Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tip #48 Set a Thermometer Alarm Below Desired Temperature

Especially as the holidays come upon us, candy makers are busy. That’s why this week’s tip helps you manage your time and maintain the quality of your candies.

This past year, we had a Good Manufacturing Practices series in Kettle Talk, our quarterly newsletter magazine for RCI members. The most recent article included a great tip for quality control we just had to share:

Set your candy thermometer with an alarm for a degree or two lower than your cooking time to ensure you don't overcook.

It’s brilliant, right? Now when you start a batch of caramel and walk away to work on packaging, you’ll be alerted to the candy cooking process with enough time to remove it or begin the next step before it gets even one degree too high.

Looking for suppliers of thermometers with an alarm? RCI members can access RCI Buyer’s Guide on the member side of the website or call the RCI office to be connected to a supplier.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tip #47: Create Community with Employee Potlucks

“Just by eating together it makes you feel psychologically closer.”  ~ David Givens

This week we have some great tips to build community among your staff! And, yes, of course they all have to do with food. 
  • Trying to figure out what you’re going to do with those Thanksgiving leftovers? Why not have an employee potluck the Friday or Saturday following Thanksgiving? Remember, Small Business Saturday is the Saturday afterThanksgiving. If you have focused marketing efforts on this, it might be a great day for an employee potluck since your employees will hopefully be very busy. We all know that sharing meals together can create community and camaraderie.
  • Or, host an Employee Chili Contest for staff. Post a fun flier or bill stuffer in their paycheck to announce the contest and provide a fun way to do informal voting among staff. Award the best chili maker with a store gift card or even paid time off.
  • Host Crockpot Saturdays among staff and invite them to bring in a crock pot with an appetizer, main dish or dessert to share with staff on busy retail days. Post a sign-up for each dish in the kitchen for the month and ask employees to select a day to share a dish. Note, only staff who share a dish get to eat a dish on that day.
  • Show your appreciation for staff and provide lunch for them on some of the busy retail days at your store. Swap lunch for chocolates with a local restaurant or caterer and thank your employees all at the same time. Or, start a new tradition and host an annual holiday meal for your team at the store even after December 25.   Employers could also provide a snack basket for their employees like pretzels, granola bars, fun drinks, etc.
Do you have other ideas/tips for building community with your staff? We'd love to hear them in the comments below!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tip #46: Five Ways to Grow Your Email Marketing List

Email marketing can be an effective and cost-effective marketing tool. But how do you grow your list with qualified leads to maximize your reach? We’ve compiled five easy ways to grow your list!  

  1. Guestbook in Store – Take advantage of holiday sales traffic in your store and invite them to sign up to receive your emails to find out about future sales and promotions. Provide an easy sign-up sheet and then be sure to use the sheet to enter them into your list so they receive the emails. Remember, the more information you request, the less likely they’ll be to complete the sign-up so only ask for the necessary info.
  2. Events and Meetings – Since you’re a chamber member (see post here about why you should be), you’ll be attending networking events and meetings. As you receive business cards from your new contacts, ask them if it would be okay to add them to your email list so they can see when their favorite chocolates are on sale.
  3. Email Signatures – Create a customized email signature for everyone in your company to use. A simple sign-up for coupons button with a link to the sign-up page can produce a great response.   
  4. Website Sign-up – Include a sign-up box on your website to invite visitors to subscribe to your company sales and updates.
  5. Sales Calls – Do you have sales representatives making visits on your company’s behalf? Be sure they are inviting the contacts they make to join your email list to stay in touch and receive the most up-to-date company information.  You could even print some business card size promotions to hand out that share how to sign up.

Note: No false advertising allowed. Be sure you do actually send out coupons if you advertise it!

Do you have other ideas that you use to gather email addresses for your list? Share them in the comments below!

Not an RCI member?  Join today and receive member benefits, including a discount with Constant Contact 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tip #45: Promote Small Business Saturday

Are you ready for Small Business Saturday on November 24, 2012?

Small Business Saturday is a day dedicated to supporting small businesses on one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year.  Situated right between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it’s a great opportunity for you to promote your store to holiday shoppers as a local business.

American Express and Constant Contact have put together great online kits to help small businesses promote themselves and Small Business Saturday leading up to this special day. From downloadable signage to sample copy and outlines, these kits are great places to start planning your marketing efforts.

We hope these tools help to make this year’s Small Business Saturday an extremely successful day for your stores!

RCI Members: Be sure to check the recent Kettle Talk issue for more tips on marketing Small Business Saturday in your store!