The Silly Season is upon us.
Silly Season, in case you don’t know, is roughly that period of time between November and Christmas when many businesses do the bulk of their sales. Add that to the busyness that most of us find ourselves immersed in with friends and family obligations and other activities, and you have a Silly Season, indeed. Even hobbyists find themselves in a similar situation with their desire to create lovely gifts for all of those fortunate people on their lists.
We all need to cope with this season and create ways to make our way through and come out the other side, victorious, having neither damaged theirs or their families’ health and sanity, so ideas to get the discussion going follow:
1. Plan ahead. Take a bit of time to sit down with your calendar and plan what you can do between now and the date you want to cease production by. Take into consideration your other obligations and your health and sanity. Even those among us who find planning to be sheer agony can benefit. You might not write, “Nov. 4, make Peppermint Soap,” but you might make a list of what you want to make and think about how much time it will take you to accomplish it and then decide how much fits into your timeframe. If you need supplies, order now. Don’t put yourself in the position of stressing over whether your order will arrive in time for you to make the products your customer wants. Allowing two weeks for shipping to you is a good idea at this time of year.
2. Bring in holiday help. Every retail store that is busy during the holidays does it. It may be worth the cost in order to have the product your customer wants. If you’re lucky enough to have good friends and family who will help, don’t be a hero. Let them! Reward them, of course, but take any good help you can get.
3. Encourage your customers to order early. Don’t expect that they will automatically take into account your busy schedule or the fact that you have limited supplies. Instead, head those last-minute shoppers off by making it attractive to order early. Offer a coupon for a November purchase, feature weekly sales in November, or promise a freebie with their order, anything that will compel them to order now rather than later.
4. Limit your offerings. I know, I know, you want to offer every holiday scent candle or soap shape that you and your customers like, but resist the temptation. Instead, offer just a few holiday products. It’s less confusing for your customers and for you, and keep in mind how much easier it is to make three large batches of scents/colors than it is to make thirteen. Even for regular stock, you might consider cutting back to your most popular products and scents for the season. If you find that you don’t have time to keep up with your regular line, don’t bother to offer holiday products. It’s better to end up with twenty lavender candles after December 25th than to end up with twenty Balsam Fir candles that are in low demand the rest of the year.
5. Set a “last date to order” date and a “last day to purchase” date, along with any other rules that will make the season tolerable. Set specific times of the day for phone orders, a cut-off date for special orders and gift baskets, or an “in stock products only” date that will work for you. Don’t find yourself stressing and losing sleep for a bar of soap!
If we think about it, we can brainstorm a multitude of ideas to keep us on track and sane through the holiday season. I’m not suggesting that we can make the next two months stress-free, but I am suggesting that we exercise some control over the season and not let it defeat us by looking realistically at our individual situations and planning how we will deal with them to only do what we can reasonably do and by finding ways, big and small, to make our goals attainable.
What do you do? How do you manage Silly Season? We’d love to hear your ideas. Let’s help each other get through 2012!
Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.
Beth Byrne for the Saponifier
Silly Season is nearly upon us. You’re either shaking your head up and down in the affirmative, or saying, “Huh?”
Let me explain. Silly Season refers to the flurry of activity involved in selling your products to holiday buyers. Most of them are shopping for Christmas, but also for Hanukkah or Kwanzaa–did I miss any holidays?
If this applies to you, I am guessing that you’ve already taken stock of what you want to produce and what you’ll need to purchase to produce it. If you’re really on the ball, you’ve purchased your supplies already and are working hard to shore up your stock to make it through that crazy time between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Ideally, I like to make my soap in the summer and then everything else–lotions, body butter, etc., in October. I make m&p soap in seasonal molds and scents.
What about you? Do you plan well ahead or do you find yourself perennially rushing to keep up? How do you decide what to make and how much? Share your secrets with us! We can learn much from each other. And if you don’t sell, the same principles probably apply to your hobby and holiday giving, so don’t think you’re off the hook. Tell us how you plan ahead and prepare for a more controlled holiday season.