December 5, 2007.
I am still doing my 12 Days of Entrepreneur Interviews.....it looks like it might be a tad shy of 12 though and starting a teensy bit late. I hope to start posting those this weekend so that I can post a few times a week, and move on with all the Christmas orders. By moving on I mean um, well let's see; make new inserts, do last minute PR, send some art for new project, Get TV interview set up, help package coasters, ship products, fix tiles, make calls, ship products, help ship more products, put out fires, take orders on phone, answer questions, ship products again? and sneak out to buy a Christmas gift (shhh....do NOT tell the boss. Am I babbling yet?)
So, if you are a frequent reader of this blog you know that I tend to be super-organized and anal about getting information out to my sales channels. I like to make sure that all my ducks are in a row and I am really good about Holiday Cut-Off Dates. I send out an email or fax in September to all channels. It lists our cut-off dates for personalized products, non-personalized products, company closure dates and any RUSH fees that may be attached to any items rushed in the holiday season.
After my "Were Not Gonna Take It" tantrum if you will, I decided to be productive and competitive. I not only shortened my turn around times, I also extended my holiday cut-off dates. I have been doing this a long time, blah, blah blah - you know the drill - I shorten the turn around times at the end of the year so that we can get our products to our customers for Christmas. Doing a quick poll (cruising websites) on line of other ceramic and company's that make personalized products, 8 have already stopped taking orders and another two stop tomorrow.
We take personalized orders till December 12th, midnight PST, Non-personalized December 17th. I am not bragging (well, maybe I am, but trying to get a point across). We are able to take orders, turn them around quicker due to our very efficient procedures and dedication - the later you order a product, the shorter our turn around times are. After re-reading what I wrote, I am hearing this quote in my head;
"Face it ladies, I am older and I have more insurance." Towanda, Fried Green Tomatoes
Sending The Right Message
This year I have had not one, but at least five different conversations/emails asking what my cut-off dates are. I am not sure why the confusion this year (I usually just modify the email I have used year after year) over my information. I was told only once by a sales channel that not only did I send out too much information, I also had too many designs to choose from.....my response was "oh and that is a bad thing?"
So, the old me would have gotten all huffy and puffy and irritated that sales channels did not pay close attention to the email. The new and improved me (that would be positive me that blogs and others in the industry read what I write - no I am kidding), I mean the older (read wiser) me thought different. Obviously some where in the email I was not clear on my dates. If more than one channel is having a difficult time understanding when I stopped taking orders - you can blame it on me. I do not exactly know how I was not clear, but it is clear to me(now) I was not clear - okay strange sentence. Great now I am repeating myself....
I sent out another email yesterday to clarify and reiterate that I was still taking orders and YES they would arrive by Christmas, and YES we will ship in time and YES we really mean it. We still have a whole week to go, and I did not want to lose out on any business, or not have my message be 100% clear to everyone.
The race between the tortoise and the hare is really not about who is faster, it is about who is able to withstand the long race. The slow and steady tortoise does not tire out, he keeps plugging along. I am still baffled that I was not clear with information on dates, but oh well - life goes on. I have a hard time focusing this time of the year I get so many "that's a good idea" and "ooh I can do that next year"* I need to take notes and put them away, or make a sketch and get back to work. At this time of the year there is really no time to think - you just do. No questions asked, take the order, make the order, ship the order........NEXT!
*Disclaimer so that everyone understands that I mean I think of an idea driving, or I envision a new ornament design, or a new way of positioning my products, or a new theme. I did NOT mean "OOOH look what so-and-so is doing I am going to copy her and do THAT!" Okay? I swear, I pinky-promise swear. Really, really!