Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tip #31: Create Customer Value in Your Email Marketing

Research has shown that customers typically subscribe to business emails for coupons and specials. While those are great things to provide to recipients of your emails, Constant Contact, an email marketing service, shared at our Spring Regional Institute this past April that your emails should actually contain 80% content and 20% promotions to be the most effective.

If your customers believe that every email they open from you will contain a bunch of promotional material, they’ll likely just delete the email without even opening it, especially if they know they won’t be purchasing your products at this time. However, if you are consistently providing valuable content within your emails, they are more likely to open your email and read it. What good does that do you, you ask? As they become regular readers of your emails, when they decide to go buy candy and chocolates, guess who they’ll think of first?

So, how does a candy store provide valuable content? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
  • 10 ways to save money this week (one of the ten tips could be a special you have in your store)
  • How to make your dad (or mom or grandparent) feel special
  • 5 things to cover in chocolate for your next holiday party

You work so hard to get your emails opened, so be sure you work just as hard at the content within your emails so they keep opening them and get inspired to visit your store!

RCI Members: Did you know you receive a discount on email marketing through Constant Contact as a benefit of membership? Visit the ‘Member Resources’ tab on the member side of the RCIwebsite for more info.
To learn more about RCI membership, visit retailconfectioners.org/join or call the RCI office at 800-545-5381.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tip #30: Make New Products Out of By-product

This week’s tip is quick and will also hopefully have a quick return for you as well!
From chocolate-covered pretzels to potato chips, many of your products have crumbs that oftentimes get tossed aside as waste. Why not take those crumbs or by-products and turn them into a new product? For example, use the crumbs and coat them in chocolate and you still have the sweet and salty combo that everyone loves. Come up with a unique name and packaging for it and then you have a new product!

We’ve heard of stores that sell out of these great products that almost didn’t make it to the shelves! So go grab those pretzel crumbs before someone tosses them out!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tip #29: Customize Your Invoices to Get Paid on Time

We all want to get paid by customers on time. So why is it that so many businesses don’t take the time to create customized invoices? If you send a bill out that doesn’t have your company contact information, company logo or even payment options, how is it you expect to quickly receive payment?

We all lead busy lives, including your customers. So, the easier you can make it for them by providing multiple methods to contact you with questions or multiple payment options, the quicker you will likely receive payment. If you use QuickBooks, it even gives you the option to create multiple customized invoices and name them so that you don’t have to recreate the wheel each time. If you’re not using QuickBooks, the system you do use likely has this option. If not, you can always use programs like Word to create a nice, easy-to-understand invoice.

So, what should be included on an invoice? Here’s our guide for the minimum information that should be included:
  1. Your company logo
  2. Your business name, address, phone, email and website
  3. Name, address and phone of company receiving the invoice
  4. Invoice number
  5. Date invoice sent
  6. Date invoice due / payment terms (i.e. Net 30 days)
  7. Description of the goods (be specific about quantity, type, etc.)
  8. Balance due
  9. Payment instructions (If credit card is an option, provide space for the customer to write in credit card information and mail or fax to you.)
  10. Don’t forget to include the word ‘invoice’ or ‘bill’ so there is no question

If you take the time to customize your invoices, you should reap the benefits of quicker payments.

RCI members have access to QuickBooks tips on the member side of the RCI website. Just go to ‘Past Education Sessions’ under the ‘Education’ tab and then scroll down to the 2011 Fall Regional Education Sessions to find the link to QuickBooks and Tax Tips. Plus, members have access to QuickBooks support. If you need help, call the RCI office and schedule an appointment with the RCI QuickBooks expert, Chelsea Abercrombie, CPA.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tip #28: Taste Test Your Products for Flavor Consistency

Are you tempted to eat your chocolates as you walk by the packaging line? We have a great reason for you not to avoid the temptation to be a frequent taste tester of your products: quality and consistency. As the owner or manager of your candy store, you want to have complete confidence that the products you are selling are not only delicious, but that that they are the same level of quality and flavor each time.

Your customers expect that when they purchase a box of toffee this week and then come back a month later that they will be purchasing a product just like what they purchased before. Therefore, it’s extremely important that you regularly taste your candies to be sure they not only meet your standards but that they don’t change in flavor.

If you have a quality control manager, having a consistent taste testing program would be a great thing for him or her to oversee. The frequency for taste testing may vary depending on how often you produce a particular product but at least weekly would be the minimum recommendation.

You’ve taken the time to achieve a great flavor so take the time to be sure it’s consistently the same great flavor your customers have come to expect.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tip #27: Windows Productivity Tips

Do you use Windows operating software on your computer? If so, we have some great time-saver tips for you today!

  1. Print a document without opening it - If you need to print a document, this tip allows you to do it without even having to launch the program. For example, if you need to print a Word document, you can print without having to launch Microsoft Word first. All you need to do is find the file on your hard drive and then right-click on the icon and click print. The document will print to your default printer using the settings you last used for the file.
  2. Shortcut to send an email attachment - Use this tip to send an email attachment without even opening your mail program (if you use Microsoft Outlook). Locate the file you want to attach to an email and right-click on the file’s icon. Click Send To and then click Mail Recipient. A new mail message should open with the file attached and ready to send. You just need to type in the recipient’s email address and any accompanying message and hit send.
  3. Quickly view the desktop - Do you need to get to your desktop but have numerous windows open? Instead of minimizing each window individually you can quickly get to the desktop by just using your keyboard. Find the windows icon button on your keyboard and click on that plus the ‘D’ on your keyboard at the same time and you’ll automatically minimize all open windows to view your desktop.
  4. View files by group – If you have a large folder of files and need an easier way to view them, you can actually organize them by group within the folder. This shortcut doesn’t create new folders – it just gives you an easier way to view the files within a folder. Just right-click within the folder and to go Arrange Icons By, and then click on Show in Groups.  You’ll then view the groups based on how the files are currently arranged (i.e. alphabetically, if by name) but you can easily change that by right-clicking within the folder, going to Arrange Icons By and choosing to arrange them by file size, date modified, etc. Then the groups will change accordingly. This is a great way to easily find the files you’re looking for.

For more useful tips, just click here or here. If you have some Windows or computer shortcuts to share, we encourage you to leave a comment with the tip.