Fix minor appointments around the major ones
Most of us will allocate certain days to making sales calls. There is a lot of good sense in this in that it allows us to focus our mind in a particular direction and to keep it there.
When we sit down and plan the day there will be particular people we really want to see and there will be others that we would like to see.
Our time management advisors will suggest we plan the calls along a route that makes for the least amount of driving; reducing wasted time and unnecessary petrol costs. This is good advice as far as it goes. However, we need to ensure that by being efficient, we don’t stop ourselves being effective.
You should always book the appointments that are most important first of all. The last thing you want is to have set up the morning appointments in a neat orderly fashion, only to find your top priority customer can’t see you in the afternoon.
By all means make the route as efficient as possible, but don’t let your drive for efficiency steer you off course
Top 5 Networking Benefits
1: Lead generation
It’s a fact! Networking done correctly generates business leads – enough said
2: Help and advice
A group of like minded people with various skills will ALWAYS find better solutions to challenges than one individual
A great way to learn new techniques, gain knowledge and improve your business skills
4: Confidence building
The best way to get good at anything is to keep doing it. Networking regularly is one of the best ways to gain confidence.......everyone is on your side!
Business can be a lonely place, especially for small business owners. Sharing quality time with others in the same situation as you will make you feel part of a team.
Sew - Who is Cheating?
Deezynes Embroidery & Printing is Individual - treating all customers as Individuals too.
Minimum quantity ONE.
Deezynes works with those looking for Personalised Garments such as a Gift/Memento, including Hen/Stag celebrations along with Businesses, Clubs, Schools and Teams. Equestrian and Pet Clothing.
This is a recent, but oh so typical a conversation
Q. So what is your business?
A. Embroidery (with a smile)
Q. So what does that involve? Flowers on pillowcases and stuff?
A. (they were interested), if that is the customers request, then yes. Most of my work is for businesses, teams, work and schoolwear. I have commercial machines and . . . . (I am yet to finish this line, ever!)
Reply: “Oh that’s cheating!”
Just like all self-employed, my business is an extension of my family. My pride for this ‘family member’ is no different to that of a child or a favourite pet. So why do I become so irritated when my ‘cheating’ with this ‘family member’ is brought up, again . . . ?
Yes my machines work hard, but ‘we’ are a Partnership. I, or more often my customer, will choose the design, the colour/shade of threads, the garments and where – and how – ‘we’ will stitch.
To create a new logo or design - This can be a simple customer-drawn ‘suggestion, a jpeg image via email or just a photocopy. It is very common for me to scan an item of clothing already being worn to reproduce! Equine/Canine ‘portraits’ from photographs are particularly popular.
The quality of the original is unimportant as I will re-draw the whole design - this is particularly useful if changes are required from the original. This is where I can consider the colour changes, the order areas are to be sewn, adjust the density of those embroidered areas depending on the thickness of the fabric to be decorated and the size(s) required.
So now we’re ready to ‘send’ the design to the machine. Before we can see ‘our’ creation, we need to select the thread colours and ensure there is sufficient bobbin (underneath) thread.
The machine also needs instruction as to which size frame has been selected and which colour is on each spool and consequently thread-up relevant needles with any colour changes.
Now it is time to ‘frame up’ a piece of scrap fabric – for the most accurate results as similar as possible to the chosen garment fabric, along with the correct weight stabiliser. Stabiliser is placed to the back of the fabric to be embroidered to keep it, well, stabilised! Then just place the frame in the machine and let the machine do the ‘cheating’ sorry, sewing!
On completion of this ‘test’ piece depending on the results, it is either back to the ‘drawing board’ as further editing/tweaking is required and further sew-throughs, or if happy with the results, a copy is sent to the customer for approval.
As soon as the “OK” has been received then ‘we’ commence the commission.
Most customers choose garments from the Deezynes on-line catalogue, some supply their own. Particularly, if it involves a specialist sports product.
For repeat orders the hard work is done, all designs are kept on file for future use and/or editing.
In most embroidery cases the answer is “Yes” – just ask!
A couple of things to remember this time of year when it comes to cutting your hedges
Firstly we are still within the nesting season and whilst it is not an offence to cut hedges and trees during this period it is an offence to intentionally damage or destroy a nest that is habited or one that is actively being built , nesting ends the end of August so please be aware and help preserve our wild bird numbers
Secondly a little tip with regards to cutting conifers during the hot spells , my advice is wait until evening time or an overcast day if you cut in the searing heat your hedge is likely to go brown fairly quickly
Networking Meetings – ‘What a load of rubbish’.
When you start your own business it seems that everyone suddenly wants a piece of you.
Almost every person you speak to has a nephew that builds websites.
Papers and magazines are desperately interested in you advertising through them.
Charities want your products or time.
Business card companies email you six times a day.
And then there are those Networking groups that you must join…and it all costs money you don’t have.
Networking meetings were about as high on my list of priorities as planned root canal surgery, after all it’s basically paying to have a chat isn't it?
Well, Miss Smarty Pants, that’s where you were wrong.
It took me about two years to join a local business club and now I’m kicking myself that it wasn’t earlier.
I got chatting to a local Gym owner at Christmas dinner and he explained how the support had helped him through his early years of business. It really opened my eyes to how much I had been struggling with various aspects of self-employment alone and suddenly somebody understood.
We shared geography and customers and those are the keys to really understanding pricing and local attitudes to start-up businesses.
I recently suffered a set-back that threw my confidence out of the window completely. My plan was to honour the bookings that I had and make plans to shut down.
I’d had a good go, but ultimately I just had to realise I just wasn’t any good at working for myself.
Then came another one of those networking meetings….
This time with a speaker so inspirational I realised that actually we all feel like that every now and again.
We all work for nothing sometimes.
We all have a completely empty bank account sometimes.
We all miss important time with our families.
But, we all have the seed of an idea that can work, it really can, you just have to dig deep and go for it.
So I've started digging - and it’s thanks to CAP Business Clubs that I am.
There will be clubs along similar lines in your area. Have a look around. You WILL get work from it. You WILL help other people with your knowledge and contacts and you WILL suddenly have a team of people on your side, helping through the rough days.
Networking turns out not to be so rubbish after all.
"When correct measurements are important"
This little tale stems from a commission recently completed.
I was asked to make a bespoke tunic top for a lady who lives about 30 miles from me, she didn't want to travel to the Forest of Dean and neither did she want to pay me to drive to her so I against my better judgement agreed to let her take her own measurments and I would make the top from those! I gave full instructions as to how to take the required measurments and recieved those from her after some delay on her part for reasons unknown.
Having got agreement for the sample of fabric and the design for the top I purchased the fabric and set about making the top having radically altered an exixting dressmaking pattern. So far I had done a lot of work on the pattern and spent cash on fabric, still she seemed a happy customer.
I made the top up and as it fitted my mannequin which had been set to the ladys measurments I assumed it would fit so contacted the customer, told her the top was finished and requested payment, she paid and I posted the top. So far so good!!
A few days later the lady contacted me, the top was too big, and too short. Not to worry says I we will have to meet up and I will sort it out. A few days later again she contacted me again, it was much too short and she didn't like the colour. So now I had a problem; the measurments had been wrong and she'd changed her mind on the colour from the agreed sample to the finished item. I like my customers to be happy and she wasn't, so I wasn't happy.
I gave her two options, either we could meet up when I would take her measurments, She would supply fabric and I would make another top free of charge or I would give a partial refund on the original cost. She chose the refund so I promptly sent that off and that ended our contact.
I have learnt from this tale to follow my instincts and always take measurments myself and to factor in a minimum of 1 fitting to the final cost. Had I done that the top would have fitted perfectly. Of course there is nothing I can do about a customer changing their minds on the colour of a fabric.
The moral of this tale is you are the maker, your business is on the line, when dealing with customers use your own judgement as your best guideline and if you can't do the job as they want to your own satisfaction then don't do it! Had I follwed this advice I wouldn't have taken on the top and would have saved myself many hours of work and not a little heartache.
Caroline, Fashion Revived
The biggest reason customers leave a supplier is because they feel neglected in some way. This is really easy to avoid, and actually gives us an opportunity to exceed customer expectation and create a genuine bond with our customers.
During your dealings with your customers they will do things that give you an opportunity to say thank you. It may be renewing a contract, agreeing a price increase or accepting a later delivery than originally promised. Whatever it is, a little show of appreciation will go a long way towards cementing the relationship and generating extra loyalty.
It needn’t cost much money – a simple thank-you card or a small gift will do the trick.
So look for opportunities to show your appreciation for your customers, and they will reward you many times over.
The most valuable asset your business has is you. Yet how many of us have a plan for dealing with stress, unwinding from a hard day or recharging our batteries?
The most successful predators of all-the big cats-know that great hunters have to know how to be still, and how to take it easy when they're not hunting. They are not lazy-they just have the perfect energy saving plan, on which their survival depends. They move from one energetic gear to another seamlessly (they have many), whereas us humans tend to get stuck in one-third- from which we rarely change down!
How do we discharge any tension that has built up? The shamans believe we must do so on more than a physical level. They believe that in addition to being relaxed physically, we need to still our minds and calm our spirits before we can fully recharge our batteries, before we are really giving ourselves a chance to restore our vitality. Silence is balm to the busy, tired mind and peaceful places like woods and churches are great ways of soothing the spirit. Physical exercise, like a 5 mile walk or cycle ride is a great way of relaxing the body. Combining these regularly gives us a complete energy makeover, and makes sure we are firing on all six of our cylinders. Like the big cats.
"Doing it by hand is just as much fun sometimes!"
Having just spent 2 weeks on the glorious River Avon in the even more glorious sunshine we're having I am glad to say the sewing by hand can be very relaxing indeed.
I have a small narrowboat with no room for my sewing machine and no 240V to power it anyway. Bearing this in mind I took some hand sewing with me just to keep my hand in as it were while away boating.
The sewing I took was a bit of hand quilting so I took the work piece itself, my quilting hoop, hand quilting thread, a number of quilting needles, snips and the inevitable at my age, magnifying, reading glasses! The work piece in question is a one side of a cushion cover, made of patchwork in a random squares and rectangles pattern in a nice selection of small florals the quilting required is very simple so as not to obscure the patchwork too much, besides complicated quilting would get lost in the florals along the way. I chose to do parallel lines of hand quilting at approximately a quarter inch spacing in various angles across each square or rectangle. This nice simple pattern on a floral patchwork is the complete opposite of the other side of the cushion cover which I have completed and which is traditional whole cloth quilting in my own paisleyesque design on a natural calico.
Ironically the finished cushion will probably go straight back to the boat as a comfy, decorative piece on the sofa!!
Back home now and I have a number of bridal commissions to get on with, more of those again.
Caroline, Fashion Revived
Guilty or Not Guilty......of being a bad mummy.
Advantage Gane (HR)
My whole world changed, for the better, in 2003 with the birth of my first child. Nothing prepared me for the intense feelings of love and the fierce need to protect my baby from hurt or sadness.
I had taken maternity leave from a job which, up until this point, had been my passion. I have worked hard on my career, using redundancy money to gain my BA(Hons) degree in Human Resource Management as well as studying in the evenings for my Chartered Institute of Personnel qualification and since gaining the Management CIPD status.
I should probably explain that I am very loyal......in personal and professional relationships, maybe instilled through my upbringing but certainly through my own moral code.
So, after the precious time on maternity leave I had to return to work. This is the time when the “guilt” set in. Firstly guilt that I was leaving my baby, and second guilty that I wasn't wholly focused on my job anymore.
There are many papers and articles on what are perceived as being “best for baby”, a stay at home mum or a working mum. Neither it would seem is right. All mothers need to make their own decisions based on our own personal circumstances.
The morning routine changed, it wasn't just me I needed to get out the door at a certain time. The daily calls to find out what my baby was up to both helped and hindered my feelings of guilt. The evening routine changed, it now included picking up my baby and the time this took before I got home. Then the bedtime routine which pre baby included whatever I fancied doing: visiting friends, cinema, studying, nights out etc. Post baby was either idyllic with bath time or petrifying with sleep time with a colicky baby. I talk to my husband to check if he feels the same about feeling guilty..... “No” is his reply.
I could go on with many examples, and I would like to say that the feelings of guilt have diluted once my baby started school but they haven’t. What I have learnt to do is cope with those feelings better. How? By looking at my now two children and seeing them both happy (most of the time) and thriving. They are my measure now.....that and lots of tips and techniques for juggling motherhood and a career!
Am I guilty or not guilty then of being a good or bad mummy? The debate will go on, what I do know is next time; I am coming back as a man........ That’s a whole different debate – whether men or women have it easier, one I’ll keep to myself (and my friends on rare nights out!)
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