time, and have implemented navigation signs for customers to help with the flow of traffic in-store and outdoors.

Doormen and security staff are a common feature, as they maintain the number of shoppers in-store and regulate the flow of traffic in a bid to prioritize social distancing.

Stores are also incorporating an omni-channel approach as a way to stagger in-store traffic. Caposhie in South Granville has continued to keep a focus on online operations to balance demand.

Owner Adelle Reynaud said, “We sort of spent our time kind of building the back end up, and hopefully through this our online sales will grow and we’ll kind of figure out new and improved ways to figure that out.” Other retailers have embraced the use of the click and collect model, and are encouraging customers to use their virtual services where possible.

Jewellers like Tiffany’s in Vancouver now allow consumers to book their virtual appointments online, or book a time slot for in-store consultations. Golden Tree Jewellers in Surrey has done the same, providing a dedicated contact number for appointment bookings.

As business resumes, companies are having to find new and innovative ways to balance their profitability and customer safety. Deciding how to prioritize appointments is a crucial part of that.

The basis of prioritization and appointment models differ greatly according to businesses, but one thing that remains consistent is that businesses in BC are finding ways to rise to the challenge.

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New Device Repair Service On Wheels Launches In Surrey, Bringing Residents Contactless, Convenient And Professional Repairs Right To Their Doorstep

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Mobile Klinik goes mobile: Innovative smartphone and tablet repair service on wheels is now available in more than 100 cities and towns across Canada

Mobile Klinik waiving $29.99 convenience fee to support Canadians with safe contactless customer repair support amid Covid-19

Today Mobile Klinik, Canada’s leading chain of professional smartphone and tablet repair stores, launched Onsite Repair Units, the first van service of its kind to offer consumers and businesses nationwide the convenience of professional smartphone and tablet repair at the location of their choice.

With more Canadians working and learning from home and physical distancing protocols in place, it is more important than ever for their devices to be working without issue, and now residents and businesses in more than 100 communities nationwide can conveniently access Mobile Klinik’s Onsite Repair Unit service.

“The launch of Mobile Klinik’s Onsite Repair service is our latest initiative to make smartphone and tablet repair a more accessible, cost effective, and convenient option for Canadian consumers,” said Tim McGuire, CEO of Mobile Klinik.

“Because we are spending so much time learning, working, and seeking entertainment at home, having reliable smartphones and tablets is paramount. We are proud to bring our services right to our customers’ doorsteps – at no extra charge – so they can resume using their device, often in less than an hour.”

As a leader in professional smartphone and tablet repair, Mobile Klinik is committed to providing Canadians with flexible and affordable options to keep their devices for longer, servicing common issues like cracked screens, broken cameras, software updates, and battery replacements using high quality parts and state of the art diagnostics – right from inside the Mobile Klinik service van, outside their homes or place of work.

To further support Canadians throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, for a limited time, Mobile Klinik is waiving the $29.99 Onsite Repair Unit convenience fee.

Customers in the following communities can book today either online or by phone to have a Mobile Klinik technician arrive at the location of their choice and service their repair in 60 minutes or less.

British Columbia

  • Vancouver
  • Surrey
  • Richmond
  • Burnaby
  • Delta
  • North Vancouver
  • West Vancouver
  • Coquitlam
  • Pitt Meadows
  • Maple Ridge
  • Langley
  • White Rock
  • New Westminster

Alberta

  • Calgary
  • Chestermere
  • Airdrie
  • Edmonton
  • St. Albert
  • Spruce Grove
  • Beaumont
  • Leduc

Manitoba

  • Winnipeg
  • Selkirk

Ontario

  • Toronto
  • Mississauga
  • Brampton
  • Oakville
  • Milton
  • Caledon
  • Ottawa
  • Nepean

Quebec

  • Gatineau
  • Montreal
  • Pointe-Claire
  • Kirkland
  • Salaberry-de-Valleyfield
  • Laval
  • Longueuil
  • Quebec City
  • Levis
  • Saint Jean Sur Richelieu

To find out if Mobile Klinik’s new Onsite Repair service is available in your community or for more information, visit us:

About Mobile Klinik

Mobile Klinik is Canada’s leader in professional smartphone and tablet repair, refurbishment and resale with more than 90 convenient locations from coast to coast, Onsite Repair Units in over 100 markets across Canada and an online store.

We are committed to providing Canadian consumers and businesses with flexible and affordable options to repair, buy, sell, protect and connect their wireless devices.

For more information about Mobile Klinik, please visit our website and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

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Business

Attention Entrepreneurs: This Could Be The Ideal Time To Start That Business

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Every business has been impacted in one way or another by the COVID-19 pandemic. In many cases, this has led to layoffs, reduced hours, and other major changes for workers. While the economy is struggling to bounce back, entrepreneurs have a unique opportunity to push their business dreams forward.

There is more talent accessible on the market than ever before, and you’re not constrained by geographic location. It’s easier to be nimble and succeed with a small team (even just yourself) than it used to be. And if you need a small business loan to get your company up and running, interest rates are expected to remain low for several years.

Many of the world’s most successful companies were started in the midst of a financial crisis. It all comes down to whether or not you can provide consumers with something they need or want. If you decide to start your business in the near future, however, you’ll need to ensure that you manage your capital well so that you can stay in a strong position for long-term success.

Surrey604 is here with some ideas. From conducting a market evaluation to saving up a healthy financial cushion, here are a few key practices for stretching your startup capital in the early stages of your entrepreneurship:

Evaluating the Market

Assuming you already have an idea of what type of product or service you want to offer, you will need to do a thorough market evaluation to ensure there is demand for it.

How big is the market? What are potential competitors offering and how is your product different? What are the price points like?

Writing a Business Plan

Once you’ve assessed the market, you’ll need to create a business plan. Much can be said on this subject, but to keep it short: Your business plan should contain all the information pertinent to the launch and growth of your company over the next five to 10 years.

Some examples of what you need to include are your mission statement, a description of products or services, financial projections, the kind of staff needed, and your marketing strategies.

Outsourcing Time-Consuming Tasks

It might seem counter-intuitive, but hiring people can be a cost-effective method of growing your business. Think about it: If you try to do everything yourself all the time, everything will take longer to get done. And chances are they won’t be done properly and you’ll get burned out in no time.

Consider any tasks or roles that will distract you from your vision as the business owner, and start looking for qualified workers to fill them. For example, you can easily hire professional accounting, legal, and branding services through freelance job platforms.

Using Financial Management Tools

A lot goes into managing finances when you’re a business owner. It’s easy to get overwhelmed keeping track of your taxes, expenses, payments, invoicing, and other factors.

Fortunately, there is a slew of software tools on the market (e.g., Freshbooks, Xero, QuickBooks, etc.) that can simplify this process. Use them.

Saving Up

Just like with personal finances, saving up a contingency fund for your business can provide you with security and peace of mind. You never know what is going to happen tomorrow — or even today! — and having money saved up can help you avoid significant financial hardships or the loss of your business.

Start setting aside money each week, and try to put away at least six months of expenses. If you’ve been thinking about opening a business, why wait?

There are many reasons why now is a great time, and if you prepare beforehand, you can take advantage of the moment and establish a stable foundation for long-lasting success.

Along with considering the tips above, keep researching to see what others steps you can take to build a healthy, thriving business from the ground up!

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