The holiday season of 2014 has been my busiest yet! Things went from busy to CRAZY busy in what seemed like overnight. While I'm thrilled with the success of my shop, I will admit that I was completely overwhelmed for about 2 months! I've put together a list of the top 5 things I learned during that time and what I plan to do differently next year.
1. Order 3 times more supplies than I think I'll need
Okay, this may seem like a rookie mistake, but I ran out of supplies at some very critical times. I was so busy making things, that I forgot to restock supplies (face palm)! And then when supplies did come in, I didn't have time to put them in their proper place. My studio turned into a sea of boxes.
This year, I plan to order more supplies than I think I'll actually need. And order them early. That way I can get them put in their proper place and the excess can be organized more neatly and efficiently.
2. Plan extra time for answering emails
I did not anticipate for all the extra convos/emails that the busy-ness brings. I could spend 2-3 hours each morning answering emails, while more and more came in. My regular routine is to answer convos/emails in the morning so they are out of the way and I can begin my day. During the holiday season, I had to change the way I worked or I could spend all day just answering messages and not getting anything else accomplished. I finally had to switch up my routine and have things ready for the laser each morning so it was running while I was answering messages.
3. Revise listings for holiday shoppers
One of the reasons I was getting so many messages/questions is because shoppers tend to not read the entire listing description. Sometimes they don't read it at all! A lot of the questions I was receiving were answered in the listing, if people would just read. I finally starting putting the most important details and the most asked questions at the top of the listing before anything else. This did help some and I wish I had done it sooner. I will definitely be doing this before the holiday shopping season begins this year!
4. Have someone shipping packages 5 days a week
I was very fortunate to have a friend help me with shipping this year. The only problem was, she could only come twice a week. It was so nice having a helper to do all the packaging and labels. That allowed me 4-5 hours each day to work on actual items.
I will admit that it was VERY hard for me to give up that part of the process. Shipping is the final stage before it leaves my hands and I like to do one last quality check and make sure everything is perfect before it goes out the door. Having someone I felt confident in made all the difference in allowing to give up this part of the process. It helps she's a little OCD like me :)
5. I am not a factory
Number 4 actually leads me to number 5. While I was able to give up the shipping part of the process, there are just certain things I am not willing to give up and may never be willing to give up. When discussing the holiday craziness with a family acquaintance, they mentioned that I should have more employees and each person have a station...blah, blah, blah. I'm not running a factory and I don't want an automated, bulk-order business. I specialize in one-of-a-kind, custom items...and I like it that way.
This individual also said that I should have someone answering all my emails/convos for me. While that sounds nice, this is also an area I'm not willing to give up. When you do custom work, you have to work very closely with your customers. When I begin working on a piece, I've dealt with the customer first-hand and know each request they made because I took the request. I answered their questions. And I will give them the perfect item because I know what they want. It all comes down to customer-service and that is something I choose to keep for myself.
So going forward, I will seek help where I can and plan extra time for the things I will continue to do by myself. Being efficient is really what's key in staying sane through the holiday craziness!
Okay, if you're still with me, thank you for reading. This got a little long!
Do you have any tips you learned from the holiday season?