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Tariq Shane is a former Captain in the United States Army, who served his country for 6 years, and is now the President of the American Small Business Alliance, Inc. (ASBA) located in Columbia, MD.
The American Small Business Alliance, Inc. (ASBA) is a leading service-disabled veteran-owned event planning and management organization that is built upon the premise of providing superior customer service to their array of diversified clients worldwide.
MO: Can you talk about the transition from being a former Captain in the United States Army to running an event planning and management organization?
Tariq: My experience in the military; unbeknownst to me at the time, actually prepared me more for the world of event planning. Both require key characteristics that are necessary and vital to being successful. In the military I learned the value of time management, logistics, and adhering to demanding timelines. I also learned the importance of always remaining professional, being kind and respectful to others, and the power of having a ‘can do attitude’. Looking back, all the tools I received from the military have been essential and critical to my success in the event planning industry.
MO: Can you share about how ASBA’s reputation was built around your personal motto; conferences designed for success?
Tariq: My father taught me at an early age the value of loyalty, honesty and integrity. I try to instill those values in all of my employees, because the key to setting ASBA apart from all the other event planners is our performance and work ethic. Over the years, I have learned that to be successful in any endeavor you have to be able to distinguish yourself from the standard.
When I created ASBA, I wanted to set a benchmark for delivering events that exceeded our clients’ expectations, while still remaining true to our guiding principles. It was also important to me that ASBA went above and beyond in providing outstanding customer service. In clearly defining the guiding principles of how ASBA does business, we inadvertently came to the realization that our motto was: conferences designed for success. Our customers have always clearly expressed their satisfaction with our events, which has just helped to reinforce our motto and shows our team that what we are doing is not only meaningful but that you don’t have to comprise your ethics to provide excellent customer service.
MO: In the early days when you were doing everything yourself from answering the phone to marketing and setting up events, what prevented you from becoming overwhelmed?
Tariq: The military teaches you how to handle demanding and difficult situations, so my experiences in the military definitely helped me develop a thick skin. In events, I have realized that you will often get a lot of situations thrown your way last minute. You can either crumple or you can rise to the challenge and exceed expectations.
If I hadn’t been in the military and have gone through the years of rigid training and handled a variety of intense situations I could have easily gotten flustered and overwhelmed, because honestly the buck stopped with me, and at the end of the day my name was and is on the line. The military prepares you to handle the worst case scenario. I easily navigated my way through intense and demanding situations; when I first launched ASBA, because I was able to keep a cool head, but honestly dealing with event logistics is a cinch compared to being in the armed forces; nothing is more demanding and overwhelming than combat.
MO: What are some of the unique services you offer through ASBA?
Tariq: ASBA offers a variety of services to our clients, but the scope of work is really dictated by what the needs of the event entail. For an event that needs our guidance from start to finish, we provide site selection and logistics management where ASBA identifies the conference site; arranges the meeting spaces, hotel accommodations, catering, transportation, & other support services as needed.
For actual on-site event services, ASBA provides access to our knowledgeable, customer-oriented staff that is fully versed in accommodating high volumes of participants and attendees while not sacrificing our customer service standards. Additionally, ASBA can create and manage conference registration for the event including creating and managing the registration website, pre- event registration by phone and fax, and on-site registration. Audio visual design can be a daunting component to any event, but ASBA will create and design a dynamic audio visual atmosphere for our clients. Our staff continues to create unique solutions for today’s staging, lighting, live web telecasting and instant digital photography needs. We also develop our own graphics collateral in house per our client’s individual needs. All graphics are developed according to the unique themes and goals of the client in order to add to the custom look and feel of the event.
ASBA also offers a range of additional services depending on what our clients need from us. We like to be a one-stop-shop and provide everything and anything our clients can imagine.
MO: In the last two years ASBA has doubled in growth. What do you attribute this development to and how are you managing to scale the business accordingly?
Tariq: There were plenty of times when I could have gotten scared and compromised our guiding principles, but we have stayed true to our first clients and have grown the company organically. I never stretched our resources to grab at every opportunity that presented itself. I feel our growth in the past few years is due to staying the course, doing the right thing by our clients and stakeholders, and certainly keeping our guiding principles of integrity, honesty and loyalty front of mind. I have never put money first, but rather the customer and I have always earned the respect of our clients which keeps them coming back.
MO: How do you ensure that each and every event is tailored to meet your client’s unique visions and goals?
Tariq: When we initially meet to discuss any event there are several pre-planning meetings we go through. We meet frequently to discuss their thoughts on the event and to determine what it is they are looking for from us; i.e. what their vision is and what their expectations are for pre and post event needs. Through these pre-planning meetings our team is able to zero in on the clients ultimate desire whether that includes a severe visual displays, basic badges, or even balloon sculptures. ASBA takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary with the help of our skilled staff. We ensure that the mundane seems remarkable and we come as close as possible to exceeding their dreams about their event.