Carolyn Browne Tamler

has helped hundreds of businesses and organizations with her thoughtful facilitation and research services. She also writes colorful and compelling articles about new business initiatives! Would this help you? Call Carolyn today!

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    2055 Pheasant Farm Lane
    Freeland, WA 98249

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    6-1-17 Obtaining zip codes: A simple tool to learn about your customers

    One of the most basic pieces of information you need when you have a store front business or a business out of your home is knowing where your customers live.

    A simple method to answer this question is to create a system where you get the zip code of every person who comes into your business or contacts you to make a purchase.  This can be done on a computer or by doing listings and hatch marks on a piece of paper near your register (OK, I know this doesn’t sound very high-tech, but it works).

    You can keep track of these zip code tabulations by the month or season, or after you have done a new advertisement or special promotion.

    On Whidbey, I believe it’s especially important to know what proportion of your customers are local (and which are nearby vs. coming some distance to your business), and what proportion of visitors are from off-island.

    Once you see the patterns, it can provide you with valuable information about where, geographically, to focus your advertising dollars. To build your local customer base, remember that you need to do everything you can to make each person who comes to your business feel welcome.



    5-25-17 An email that was misunderstood and created a whirlwind of confusion

    I am on the Board of a local non-profit. Recently, a staff person in the organization sent around an email saying that her husband would be helping with a volunteer job (a very helpful job, by the way). I, without thinking, immediately sent back a little note – seen by everyone on the group list – joking (I thought) about nepotism. I even included an imoji.

    A flurry of group emails followed, where she explained that her husband was volunteering and in no way would be benefiting from this. I sent apologies (and I phoned a personal apology to her). Someone even sent a snarly comment about my humor to the group.

    The biggest joke of all is that I need to read my own Blogs. I have actually written about the subject of misunderstood emails and texts on more than one occasion. Here was a Blog I posted last year. The only thing missing is “Don’t use imoji’s to communicate”:

    2-25-16 Emails and texts can create lots of misunderstandings

    Have you received an email with several misspellings or grammatical errors?

    Have you had numerous text exchanges with someone and finally gave up and made a phone call to resolve something?

    Have you received a group email that got sent around several times to several people, including you?

    Do you find yourself sometimes struggling to get through a long email, only to reach the end and realize you’re still not sure what it was all about?

    Have you sent an email or a text assuming the other person would understand your words and your tone, only to get a response back that didn’t really relate to your intentions?

    I’m sure you can come up with several other items to put on this list. In our high speed communication age, we rapidly email and text and tweet several times a day….but are we really communicating?  There are some disagreements about how much human communication is non-verbal, but I think that we all can agree that lacking voice intonation, facial expression, body language and simply feeling another person’s energy, words alone will not necessarily convey thoughts accurately.

    I have a bit of a silly streak in me (those who know me might say it is more than a bit). I learned a long time ago never to use my silliness in an email unless I was absolutely sure that the person knew me well enough to understand the communication (and I’m not sure it’s wise to send anyone a silly email). Of course, I can add an imogi, but……

    So, here are a few suggestions to avoid misunderstandings when emailing or texting:

    • Keep it short and simple
    • If at all possible, save your sincere, serious communications for in-person or by phone
    • Read every email over before you press “Send”
    • If you are sending out a longer email or something with important information, make sure you have someone else read it before you send it
    • If you are feeling angry or frustrated with someone, DO NOT send them an email or text and let them know this; cool down first, and then make a phone call
    • If you are sending an email to a group of people, use the bcc, even if everyone knows each other; it will seem more personal and it will be impossible for someone else to press the “Reply all” and send out swirling emails that can drive us crazy.

    I know I sound very old-fashioned, but I like to reserve serious communication for when I’m talking directly to someone.



    5-18-17 Hearts & Hammers on Whidbey Island: Businesses and residents give back to the community

    May 6th, the first Saturday in May, was Hearts & Hammers (the concept was created by Blake and Lynn Willeford, owners of The Clyde Theater).  Rich and I have participated in this wonderful community program for several years.  Large numbers of people come together on a single day to help elderly or low-income people with home repairs so they can comfortably stay in their homes.  The Whidbey Hearts & Hammers has become a template now being used in many other communities.

    In a small community like South Whidbey, you notice how much the local business people donate to the local non-profits and help out in many other ways.

    This year, about 350 people contributed their skills and energy.  Many, like my husband and I, simply show up and do what we can to help.  But, there are also many professional people who donate their talents, like the two master carpenters who were on my team.  Electricians, plumbers, roofers and other skilled people who have their own businesses, participate.  Many of the large commercial businesses in the community offer special prices for, or donate, materials needed for the projects.

    At the end of the workday, there is a joyful time when the volunteers and the homeowners come together for a delicious dinner.  This year the dinner for nearly 400 people was donated by Des Rock owner of the Useless Bay Coffee Company.

    When you see businesses giving back to the community, it certainly makes you want to do business with them whenever you can.




    5-11-17 Helping a local non-profit is good for business, and for the community  

    Most non-profits are dependent upon donations from individuals and businesses for survival.  I am on the Board of Whidbey Children’s Theater, and one of the major tasks of being on the board is to keep looking for donations to support what the theater is doing.

    Our next production, The Phantom Tollbooth, runs for two weekends, beginning Friday, May 12th.

    We are very pleased that four local businesses are sponsoring the show, and we have heard that people in the community who support the Whidbey Children’s Theater specifically like doing business with our sponsors:

    • Fine Balance Imaging + Printing
    • Matt's Import Haven
    • College Search Consultants
    • Les Schwab Tire Center

    In addition, Tom Hanify, a well-known, highly regarded local photographer, wanted to make a personal contribution to Whidbey Children’s Theater and created a way to do that and promote his photography business.

    During the run of Phantom Toll Booth, and till the end of May, some of Tom’s framed photographs will be on display near our box office. Tom is inviting people to visit his website and select any item, framed or unframed, to purchase. Mention WCT – or Whidbey Children’s Theater – and Tom will donate a very generous 50% of the proceeds from the sale back to the theater.

    If you haven’t seen his work, I guarantee you will be impressed with the quality and variety.  I recently wrote a story about Tom for “Tom Hanify, highly acclaimed Whidbey photographer, blames it on a camera that invaded his life."

    Please visit his website, select one of his beautiful photographs, and let him know you appreciate his making a donation to WCT.


    5-4-17 Langley Makes Its Mark… a great place to visit and do business

    Our little town of Langley, Washington has been recognized nationally.

    Langley’s $2.2 million redesign of Second Street in 2014 is being recognized by the The National Complete Streets Coalition as a leader in safe, convenient and comfortable travel on a national scale.

    The link to the complete story is on my business Facebook page, and it’s worth reading to appreciate how special our small community is.

    No wonder an increasing number of local people and tourists are chosing to visit Langley and to shop there.



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