Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Small Craft Business: Top 10 Actions You Must Never, Ever Do

As the counterpart to this post, I present my list of Never-Evers for small craft business owners. You should never: 

  • Take business criticism personally. If it comes from a customer, listen carefully and respond professionally.
  • Think that because you are small and independent, you must lower your prices and compete with big, corporate enterprises. You are in business to make money, right? Then set your prices accordingly. People want to support you. Charge what is fair for a profit and don't flinch. DON'T FLINCH.
  • Over promise. Under promise, and over deliver. This goes for customer stuff and also for friends and family or other businesses asking for your time. Learn how to say "no." You can't do every damn thing. 
  • Respond publicly to a customer complaint. I have seen this more often than I would have imagined, especially on open forums like Etsy. Do not, ever, comment about a specific customer in a public forum. 
  • Ignore customer emails. Never! If you can't get to your email in a timely manner, craft a form letter response, and send them out in the meantime. Example: "Thanks so much for your note. I will respond to your email personally when I have the time to give it the attention it deserves. I expect that to be within X days. Thanks again, Me."
  • Try to please everybody.  It is better for business to work within a niche, anyway. But if you get caught up in the idea that you might offend someone with a certain craft (ex: offending vegans if you use goat milk in your soap or leather in your handbags), you will be unable to focus on the items that are your bread and butter. Focus, focus, focus.
  • Fail to show up when you have agreed to do so. You just don't do this. It is very bad for your professional image, and the people who run craft shows talk to each other. 
  • Sit down while busy vending. It's understood here that if you cannot stand because of a physical condition, and you must sit, then that's what you do. If you are able to, you should stand up as much of the time as you can. Greet your customers. Talk to them. Ask them about their families and kids. Sitting in your chair and reading a book or checking your email/Facebook/Twitter--none of these is good for sales. If it's slow, do a quick Facebook check. But put the damn phone down when someone walks up to your booth. Pay attention to the people.
  • Ignore the power of changing your display. If you vend every week, as I do, it's important to sometimes change the display. Change the configuration of your tables, the placement of your products, etc. It gives your loyal customers something "new" to view, and increases sales. 
  • Try to be someone else. Be yourself, always. Your display is yours. Getting ideas from others is fine, but don't copy someone else. 

What would you add to my list?

No comments:

Post a Comment