I don’t believe in the notion of “build it and they will come”. Maybe it because through watching my family’s business- started by my Grandfather and continued by my Dad- I know that it is hard work, coupled with a committed staff that was passionate about the products and services.
So before I seriously considered moving out of my “studio” (Aka my basement), I felt that I had to know the pros and cons from other small business owners. And, realize that the costs of doing business were going to be vastly different- the procedures were going to change and improve- and I, as the owner, was going to have to take it there myself . I might even get lucky and find staff who would feel as passionate as I did about this service.
So, I went to Oakland County, where I lived and took every small business course they and the SBA offered- even if I thought I wouldn’t need it since I had come from the corporate world. Smart move- they helped me avoid making some really dumb mistakes.
Second, I leaned heavily on some small business owners that I had met over the years when I was doing volunteer work. They were gracious and kind and exceedingly patient in answering all kinds of rookie questions.
And then I leapt (which seemed like a high jump at the time) – found space, updated it and moved in.
It was then I had one of my “aha” moments. This “retail” store providing service was totally new, and most if not all of what I had learned in my studio, would have to be improved- and quickly.
So now I jump ahead 5 years- the learning curve has been either short or long (painful or not), the knowledge acquired has certainly changed my methods and procedures (willingly or not) and my business has certainly grown (Thank goodness!).
We still draw from the foundation of our business, while recognizing those ideas that help propel you forward and make growing your business challenging and interesting.
We have a “portfolio”- four websites, an iPhone app and a Flickr account holding too-many-to-count photographs of our completed projects. In the store, we have wrapped samples of every paper( that’s usually over 70+ papers at any one time) we carry, so that visually you won’t have to guess what the outcome of your package will look like. (If you are from the Michigan area, then you might remember fondly of the days of going to J.L. Hudson’s and getting a special package wrapped right before your eyes- with a wall full of the selections, based on occasion, you could pick from).
We still have postcards and use them to “touch” our prospects that prefer that method to receiving an e-mail or Internet newsletter from us. We hand write and stamp personal thank you notes to new and returning customers. We have a loyalty rewards club.
We have pens that have the shape of a bow around a box to promote our store and its website. A novelty, but memorable. Our business card is double sided and square- again memorable. Every package receives a special label promoting our brand.
We do in-store promotions, Girls Night Out, trade groups and Chamber coffees or after hours’ events-because once they have been to our store, we know that they will be back.
We have invested in our façade with a strong color, architectural presence with awnings and a fabulous, retro looking neon sign to create this “landmark” for all to find us.
We invest in our WrapArtists by teaching, teaching and more teaching.
They have learned our style of selling- which is to consult and teach, leading to a unique and personal wrapping solution.
So we have come a long way and learned much as a result of this vision of mine.
Next is getting ready for the next jump – it seems like pole jumping to me at this moment – to get to the next level of business. Not quick or easy based on the last leap I made.But one that I am anxious to make. In our fast paced world standing still is not an option.