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How to Slow Down and Regroup: A Tale on Janus

January got you overwhelmed? Use these insights to take you into the new year

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January is named after the Roman god of gates and doorways, Janus, who is always shown with two faces. He is known as the keeper of beginnings and endings. Janus is also used to signify change and transition whether in ideas, seasons, conditions, or visions.

More importantly, when it comes to regrouping and taking a big cleansing breath, he represents the passage from yesterday to tomorrow, the movement from past to future. Slowing down after a busy holiday season, when so much time is spent pleasing others-a thousand fold for the embroiderer and other apparel decorators-we find ourselves with regrets as well as triumphs. We always look to minimize the former and multiply the latter.

What better time to do this than the hiatus that is the month of Janus? We can step away from the hustle and bustle and take good stock of where we are, how things are going, and what we would like to change or underscore so that next January, things will be even better.

Review your marketing attempts. I consider the marketing plan even more important than its big brother, the business plan. Do you have a marketing plan? If not, January is a good time to put pen to paper and fashion one that takes into account all you have learned. What have been your accomplishments this closing year? How have your organizing skills and your business organization fared? How robust is your bottom line? What do you wish you had done? Time to do it!

It is very true that we should always look forward, not backward, because, after all, that is the way we are traveling. But, a look behind can make the road ahead exciting and full of possibilities. It’s time to consider what we can accomplish, more and differently, in this wonderful opportunity that is called a “new year”.

Here are some things to ponder:

Disarray, even that caused by a busy shop, can be distracting to the customer and a real time-waster for those who have to trim, hoop, and change thread. Consider carving out an oasis with a table and chairs for the browsing customer with garment and thread samples and design choices. Decorate it with pictures of your best work and change the display often to keep returning customers interested.

Clean up that disarray in the work part of the shop, so tools and orders are easy to find. Put wasted space to good use, and you and any employees will have a brighter attitude when working. Wasted time will be minimized.

Make your ordering process trim and efficient. This impresses the customer and makes the workday run smoother. Your employees will be grateful, and your customer will realize (even if just sub-consciously) it’s a place to they want to bring their business. They’ll think, “Things will get done and done right, here.”

Now that the shop is shipshape, take a look at how you promote your business. What did you do right this past year? What did you want to do but never made the time because you were too busy looking for the scissors?

Translate your saved time into creative marketing. Change the signs and window displays in plenty of time to catch the business of the upcoming season or event. Consider an open house during these slow days. Now that’s a real incentive to get the shop in order! I always had a countdown to spring; nothing makes days and smiles brighter than the thought of spring.

Read some marketing books when times are slow and plan your strategy for the new year. What can you do to rev up enthusiasm? Keeping the business new and exciting for you and your customers going forward.

Do you have a price list? Nothing is more irritating to a customer than prices that seem to be pulled out of a hat. Have your price list printed out. We are so often asked for discounts. It is more difficult for the customer to argue and bargain when they see just exactly what it takes to bring their ideas into stitched reality. I have always liked the idea of a having a checklist of all the things the customer wants. Go through it with them. Metallic thread? Two different hoopings on each shirt? Digitizing a new design? Each of these things adds to the difficulty and time required to complete the offer. And, it is fair that those who request and expect the most should pay more.

Speaking of paying, are your prices still the same as they were 10 years ago? If so, why?

While it is true we should always have our finger on the pulse of our shop and know exactly what it costs to keeps the doors open; it is also true that we have learned a lot to get where we are. We should be compensated for our knowledge, our ability, and any extra talents we bring to the table.

Don’t be afraid to charge what you are worth. If you are worth it, they will come, they will stay, and if they stray they will soon be back. Quality and customer service are customer magnets. My pricing philosophy has a lot to do with “what the market will bear” and what I have had to bear to get to this place in the market.

A line in an old song says “Regrets, I’ve had a few…but then again, too few to mention.”

Take a look back with Janus and then move forward bringing with you all the good things from the closing year and all your hopes and bright plans for the new one.

Happy New Year!

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Kristine Shreve

Kristine is the founder and CEO of Kristine Shreve Consulting which offers writing, marketing and business development services. Kristine is also the creator and host of the Business + Women podcast, where the discussion centers around being a woman business owner. She blogs on her webiste, as well as readingandranting.com and whenimthin.com. On Facebook, Kristine is the founder of the Women in Garment Decoration Facebook group. Kristine was the director of marketing for Ensign Emblem and EnMart from 2006 to April 2020.

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