Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What we like to hear!

We got this email last week from Jeff Schroeder, who recently used RHD for an email blast for his site http://www.showcattle.com/

"Just wanted to say that blast was one of the highest ROIs we’ve had on a marketing campaign in a long time. It paid for itself in just under 48-hours and that doesn’t take future subscription renewals into account."

Then, we also just got this email from Katy Kemp, our contact with ABS Global who just started using RHD.

"Thank you and everyone at RHD for helping make these a success. This is the 6th (final) eBlast, but with the results we have seen we will most likely be using the list again this spring!"

Now that's what we like to hear!!!! If you aren't on our RHD mailing list, you can sign up from our facebook page (Join my List tab) or at http://www.ranchhousedesigns.com/ at the very bottom right hand corner of the page.

We take a lot of pride in our email marketing services. First off, we were one of the first in the business to offer this tool back when it was a new service. Secondly, we feel we have the best targetted email list in the show cattle business....and e-mail's like Jeff's affirm that. We currently have about 13,000 subscribers. All of our subscribers are voluntary, up to date addresses. After each e-mail blast we remove the bad addresses and bounced back emails so this is a very accurate and udpated count of the actual number of subscribers.

Our list grows daily. Literally. We average anywhere from 10-50 new people signing up each week for our email lists. We also have a strict policy against spam. Everyone who signs up for our list does so voluntarily, and can leave at any time. Because we hate useless spam just as much as the next person.

If you're on our list, you've also probably noticed that we have been sending out a few emails for ABS. They recently chose RHD for their sire marketing e-mail blasts. This year at Louisville Katy Kemp, one of their team members, told us they had already had several people stopping by the ABS booth to say they enjoyed getting the new email blasts on the ABS sires.

E-mail marketing is hot! You can reach nearly twice as many people as what many of the popular show cattle magazines have as subscribers.....for about 1/4 of the cost. E-mail blasts run from $150 to $250 depending on the amount of design work we need to do. If you have an ad or flyer already designed by us, or anyone else, you can send an RHD e-mail blast for $150. If we do a new design for you specifically for the e-mail blast, it's $250.

Plus, e-mail marketing is the fastest way to get your news out to a huge number of people at a very affordable cost.

Holiday Cards

For a couple of years we have been a distributor of the Tiny Prints products as well as creating our own custom holiday cards. I'm not going to lie, I've had mine done for a while, I'm an over-achiever. I did Brandon and I some custom holiday cards - of course with a picture of a cow on them - and I'm just waiting til an appropriate time to send the out so I don't look too ansy.

There are SO many cute cards in the Tiny Prints collection, you can shop til you drop. If ordering holiday cards is still on your to-do list, check out the collection here.

This one is one of my absolute favorites...it even comes with a ribbon! If you like this one just go to Tiny Prints and then in the search field search item 21150.

I also liked this one, which you can get from Tiny Prints then search item 18522:

We're going to keep picking out a few each day with some different suggestions. Oh I love Christmas!

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Show Text! I Like It!

Obviously this is nothing new, The Show Text has been around for quite a while. So I'm behind on the trends, I know, I know. During Louisville I really noticed the excellent coverage that The Show Text provided through Facebook and Twitter. Then over the Thanksgiving holiday, I really appreciated getting their posting of different sale results. So, this weekend I signed up. If you haven't really taken a look at this service, it's a great idea. It's $20/year. You sign up for what kind of news you want and then The Show Text will text you news, show results, sale results, etc. You get to customize what information you want, so you're not getting bombarded with text messages of stuff you're not interested in. For example, you can choose to get info on only specific breeds, or only show and sale results from a certain state, etc. It's really an innovative service, and so far I really like it.

I'd also like to just say how impressed I am with the innovation of The Show Text's creators. I'm pretty sure the founders of The Show Text are former junior livestock exhibitors, who came up with a really creative way to start a business that also provides a great service to all of us who love showing.

So check it out if you haven't......http://www.theshowtext.com/

Friday, November 26, 2010


This time of year makes everyone at RHD especially mindful of all of the blessings we have to be thankful for! Just a few things that top our list of things we are appreciative of....

  • We have a great team of people here at RHD. Every day is a joy to be at our office and be around so many wonderful ladies. Yes, we've got 8 ladies here and everyone gets along, laughs, jokes, supports each other, and treats each other with respect and kindness. We love getting any chance to see the adorable Kinleigh Jo Guidry, the Forgason girls, the Potts kids, Stacey Shanks' two little wild men, and Carole's little Laney.  It makes it a wonderful place to spend 8 hours a day (and sometimes more lol).
  • We are thankful for our clients. Each year we work with roughly 1,000 different clients. You are what make our jobs enjoyable. We love hearing the stories about your businesses, talking and emailing with you, and being a part of your business success. We look forward to every time a client calls just to catch up on their news. Many of our clients have been with us since the very beginning, and we truly appreciate the customer loyalty here at RHD and the mix of fascinating people we get to work with.
  • We got a new office this year, which makes our days here even better. So far we've been finding lots of reasons to have "parties" here at lunch...birthdays, babies, random stuff. We were blessed when this office came available and God put it in our path.
  • We're thankful for the work our clients give us. Despite the very tough economy, God's blessed us with our best year to date at RHD. This November we've posted 18 new web sites, that's nearly 1 new site going up per day, and that's the most # of new web sites going up in one month in the 11-year history of RHD. Every day we are busy with lots of different projects, different things going on, and while many are wishing for work, we are so thankful to have an ongoing list of things to do that keep us busy.
Here's hoping your Thanksgiving is the best yet!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dr. Hesby's Book is Now Available!!

Hot off the press! The highly anticipated book "Big Hands, Big Heart" is ready! And how coincidental...just in time for Christmas! The form will soon be available on the A&M Animal Science web site but I went ahead and put it up here for a link in case anyone wanted to do some "pre Black Friday" shopping ha ha


The book will be available to anyone making a contribution of $25 or more to the Howard Hesby Atrium Fund. All contributions of $25 or more will receive a copy of “Big Hands, Big Heart” a tribute to Dr. Hesby and can be claimed as a charitable contribution on an individual’s itemized tax return less $9.00 for the value of the book received. Additional copies of the book require an additional $25 donation.

Here is a preview of the book.....

On a side note, this is the first BOOK we've ever designed at Ranch House. It was fun and easy to do. So maybe we've found a new service to offer...book publishing :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Show Champions Internship

Looking for a great internship at major stock shows? Show Champions USA is looking for interns for the 2011 San Antonio and Houston stock shows. Students can apply and work both shows if their school schedules will allow. Katina Costerisan is asking that applications and questions be directed to her, katina@showchampions.com.

Application deadline is December 10th with phone interviews being held the following week, and notification of internship placement by December 29th.

On a personal note, I know several college students who have worked for Show Champions as interns over the past few years. They say it's a great way to gain experience in the photography sector and also some relaly good business contacts. You'll meet tons of people. If you're interested in photography, there may even be some opportunities to build your portfolio and make a great professional contact with the rest of the Show Champions team. They're tops! Plus, you get to hang out at a stock show all day and GET PAID for it :) Seriously, if it wasn't just for college students, I'd sign up!

Show to Win on Facebook

We just created a new page on facebook for Show to win -- http://www.facebook.com/pages/Show-to-Win -- check it out and if you like it...then "Like It". Next week we'll start our weekly give-a-ways and launch the new web site for show to win.

Anyone else get this Louisville scam?

This is totally our own fault, but this weekend Brandon and I got a phone call about a "free vacation grand prize give-away" scam from something we picked up at Louisville. Wondering if anyone else had this?

When we were walking through the trade show, Brandon dropped a business card at one of the trade show vendors booths that was giving away a free drawing. We didn't think much of it, lots of booths have those drawings.

Then Friday, he got a phone call saying he WON the prize from the drawing at Louisville. The person calling said that his card was drawn at Louisville stock show and he had won a free trip to Disneyland, Daytona Beach, and a Nascar event for ourselves and another couple. The caller asked if his spouse was around to confirm the trip. Since I was at work, the caller said they would call back on Saturday at 9:00 a.m. with our official information about the prize.

Of course, we're both thinking this is too good to be true, but whatever, we'll see what they have to say when they call. Well on Saturday morning, me and Brandon were hanging out at the showbarn and the lady called back again, at 9:00 a.m. on the dot. Brandon was on the other side of the barn from me, and the lady insisted we both be there for the "official prize call" so she said she would call back at noon.

Well as noon rolled around, we had just finished working some bulls when Brandon's phone rang. Caller ID unavailable. We remembered it was our prize. So Brandon puts her on speaker phone and she starts telling us about how we won from the drawing at the Louisville stock show. She's like all super nice and saying how we are ranchers, we probably would love a vacation, they love it when people from the Louisville show win, bla bla bla. She starts off by telling us we won a 3-part vacation for us and another couple. The first segment is 5 days 4 nights at the Ramada Inn MainGate Orlando Florida plus 2 free tickets to Disneyland, and free shuttle service and meal money. From there, we go to Daytona Beach for a few days. Then from there, we can choose a "bonus trip" ranging from a Nascar event to Vegas. So she says we don't have to say the dates or the name of the other couple, just whether we want the trip or not. She says it has to be used sometime within the next 18 months. Then she starts pressing us do we want the trip or not.

I asked, how much does it cost us? Then she said that it's totally FREE, except we have to pay a $400 "promotional fee" plus any hotel taxes, which are usually $10 a night she tells us. Plus we also have to pay for our own travel to get there. Starting to sound weird.

Then I asked her, when do we have to pay? Then she says RIGHT NOW, with your CREDiT CARD, then you just call us whenever you're ready to take the trip.

Brandon says he doesn't think we can agree to that at this moment, and then suddenly her tone totally changes. She snaps at him something like "Well fine then, take care" and hangs up.

Just for fun, we looked up the Ramada Inn Main Gate hotel she told us was the five star hotel that we had won these luxurious accommodations for.....the nightly rate was $45/night.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

RHD Clients in the NAILE Trade Show

We had a great time strolling through the trade show and chatting with all of the RHD clients that were participating in the NAILE trade show. If I had to guess, I'm sure lots of you also stopped
by these booths....it seems like they were packed every time I walked by.

Our leading lady of fashion - Randa Yezak with the Southern Jewlz booth. Of course I had to purchase something from there :) Congratulations Randa on all of your business success!

We met up with Katy Kemp of ABS Global, a new client we have recently started developing e
-mail marketing plans for. Katy reported to us that they had lots of people stop by the booth and say
that they loved getting the emails from ABS that were sent out by US! Woo hoo!!! If you haven't
signed up for the RHD mailing list, you can easily do it on our facebook fan page (join my list) or at the very bottom right corner of http://www.ranchhousedesigns.com/

Another big hit of the show was SJ Creations! They had tons of awesome custom metal
creations on display. These make great ideas for Christmas gifts. Check out all of Stephanie's work at http://www.sjcattlecreations.com/

Our last stop on the trade show tour was at Twisted Stitch. I fell in love with the stuff here!! They had some awesome cattle artwork and also a really neat wooden cattle cutout. They promised us that after Louisville they would be posting these on their web site too. So check out http://www.twistedstitch1.com/. Their stuff is fabulous!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thank you Shorthorn breeders!

 I couldn't help but feel a huge amount of thankfulness and pride as I was hanging out in the Shorthorn barn at Louisville last week when I saw all of the RHD work displayed at the stalls of so many friends and fellow Shorthorn breeders. Some of our very first clients were Shorthorn folks, and as I walked down the aisles I was so proud that RHD represents the leading Shorthorn breeders in the United States.

For example, this year, Cyclone Trace raised both the champion and reserve heifer; Sullivan had chamapion bull, and Cates had reserve bull. We are the proud web designer of all of these farms. We love doing a Shorthorn web sites, and probably do more Shorthorn sites than any other breed.

Here are a few snapshots of some of the RHD work that you can see through the Shorthorn stalls. This is just a small sample of what we can do in addition to web sites. So THANK YOU Shorthorn breeders, we love working with you!

Here are a few pics from the Fischer Cattle Company stalls. Completely outfitted in RHD work :) We do their web site, did their logo, their signs, and this year just did their individual cattle stall signs. We love Stacey and Jeff!

I got to meet Stephanie Conrad from AMS Shorthorns for the first time at the show. The AMS Shorthorns booth,was also sporting lots of RHD work....we do their web site, did their logo, and did their stall sign for them.

And here is a banner we did for John Sullivan at Sullivan Farms. Each year we do a few bull banners for them, and this year, just so happened that STOCKMAN was also the champion bull! Look for him in Denver.

Thanks again to all of our Shorthorn friends for all of the work we get to do for you!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Louisville News: Black Friday Sale

One of the first people I had ran into at Louisville was the crew from Saddle River Ranch along with Kyle Conley of Conley Cattle...both Oklahoma Angus breeders. Kyle was dropping off a few of the Black Friday sale catalogs hot off the press and ready to hand out at NAILE.

We've worked with Cathy Conner and her team at Saddle River for just over a year now on both their print ads and web site. I love their really cool logo and they have a beautiful place. They're also on facebook if you want to check out Saddle River Ranch.

On our way up to Louisville, one of the people I was most excited about introducing Brandon to was Kyle Conley. We recently designed the print advertising and sale catalog for the Black Friday sale, which is going to be held the day after Thanksgiving this year in Oklahoma.  While working with Kyle so much over the past 3 months, I have developed a great deal of professional respect for him after seeing the passion he has for this sale. There aren't many young people like Kyle who are willign to jump off into creating a brand new production sale, and I've been inspired by Kyle's work ethic and motivation. 

Also, in the catalog, there is just the CUTEST picture of Kyle and his wife Amanda, that made me instantly want to be BFF's with Amanda. She just looks so nice and sweet and I can tell she is just a great girl. Go check out the catalog and you can see this picture too. Okay so yes, now most likely Kyle is going to kill me for posting something cheesy like this ha ha.

If you'd like to get a sneak peak at the catalog, visit this page: http://pembrookcattle.com/sales.html - the picture I like is on the inside front cover :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Photoshop Tips: Automation

First of all, thanks to everyone who emailed to us about the photoshop tips blog. We'll try to keep it up! We are scheduling quite a few boot camps for December, especially when college gets out. If you've been thinking of coming go ahead and email us to get on the schedule. I apologize for not updating our boot camp calendar as much as I should, we forget sometimes when we get so busy.

Anyway, here is another Photoshop tip to share today: Automation. If you are in Photoshop, and you click on the File menu, Automation is about 3/4 of the way down on the menu.

If you've never used this tool before, this is another example of a photoshop tip that can greatly speed up your production, much like the Actions we talked about before. As you can see in the menu, there are several automated features available. The ones I use most are the Contact Sheet II, Picture Package, and Web Photo Gallery. 

Batch is a pretty cool one, which I would describe as like one step up from Actions. When you click on batch, it automatically applies an action to every image in a specific folder. So by using this, you eliminate the step of having to open each file. Here is a screen shot:

So you can see here, using the Batch automation tool, I select my source folder (which is where I have all of my originals saved) then I choose the action I want to run. In this case, I've made a special action for this project that converts all the images to 300 dpi, CMYK, and saves them as a JPG in the Links folder for InDesign. If you need a refresher on making these custom actions, read this blog. So by using this automated feature, I can do all my image work for a sale catalog in say, 30 minutes or less.

Another tool I like a lot is the Contact Sheet automation. I mostly use this for comparing lots of pictures and trying to decide which I like best. It is also really helpful if someone else is going to be choosing images with you. This one automatically makes a proof sheet of multiple images on one page.  To get started with Contact Sheet, click on the Contact Sheet II option, which will bring up this screen:

You will have several options. First you choose your source folder. Make sure you have all of the pictures saved within one folder (i.e. Calf Pictures November 15 2010 or something like that). Then you choose how many pictures you want on a page. Obviously the more pictures you have the smaller they will be. In this case I chose 2 rows of 2, so 8 pictures per page. Another thing I like to check is at the very bottom: Use Filename as Caption. This way I can easily know what pictures I like best. Once you hit Okay, Photoshop will automatically make a sheet like this for you:

You can easily print this out and share it with others within your creative team, or even clients, to decide which pics you like best.

I don't use the Photo Package option all that frequently, but it is still neat. This one would be helpful for people who like to print their photos at home. Perhaps you have a great family picture you took and you'd like to give a few to grandparents and relatives, but just want to print it at home on photo paper. Here's how you get started with this one:

From the dialog box, you choose your folder or specific file. Where the menu says "Document," choose your paper size. If you click on the Layout drop down box, you will see TONS of options. I happened to choose (4) 3.5x5.5s. Photoshop then takes my picture and resizes them all to fit on one sheet of paper for easy printing. There are lots of other options, just play around with it. You can do 8x10s, 5x7s, wallets, all kinds of sizes. This would be a quick option for people who like to print their pictures at home.

The last Automation tool I sometimes use is Web Photo Gallery. Now I have to say up front, we very rarely use this at RHD because I think it looks somewhat amateur and so you won't see these very often on RHD client web sites. But this is a great option for families who may have their own web site and want to share pictures from different events. This is one that you just have to play around with and find out what you like best. Once you get into this option, there are tons of choices. Photoshop offers about 20 different templates for the layout, ranging from flash transitions to very simple thumbnails. You can see these examples below under the very first option under "Styles"

This automation works exactly the same was as the other automations mentioned above. You choose the folder on your computer where all of your photos are saved. Then you choose the destination folder of where you want Photoshop to save the files (like your web site folder).  Also pay attention about mid-ways down the box for the OPTIONS drop down box.  There are several options available here like a headline, how big you want the images to be, custom colors, and more. You can even add background music through this automated feature.

In the 12 years I've been using Photoshop, I find that there is almost something new I can learn every day. I just went over a very basic overview of these automated features, however they are very powerful and dramatically can speed up your workflow. There is no limit to the way you can use these in combination with each other, just like we use Actions, then Batches together. They are great for saving time and speeding up lots of the legwork we have to do, which frees up time for the fun creative stuff...DESIGNING!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Louisville News: First Class Bred Heifer Sale

Over the next few days we'll be posting some blogs with interesting news or updates from clients we visited with during Louisville. The first one is about the First Class Bred Heifer Sale, which is hosted by three of our long-time RHD clients and good friends Wade Rodgers, Nick Reimann and Brad Smith. These guys not only do a "first class" job with their sale, Wade & Kaylene, Nick & Kyrstin, and Brad are just "first class" all around.

I ran into Nick and Wade in the barns and had a chance to get the low down on their upcoming "First Class Bred Heifer Sale". This year's sale will be held Saturday, December 11, 2010 at Dunlap Livestock Auction, Dunlap, IA. They are selling 80 powerful females, 10 donors, 60 bred heifers, 5 bulls and semen and embryos.

One new thing for this year is that catalogs will be mailed by request only. Nick says that if you have purchased in previous first class sales, you will already be on the list. Others who would like a catalog will need to sign up at Nick's web site, here.

The catalog should be available online this week, and we will blast it out on email when it is posted. If you would like to be notified when it goes up, you can sign up for the RHD email blasts by clicking here then scrolling to the bottom of the page then inputting your email address. Look in the bottom right corner of the screen where it says "Join our Mailing List". YOu can also join through our RHD facebook page.

If you'd like more info about this sale, call either one of these guys:
Nick Reimann - 605-871-3642 • Wade Rodgers - 515-480-6896 • Brad Smith - 712-209-1500

And you can also visit these web sites done by RHD....

Here's a pic of me and Nick at Louisville this year, wow, he looks so tall!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Time for Holiday Cards

Ahh, if you're like me you just LOVE Christmas time. I could seriously send out 20 different Christmas cards because I have such a hard time choosing which is my favorite. As it gets closer to the holidays, we're going to start showing off a few of our favorite holiday cards from RHD Invitation's partnership with Tiny Prints Holiday Collection.

Now our favorites range from all different styles and price levels. To start out, you can select from their StudioBasics, starting at just 69 cents a piece.  Here are a few that I like from that collection.

Now if you have a little more expensive taste, you can choose from the regular collection which is priced around $1 each. There are TONS here that I love. Click here to begin shopping!

An awesome tri-fold card:

A totally cool flip-out photo card:

Another neat card for only 0.99 cents:
So again, check out the Tiny Prints Holiday Collection.  Browse away til your heart is content. With this easy online ordering system you just upload your photos and you're done. You can do all sorts of fun things like change your photos to black and white, sepia, change font colors, etc. Here come the holidays!

Friday, November 12, 2010

What our pets do while we're at work

Here's a pic of Stacey Forgason's pet, looks like we know what she does all day while Stacey's here at RHD.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Kentucky GRILLED Chicken Logo

A couple of days ago, the Brahman breed lost one of our best friends when Mr. Jeff Smith of Louisiana passed away. My huband Brandon worked for Smith Brahmans for four summers, and so of course, he has been extremely sad. On Monday, I decided to actually leave my office and go home for lunch, just to hand out with him and try to cheer him up. So, since I was coming from "town" aka Wharton, population 12,000, I decided I'd bring some food home for us for lunch.

Brandon was in a sad mood, and wouldn't commit on what type of food he wanted, so I tried to think of the best "comfort food" I could think of....and KFC chicken popped in my head. I was thinking, you know, he's a southern boy, he probably would really love some biscuits. So KFC it was.

After I got home, we were sitting there eating the lunch, Brandon was kind of mopey as to be expected. Then all of a sudden, he looked up from the box, and said "What is KGC?"

I looked down at the box, and realized that yes, instead of normally saying KFC on the box, it now says KGC. I had to think for a minute, then I realized it was Kentucky GRILLED Chicken, not FRIED.

Now I'll admit, I have no idea when this corporate re-branding took place. Honestly, I'm not a big chicken eater. I prefer BEEF! :)  I probably haven't ate at KFC in like....YEARS. After doing some research, I found out that the re-branding took place about a year ago, so if you're a big chicken eater, you probably think this is old news.  If you follow corporate advertising like me, you might remember that KFC officially adopted "KFC" as it's name in the early 1990s as a way to take the focus off the word "fried" in the name, because of the image of health concerns of eating fried foods. Recently, in the late 2000s, they went back to using the whole name, Kentucky Fried Chicken, when it went through another corporate re-branding.

Anyway, this new logo of the KGC started me thinking about the importance of logos, brand identity, etc. If you think about it recently there have been a lot of companies that have recently "freshened up" their logos. UPS recently did one, Holiday Inn has updated theirs, several other motels have done a few minor edits to their logo, etc.

This reminded me of one of the basic principles of corporate identity -- a LOGO. If you've had a logo you've used for years, maybe it's time to freshen it up just a bit. Keep the core identity but maybe update with some newer fonts or color variations. Or, if you don't have a logo, consider getting one. Once you have a logo, use it everywhere. Put it on your caps, embroider it on your jackets, use it on your business cards, your advertising, your signage, everywhere!
Take a look at some of the logos we have designed here at RHD. If you're doing a web site, we can easily extract your logo in conjunction with your web site. If we can help you with anything regarding your logo or corporate identity, give us a call or email tricia@ranchhousedesigns.com.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Try Getting Customer Service These Days

Recently I went to lunch at Subway, which is right across the street from our office. As I pulled in the parking lot, I cringed because I could already see the line forming, out the door. As I made it in the door, I could see there were about 10 people ahead of me. Everyone looked irritated. After I stood there for a few minutes, I could see this line wasn't moving at all. I was starting to get irritated myself. More and more people started piling in. The line kept getting longer, with no movement.

Yet, this whole time, the three people working at the counter were furiously making sandwiches. So it's not like they weren't doing anything. I couldnt' figure out the problem. Finally, as one angry customer started telling another, there was a big order at the drive thru for about a dozen sandwiches. So the staff there was making all 12 or so of the drive-thru sandwiches while the rest of us just stood there and the line extended out the door.

As I pondered just leaving, I thought how this situation could have been fixed with a little common sense. Instead of all 3 people giving all of their attention to the lazy person sitting in the drive thru (who drives thru Subway anyway), while the rest of us are standing on our feets....some people even standing out the door in the hot sun.....I think they should have delegated. Put one person in charge of making the drive-thru orders, put another serving the in-house clients, and put the third person at the register to keep things moving. (Need I say I've beat every level - including expert level - of the Yahoo game Diner Dash ha ha)

This whole incident got me thinking about customer service, and how important it is at RHD. For the past 11 years we have made customer service our #1 priority. We discuss it constantly here in our staff meetings and try to think of ways we can make our service even better. Here are a few things we think give us an advantage over others.....

-You can always call here and talk to a REAL PERSON. We have 2 phone lines and 8 people here, all ready to help you over the phone. Many times, some of us are even talking on our cell phones with clients. Sure, e-mail is great, but lots of times you just want to talk to a REAL PERSON. Or you want to call and get someone to answer the phone, not get someone's voice mail because you know they are screening your call on their cell phone....because they don't even have an office. Our hours are 9-5 but usually you can always catch someone anytime from 8 to 6 here, even during lunch.

-Every single person at RHD is experienced and can help you. No matter who you talk to, they can help you. Anyone here can help you book a project, give you information on search engines, talk to you about updates, etc. So you're guaranteed that when you call, your question can be answered right away, by someone who knows the answer and can make decisions.

-Most of us have Blackberry's and write back to e-mails instantly, even on weekends. I have several customers who will email in stuff over the weekends and actually write in their emails..."you don't have to answer this til Monday" because they know I have my phone glued to me at all times and I can't resist writing back, even on weekends, when people need something. Usually it's very typical to get an email response within just a few minutes from the RHD staff.

-We even do updates on the weekends. Our office hours are M-F, 9-5, but it's not suprising to find that our staff is working, even on Saturdays and Sundays. Now don't hold us to that every weekend, but lots of times our web updates staff is so dedicated that they check the updates email even on weekends, just in case someone has something urgent that needs to be done.

-We seriously have to have the fastest updates in the business. Now we have no hard proof of this, but  we do know that for the last 2 years, we've averaged almost a half-day turnaround on web site update requests. And this isn't just handling like 1 or 2 updates, this is handling usually 300 or more updates per month. People always ask how we do it, with this many web site clients, and the answer is DEDICATION. As we get more web sites, we expand our updates staff. During busy times of year, everyone in the office does updates. We know this is the #1 priority for clients, and we make the effort to do the updates as fast as possible!!!

-We know the business better than anyone else. RHD is the original livestock advertising agency, and we're rooted in solid marketing and design principles backed by creativity that soars. I challenge you to find a place (okay other than my friends Christy Collins or Julie French) who consistently come up with as many original, creative, out-of-the box ideas as we do. Plus, we do it with a friendly attitude and fast service. You just can't beat that.

Wharton Country Club

Whether you’re looking for an award winning golf course or a relaxing place for dinner, Wharton Country Club has much to offer. Serving the city of Wharton, as well as the surrounding area, Wharton Country Club offers fine food, recreation, meeting space and social opportunities.
The Club’s nine hole golf course is consistently rated as one of the outstanding courses in Texas by golf critics and writers and is surrounded by beautiful pecan trees. The pool and cabana area offer a refreshing respite in the summer heat and serves as a great place to meet friends and unwind. If tennis is your game, you’ll love playing on the Club’s newly renovated tennis court.

Wharton Country Club offers a full service restaurant and bar featuring daily specials.

New members are always welcome at Wharton Country Club. Various memberships are offered to meet any budget and interest.

Visit the Wharton Country Club web site to see for yourself what they have to offer or for more information.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Photoshop Action Tips

As promised, from time to time we are going to be writing some blogs talking about some technical tips that we like to use a lot here at RHD. The first one we are going to talk about is Photoshop Actions. If you've got Photoshop on your computer, I'm sure you've played around a lot with the special effects the program can do to your pictures. When I first started playing around in Photoshop, the first place I went was the Filters tab at the top, where you can do all kinds of stuff like make watercolors, cutouts, liquify, etc. You can waste hours just tooling around with all of the features under this tab.

One of the things I have grown to use on a daily basis is "Actions". If you don't have the "Actions" menu displayed on your default screen, you can get to it by choosing the Window menu, then clicking "Actions". This will bring up a new menu box that I like to keep open on my screen at all times.

Photoshop comes pre-loaded with several actions already built in. These would be called your "Default Actions" as well as "Image Effects", production actions, etc. Honestly I rarely use any of these default actions, other than the ones that convert to Sepia images. There are 2 actions under "Image Effects" that I like that are called "Soft Focus" and "Soft Flat Color" that are cool. But they are like your basic old actions.

Using Actions to Speed Things Up
Probably the way we use actions here the most is by creating our own personalized actions for things that we do over and over and over and over and over again daily. For example, if you look in that graphic I have above, you'll see one called RGB to CMYK 300. This is an action I made that will convert a picture to 300 resolution, CMYK format. I use it all of the time when I'm doing print ads or catalogs to make sure my images are all at 300 resolution and CMYK.

Another you'll see is one that is called Image Resize 250. This is what we use to resize photos for web sites.

Basically, when you make your own action, you're telling Photoshop a series of 'actions' to do. To make a new action, you click on the upper right hand tab of the actions palette and choose "New Action". Then you can name whatever you're fixing to do, something like how we have it named Test Action. Then you will click on the button that says "record"

Once you do that, Photoshop starts remembering all of the steps you do. Such as going to the Image Menu, choosing the size you want to make the photos, etc. You just go about your work as normal until you finish the steps you need. The red record button means Photoshop is recording your steps. Then, when you're finished, you will need to tell Photoshop to "Stop recording" by just clicking the button at the bottom of your Actions palette that looks like a "stop" button.

Actions come in handy tremendously when doing things like sale catalogs, or when you're working with a bunch of photos, because you can even record the action to tell Photoshop where you want to save the photos. Every time I do a new catalog, I make a new action for that project, usually with these steps: Converting the picture to CMYK, 300 resolution, then saving as a JPG in the appropriate client folder. See below:

So even on a catalog that might have 300 photos, all I have to do is just click and "play" the action, and Photoshop does all of the rest.

Finding Actions Online
Despite the actions that come default with Photoshop, there are literally THOUSANDS of actions you can download for free or purchase off the internet. These are GREAT for people who like to do photography or play around on their home computers, because there are a TON of actions that will greatly enhance your images. Google around for "photoshop actions" or "Photoshop retouching actions" and see what you come up with. You'll be amazed. Plus, the great thing about using actions like these is that they make you look like a total professional photographer and it only takes a matter of seconds! Then all you have to do is download the actions, load them in Photoshop, and totally impress your friends!!!

Here are some samples of quick image enhancing done with some actions just to show some basic stuff.

Original Picture (my dog, Tori):

Here's the picture using one action that improves the color. It also makes the picture look sharper in the areas you want to focus on (like the dog) and blurs the background. This took all of ONE SECOND to do. I just hit the "play" button on the action.

Here is another example of using an action for photos. This time, I just made the color a little warmer. Again, this took about 1 second.

Here's a different example of making a photo into black and white by using Photoshop Actions. It kind of makes it black and white and look grungy.

Now, being the big fan of ethical photo-retouching that I am, I would be remiss to say that you can be a Photoshop whiz but that doesn't take the place of people with actual technical training in photography. For example, my cousin who took all my wedding photos for me and did our RHD open house photos doesn't even OWN Photoshop! He does all of his wonders with just his knowledge and his camera. I love working in Photoshop, and having fun playing around with pictures, but I have a HUGE amount of respect for those professionals like my cousin and Christy Collins who do all of their magic with just a camera and a lens!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Our newest web site is another Wharton, Texas-based business, Aquamatrix – a mining and general contractor company. Established in 1999, they operate the mine for the largest producer of cement in North & South America. Aquamatrix typically produces 5,000,000 tons of limestone per year.

They have an impeccable safety record, having lost no time due to accidents since the company’s inception. Aquamatrix has also reached a company milestone of 500,000 man hours without an accident or incident and are the recipient of numerous safety awards.

Visit their web site Aquamatrix to see samples of their work.


Thanks to all of our RHD clients who submitted Halloween photos of their kiddos or grandkiddos to us. It was a hard pic for allof us. We loved "ooing" and "awwing" over all of them. So here are the ones we got! We just had to share them all.

Oh! And the winner of the contest is The Ranchers Resource.
A Little Matador and his brother Ferdinand the bull!
What a cute little poodle!
Watch out! Spidey might be behind you.
Lions, Tigers and Bears Oh My! Oh wait, it's just a Flower Child, Witch and Cowboy!

Look who else dressed up? Some of the RHD staff kiddos!

Buzz Lightyear Sully to save the day and Squeeze Toy Alien Rayne along his side.
A Sweet Little Angel Kinleigh Jo and Cute Minnie Mouse Laney!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I'm Not Suprised!

Interesting headline huh?

The topic of this blog is the report on the RHD web division for updates quality in October 2010. This month Jessica, Carole and Christa did 438 updates, and the average turnaround time was:

40 minutes

Let's think, just HOW fast is 40 minutes? Well, that's how long it takes for us to drive into the closet mall from Wharton, Texas to Sugarland, Texas. You can get your oil changed in 40 minutes. Get your nails done in 40 minutes. And just think, in less time than most people's lunch hour you can send in your web site update and have it done!

This is the fastest time ever at RHD! And, match this with the fact that they put up more web sites ever this  month than in the history of RHD. Do we have some awesome team members or what!!!!

This fact should heat things up in the employee of the year race lol! Dont' forget to vote on the right side of the screen.

Congratulations and thank you to the top 5 updaters of this month! Remember all RHD sites include unlimited updates, so keep sending in your news and updates to keep your web site fresh.

1. Aegerter Cattle
2. O.H. Kruse
3. American Brahman Breeders Association
4. Tusa Cattle
5. M Lazy Heart Ranch

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

RHD Customer Referral Program

Last week at the Aggie 100 luncheon, several of the other winners were asking me about how we get the word out about our business and our services, and my best answer was really just "word of mouth." When we first began RHD (well actually Two Girls Web Design at that time), we didn't do any advertising, we just did a good job for people and they told their friends and one thing led to another.

Today, 11 years later, word of mouth referrals are still the biggest way that people hear about Ranch House Designs. We consider that our greatest accomplishment when people like the work we do so much that they share it with their friends!

From the beginning, we have always rewarded our clients who give us a referral. That still continues today. If you are a RHD client, make sure to tell your friends about us. We're always delighted to give our clients a referral credit when they send someone our way. :)

Triple JR Cattle Company

Triple JR Cattle Company, located in Muldoon, Texas, between Schulenburg and LaGrange, is a family owned, Registered Brangus breeder. They began building a herd with sound genetics and solid bloodlines in 2002. By combining those two traits, they have developed a selective breeding program utilizing artificial insemination and embryo flushing on some of their top females.

The females at Triple JR Cattle Company have proven to be exceptional producers in the pasture with consistent calving ease and milking ability. The goal is to always select Herd Sires that compliment and strengthen the superior qualities of their females.

Triple JR Cattle continues to produce some of the top heifers and bull calves in the breed. By paring the outstanding traits of their Herd Sires with sound, functional females, they have developed a Brangus herd second to none.

View their web site to see their impressive lineup of Champions, as well as their quality of cattle available for sale. Triple JR Cattle always has bulls, females, semen and embryos available for purchase.

Give them a call or drop by the ranch to learn more about their program.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Beef Improvement Company

One of our most exciting recent project approvals has been the new logo creation for Beef Improvement Company.

This project was especially fun to work on because our primary contact was Lee Leachman, a leader and role model in the beef industry. I met Lee at the Southern Cattle Company field day in May, where he was a speaker. He gave an unbelievable talk about hybrid vigor and crossbreeding and just blew everyone away. From some facebook and linkedin stalking, I learned that Mr. Leachman is a Harvard graduate! He also operates Leachman Cattle of Colorado, a seedstock cattle operation. Annually, this operation markets over 1,000 bulls including Angus, Red Angus, Stabilizer Composites, Charolais and Simmental.

We are excited to release the new logo for Beef Improvement Company and look forward to seeing more about this new business in the near future.