Vince Baron, owner of Baron Financial Services in Menominee, Michigan, says that some of the best advice he ever received was passed along by his dad, attorney Arthur Baron.
"If you want to be successful, you have to go to every chicken dinner," the elder Baron said.
Said Vince Baron: "That means I need to have my face out there and be active in the community. So, I try to go to every chicken dinner." Baron, who is being mentored by Ann Harnell of the Green Bay SCORE’s Marinette branch, has plenty of experience with actual chicken dinners. His vast areas of expertise include training as a chef and owning a restaurant. Business has long been part of his life.
"The first job I ever had was selling my aunt’s oranges at a farmers market in Orlando, Florida," Baron said. "One day a guy came up to me and said I was really good at sales and he recommended I get a degree in food industry management."
So, how did he end up transitioning from the restaurant business to financial management? It all started with a Dave Ramsey course, Financial Peace University, that he and his wife signed up for at church.
The restaurant was struggling, and Baron says the classes were life changing. He learned how to pay off credit cards and other debt and how to live on a budget. In the process, Baron became intrigued with the financial world, and with his wife teaching school full time, took classes and obtained certifications that would allow him to make a career change.
"I thought that this was a great thing," Baron said. "This is like the Dave Ramsey course; I can get paid for helping other people with their finances."
He took a position with a financial advisement firm and quickly learned the trade. "I worked there for a year and a half," Baron said. "It was a great experience, but I learned that I prefer to be my own boss. My business was growing very fast and my boss came to me and said it was a good time for me to either start my own company of go off on my own as one of their representatives. I knew that what would make me happiest was to start my own company."
That led to the selection of a firm, and he chose LPL Financial, the nation’s largest independent firm. He joined the Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club, became active in networking and met with Hartnell.
"I heard about SCORE at a Rotary Club meeting, and it was great timing for me because I was in the process of setting goals for where I wanted my business to go in the next year," Baron said. "It was good to have someone give advice who wasn’t in the financial field."
The meetings have continued on a regular basis and Baron is meeting and exceeding his goals. A natural salesperson, he has learned that it takes time to build a relationship and that there will be hesitation in the process.
That has been a challenge, but one he understands. He says that finances are such a personal thing to people that it is hard to allow another person in.
"I’m helping them decide how to save if they’re sending kids to college, the next step in their business or investment for retirement," Baron said. "It’s cliché to say, but it’s true that most of my clients are like family. If a family member dies or they’re getting a divorce, for all of the major milestones, I’m part of it."
The business specializes in investment strategy, business services and life insurance. He says he wants to be a "dream manager" and help people work toward achieving their personal dreams. To accomplish this, he works on staying connected and promotes the business with an aggressive marketing plan that includes mailers, flyers, print advertising and social media. He has 1,200 contacts in his email program.
In his office, located in the same building as his dad’s law firm, he said he sets a strict schedule for calling clients, answering emails, checking the market, prospecting and learning. In a recent meeting with Hartnell, she was impressed with his progress.
"Where are you at today?" she asked.
Baron responded: "I have doubled my client load, updated my website and increased my income."
"She said I was doing great," Baron said. "And then we sat down together and made new goals for the next six months."
Tina Dettman-Bielefeldt is co-owner of DB Commercial Real Estate in Green Bay and past district director for SCORE, Wisconsin.