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Pitfalls and Lessons Learned


Fern-Marie
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I was curious, when you first started selling to the public directly, or more so through stores on consignment, what were the biggest problems, or pitfalls, you encountered?

If you could go back and say 'never again will I"....what would it be?

What advice can you give to new sellers as a business person?

Thanks,

Fern-Marie

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I would never give people credit. I have only given three people credit (allowing them to have the candles before paying) and two of them have dissed me. One still owes me money from July, but its not worth the $20 she owes me to take her to court, and the other has owed me $40 for a month.

Now when someone asks if they can pay later I tell them "Sure, I will deliver the candles then". Some times they look at me like "Darn, I really want them now" so I give them my "Darn, I really wanted the money now" look.

HTH ~ Pam in da UP

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I agree about getting money up front. I have never had a problem, but that's because I don't deliver any product without getting money first. This is a business and should be run like a business. Customers wouldn't go into Yankee and ask to take products home and pay later and so they won't get to do that with my business either.

Don't let people take advantage of you!! Sometimes we are just too nice for our own good, lol.

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NEVER, EVER do business with a friend. I had a friend ask me to do a fundraiser for her. She was the coordinator and it was being done to raise money for the Sunday school class she taught at the church. I thought since she was my best friend and it was being done for the church ...... no problem. WRONG!!!! I told her that all money had to be collected at the time of order taking. She had all forms, tally sheets, agreement, etc....... She started taking orders in early November. She said she wanted to take orders for 3 weeks so as to give all a chance to hit a payday. Makes sense. Well, 3 weeks came and went. I called her several times and she was always out or really busy. (btw: she's a stay at home mom and her kids are 11 and 16) Finally I talk to her the week before Christmas! She says she has been soooo busy and the ordering has been sooooo great that she was asked to take orders longer. She said she would get them to me 2 days after Christmas. That came and went as well. I managed to get ahold of her again on January 6th! I told her that she had to bring me the orders immediately and that she should have never taken orders and money for that long because it was unfair for those who ordered in Nov. and were expecting to get their stuff in time for Christmas. She showed up at my store on Jan. 9th with all the orders and only half the money! I asked her where the rest of the money was and she said she forgot the other envelope at home. I told her I needed the money NOW and that I can only do the orders I had the money for. She agreed and left. I looked over the order forms and tally sheets ........ EVERYTHING was marked paid, but nothing was in order. She had taken the original order forms and recopied them onto new forms!! I had no idea what to start with! I called and called for another weak and a half. The morning of the 18th, the Church Pastor called me and wanted to know "what my problem was?" I was confused and he said the people were very upset that I still had not delivered their orders!! I couldn't believe it. I told him I had just received the orders and that I would have all of them done in 2 weeks as promised. He was cluless. He said he was going to call my friend and find out if I was telling the truth!! About 30 minutes later (Jan. 19th) she shows up at my store crying and telling me that she is sooooooo sorry she screwed everything up! I said just give me the rest of the money so I can finish the orders and get them to the people who have waited so long. She starts crying even more and say's she doesn't have it! She said "I'm sorry, I spent it!!!" I FLIPPED!! I told her she better go get the money and I don't care from where! I called the Pastor to tell him what was going on and he says to me... "Your friend NEVER had permission to do a fundraiser!" UGH!! About an hour later, she shows up, her husband driving, and gives me a check from his account. I got all the orders done on time....... even though I was doing Christmas scents in January! She was very mean and ugly to me when she came to pick up the orders. She said the Pastor told her what I said to him and that I had no right to screw her over and try to ruin her. I just let her carry on ...... and then I let her have it! All of that time she was letting me and my business reputation take the blame for what she had done. And I was clueless to the whole thing until it was too late! All said and done .... to me she no longer exists! I'm sure someone is going to come on and tell me I should forgive and forget, but NO, not this time.

Sorry so long. Thanks for listening to my horror story. Hopefully it will give others a "heads up" before they get an eye opener like I did!

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NEVER, EVER do business with a friend. I had a friend ask me to do a fundraiser for her. She was the coordinator and it was being done to raise money for the Sunday school class she taught at the church. I thought since she was my best friend and it was being done for the church ...... no problem. WRONG!!!! I told her that all money had to be collected at the time of order taking. She had all forms, tally sheets, agreement, etc....... She started taking orders in early November. She said she wanted to take orders for 3 weeks so as to give all a chance to hit a payday. Makes sense. Well, 3 weeks came and went. I called her several times and she was always out or really busy. (btw: she's a stay at home mom and her kids are 11 and 16) Finally I talk to her the week before Christmas! She says she has been soooo busy and the ordering has been sooooo great that she was asked to take orders longer. She said she would get them to me 2 days after Christmas. That came and went as well. I managed to get ahold of her again on January 6th! I told her that she had to bring me the orders immediately and that she should have never taken orders and money for that long because it was unfair for those who ordered in Nov. and were expecting to get their stuff in time for Christmas. She showed up at my store on Jan. 9th with all the orders and only half the money! I asked her where the rest of the money was and she said she forgot the other envelope at home. I told her I needed the money NOW and that I can only do the orders I had the money for. She agreed and left. I looked over the order forms and tally sheets ........ EVERYTHING was marked paid, but nothing was in order. She had taken the original order forms and recopied them onto new forms!! I had no idea what to start with! I called and called for another weak and a half. The morning of the 18th, the Church Pastor called me and wanted to know "what my problem was?" I was confused and he said the people were very upset that I still had not delivered their orders!! I couldn't believe it. I told him I had just received the orders and that I would have all of them done in 2 weeks as promised. He was cluless. He said he was going to call my friend and find out if I was telling the truth!! About 30 minutes later (Jan. 19th) she shows up at my store crying and telling me that she is sooooooo sorry she screwed everything up! I said just give me the rest of the money so I can finish the orders and get them to the people who have waited so long. She starts crying even more and say's she doesn't have it! She said "I'm sorry, I spent it!!!" I FLIPPED!! I told her she better go get the money and I don't care from where! I called the Pastor to tell him what was going on and he says to me... "Your friend NEVER had permission to do a fundraiser!" UGH!! About an hour later, she shows up, her husband driving, and gives me a check from his account. I got all the orders done on time....... even though I was doing Christmas scents in January! She was very mean and ugly to me when she came to pick up the orders. She said the Pastor told her what I said to him and that I had no right to screw her over and try to ruin her. I just let her carry on ...... and then I let her have it! All of that time she was letting me and my business reputation take the blame for what she had done. And I was clueless to the whole thing until it was too late! All said and done .... to me she no longer exists! I'm sure someone is going to come on and tell me I should forgive and forget, but NO, not this time.

Sorry so long. Thanks for listening to my horror story. Hopefully it will give others a "heads up" before they get an eye opener like I did!

YIKES! That was just pathetic! I am so sorry you had to deal with that....and as much as I believe in forgive and forget, I agree with you...NOT THIS TIME! Your reputation was at stake and she did not consider that at all!

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JennieJr:

There are people out there who think we will cut them some slack simply because we are friends. I learned early on to collect money from everyone before delivering the goods, even family members. We aren't running a charity here. At least in my case, I'm here to earn some money.

I am so sorry that your so-called friend would jeopardize ruining the reputation of your business by doing this. That was a hard lesson learned and I'm sorry it happened to you!

Bev

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YIKES! That was just pathetic! I am so sorry you had to deal with that....and I much as I believe in forgive and forget, I agree with you...NOT THIS TIME! Your reputation was at stake and she did not consider that at all!

One thing to forgive and forget, but when you are running a biz you have to do what is best for your business, I have learned just because I don't hold a resentment any longer does not mean that person is allowed in my life any longer.

I agree with the don't give credit, my sis owes me more $$$ than anyone, and another friend who everytime she sees me she says "oh, I forgor my checkbook", it is $20, I want to say you don't have $20 on you?

Another thing, peopel used to say "oh, I really want this fragrance or that fragrance" and then I would proceed to try and make something for everyone, not anymore. You buy from what I have or not. Most people still find something they like.

elle

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Mine advice is much of what has already been said!

1. Learn to say NO! Saying no will save you money!!!

2. If you are going to do a fundraiser, make darned sure you have every detail nailed down with the group you are doing it with. My two fundraisers have been WAY too hectic and unorganized and its ended up costing me $$$!

3. Make time for your business! If you are seriously going into business, you need to treat it as such. I think this is the biggest mistake I have made. I haven't been the best at keeping my books & its cost me lots of headaches and its all because I procrastinate and say oh I'll do it later. You also need to make time for your business. If its a few hours every day, a few days a week or whatever. You need to have a set schedule to say Ok from 2-4 this afternoon I am working ONLY on business stuff. That's another biggie for me because I'm the ADD QUEEN and usually end up completely side tracked!!!

4. NEVER EVER DELIVER THE PRODUCT WITHOUT THE $$ FIRST! Not to your mom, not to your best friend, not to ANYONE! I have 3 people who owe me $$ from Christmas orders. One is my best friend, one is a co-worker of my MIL who has burned me REPEATEDLY, and the other is my MIL's best friend. Now granted its not a lot of $$ but its the principal! So I am now updating my website and saying under no circumstances will orders be delivered without payment first...NO COD!!

5. The ever popular, you can't please everyone! I tried that and it does NOT work! I had one girl keep asking for different scents or different tarts and I basically said how high when she said jump. It was ridiculous. If I happen to have a sample of that fragrance then I'm more than happy to help but I no longer do custom orders with fragrances OR colors!

I hope that helps! I'm no expert because I am STILL learning everyday. And I learned a lot of these the hard way! Good luck to you!

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Robin summed it up for me: but I'll just repeat it here,

Be absolutely firm. When you set a price, stick with it. Decide on some price breaks, or deals, BEFORE you go in to a store or before you have a show. People are always looking for a deal, and if you haven't come up with something ahead of time, you'll probably break under the pressure and offer too much of an incentive and undercut your prices. Find out what other business on your level of pricing offer and try to come up with something comparable. I always include a free sample with a retail purchase, in my boxes I ship I choose what they get. If it's in person, I set out a selection of 3 small samples, and they choose their favorite one. For wholesale, they get full-size samples at half price if they order a minimum of 4 of a single scent.

Never compromise your time frame. No matter how eager someone is for a product, if you promise it will be ready on the 1st, and it takes you until the 5th, it will leave a bad taste in the customer's mouth, even if she is understanding. I've learned, when someone asks me how long, to stop and have a minute of silence, and calculate in my head what I have on hand, and come up with a date, then I add 2-3 extra days in there allowing for mistakes and whatnot - then I say a date. Then, if you deliver early, it's a nice surprise. Which leads me to...

Never let anyone pressure you into giving them an answer on the spot if you're not ready to. Whether it's a time frame, a price, a commitment to an event - it will NOT be the last time you'll have the opportunity, so you DON'T have to jump on it and think that you can make it happen. Either take a few minutes right in front of them to think, calculate, check your calender, but better yet, tell them you will call them the next day to report back. Unless you are sure (like, yes, my 12 ounce container candle is $17), always give yourself room to decide and think and pray, if that's what you do.

Never take rejection personally. Always try to use it as incentive to improve, and know when to blow it off, because it's meanspirited.

And most of all...NEVER BE AFRAID!

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Never be surprised that a store wants you to do consignment before offering wholesale. They always want something for nothing. TURN DOWN the consignment and say you'll talk when they are ready to offer wholesale account. I have several good size store that want my candles but they want them on consignment. I explained I don't sell on consignment, only wholesale and the candle MUST be paid for when I deliver them! CASH! They want something for nothing!

No matter what, if they aren't will to pay when you take the candles in. then take the candles riught back out and explain when the cash is ready, the oder is ready too! If you drop off the candle whith no money in your hands when you leave, you will NEVER see the money!:mad:

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NEVER, EVER do business with a friend. I had a friend ask me to do a fundraiser for her. She was the coordinator and it was being done to raise money for the Sunday school class she taught at the church. I thought since she was my best friend and it was being done for the church ...... no problem. WRONG!!!! I told her that all money had to be collected at the time of order taking. She had all forms, tally sheets, agreement, etc....... She started taking orders in early November. She said she wanted to take orders for 3 weeks so as to give all a chance to hit a payday. Makes sense. Well, 3 weeks came and went. I called her several times and she was always out or really busy. (btw: she's a stay at home mom and her kids are 11 and 16) Finally I talk to her the week before Christmas! She says she has been soooo busy and the ordering has been sooooo great that she was asked to take orders longer. She said she would get them to me 2 days after Christmas. That came and went as well. I managed to get ahold of her again on January 6th! I told her that she had to bring me the orders immediately and that she should have never taken orders and money for that long because it was unfair for those who ordered in Nov. and were expecting to get their stuff in time for Christmas. She showed up at my store on Jan. 9th with all the orders and only half the money! I asked her where the rest of the money was and she said she forgot the other envelope at home. I told her I needed the money NOW and that I can only do the orders I had the money for. She agreed and left. I looked over the order forms and tally sheets ........ EVERYTHING was marked paid, but nothing was in order. She had taken the original order forms and recopied them onto new forms!! I had no idea what to start with! I called and called for another weak and a half. The morning of the 18th, the Church Pastor called me and wanted to know "what my problem was?" I was confused and he said the people were very upset that I still had not delivered their orders!! I couldn't believe it. I told him I had just received the orders and that I would have all of them done in 2 weeks as promised. He was cluless. He said he was going to call my friend and find out if I was telling the truth!! About 30 minutes later (Jan. 19th) she shows up at my store crying and telling me that she is sooooooo sorry she screwed everything up! I said just give me the rest of the money so I can finish the orders and get them to the people who have waited so long. She starts crying even more and say's she doesn't have it! She said "I'm sorry, I spent it!!!" I FLIPPED!! I told her she better go get the money and I don't care from where! I called the Pastor to tell him what was going on and he says to me... "Your friend NEVER had permission to do a fundraiser!" UGH!! About an hour later, she shows up, her husband driving, and gives me a check from his account. I got all the orders done on time....... even though I was doing Christmas scents in January! She was very mean and ugly to me when she came to pick up the orders. She said the Pastor told her what I said to him and that I had no right to screw her over and try to ruin her. I just let her carry on ...... and then I let her have it! All of that time she was letting me and my business reputation take the blame for what she had done. And I was clueless to the whole thing until it was too late! All said and done .... to me she no longer exists! I'm sure someone is going to come on and tell me I should forgive and forget, but NO, not this time.

Sorry so long. Thanks for listening to my horror story. Hopefully it will give others a "heads up" before they get an eye opener like I did!

This happened to me too. Friend doing a fundraiser for their church. NEVA EVA EVA EVA...(ya hear me) EVA EVA Again.

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