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Make the Most of Mannequins

mannequins

Did you know customers are more likely to notice mannequins than any other fixture in your store or window display? This is simply because mannequins look like them. Read on for six ways to dress a form to add to your store’s environment.

How to Dress Mannequins

  • Be dramatic: Think of items you can style on your form. The goal is to spark interest to products customer wouldn’t have otherwise thought of to increase sales. Pro tip: use items that are experiencing a sales slump!
  • Add-on: Consider adding surprise items, such as a button necklace, to your mannequin. This might entice shoppers to head to your lightly visited button area in the corner of your store.
  • Tell a story: Use your mannequin to tell a story about the product. It’s a much more effective way of connecting with customers compared to showing a slew of choices in a strewn-out manner.
  • Think light: Less is more. Try not to overdue props or supplies as the product should stand for itself.
  • Try marketing: Use your mannequin in social media. Consider adding a competition for followers to name the mannequin (where the winner gets a prize)!
  • Be intentional with color: Colors that highlight current trends (think Pantone’s Color of the Year) are a great way to show your signature style.

Inspiration for this post came from “Dress Them Up” by Anna Woodward published in the August 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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Onboarding New Hires

New hires

Congratulations, you have a new employee! Now it’s time to onboard them so they feel a part of the team. Read on for the four things to keep in mind to ensure you both are on a path to succeed.

Responsibilities

Employees should know the duties that fit their job description. Set clear expectations and help new hires understand what those expectations look like. This can be completing a piece of a project, meeting sales quotas, and more.

Every time you have a discussion about employee expectations, be sure to follow up with an email. It’s okay to check with your employee to gauge their understanding of the expectations you’ve outlined.

Acceptance

There’s nothing worse than being new to a team and having to introduce yourself. To make your new hire feel accepted, introduce them early on their first day during a team round up.

Another great method is to pair the new hire with a mentor. The mentor shouldn’t be someone in a management position, but rather a peer. This will go a long way in saving you time answering questions about the day-to-day.

Training New Hires

Thorough training sets your employees up to succeed. Invest the time required to ensure the new hire is an expert in their position. Slow down or speed up as needed, but be sure to provide feedback as early as possible. Let your new hire know if they’re exceeding expectations and encourage them to provide feedback also.

Career

You have a vision of the company, and your new hire has a vision of their career. Set up your new hire on a path to succeed and not only will they buy into your vision but they’ll fit into the company’s culture in no time.

Inspiration for this post came from “Create a Winning Team” by Melisa Morrison published in the August 2022 issue of American Quilt Retailer. Morrison is the Director for Human Resources at the Latex Construction Company and is a former quilt shop owner.


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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Creating Company Culture

company culture

Every business has company culture, whether they realize it or not. Creating a strong culture within your work environment is essential to your company’s success. Read on for the four components that create great culture.

Vision

The daily grind is difficult to get through but one thing always shines through—vision.

Creating and sharing the company’s purpose to your staff can help them share in that vision. Consider asking your employees how they can support the company’s vision and one thing they can do differently to achieve it.

Values

It’s important your company values align with your employee’s values. If your company doesn’t have values, here is an easy way to create them.

During your next all-hands meeting, set aside 15-30 minutes to brainstorm what values matter in the workplace. Write every value you hear down. Once you’ve exhausted options, have your employees write down their top 3-5 of the values. Tally the results on your own time, then share the values voted on by you and your employees during your next all-hands meeting!

(Note, some values may emerge in overarching themes. For example, teamwork could also be described as collaboration, unity, combined effort, and more.)

Practices

Establish sound practices and rid your business of inconsistencies. Keep the door open with your employees to share inconsistencies, and be prepared to determine better workflows.

People

Leverage your employees strengths to increase company culture. When your employees are happy, productivity increases, and is a win-win for both parties.

Inspiration for this post came from “Create a Winning Team” by Melisa Morrison published in the August 2022 issue of American Quilt Retailer. Morrison has over 30 years of experience in Human Resources and is a former quilt shop owner. Stay tuned next week on ways to communicate employee expectations.


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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Exclusive Products

product

One of the best parts about being a quilt retailer is providing exclusive products consumers won’t find at big box stores. Read on for display ideas to show customers the difference.

Exclusive for a reason

It’s hard to keep up with Amazon and other big box retailers. But displaying the difference is not only motivation for you but a good reminder for customers as well. Below are some ideas to get you started.

  • Display product after multiple washings
  • Benefits of using your store’s tear-away for decorative stitches compared to the competitor

Your display should show the customers the difference, which goes much further than telling them. Every crafter has created a project that didn’t meet their standards due to product defect. As the product expert, help establish trust with your customers by helping them to avoid the same pitfall.

Inspiration for this post came from “Stable Foundations” by Kay Brooks published in the August 2022 issue of American Quilt Retailer.

AQR Academy LIVE Discount Code

Regret missing the first ever AQR Academy LIVE event this past April? You can save $50 by registering now for the next AQR Academy LIVE event by entering code LIVE50 at checkout.

What are you waiting for? Secure your spot now — the event is less than 30 days away!


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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Personalizing your Package

package

We’ve all opened a beautifully wrapped package. The extra warmth that attention to detail and a note of sincerity provides is worth shopping with the business again. Read on for package stuffers that do this as well as further your brand and your client relationships.

Package Marketing

To determine what sort of package stuffer to design, first determine your end goal. What do you want the client to do next? Then work backwards to decide what goes in the package.

Next, ask yourself why you want to include the item. The “why” should align with your purpose of including it also. Keep in mind your audience, not everybody will want the same type of marketing.

Stuffer Ideas

When it comes to the number of stuffers you can include, the possibilities are endless. See below for top items.

  • Invitation to purchase again: Provide a discount on an item they can purchase online. Include a QR code with a link to your site or the promotion.
  • Engagement: Looking to add more readers to your newsletter? Encourage shoppers to sign up for 20% off their next purchase.
  • Free item: The options are limitless but some items can be digital. Perhaps a free online pattern?
  • Something unique to you: Have leftover samples? Include them in your package as an add-on.
  • Something unique to them: This is perfect for customers you know well. Creating something you know is just for them.
  • Promotion: This is best for a monthly subscription. Promotions are always going on—let your customer know what’s next.
  • Save the Date: Send a save the date to drive engagement to your next event.
  • Branded invoice: Make numbers less boring by adding a simple thank you note at the bottom of your colorful and personalized receipt.
  • A handwritten note: Need I say more? A handwritten note goes a long way.
  • Next step: This all-encompassing option makes it simple to wrap multiple of these options into one card.

Inspiration for this post came from “Hand It Off” by Amber Griffiths published in the August 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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State of Hiring

hiring

With talks of a recession imminent, many employers are reviewing hiring. Nobody can predict the future but something else can provide context: Data. Read on for some of HireVue’s insights.

Who is HireVue?

First, you’re probably wondering who HireVue is and why their data matters.

To start, HireVue is a company that connects businesses to candidates by providing video interviewing software, conversational AI, and pre-hire assessments.

Now, about their outlook. There are a lot of really smart people who say a recession is imminent and there are other really smart people who don’t think that’s the case.

CEO of HireVue Anthony Reynolds believes “the economy will continue to be strong, if a little wonky.” Below are the data points Reynolds reviewed to come to this conclusion.

Hiring Statistics: Pros

  • There are 2 job openings for every 1 person unemployed
    • These numbers are global and come from HireVue’s 800+ customers
  • HireVue customers sent 17 million chat and text messages
    • Up 1.4 million from last quarter
  • Government hiring has tripled since 2020
    • More specifically, public sector hiring increased 17% since last quarter
  • Skills assessments are up 700,000 from last quarter
    • Compared to only 50,000 last quarter

Hiring Statistics: Cons

  • Interview volume is down slightly from 2.1 to 1.8 million
  • Hourly positions still have a worker shortage

Conclusion

In summary, this blog post could have a completely different tone in Q3, but only time will tell. The past two years have been difficult for all small businesses and yet you’ve remained resilient. What’s a little more to keep us on our toes?


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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How to Host an Online Workshop

virtual workshop

Work from home pivoted how work is done. One benefit is that meetings can now be done virtually. And this applies to events and workshops too! Read on for details on how to host a virtual workshop.

Before the Workshop

So you have a topic in mind, the time blocked off, and the research completed. Now it’s time to create a registration page. Luckily you can customize the workshop page in Zoom to match your branding.

In the registration description you can include event details, instructions on what attendees need to prepare, or even prompt them with questions to think about and ask during the event.

Next you’ll want to configure Zoom to your preferences. This means including a waiting room, polls, breakout rooms, and more.

Last but not least, be sure to promote the event via your social media channels.

Holding the Workshop

Now it’s time to hold your workshop. To start, provide instructions to attendees about what to do in case their connection drops. It also helps if you have a co-host to allow attendees in who may be running late.

To drive engagement throughout your session, include interactive elements. The best way to do this is to include polls throughout your session. Of course, something as simple as a gif or providing a 5 minute break works as well.

At the end of the workshop, send a feedback form so each event can get better than the last. Of course you can do some of this too by asking yourself what did you do well, what can you do better, what questions you couldn’t answer, etc.

And to follow up, a simple thank you email is sufficient, including any material attendees requested.


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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Small Business Guide to Blogging

blogging

Isn’t it ironic that you can read a guide to blogging from a blog? Every small business should have one—read on to find out how to start yours.

Blogging 101

The first thing to know about blogging is that your customers are your readers. So blog for them!

Second, the content you’re blogging about should be constructive. It’s easy to think of blog ideas when you think of what you’d like to know. Topics can include day-to-day problems, social media tips, display ideas, inventory management, what gets you inspired (including self-help books and self-care strategies), the list is endless really.

Third, you don’t have to write a lot, but you should post often. When it comes to blogging consistent content is more important than thorough content. Speaking of content, people are visual thinkers and learners so images are important. Believe it or not, a catchy title can go a long way as well.

Finally, get the whole team involved. Your blog will go places further than you imagined when you bring in others to help.

Executing your blog

The easiest way to stay consistent with blog posts is to plan them out. A great way to plan your content is to become inspired by customers! What questions have they been asking lately? Is there any sort of product that seems to be in higher demand?

Similar to your physical store, you should interact with your customers online. That is, if someone comments, respond!

Last but not least, analyze your readership numbers. If something doesn’t seem to be working, try something new to see if that fixes 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. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.

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Finding Your Financial Sweet Spot

Growing a business is hard but it shouldn’t be impossible. Read on to find your company’s sweet spot and accomplish your financial goals.

The Sweet Spot

According to “The Pumpkin Plan” by Mike Michalowizc, there is something called the sweet spot that helps you grow your business. Just like growing a large pumpkin requires the right seed, growing a company requires the right strategy. That’s where the sweet spot comes in.

There are three elements of the sweet spot including top customers, unique offering, and systemization.

Customers

As you know, top customers aren’t the people who buy the most. Top customers are the people you want to work the most with. Make it a goal to find top customers. Then work feels like helping a friend.

Unique Offering

Your unique offering sets you apart from competitors. Michalowizc refers to it as your AOI or Area of Innovation. The Area of Innovation consist of three things: quality, price, and convenience. Try to focus on one. If you focus on two, it can cause you to fail.

Note, focusing on price is a slippery slope. It’s a long, uphill battle and can be very difficult. So ask yourself, do you want to be BMW (quality), Walmart (price), or Amazon (convenience)?

Systemization

Last but not least, systemize. This means optimizing your employees, technology, and processes to be as efficient as they can be.

Inspiration for this post came from “Finding Your Sweet Spot” by Jacob Curtis, CPA published in the June 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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Online Advertising with Digital Agencies

digital agency

Here at AQR we believe in providing you with all of your options. If you’re looking for help with digital advertising consider looking into a digital agency. Read on for what digital agencies are and how they can help you.

What is a digital agency?

Digital agencies help you advertise digitally. There are three primary ways to advertise online:

  1. Social Media: Social platforms allow paid advertising to help you get your message in front of new audiences, generate new leads, gain page likes, or increase website traffic. This is the easiest option of the three.
  2. Search: Search engines (like Google or Bing) allow advertisers to pay to show ads above or below organic search results. Bids are placed on keywords so when searched, you show up on the results page. Advertisers are only charged if the user clicks the ad.
  3. Website Remarketing: Website remarketing is a great trick to reengage past website visitors. This tactic places ads in front of a targeted audience and is a great cost-effective tool for small businesses.

Why do I need one?

In a sentence, digital agencies outsource online marketing for you. This means you can continuously advertise, even when you’re on vacation.

Additionally, the process can be time consuming. Setting advertising goals can be outside of your scope of knowledge. Search advertisements use detailed data and analytics. A digital agency will do all of this for you as well as use the data to optimize campaign results and keep track of status updates.

In conclusion, if this sounds like something you can benefit from, make an appointment with a trusted digital agency to receive advice on what would be best for your business.

Inspiration for this post came from “Get Vacation Ready” by Lillie Huhndorf in the June 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.