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How to Prepare for Inflation

inflation

Everyone is feeling the effects of inflation. For small businesses this means a dip in customers and cutting back on inventory (among much more). Read on for tips on how to prepare for the long run of high inflation.

Improve Cash Flow

According to Forbes, small business have two options: commit to staying small or commit to growth. Both of these tactics are different ways to manage your business until inflation returns to a more normal range.

If you plan on maintaining the status quo, the goal is to save money and improve your cash flow. There are a variety of ways to do this including cutting all nonessentials and finding ways to minimize production costs. Another way is to focus marketing efforts on your current customer base.

After you save money you have to invest it wisely. Your investments should be outpacing or, at the least, keeping up with rising inflation.

Commit to Growth

The second option is committing to growth. The goal of this tactic is to generate enough revenue to stay ahead of inflation. There are several ways to stay ahead including evaluating your pricing strategy, increasing marketing, and investing in your own business.

Of course, there are several ways to invest in your business. One way is through investing in technology to improve productivity. Another is through applying for a small business loan or taking out a line of credit. The Federal Reserve expects six more interest rate hikes in 2022, so the sooner you take a loan out the better.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.

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Employment Laws: Part Three

employee handbook disclaimers

To complete our Employee Handbook series, we conclude by covering handbook disclaimers. Read on to learn more about the At-Will and NLRA-Protected Activity Disclaimers.

At-Will Disclaimer

Disclaimers are important. A great disclaimer to start with is the disclaimer that the intent of the handbook is not to be an employee contract.

Another disclaimer to include is the at-will disclaimer. Every state assumes private employment is at-will. (In some states however, employees are at-will for only the first six-months). Therefore, your handbook should include an at-will disclaimer that hits on the below points:

  • Employment is at-will and may be terminated any time for any legal reason. This applies to both the employee and the employer.
  • The intention of the employee handbook is not to be a contract of employment.
  • The at-will nature of employment may not be modified by any oral or written statement made before or after employment.
  • The company reserves the right to amend or change the policies at its discretion with or without notice to employees.

NLRA Protected Activity Disclaimer

The purpose of the National Labor Relations Act is to protect collective bargaining rights of employees. This disclaimer can get tricky, but the main thing to remember is this disclaimer can help clarify that nothing in the handbook restricts employees from discussing their wages, hours, or other working conditions.

In summary, the most important thing about a handbook is to keep it current. A fabulous resource is the Society for Human Resource Management, specifically their resource library on HR law.

Inspiration for this post came from “Employee Handbook 2.0: Aligning Your Policies With Employment Laws,” by Melisa Morrison, published in the April 2022 issue of American Quilt Retailer.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.

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Employment Laws: Part Two

employment laws

To continue our Employee Handbook series, this week we cover wage laws and drug testing. Before we jump into employment laws, read on for upcoming AQR Academy events.

AQR Summer Camp

There’s still time to register for AQR Summer Camp! For a limited time, $100 gets you access to the next three AQR Academy Workshops. See below for details:

  • June 7th 3:00 p.m. — 4:30 p.m. CT: Tips and Tricks for Stress Free Payroll Processing
  • July 25 10:30 a.m. — 12:00 p.m. CT: Do Your Best Work: Take Back Control of Your Calendar
  • August 9 4:00 p.m. — 5:30 p.m. CT: Your Employee Handbook: The What, Why, How and Who

Last but not least, if you feel like you missed out from the previous AQR Academy LIVE event, you’re in luck. AQR Academy LIVE is coming back Fall 2022 in Des Moines, Iowa from September 27 — 29. Simply email info@americanquiltretailer.com with “Add me to the list” in the subject line and we will contact you as soon as registration opens!

Wage and Drug Testing Laws

Employment laws are constantly changing.

This year 21 states and 26 cities changed their minimum-wage rates. This means that the minimum salary an employee can earn to be overtime exempt automatically increased as well. You can check out a handy Minimum Wage Monitor for your location here.

Other pieces to take into consideration include the number of consecutive days an employee can work, break periods, meal breaks, and more. But the most important thing to keep in mind is your employee handbook can help explain why some employees qualify for overtime while others do not.

Drug testing on the other hand is more of a gray area. Medical marijuana is still illegal in 37 states, but until there are federal guidelines, employers are subject to state law.

This week was part two of Employee Handbook obligations. Stay tuned next week where we’ll cover handbook disclaimers.

Inspiration for this post came from “Employee Handbook 2.0: Aligning Your Policies With Employment Laws,” by Melisa Morrison, published in the April 2022 issue of American Quilt Retailer.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.

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Employment Laws

Equal Opportunity Employment Laws

Several weeks ago we covered how to write an employee handbook. In our next series, we outline the local, state, and federal laws that you should include in your employee handbook.

Equal Employment

Equal Employment Opportunity prohibits unlawful discrimination based on age, race, color, sex, national origin, religion, disability, and genetic information. This also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who file discrimination complaints.

On top of this, many states and localities have added additional antidiscrimation laws such as health disabilities, gender equality, diversity, and inclusion. Be sure to firstly check what your state and city’s entitlements are and secondly, include them in your employee handbook.

Leave of Absence Laws

Some leave of absence policies, such as personal time off, are based off employer discretion. Others are governed by state and federal laws. Some examples include medical, military, and jury duty leave.

Additional obligations to consider include:

  • FMLA: The Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (for employers with 50 or more employees)
  • USERRA: The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act
  • ADA: The Americans with Disabilities Act (for employers with 15 or more employees)

As you can see, number of employees influence some of these entitlements as well as location. Another growing trend is paid sick leave. This varies greatly from state to state, so we recommend checking your own locations state and local laws.

This week was just the beginning of Employee Handbook obligations. Stay tuned for next week where we cover wages and drug testing.

Inspiration for this post came from “Employee Handbook 2.0: Aligning Your Policies With Employment Laws,” by Melisa Morrison, published in the April 2022 issue of American Quilt Retailer.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.

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Payroll Made Easy: Part Two

payroll

Last week we learned how to calculate payroll as well as how to pay yourself an owner’s salary. In part two of Payroll Made Easy find out if you can afford additional employees and how your payroll can be covered through cash flow management.

Managing Cash Flow

To alleviate the stress of wondering if you have enough money to pay yourself and your staff, we revisit the term real revenue.

First, open a separate payroll bank account and fund that account with a percentage of real revenue. To calculate the percentage, determine the percent of real revenue to payroll costs you’ve used in the past.

For example, a company determines their real revenue is $600,000. Their payroll costs were $120,000 (less than the the suggested payroll costs). Since $120,000 is 20% of $600,000, 20% of your revenue should be contributing to the payroll account each pay period. Since revenue fluctuates each month this number will be lower some months and higher others, but the extra cash flow should cover future shortfall.

Payroll for Additional Employees

According to “Profit First,” by Mike Michalowicz, your business should generate real revenue of $150,000 to $250,000 for each full-time employee.

This metric is great to determine if you’re overstaffed or understaffed. Additionally, another good test for hiring is to set the projected salary aside for a few months. By the time you’re ready to hire, you’ll have enough salary saved to afford time for adequate training.

Inspiration for this post came from “Meeting Payroll” by Marcia Donaldson published in the April 2022 issue of American Quilt Retailer.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.

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Payroll Made Easy

payroll

Paying yourself and your staff shouldn’t be a struggle each month. Read on for how you can manage payroll.

Calculating Payroll

Payroll is the largest expense your business is going to face. Just because it’s expensive doesn’t mean you don’t need the help. If you’re struggling to pay your employees every month, you might just not have enough real revenue.

According to Mike Michalowicz, author of Profit First, real revenue should be four times your total payroll (including benefits). Real revenue is defined as top-line revenue minus material and subcontractor costs.

For example, a business owner could have top-line revenue of $600,000, materials and subcontractor costs of $200,000, totaling $400,000 in real revenue. This means payroll should be $100,000.

Payroll: For Yourself!

Yes, you really can afford to pay yourself a business owner’s wage. Your payroll also happens to be determined by real revenue as well.

For business’s with real revenue of $250,000, the owner’s compensation should be 50%. For real revenue of $250,000 – $500,000, the owner should be paid 35%. Real revenue up to $1,000,000 should have owners seeing 20% of that back.

If you aren’t able to pay yourself the salary you deserve, check out your operating expenses and see where you can cut. This change won’t see results overnight, but it’s a start.

Inspiration for this post came from “Meeting Payroll” by Marcia Donaldson published in the April 2022 issue of American Quilt Retailer. Stay tuned next week for how to manage your cash flow and knowing if you can afford additional employees.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.

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Set Up Your Demonstration Station

demonstration

Showing is always better than telling. If you don’t have a demonstration station set up in your brick-and-mortar store, this is your sign.

Prep for your demonstration

Set aside an area to set up your demo. This should include a sewing machine (even if you don’t sell them) with tasteful and colorful fabric and matching thread in the bobbin (both upper and lower). You should, of course, have the thread and fabric as products in your store. Better yet—products the customer can’t purchase at big box retailers.

Also completed should be a sample with examples of what you’re about to demo. For instance, if you’re demonstrating appliqué your sample should display needle turn, satin stitch, decorative stitch edge, raw edge, embroidered appliqué, etc.

Execute

The customer has entered the store, you’ve greeted them, and they’ve asked for your help. Now what?

Simply ask if they have a moment to show how it works. Never make assumptions during the demonstration as to what knowledge the customer is bringing with them.

As you walk through each step of the demo, highlight the products you’re using and show the customer why they’re your favorite. Allow the customer to take a few stitches on the machine, showing the needle down feature and how the knee lift helps with accuracy.

Once finished, ask the customer if they have any questions. The more demos you give, the more objections you’ll learn to handle, and what responses work best.

Inspiration for this post came from “The Power of Demonstration” by Kay Brooks published in the April 2022 issue of American Quilt Retailer.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.

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Implementing Your Goals

Annual goals

In honor of this past week’s AQR Academy session, we’re covering how to implement your goals.

Step 1: Create Yearly Goals

Start by defining five big goals. Some examples include increasing sales by a certain percentage, gaining new online qualified leads, upgrading technology, etc.

Although defining these goals might not be easy, they should be simple. By that we mean if you can’t write down your goals on a napkin, you have too many to feasibly accomplish.

Step 2: Define Quarterly Benchmarks

The next step is to create an action plan. Start by breaking down these goals into metrics. At the end of each quarter, what sort of growth would you like to see as progress to accomplishing your end result?

Step 3: Weekly and Daily Tasks

Now comes the mundane part. After setting quarterly metrics, break down what needs to happen each week, then each day, to get to these metrics. A good goal to have is 15 tasks a week, or 3 tasks a day.

How does this help? By setting aside the time to define what forward movement looks like, you can get right into the difficult work knowing that it’s moving you towards your yearly goal.

Be Flexible and Stay Motivated

This structure is a great place to start, but don’t be too hard on yourself. Flexibility is a good thing and some weeks certain tasks are going to slide—and that’s ok!

Keep in mind what sorts of activities help to keep you on track. Whether that be daily exercise or silent time to yourself, those goals are just as important to schedule into your days and weeks.

Inspiration for this week’s blog comes from “Implement Your Goals” by Beth Montpas published in the April 2022 issue of American Quilt Retailer.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.

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Optimize Your Website: Part Two

Website design

Last week we established website goals—including informing your customers and increasing revenue—as well as where to start. During part two of “Optimize Your Website” we’ll cover how to accomplish those two goals.

Inform your Customers

Customers come to your website for information. Feature what makes your business unique and what you do best. Further, on each page, ask yourself “What do I want my customer to do after visiting this page?”

That’s when your call-to-action comes in. Each page on your site should include a clear and concise call to action to encourage your customers to stay engaged. This can be as simple as: Shop Now, View All, or Sign Up.

Increase Revenue with Website Design

There are multiple ways your website can help you increase revenue. The first is through your website’s design.

The first piece of advice is to keep it simple. First, this makes information easier to find. Second, a simple website is easier to maintain. If a customer has to click on your site more than three times to find information they need, your design needs to be simpler.

Another way to have simple design is through maintaining branding. Colors should be similar to your brand, and images should be clear and clutter-free as well.

Other design pieces to keep in mind is your navigation. Navigation tabs should be organized from most-to-least important.

Another way to increase revenue is through conversation. Integrated communication tools help you answer Frequently Asked Questions at any time of the day.

And of course, your website should be responsive, meaning it should accommodate every device including phones, tablets, and computers.

Last but not least, include a search bar so information is even easier for the end user to access.

Inspiration for this post came from “Increase Your Website’s Value” by Brad Tanner of Rain Retail Software and was published in the April 2022 issue of American Quilt Retailer.

AQR Academy

One last thing before we go! The May AQR Academy workshop is right around the corner on Wednesday, May 4 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. CST. The event will be hosted by Beth Montpas, Lifestyle Coach, and the topic is Goal Setting – Setting Yourself Up for Success where she’ll cover how to both set your goals up and make them happen.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.

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Optimize Your Website

websites

Businesses should leave an impression. These days, most first-impressions are made by websites. Read on to discover how you can optimize this essential online-tool.

Websites: Where to start

Making a website is just like making a quilt — it can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be.

The first place to start is by choosing a partner that understands your business. For example, some software providers have solutions for assembling kits, fractional yards and fat quarters that can integrate into inventory management processes.

These same software providers can also add other tools including classes and block of the month subscriptions.

Website goals

The next step is to decide what sort of goals you have for your website.

From the above, increasing productivity is an obvious goal. You can go one-step further and tie in back-end business systems to your site as well. Further, you can make changes in one place and it will automatically update your website and in-store system.

It goes without saying, but your website should also help in two large ways: increase sales and drive foot traffic. To accomplish both of these, you’ll need to inform customers of your products and services, as well as determine how each section of your website will increase revenue. We’ll touch on both of those next week.

Inspiration for this post came from “Increase Your Website’s Value” by Brad Tanner of Rain Retail Software and was published in the April 2022 issue of American Quilt Retailer.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.