Sunday, September 08, 2013

The Business Chat - Show's over!!!

Today was my last outdoor show day of this season. I was mighty happy as it has been a challenging year with turbulent weather. As at the end of every show it’s really tempting to just throw everything in a bin as fast as possible and get home to put your feet up. BUT, that is not the smartest move. 
I find that the last little bit of a show day is quiet. Most of my fellow vendors are attempting to get a head start on packing, tidying up what they can, getting bins out. Not me. I’m sitting with my notebook and thinking ahead. While you’re still at your post it’s a really good time to brainstorm. Look around and see if you sold anything important that you should replace. Check how much packaging you still have. Make notes if any of your display needs to be repaired, washed, improved, gone over. 
When the day is officially done, try to pack up carefully and put everything in it’s proper place. I know you really really want to go home, but the extra care now will save you a lot of time later. 
Once you are home, celebratory beverage in hand, there is still some work to be done, although most of it can wait until the morning. Here’s my list of post-show tasks.
  • 1. Bookkeeping. The day after a show I go over all my show sales. On a spreadsheet I mark down all sales. I go over all expenses from the show that might get lost later, such as running to the hardware store for more tarps on the way to the show. I enter the total sales on my income spreadsheet. I break my sales down into net sales, tax and gross sales. I also keep track of payments by credit card and by cash. 

TIP: The tallying of sales and HST is really important!!! Every sale I make I collect HST. This is NOT income, at some point I will have to hand this over. If this money sits in my bank account it gives me a false sense of income. There’s nothing more tempting than looking in our bank account and thinking “hey, there’s an extra $500 there and look at those shiny beads on sale.” However that money is not mine so I must not spend it. The day after a show I know exactly how much tax I have collected and I move it over to a special bank account just for that purpose. There are a variety of free online bank accounts available. I use ING. I move the tax money over, and poof! It’s gone. I can’t spend it, I can’t readily access it. When I have to remit my tax bill the money is still there. 
  • Custom orders. If I wrote any custom orders I enter it into my order spreadsheet. I make note of the day that I promised to deliver and I send the customer an email thanking them for the order and letting them know when I will be making it and sending it. Remember, a lot of people think of us as flaky artists. If you are business-like and professional you will pleasantly surprise them.

  • Go over show notes. During the show I constantly make notes on stuff like, make more blue earrings for the next show, or order more postcards. Now is the time to go over these notes. If I need to buy any supplies I mark this down on the to-do list.
  • Enter the names from my mailing list sign-up sheet into my contact database. Your mailing list is the lifeblood of your business. At every show I ask people to sign up for my list. Now is the time to put those names into your contact database. 
  • Send a thank you email to the show organizer. Always a good idea to say thanks. 
  • Send emails to any fellow vendors I’ve chatted to. Networking and building your community is key to your future success.
  • Do a quick facebook post about the show, or maybe a blog entry. Or Instagram. 

Doing these small chores doesn’t take very long and it really makes a big difference in how smoothly your shows will run. Once you’ve run through this checklist, pat yourself on the back on a job well done. Back to the celebratory beverage. 

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