The Gardeners Report: Atlantic City, On the Brink of Greatness

This past week my team any myself walked the streets of Atlantic City, visiting every business and non-profit we could find.  We introduced ourselves, told them a little bit about who Miracle USA is and why we are here, and invited them to our event.  We handed out flyers to most and sponsorship requests to some.  Many shared with us their feelings about Atlantic City.

From a business perspective, we first must identify what exactly we have going on.   And we have LOTS of different “perceptions” going on in AC. First, we have the big boys….casinos, big hoteliers, convention centers, big banks, and such.  Then we have the band of professional offices such as attorneys, doctors, CPA’s, organizations, engineers, architects, advertising, etc.   Then we have retail, which is split into two categories: chain and neighborhood.  Then we have restaurants, which are split into three categories: chain, landmark, and neighborhood.

What I noticed most abundantly, is the disconnect between what AC is, and what AC wants to be.  There is a flagrant lack of blending of demographics throughout the community.   Rather than each segment blending together at the edges to support one another, there is a serious disconnect, and somewhat of a contempt even between them.

When there is a lack of balance within a community everyone suffers. The community must be blended so that the foundation of the community supports the building of the community.  This is the piece of the puzzle that is missing.  These are the apparent cracks in the foundation.  The foundation MUST be repaired for any large-scale ventures currently in planning for AC to succeed, and to create the LONG TERM SUSTAINABILITY of the vision in creation.

Considering the planning going on in AC right now, this is THE PERFECT TIME for AC to make this desperately needed repair.  But, for this repair to be successful, businesses are going to have to take another look at the how they've been marketing to the community.

There are a dozen things that you can do for the community, starting with employment. By employing your community, you are also providing them the opportunity to grow. By providing the opportunity for growth, you automatically extend that opportunity to each family. The family becomes prosperous, which feeds the rest of the businesses in the community. You help them, and they become your best street-level perception of what you are and what you are doing, ultimately securing the tourist.

But you must plan to disburse marketing dollars a little differently. I see education and training for new employees as marketing.   I see licensing for employees as marketing.   I see insurance for employees as marketing.  I see fair wages for employees as marketing.  It’s all marketing.  You are giving them the tools they need to be as good as they can be, which benefits the businesses in ways that are hardly considered today.  We need a change of perception all the way down to the streets.  And this is where support of the non-profits come in. There are so many organizations structured to help us help the community, and they are struggling to support the efforts.  So, non-profit support and inter-connectivity also becomes marketing.

Now, let’s talk about perception. We have a whole big mixed bag of things going on in AC.  Variety has apparently been the consideration.   Casino Town.  Convention Town.  Beach/Boardwalk Town.  College Town.  Big Utility Town.  And there is more to come from what I am told.  Whew!  With all that we must find a common denominator. The history of AC can help, but it has had so many severe ups and downs that’s like walking a tightrope.  We should go with what’s sorely missing, but oh so appreciated by tourists.  Customer Service.   Ouch!  I didn’t mean for that to hurt, but we must look at how we approach our customer service outlets.  We must train our staff on the processes, yes.  But to the vein where it serves the company AND the customer.  Employees must be trained how to serve the tourists in a way which makes the tourist feel like they are being heard, respected, and appreciated.  We are a vacation town.  We have lots of resources to have fun.  We need to secure it with service.  Good old-fashioned customer service.

Going back to community and employment as it relates to marketing. Now if you are training staff hired from the community these customer service standards, and they work more than they are home and awake, how do you think that reflects in the behaviors at home?  In the community?   You get it now.  Another marketing expense.  But this one pays off big.  If maintained over the long-term, the community will never suffer again.  It’s your responsibility to the community and consequently the best business move you can make.

I would like to engage the chain retail outlets to revisit their marketing as well.  These businesses benefit not only from the perception staged by the big boys, but also from the community like the big boys.   Most of the outlets are about fashion and style.  As the front-door off the expressway, it’s about makeup and hairdo too.  They are in the heart of the most widely used entrance to AC.  They are a good option of things to do in AC.  But the town needs to be walking the talk too.   Hiring and training once again is a marketing expense.  But what about getting together with a non-profit and hosting some community events?  Fashion shows, make-overs, whatever.  Free gifts.   Get your name out there on products. Tourists see that.  Community will support you.  It’s a marketing expense.

Engaging the professional offices, I would say that supporting your community by method of employment and donation to a non-profit to assist them in assisting others is in order.  Provision of discounted services?  A simple creation of an arm which would support the community-level needs?  A welcoming staff, guided to maintain customer service standards?  Use of the landmark restaurants for events, meetings, and get togethers?   Creative marketing.   Just another marketing expense.

All the other businesses need support.  The community will become abundant in many ways.  New businesses will come.  Neighborhood businesses will be very important.  These businesses need to remain committed to their customer service standards and need to fine tune their operations and position themselves for growth to support the abundance.  Many are struggling.  This is one of the services that Miracle USA is providing.   And while we are doing it we are securing an inter-connectivity of these businesses with the non-profits as well.

Finally, it is important to remember as we go forward, that for the LONG-TERM SUSTAINABILITY of Atlantic City to be achieved, the foundation must be strong.   All segments need to communicate and work together in a way that is mutually beneficial to ALL parties involved.  If we are not doing that, well, once again the band-aid will be pulled off and we will be here again.  That’s the other reason why Miracle USA is here.  We are joining the hands of businesses, non-profits and community together in Atlantic City and the surrounding communities that support Atlantic City to help them make sustainable partnerships.  It’s time.  It’s a brilliant time for this success.  It can be achieved.   We are here to help pull all the pieces together, for the benefit of all.  Let’s put all our puzzle pieces on the table and really create the Atlantic City that the community, and the world, deserves.

And to express our off-island commitment, we understand the depth of dependency to Atlantic City that is present, and are also working with the businesses, non-profits, and communities there to support the imminent growth.  Real estate is also one of our primary focuses off-island as well, as housing is a major issue which must be resolved as quickly and as effectively as possible.  We support the network of private real estate investors for this purpose, as it enables us to assist in providing the blue-collar work needed to flip or buy-and-hold which will bring immediate relief to that local segment.


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