Not sure what the proper protocol is on wishing someone a Happy New Year, but, on behalf of the Candlewic Company, we wanted to do just that. For many, 2011 was a better year than the previous few but like anything customers do want it to be better. We at Candlewic look forward to helping you achieve this goal in 2012 and our first issue of the year hopefully kicks this off with your recommendation to do a "Check Up".
Most publications always try to tie the first issue of the year to "resolutions" but that seems too campy. In the medical world, at different milestones in life, they recommend checkups and a business should be no different. The nice thing about these checkups is they can be inexpensive, no referral needed and done quickly depending on the size of your business. The beginning of the year is an excellent time to do this exercise because you probably were very busy and may have seen some of the flaws your business had this past season.
Check Your Wicks
The checkup should encompass all aspects of your business no matter how effective the aspect may appear to you. Some of the important areas to hit include the performance of your candle. During the course of time things always change slightly - maybe you ran into a problem with fragrance throw and you added a little more fragrance, maybe you were not happy with the shade of your candle and you added a little more dye. Whatever the event, it can have an impact on your wick size. If you don't already test burn your candles as a regular routine in your business, now is the time to start. Don't let your customers be the one that brings a wick problem to your attention.
Check Your Pricing
Make sure your pricing to customers is still good. Price increases are a subject no manufacturer wants to talk about but they are necessary. Double check your raw material cost and operating cost. Throughout the year different raw materials and operating cost go up and at the time they can seem insignificant but enough of them can have an impact on your bottom line. In early January, both Fedex and UPS raised their rates an average of 4.9%. Certain fragrances like spice and others have gone up due to raw material issues. If you need help on calculating all of your cost be sure to check out our past issue addressing this issue.
Check Your Components
Weigh a couple of your candles and measure to make sure you are still filling to the same level. Filling a candle a little higher will mean you are using more wax, color and fragrance and it may not seem like a lot. But multiply that over the course of the year and it could be significant.
Make sure you are shipping your orders the most efficient and cost effective way. Both UPS and FEDEX have new programs for residential deliveries. In addition if you receive a number of shipments from UPS be sure to check out "UPS My Choice" this is a level based service UPS offers that lets you select what best suites your needs. There is a level where you can actual schedule the delivery in a 2 hour window (fee associated with many of these service levels). Click here for more information on this program.
Check Your Online Presence
If you rely on wholesale business, you must have a presence on the internet. According to a survey from Foresee results, 33% of shoppers used their devices to access a retailers site.
Other findings of the study include:
- 30% used a mobile phone to research products on the Internet, look up prices, find store locations and so forth, compared with 11 percent in 2009
- 11% made online purchases from a mobile phone, up from 2 percent in 2009
With so many candle companies on the internet, it is important to find all of the opportunities which may be available and take advantage of them. Some of the obvious include Ebay, Etsy and others like Craigslist. It is very important to have a website with a cart so when someone does land on your site they can purchase from you. Be sure to use all of the social networks, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and others to drive traffic to your site.
Check Your Connections
Network with your peers despite some being competitors. Many are willing to share information and share their passion on the subject of candle making. No organization has been more effective at doing this then the IGCA. Be sure to check out the information they have provided:
Join the International Guild of Candle Artisans whose commitment is "to instruct and train members; to instruct the public; to encourage cooperation, good will, fellowship and exchange of educational ideas; and to raise and maintain the standards of candle making." This organization is focused on small business and hobbyist candle makers and is the only organization of its kind. www.igca.net.
On the business side be sure to research to see if organizations like Chamber of Commerce, Rotary and other local organizations might be right for you to get good advice.
We hope that 2012 will be an exciting one and you have our assurance we will be here to help you grow your business.