5 Reasons Vacation is a Must for You and Your Employees

In the United States, we often labor under the notion that time is money. Sometimes it feels as though the American way is all work and no play, and the statistics back it up. 

To start, the U.S. is the only advanced economy that doesn’t guarantee its workers paid vacation. According to a recently revised report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, that means 23% of workers have no paid vacation and 22% of workers have no paid holidays. In comparison, the European Union’s Working Time Directive requires its member countries to provide European workers at least 20 paid vacation days a year — something many U.S. workers will never receive. 

Of those Americans who do have paid time off (PTO), more than half leave the time unused. The U.S. Travel Association reported that just last year, 768 million paid vacation days were left behind by employees. Maybe it’s because Continue reading “5 Reasons Vacation is a Must for You and Your Employees”

4 Tips to Get Ahead of Tax Season for Small Business Owners

As a small business owner, you know that every penny counts come tax season. To complicate things further, you’re dealing with changes to tax laws yearly. Although these tax reforms may only impact small businesses minimally, it’s important to be aware of any new tax law reforms and how, or if, they apply to your business. 

For a small business, maximizing deductions and lowering your tax bill can be the difference between a profitable year and another year of scraping by. So, understanding where you can take additional deductions can save you major dollars and headaches. It’s imperative to speak with a tax professional for specific tax knowledge, but in the meantime, these tax season tips can help you get a head start. 

Continue reading “4 Tips to Get Ahead of Tax Season for Small Business Owners”

5 Examples of Winning Video Strategies That’ll Turn Customers Into Fans

Businesses miss a huge marketing opportunity when they don’t use video, experts say. “People like bite-sized nuggets,” says Sam Sprague, founder and CEO of Portland, OR-based Sprague Media LLC. “Video and social are all about gaining access and attention.” If a picture tells a thousand words, imagine just how many you can express with a short 30- or 60-second video. In fact, videos elicit a more visceral, immediate response from your viewers than reading a blog.

The biggest stumbling block for business owners though, Sprague says, is Continue reading “5 Examples of Winning Video Strategies That’ll Turn Customers Into Fans”

7 Creative Ways to Find New Customers

Prospecting like a pro? Kevin Pendergrass, co-owner and sales rep at Shawnee, OK-based Pendergrass Promos, has it down to an art. Pendergrass targets 10 new businesses a week with a gift-focused campaign. “We send a promo item in the mail to introduce ourselves,” he says. “This separates us from our competitors because it cuts through the clutter—and gets our name in front of prospects loud and clear.”

Seventy-one percent of buyers want to hear from sellers when they’re looking for new ideas to drive stronger business results or to solve a problem, according to consultancy SalesPop. Even better, 82% of buyers Continue reading “7 Creative Ways to Find New Customers”

The 5 Best Role-Playing Scenarios for Sales Team Success

Just as athletes train to perform at their best during practices, so should your sales team. This is where sales role-playing comes in — it’s a crucial and valuable tool with a high learning rate. To help ensure your team’s success, we rounded up five of the best sales role-playing scenarios that provide a low-stakes opportunity to identify strengths and weaknesses among your sales reps. 

5 Effective Sales Role-Playing Scenarios 

1. Active Listening Improv

According to a recent study by HubSpot, 69% of buyers say a sales representative listening to their needs is the best way to make the sales experience positive. In order to tailor a specific sales approach to a prospective client, active listening — not just hearing — is key. 

This exercise will require at least two people and can also be done with a group. Here’s how it works:

Continue reading “The 5 Best Role-Playing Scenarios for Sales Team Success”

Yes, You Should Try Influencer Marketing.

Lots of decorators will remember when embroiderer Marie Sophie Lockhart shot to veritable “decorator stardom” after a back-and-forth with rapper Drake on Instagram (she used the handle Good For Nothing Embroidery) in 2015. That led to a commissioned OVO prayer hands jacket that he wore for an entire tour. After that, Lockhart went viral,  appearing in Vogue, stitching more custom pieces for Drake, and even collaborating with Marc Jacobs and Stella McCartney.

In fact, Lockhart’s experience is very similar to results that influencers today achieve for companies that want to grow brand awareness, sell more, capture leads, increase engagement, or even appear in major publications. And, yes,  influencer marketing is  heating up—and it can work for your decorating shop or distributorship.

An Association of National Advertisers (ANA) survey of brand executives shows that 75% of respondents use influencer marketing, and almost half (43%) plan to increase their spending in the next 12 months. A majority of respondents (54%) were either “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the performance of their influencer marketing strategies. To note, of the executives who don’t currently use influencer marketing, 27% plan to start in the next year.

Continue reading “Yes, You Should Try Influencer Marketing.”

Become a Business Gifting Guru for Your Clients

Fall is nearly here, which means the holidays are right around the corner! Get ready for decked halls, celebratory countdowns and of course, gifting. When it comes to the merry season, your clients aren’t just looking to gift to friends and family, but also customers or employees. In fact, a recent study by Knack shows the corporate gifting market is worth a staggering $125 billion. A thriving market to tap into, now’s the time to channel your inner Santa and become your clients’ business gifting guru. 

Before giving you the inside scoop to steer them in the right direction, let’s go over some important guidelines.

Business Gifting Guidelines

Businesses can use corporate gifting to show appreciation and loyalty, build goodwill and express the value of their relationships. However, before you start shopping, think about these three things:

  • The Relationship: Think about the recipient of the gift to determine an appropriate type of present, regarding the relationship at hand. 
  • The Budget: Check company gifting policies for any budget limits that may be in place. According to the same study above, the sweet spot for many businesses is between $50 to $150. 
Continue reading “Become a Business Gifting Guru for Your Clients”

How Do You Say ‘Success’ in Italian, Luca Benini?

Slam Jam: It’s the name behind some of the most notable streetwear collaborations and brands in the industry. So much of what the company does is under the radar, working closely with industry powerhouses, such as Stüssy and Carhartt WIP. But, that’s exactly how Slam Jam’s founder — Luca Benini — likes it. Among many things, the Italian native is known for pioneering streetwear culture in Europe. 

As Slam Jam celebrates 30 years of success, we’re taking a look at one of the most iconic influences in streetwear, the legendary man behind it all and our takeaways for sustaining a successful business based on Benini’s achievements.

Slam Jam and Luca Benini: Celebrating 30 Years of Success 

When Benini was growing up he had two specific dreams: to be a DJ and to sell clothing. In the end, he found a way to do both. 

The Birth and Evolution of Slam Jam

Back in the ‘80s, Benini’s main business became DJing, which fueled his passion for clothing. He quit school to work as a shop assistant, where he would print flyers of his gigs on tees — an early intersection of culture and fashion. 

Continue reading “How Do You Say ‘Success’ in Italian, Luca Benini?”

4 Ways to Manage Workplace Tension

Tension in personal situations is awkward enough, but apply that to the workplace and it can be downright uncomfortable. As a business owner, managing tension and conflict between employees is an inevitable part of the job — and if not handled promptly can put a huge dent in your bottom line. 

In 2017, Inc. cited a landmark study on workplace conflict that found U.S. employees spend 2.8 hours a week dealing with conflict. This equates to an estimated $359 billion in paid company hours. 

Fortunately, there are effective ways to manage tension among your team to help maintain a positive work atmosphere and company culture. 

1. Acknowledge the Conflict Immediately

Don’t sit back and hope your employees will work the situation out on their own, allowing the tension to build. This can lead to negative consequences for your business, such as poor productivity and low office morale. Acknowledge the conflict between the involved parties immediately, and respectfully uncover the nature of the issue along with the facts. 

2. Decide How You Want to Meet with the Employees Involved  

Continue reading “4 Ways to Manage Workplace Tension”

Turn Challenging Customers Into Loyal Clients

A decorator was in a bind: His customer’s event was the next day, and the PMS colors in the art file didn’t match the ones listed on the purchase order. To make matters worse, the decorator couldn’t reach his client, so his team had a 50/50 chance of choosing the correct color. Unfortunately, they chose wrong, and the client was unhappy with the order.

Customer expectations are more demanding than ever before and the need to ‘get it right’ each time is extremely high. Marshall Atkinson, a Phoenix-based decorated-apparel success coach who offers hands-on training via his Shirt Lab events, concurs and cites this statistic below as a reason why decorators and distributors need to take this seriously.

According to Microsoft, 54% of global consumers say that they have higher customer service expectations than they did just one year ago. In addition, 52% of people worldwide believe that companies need to take action on feedback provided by their customers.

To keep up with these dynamic requests, customer service and problem solving must be a priority in your decorated-apparel firm. “Business today doesn’t work the way it did in 1987,” Atkinson says. “You have to continuously evolve your customers’ experience. That’s on you. You have to teach your new hires how to work with all types of customers.”

4 Challenging Customer Archetypes

Here are four types of challenging customer situations—and how you can turn them into opportunities.

Continue reading “Turn Challenging Customers Into Loyal Clients”