5 Tips to get your embroidery business off to a great start in 2015!
1. Get focused
The key to getting focused is setting goals and then making a plan to achieve those goals. It sounds so simple and you’ve probably heard this time and time again, but it is virtually impossible to get focused without knowing where you’re going. So make sure you have a well thought out set of S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Timely) goals and a realistic plan to get you there.
Now, planning is one thing, but putting that plan into action is often a whole other ball game. The Pomodoro technique is a great time management technique developed by Francesco Cirillo based on a tomato shaped kitchen timer. The essence of this technique is the use of a timer to break down work into manageable 25 minute intervals, separated by short breaks. The timer helps to focus your attention on a critical task for a short period of time.
Give it a go! Assign yourself a task from your plan (if it’s a long task then break it down into 25min loads). Set your timer to 25 minutes and off you go! During this time there should be no interruptions, no checking emails, answering phone calls, or getting distracted in any way. If possible get another team member to cover you for that time. Once the time’s up, take a well-deserved 5 minute break and then start again.
2. It’s a Sprint, not a Marathon
Breaking goals down into sub goals and smaller tasks makes them much more comprehensible and less daunting. It is important that you are able to see the finish line and the rewards associated with what you are doing. It’s very easy to get disheartened when you feel as though you’re not getting anywhere, whereas when you break tasks down into bite sized chunks it’s much easier to track your daily progress and see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Creating sub goals will also help you focus your efforts on the right activities at the right time. For instance during your busier months you may choose to focus more on customer service and in the quieter periods, shift the focus to promotional work.
3. Fixed routines
Establish a fixed routine that includes time for both work and personal activities (including down time). If you have a pre-set schedule that you follow, you will automatically know what each day looks like and how much flexibility you have on any given day. Thus less time is spent working out your schedule each day and you have allocated time for the things that matter, including exercise, rest and family!
4. Let the sales come to you
Let’s face it, cold calling isn’t fun for anyone! Why not change your focus in 2015 and create so much value that your customers come to you!
Focus on your existing customers and provide them with an experience they want to brag about. This will not only result in return business but also in positive word of mouth which is the most powerful form of advertising.
If you have a website or blog you can expand your reach by offering advice and tips online that will instantly attract new visitors and potential customers. And let’s not forget the power of social media! Encouraging audience participation with your various social media accounts will help get your business in the forefront of people’s minds. Try running a competition where people can participate by liking your page or re-tweeting a promotional tweet.
5. It’s always about the customer
We’ve talked about the benefits of delighted customers, but how can you actually go about doing this and achieving great customer service? It’s about delivering more value and going above and beyond what your customers’ expect.
Here are some important things to remember in order to maintain great customer service:
Identify the avoidable conflicts
No matter how much value you add your efforts will quickly be undermined if a conflict arises. Communication is key here, misunderstandings often arise when things are left to interpretation or when expectations have not been set. Keep correspondence clear and organized, keep a record of the important conversations and always respond promptly. Even if you don’t have a definite answer to a question or problem, it’s important to acknowledge that the correspondence has been received and that you’re working on a response or resolution.
Know your customer!
How can you deliver more value, if you don’t know what’s important to your customers? Ask yourself some important questions: Who are the people you are trying to reach? What is important to them? What’s their age range? What are their hobbies and interests? What aspect of embroidery are they most interested in (free designs, tips, how-to’s)?
Don’t neglect your customer
Send out regular correspondence (via email, social media, blog posts) keeping them up-to-date and aware of what your business is up to. Hosting customer events and providing freebies to your most loyal customers is always a good idea.