Sunday, 25 November 2012

Complaints - what do you do if you get one? Small busines Tip

Business Tip
If you're in business, you will have received a complaint.  If you haven't then that's not necessarily a good thing!

Complaints help you develop and if you've never received any it might mean that your customers are voting with their feet and walking away from you. Unfortunately, they say that if a customer's happy they will tell one other person, if they're unhappy, they'll tell 10 other people!  Not good if you don't even get the opportunity to resolve their complaint.

The UK is renouned for 'grumblers' who never do anything about their grumble, hopefully we're beginning to see an improvement with a rise in complaints and if should you get one - think of it as a positive event.

There might actually not be something wrong with what you've done, but if you customer thinks there is, then it's great that they've contacted you and they do have a legitimate complaint.
  • The first piece of advice would be to put yourself in the customer's shoes and don't take it personally.
  • Be calm!
  • Apologise - there's nothing better to take the anger out of  a situation than saying the word 'sorry'.  If you feel that you've nothing to apologise for, then there's no harm in saying "I'm so sorry that you feel that......" and summarise their complaint.
  • Tell them what you're going to do to resolve their complaint and get them to agree that this is ok
  • Apologise again before finishing the exchange with your customer.
  • Finally - DO what you said you were going to do.
There will be something you can learn from the complaint - was it a service problem? a product problem? was it the customer misunderstanding something?  All these can be prevented in the future.  For the customer misunderstanding something - does it mean you haven't explained it well enough?

The customer who would have potentially told 10 people about how disgusted with your company they are, is now likely to tell 10 people about how they had a complaint and how well it was resolved.  

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Do you want free publicity for your handmade craft?

Are you a craftsperson who loves what they do?
If you are, you've no doubt enjoyed making your craft, whatever it may be, lampworking, silversmithing, cardmaking - the list could go on and on....  but will have got to the stage where you saturated your friends and family with gifts from yourself and still want to carry on making.  There is after all, a finite amount of items that you can keep for yourself.

If this is you, I'm sure you will have turned to making items to sell and if you're wanting to turn it into a viable business - to make items to sell at a realistic price.  No doubt you'll see items everywhere that have been handcrafted by people selling them at cost because they've enjoyed making them - but you simply can't compete with that and nor should you!

If you handmade craft is now a business your prices should be paying you an hourly rate.  However, we all know that handmade goods are / should be more expensive than inexpensively manufactured machine made goods. The edge is the fact that your products are different.
This is  abracelet made using purchased beads which have been manufactured. Now take a look at this lady's website  Judith Johnston and you will immediately see the difference with not only the quality, but the beatuy.

So, given that your product is so different from the norm on the high street, you have an edge when it comes to publicity!  Many journals are happy to run articles COMPLETELY FREE OF CHARGE about artisans and their work because it is newsworthy.

If you're participating in an event, take time out a month or two before and research your local magazines - just see how many of them have articles about local people.  Find an angle for a story about you and write a precis and send it to the editor (email as many as you like with a precis as some may not be interested, but if you get a reply from more than one saying they'd like to run a story about you - you can choose which would suit you best).

When I had a pendant featured in Vogue magazine, I wrote to 5 magazines.  3 didn't reply, 1 wanted me to have a paid advert as well as running a feature and the 5th  - she loved the story!  I have since had half a dozen articles written about me - from a pargagraph or two to a double page feature in their glossy magazine.  All it has cost me is a little time in keeping in contact with the reporter - and in actual fact we got on so well, we've kept in touch because we like each other!

If you were a shop on the high street, you can almost guarantee that you'd be requested to run an expensive advert at the same time, but handmade workers have the 'edge' with newsworthyness because it's not about the 'shop' per se, it's about YOU.

Why not give it a go?

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Protect Your Ideas and Designs - Handmade Business Tip of the Week

Looking after your original designs for your handmade craft.

As a crafter you will have plenty of ideas and designs - some of which you put into practice, make and then sell online. If you're selling online who do you know that these designs aren't being copied?

Well, in all honesty you don't!  However, if you spot a design that you know you created what do you do?

1) When anyone is viewing your product, it's important to advise them that the design is protected from copying. The item is your intellectual property.  The originator of the design owns it, unless they created it whilst being employed to make that design, in which case the employer owns it.  So, if you have a website, why not put a note in the footer to state that your designs are protected and should not be copied. Selling on Etsy / Folksy - put a note at the bottom of each handcrafted item you upload.

2) Keep proof of when you designed the item.  For instance, with my handmade silver jewellery - each photograph I take is dated and I also print the page when it was uploaded online together with full notes of how it was made.  Therefore, the proof of the date is available if it is required.

3) What do you do if you see someone has copied your design?  Send them notification that this is your design and that you have proof and they must desist or pay you a proportion of their sales in commission (the choice is yours).
If they don't respond send another notification to advise that you will take legal action.
If they don't respond to that - then the answer is to carry through with your threat. 
Take a look at this link to the UK Copyright Service which relates specifically to Designs and your rights. Of course every country will be different, but the idea is the same no matter where you live.

Your Handmade Craft and Design Protection

Saturday, 3 November 2012

How do you sell your handmade craft?

Give good advice

A good tip to help sell your handmade craft might seem slightly odd, but if you tell people who you've achieved your success then they will want to know more and sharing your expertise will boost your own business.

Your own craft probably has dozens of associations or oganisations where you can blog and share your skills.  If you offer your skills in your particular area, it's a great way to reach new customers and show your leadership in your particular field.

Articles in the form of tips, best practices in how to achieve the results you have and writing on blogs is a great way to deliver your ideas.

Question and Answer sessions with people who want to know more will find you and appreciate your knowledge. 

Take a look at Lesley H Phillips - Blog and you'll see that I have written a series of articles to help jewellers (and not only silver jewelley - as I've used a lampworker as an example) to develop their websites. 

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