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Manage Through 1:1

Manage through one on ones

Trust is one of the most important values, in business, and life. Manage your way to trusting your employees (and gaining their trust too) through one-on-one meetings.

The purpose of the 1:1 is not to be a review; schedule that for another time. Rather, this meeting should be focused on the employee’s challenges, observations, and opportunities.

Frame the meeting

Framing the meeting is especially important for new employees. One-to-one meetings with managers automatically have a negative connotation. To combat this, make sure it is known the agenda of the meeting will be run by them, not you. The longer the meetings happen the less this will be an issue.

Provide your full attention

How often do you have the undivided attention of someone you respect? Be sure to provide this rare opportunity during your scheduled one-on-one. This means turn your phone off, close the door, or find an off site location. Also make sure to compensate them for this meeting, even if it means showing up early or staying late. Their time is just as valuable as yours.

Listen to manage effectively

We all know how to listen. Be prepared for pauses during this meeting, especially if your employee is introverted. They may just need time to gather their thoughts. If the pause is too long, ask an open ended question to keep the meeting focused on the employee.

Follow through

If these meetings require follow up, make sure you get back to them. Nobody likes feeling like a pest (especially to their boss).

Manage through empowerment

Finally, let employees solve problems on their own. People learn by doing, so when your employees come to you with problems or questions, provide guidance and let them take the reins from there.

Inspiration for this post came from “One Person at a Time,” by Gwen Bortner published in the February 2021 issue of American Quilt Retailer. Stay tuned next week for five more tips on how to effectively manage one-on-one meetings.


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.

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Modern Day Burn Out

Burn out

Let’s face it, it’s been a tough year. Even though you may have had more time to do what you’ve wanted, this year has also come with it’s own set of unforeseen stressors.

How to cope with burn out

First, it’s okay to feel burnt out. Without being able to take a physical vacation, consider taking a staycation. It will be interesting to see just how easy it is to unplug from social media, to do lists, and even work.

Second, tell yourself it’s okay to feel burnt out. Just because you may have had more time-strapped days (think getting the kids ready for school, getting yourself ready for work, running a business, coming home to cook dinner, and then doing it all over again). If you were able to survive that, then you’re going to survive this. But recognize your feelings of burn out are still valid.

Build a support system

Finally, find a support system that works. Surround yourself with people you can be candid with, as well as people who know healthy ways that will make you feel better. Whether that be meditation, journaling, self help books, or exercise, good friends and family will suggest pastimes they know you will enjoy.

Nobody expects you to work 24 hours a day, and vacation for you (and your employees) should be expected. Remember, stress is different than burnout, so if you don’t feel recharged when you return, examine other areas in your life that may need focusing on.

What has gotten you through the past year? Share your tips so fellow quilt retailers won’t feel so isolated. And remember, American Quilt Retailer is always here too! Feel free to reach out anytime, for resources and more.


Are you attending AQR Academy this Thursday, April 1st from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m.? It’s still not too late to register! Join Christoper Thompson (the Tattooed Quilter) as he explores how to attract, engage, and motivate the customer towards making a purchase .

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Crafting Social Media Posts

Crafting social content

Social media may be time intensive but everyday it’s becoming a more essential piece of business. Check out these tips to make the process easier (and boost your sales along the way).

Writing Social Captions

Instagram allows up to 2,200 characters, but not all text will appear when customers are scrolling. An option to “read more” will appear they can click on, so make sure your most important information is at the beginning.

Also consider adding hashtags to your caption. Hashtags make it easier for new customers to view your post. Hashtags can go at the end of the caption, or in the first comment of your post.

Instagram also allows up to 30 hashtags. You don’t have to use that much, but a combination of specific and general hashtags will optimize your post for the most views.

What to Post

There’s a variety of content you can post. We separated the topics into three categories:

  • Excitement: This post is perfect for promoting events. Make sure your caption stresses why they should come, and what makes the event unique.
  • Engagement: Think of this post as having a conversation with your audience. I’m sure you’ve heard of algorithms, but what you need to know about Instagram’s algorithm is the more engagement your post has, the more your followers will see it in their feeds. You can boost engagement by liking and responding to comments.
  • Selling: Have a new product? Tag the company in your post and write a call to action in your caption such as “click the link in the bio to buy this today.”

What are you waiting for? There’s no time like the present to step up your social media game. Put your best social media foot forward with these Instagram tips.

Inspiration for this post came from IG 1, 2, 3 by Kate Colleran, Joanne Hillestad, and Kris Poor published in the February 2020 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.

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Sharing Visual Content

Sharing visual content on Instagram

Quilting is visual. Instagram is the best platform to promote those visuals. Read on to find out how to optimize your business’s Instagram account.

Back to basics

The first step to optimizing your account is to make sure your page is set to business. The good news is you can convert a personal account to a business one.

Second, make sure you keep your branding specific. For instance, your Instagram name should be the shop’s name, your username (or the words that come after the @ symbol) should be the same (or some variation of your business name), and your profile image should be your logo (for ease of recognition).

Cross promoting

Your Instagram profile can have one link, so it’s wise to use your business’s website link, and have a contact page in your website to direct customers to other pages.

You’re also going to want to connect your business Instagram account to your Facebook account so you can save time by publishing two posts with just one click.

Other Visual Tips

Be sure to include a bio at the top of your profile. What do you want your customers to know in 150 characters or less? And of course, include your business contact information so customers can contact you as well.

As for category, choose what’s best for your business. For example, “Shopping & Retail” might hit the nail on the head, but “Fabric Store” might be an even better option.

Last but not least, keep your display on public (not private) so anyone can see your amazing content if they come across your account.

That’s it for this week. Stay tuned next week for more information on photos, captions, and what type of content to share.

Inspiration for this post came from IG 1, 2, 3 by Kate Colleran, Joanne Hillestad and Kris Poor published in the February 2021 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.

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Spring AQR Academy

Spring AQR Academy

Need some education and networking in your life? Tune into Spring AQR Academy happening this Thursday, March 4 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. CST. Trust me, you’re not going to want to miss out.

Spring AQR Academy Sessions

Below are just some of the topics you’re going to learn. Sessions include:

Other information

Still not persuaded? Firstly, we should mention that attendees will receive a swag bag stuffed full of goodies. Second, you’ll also receive a recording of the day’s events, as well as a digital recap including handouts and information. Last but not least, the cost is $95 for subscribers and $195 for non-subscribers to attend.

Thanks to our sponsors QT Fabrics, Jaftex Corp, Virtual Quilt Market, and Mettler Thread for helping make this event 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.

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Preparing for Tax Season

Tax Season

Tax season is upon us. If you’ve already completed your taxes, great work. If you haven’t, check out some of these tips to tackle your taxes like a pro.

Tax Deductions on Travel Expenses

Many business owners aren’t aware they can deduct taxes from a business trip combined with a vacation. Outlined below are a few examples of deductible travel expenses.

  • New business: Looking for a new location? Travel to and from the location on days meetings happen are deductible.
  • Conferences: This is most often the work and play trip combined into one. Travel to and from the conference is deductible, but days that business doesn’t take place are not deductible.
  • Board meetings: For board meetings to be deducted, there must be a reason why the primary location is not suitable for the event. For example, to get more board members to attend the meeting would qualify.
  • Spouse/Children: Travel for children is typically non-deductible, unless there’s a reason. If your child is your videographer and attends the trip to work with you, then that would qualify as a deductible expense.

Home Office

If you have a home office, the home office deduction won’t cost any more than what you already pay. The home office turns a percentage of your personal home expenses into tax-deductible expenses. Speak with your tax person to calculate the amount of savings this deduction can influence the amount you may owe.

Follow these strategies to get your personal and business income taxes to the lowest legal amount. Stay tuned next week for more tax tips.

Inspiration for this post came from “Tackle Taxes Like a Pro” by Jacob Curtis, CPA, published in the February 2021 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.

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Interactive Sales with Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality

Getting a customer off the street is much different than getting a customer online. Many businesses are trying out augmented reality due to the conflict of in-person shopping during this global pandemic. Find out what AR is and how you can include augmented reality in your business.

What is augmented reality?

Augmented reality allows customers to try out products online. The most commonly used version of augmented reality is through online glasses companies; simply upload a photo of your face and you can “try on” glasses without leaving your home.

A growing segment of AR allows customers to try pieces at home. This can include seeing how a quilt would look on a bed, holding up patterns for curtains, or seeing the way fabric moves when styled as a skirt.

How to get AR

When it comes to implementing AR into your online presence, start small. Consider adding augmented reality to your business card, with a personal video from you, the owner, or a video highlighting a new product.

From there, start with one product (ideally one you’d like to create a campaign around) and test it. This means hiring someone to create a 3D model of the product and placing it in an augmented reality experience on whatever medium best meets your business goals (app, social media, website).

For more affordable options, check out if there’s an AR app already available. For example, InteriAR is an AR app that showcases furniture, AR-Watches lets customers try on watches, and Jarit allows patrons to preview dishes before ordering.

AR is likely to grow in the next few years. Jump on this train before it’s too late.

This concludes our tech savvy series, with inspiration from the article “Get Tech Savvy” by Sommer Leigh published in the December 2020 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.

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Omnichannel Marketing as a Quilt Retailer

Omnichannel Marketing

Continuing our series on tech savvy-ness, we thought we’d take a deep dive into omnichannel marketing. In this article, you’ll learn about this new marketing tactic and how your business can benefit.

Omnichannel vs. Multichannel

There are many differences between omnichannel marketing and multichannel marekting. Firstly, multichannel marketing casts as large of a net as possible to get customers. In comparison, omnichannel marketing caters to the customer. For example, omnichannel marketing’s goal is to create the most seamless shopping experince for the customer across all platforms.

This means that regardless if you have a customer walk into your store, stumble across your products on Instagram, comment on your Facebook page, or any of the other ways a customer can manage to contact you, you deliver the same quality service.

Moreover, the thought behind omnichannel marketing is novel. Essentially the thinking is you already have the customer, and you are guiding that customer through the most seamless shopping experience as possible. Interesting stuff, right?

What are the benefits?

Businesses who do omnichannel marketing see a 91% higher increase year-over-year in customer retention compared to those who don’t. In conclusion, omnichannel marketing gives you the extra push to develop your brand and keep it consistent across all your platforms. A great place to start is by having all your links redirect back to your website across all of your social media channels. As a result, your business will see the benefits of omnichannel marekting immediately.

Inspiration for this post came from “Get Tech Savvy” by Sommer Leigh published in the December 2020 issue of American Quilt Retailer. Stay tuned to get more tidbits on how to stay tech savvy in our technology solution series.


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.

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Personalize the Shopping Experience

Personalize with e-commerce

Nobody likes to feel like just another number. Personalize the shopping experience for your customers with these e-commerce tools

Personalize through data

The internet has brought everyone closer. But the internet has also given us the age-old realization that we are just one in a million. That’s why sales is moving to a more personalized method; every customer should feel noticed. Make sure you have methods in place to make that happen.

One such way is through e-commerce tools. E-commerce tools track and record your customers habits. Let’s say you have a customer who purchases the same product every three months. Your e-commerce tool can highlight this data point, and help you increase the likelihood of more sales through targeted outreach. A good place to start is by scheduling a coupon to send one week before the next deadline approaches.

E-commerce tools

Check out some of the e-commerce tools available to your business.

  • Google Optimize: This tool integrates best with Google Analytics, and offers A/B testing so if you’re struggling on how to best communicate with your customers, this may be the tool for you.
  • Personyze: Personyze offers personalized content across multiple channels (email, website, and app) so your message remains consistent. Small businesses can get a free version or you can pay a monthly fee for trafficked business.
  • Segment: Does data seem overwhelming? Segment tracks data and translates it into an easy-to-consume format. This platform starts free then changes to a monthly fee.
  • Apptus: Sell, baby, sell. Apptus does everything it can to get your customer to click that “checkout” button. This is also a good option to create personalized product, email recommendations, promotions, and banner ads as well.
  • Geo Targetly: If your audience is spread over a wide geographic region, this may be your best approach. It offers a great way to make your customer feel seen while offering the small business feel.
  • Qwardo: You know those chat robots that respond automatically? Well you can have one too thanks to Qwardo. This platform also offers A/B testing so you can also provide a tailored message to each customer.

Inspiration for this post came from “Get TECH Savvy,” by Sommer Leigh published in the December 2020 issue of American Quilt Retailer. Stay tuned for more ways to remain tech savvy.


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.

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Check in on those goals

Goals

Before we jump into today’s blog, we wanted to let you know about an event were throwing next Thursday, February 4th at noon CST.

The first AQR Academy will be a Zoom workshop dedicated to making social media work for you, including Creating Content to Sell and How to Get Your Social Media Moving.

Still not convinced to join? We forgot to mention the workshop will feature internationally sought out content strategist Kristy Honsvick and social media strategist, consultant, and trainer Hollie Clere.

Feel like you’re missing out? You can still purchase the recordings and digital recap from 2020 Academy events.

Now, on to those goals.

Goals, goals, goals

We’re already one month into 2021, which means it’s the perfect time to check in on how your goals are doing.

What was your focus for this year? Reducing expenses? Increasing efficiencies? Improving customer experiences? Whatever it is, know that if you don’t have a metric to measure progress, you’re going to want to find a way how.

As we know, data can be extremely helpful, but don’t get bogged down in having too much of it. Similarly, some employees can be extremely motivated by data. Find a way to publicly post metrics. Of course, you don’t want to make anyone feel bad about their performance, so encourage each employee to hit the same goal each week. If you have a weekly training, schedule time for questions so they can talk to each other about what works (or doesn’t).

Then, check in on the status. If you’re not on track to reach your goal, consider changing your performance (or even altering the goal itself).

Good luck from us friends at AQR! We know you can do it.


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.