The truth be known, a lot of the planning for the Holiday season ahead of us should have already been laid out and many items checked off! Regardless this still might be a good time to go over that list before December hits us and we find ourselves swimming in framing orders and demanding customers.
Traditionally, most custom framers still enjoy their largest surge of traffic through November and December. But we should first recognize that many of us in the picture framing industry are really small businesses, with two to three employees at most – many of us are truly a one man band. This has its advantages, but when the volume increases during the holiday season, we can all get a little stretched. We all wear many hats and so it is important to decide what hat you might be wearing for most of today…are you the Marketing Director or the Head Framer? Is your morning going to be spent selling and creating a new window display or on the phone getting orders and supplies sorted out?
Having lists with goals ahead of the busy season can help us stay on track and allows us to use our time wisely. Unlike the going away for the weekend check-list: toothbrush, pajamas, socks, deodorant; a Holiday Business Check-list is bound to be a bit more comprehensive…
Supplies & Vendors in Order
Do you have ample supplies of the basic consumables prior to the onslaught of framing orders? Back-up rolls of kraft paper, an extra box of CMC or mat cutter blades or extra footage of your best selling profiles that you keep in stock? Murphy’s Law has shown us that we will find that we are out of Framers Points at 5:15pm on Friday afternoon, so go over all supplies leading into the busy season, but be sure to mark those that should be beefed up! Being out of foam core or an oversized piece of mat board on December 10th when you’ve got 45 framing orders backed up is not what you want to have. If you’ve made or have a list of regular supplies, you should have this list checked mid-week, Wednesday every week during the holiday season! Make it a habit of having someone on your staff checking this list first thing every Monday during November – December AND January!
Marketing Plans Promotions Lined Up
As we are not only our business’ CEO but also the marketing director, now is a good time to set-up and arrange your advertising schedule for November, December AND January. When people start thinking about framing for gifts or Holiday decorating in November and December is the time that an ad featuring your business will have the greatest impact. Now is the time to set-up an appointment with your radio, TV or media rep to go over your fourth quarter marketing. If you have the designs and messages pre-approved, then it’s simply a matter of giving approval at the time. Your time will be immensely precious come December. Running traditional advertising and setting up a budget now to do so makes sense while cash flow and traffic are typically higher. All it takes is one or two new customers picked up in January to pay for that paid advertising, but you need to plan to do it now. If you plan on using Social Media, you should at least create a checklist of what you want to say and when so that you are making weekly or bi-weekly postings of Facebook, etc. You can even load these posts in advance and have them scheduled for publication. And do not forget the value of After-Xmas and January promotion.Having sales and promotions during that period is powerful while the corporate world is on vacation. With all that time off, the corporate clients get antsy and want to shop or take care of home projects like getting things framed. Having your name out there at this time is valuable.
In-Store Displays & Windows
Marketing doesn’t end with traditional and non-traditional advertising. You should make a plan now for your internal in-store displays for Halloween, Autumn, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukah. Your check-list should include what framed items will be included and also what collateral material will support the theme. Props and collateral material can be related gift items that you sell or those from a neighboring business. Your check-list should also include dates that you plan on changing out these displays. Keep in mind that the time to put up a new display is 4-6 weeks before the beginning of the theme so that it triggers people to think and respond. This is an area for you to consider using some outside help, which leads to our next key area…
Staffing & Management Issues
Despite the fact that skill is required to be a competent and professional framer, there are many other tasks in operating our business that can be accomplished by temporary or part-time help. Hiring one of your good artist-type customers during the busy season is not a bad idea… You could use them to t frames, answer the phone, create or clean displays, greet customers as they enter your store, or call customers to inform them of completed orders. All of these functions might free up you and your primary staff to do the important stuff. This additional help during the busy season has an added bene t of easing frustration and improving the overall sanity of all employed. Check now to see if former employees or other temporary staff might want additional hours during November and December.
Getting Through the Holidays – Conclusion
Almost every one of us entered into this profession with desire and passion, and yet the hectic pace of the fourth quarter can easily do us in. Having a check-list for materials, marketing, advertising, and logistical issues can certainly make the ordeal less painful. Share these check-lists with management and staff – No one likes to be caught off guard.
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This article is intended for educational purposes only and does not replace independent professional judgment. Statements of fact and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) individually and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, are not the opinion or position of Tru Vue or its employees. Tru Vue does not endorse or approve, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, accuracy or completeness of the information presented.