Bruce Cameron is a SCORE mentor who specializes in hotels, sales, and marketing, and he can show you how to create the success that he has created for himself and help you in your business! Here’s the interview:
Hi, Bruce, can you tell us about what you do at SCORE?
I started almost 4 years ago in January, as a counselor and joined with Andy Lorenz ,who’s one of the smartest guys in the world, and we team up really well because he’s a school teacher by trade but he owned 5 companies and they were all in a high-tech field engineering type, and I’m a sales and marketing guy from the hotels and I also got in operations so we team up tremendously and people seem to like us because we have quite a few clients compared to some of the others and they keep coming back and that’s really rewarding.
As a representative of SCORE for The Palm Desert Chamber, which is the largest chamber in the Desert and I go to breakfast meetings and they’ve allowed me to go to their orientation.
They divided into 7 groups of 5, and I talk to them about SCORE, and I have 5 minutes for each group and so then I get their business cards and we put in the computer so they can get information about workshops.
I just offered our services of Andy and myself to be the public relations committee for SCORE and the 2nd annual Congressional breakfast as well.
Where are you from?
Originally from Albany, New York.
I went to Middlebury College and then Army for 5 years, coming out a captain, stationed in Fort Monmouth and Frankfurt, Germany, then West Point, got out and joined Avis Rent-a-car for 10 years and promoted to Regional VP of the Mid-Atlantic region.
I thought the car rental business was so unstable so I went into the hotel business and it’s twice as unstable.
What do you when you’re not working at SCORE?
I have volunteered with Read with Me and I go out to Thermal and read with the kids.
These are Hispanic kids learning English, I read to the 2nd grade and they really need a lot of help and I’m involved somewhat with Eisenhower 5 star, it’s a support group for Alzheimer’s and I’m involved to a certain degree. I’m also President of a men’s luncheon group of 50 people and we meet the 2nd Tuesday of every month. Every Thursday and Saturday I play bridge.
What attracted you to joining SCORE?
I had to give up golf just before I joined SCORE because of arthritis in my hands.
I was president of Desert Falls Country Club and my term ended that January and my wife had Alzheimer’s, and I had to place her in a home.
Since I could not play golf and my wife was away, I decided to join SCORE.
So I went in for an interview with Ned and the next week I was on board!
What is your favorite part about working at SCORE?
Counseling, by far.
What are your client success stories?
I’m working with one right now that is going to be successful. She’s in the coaching area and she’s just so smart, she used to be with the World Bank and wrote a couple of books and she is doing a complete career change now and she just communicates incredibly well.
Who is your ideal client for counseling?
Someone who is passionate about their job or their idea, that wants to get ahead, that has some capital to be able to get started– because so many people don’t have the capital to get started and has the wherewithal and intelligence to make it happen, and as I say, passion and drive and the person wanting to get ahead will be successful.
What advice would you give to a first-time business owner?
Bring a pencil and paper!
Half of the people don’t take notes…it’s amazing! (laughs)
Be prepared to know exactly what your problems are and verbalize, have lots of questions prepared on what they need to ask about, I think the preparation is the most important, people come in and they can find out what SCORE is about on the internet. The ideal client would be more prepared than most of them.
How would you get help in business?
In the car rental business, I had an incredible experience –I was VP of sales for a company and which is now Enterprise, my boss was VP of Marketing.
He went to Harvard and Columbia to grad school for his MBA and he told me about marketing. My idea of marketing was going to Vons or something like this. He really taught me about the do’s and don’ts about what the customer needs and from there I went on being VP of Sales and Marketing of several hotel companies.
What do you wish you had known before you started your first job/business?
I started with Avis Rent-a-Car in San Francisco and I always knew I wanted to be in sales, kind of what they taught me, I guess. I wasn’t as articulate and full of confidence as I should have been. I was the first person they sent to the Dale Carnegie’s course and that course improved me immensely.
What is your advice for people struggling in sales?
First, they need to know their product backward and forwards.
They have to completely believe in their product, if they don’t have that, they will never be a success in their field. They also must have drive.
What is your favorite memory working at SCORE?
I think my favorite is when I’m working with Felina Danalis. She’s into spiritual fitness coaching, she’s so bright and she keeps coming back and coming back and sending emails to me and how she’s coming along and asking, what do you think about this. She’s passionate about her coaching business and wanting to learn more and more and she’s just studying and it’s going to be a great success.
What industries can you help with the most in particular?
The hotel and restaurant business would be #1.
My weakness is social networking.
Can you think of a time when your business was struggling? What advice do you have for business owners who are struggling?
I just had one yesterday, she had a 5 million dollar business, they were doing well for a year and they moved to Mexico, and it didn’t work out, and she had to file for bankruptcy and start her business again. They are doing a million and a half now but need to do 3 million to really make it work.
I just gave them advice, she was in operations, but she’s a terrific sales person, she needs to get out making these calls to Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer etc, because she’s the best rep out there and if you’re having major problems and you have to take a run and you have to take charge and do the dirty work, which is selling sometimes.
Why should people come to SCORE for mentorship?
First of all, they have to have a need. Second, they have to define their need.
But we have a world of knowledge, we have lawyers, CPAs, engineers, salespeople, and if we can’t answer it, we refer them to another counselor and have them go with it, which is all free.
This is something that they don’t realize, but the biggest problem we have with small business people is that they don’t admit they have a problem so they don’t come, but it’s a huge mistake because it’s all free.
Thank you for being on this interview!
If you are interested in learning how you can work with Bruce, you can sign up for a mentoring session at the mentor page!