If you are like me, thinking about the winter holidays when
the weather outside is near 100 degrees is always a difficult
Since fall is traditionally the busiest time in the candle
and retail market, it is imperative that everything goes
as smoothly as possible. You don’t want to lose out
on any orders just because you are so busy. The challenge
is always determining what will be selling and not selling
each holiday season.
|Scary, But True!
End of the Year 169
While larger companies have the luxury of internal forecast,
economic data for a specific sector and the ability to drive
the trend to a certain extent. Smaller companies have to
rely on much less sophisticated means.
One of the first things to look at is sales from the same
period last year. Reviewing which size containers, what type
of candle (pillars, votives) and scents will give you some
idea of how to begin to prepare. If you are offering new
scents, it is difficult to predict how popular they will
become and how much sales they will create.
Reviewing your current year’s sales data can be of
assistance on the newer products. If you offer a new style
container in a spring fragrance, there is a good possibility
that it will do well in a holiday fragrance. The biggest
unknown is “Am I going to grow from last year?”
Once you have some general idea of which candles may sell,
the next step is to determine if you can meet the demand
and if you increase your marketing efforts can you handle
the peak load. It seems that every year the “selling
cycle” shortens. Customers now need manufacturers to
turn orders around in a much shorter time period. These changes
in many instances have changed the way manufacturers have
to do business. While many companies such as Candlewic are
able to turn most orders around in 1-3 working days it is
sometimes the little items that can trip up many manufacturers.
Nothing is more frustrating than having all the components
to make your candle and then you realize you are out of stock
on the front label and the printer’s lead-time is 2-3
weeks. To assist on this matter, you can create a Bill
of Materials for each of your candles. Depending on what
type of software you use to track inventory, it might be
helpful to develop your Bill of Materials in a spreadsheet.
In addition to tracking and building your raw materials
it is also a good time to evaluate your accessories. If you
are pouring pillar candles, do you have enough in stock to
keep up with production? If you have 50 molds and your customer
wants 500 candles in two weeks, you will have just enough
molds but there is no time to spare for unexpected events
such as employees calling out sick, or even having another
rush order come in. Having some “wiggle room” on
molds definitely is an asset during the busier time period.
Planning early also allows you to take advantage of some of the promotions
that Candlewic offers. For example if you know you will be needing wax
there is not a better time than now to get truck load savings.
While you may not solve every problem that arises during
your peak production time, planning early can sure make this
time easier, more productive and more profitable for you.
In addition to specific candle making
questions I quite often get asked general business questions
such as “How do I increase my sales?”
As you can imagine if there were a magical formula to
this we would all be doing the same thing so I will share
with you some of the recent success that have been identified.
Back in May, June and July of
2001 we did a series of articles on marketing and selling
candles and received very many complimentary calls on this
For each candle maker the formula may be a little different
and the success achieved may vary. One of the more successful
means of marketing your candles right now is fund raising.
Local organizations are always looking for new ways to
generate income. A fundraiser in which the product sold
is locally produced can always be a winner. In many instances
there may already be “name recognition” of
your product. What better way than having 25, 50 and even
100 members out selling your product.
Even though there are other companies (possibly more well-known)
doing home parties, many candle companies have achieved
success with this in smaller geographical areas. Some of
the keys to successful implementation would be you as the
candle maker attend and identify how all candles are handmade.
You can let the customers pick their own color/fragrance
combination. Also, be sure to let the audience know your
capabilities; chances are someone attending may think of
some other need they may have and only you can identify
how you could do it best.
No article is complete without mentioning the online auction
sites. However, do something different. Rather than selling
a single candle, try a gift package of a dozen votives.
Take a gift basket and include a container candle, a votive
candle, a pillar candle and then add other special items
such as handmade soap, potpourri chips (see article on
what to do with left over wax) and even candy. What is
really unique is that you can appeal to a new audience,
for a golfer include a sleeve of golf balls, coffee drinkers
include a mug or even coffee beans. The possibilities are
Part Number GJ-0001 (Glass Jar
Description: 15 oz-Glass Container –Bay Laurel Scented-
|Scent- Laurel Bay
|Dye: Blue Color Block
|Wick: 44-24-18 Cotton
Note: This is a very simple “Bill of Materials” they
can be as complicated as you would like depending
on what you are using them for. If you put them
in a spreadsheet you will have to identify items
by consistent units, i.e. pounds, ounces, units.