Have I Really Learned My Lesson?

Written by Jenifer Gifford on .

I had a very interesting chat with my children's minister this afternoon. She asked me if I still get worked up before a sale or if I have finally learned that it all works out in the end. And I told her that I have learned that it is what it is, and I have to trust that after 8 years and 20 some odd sales later, I know what I am doing and I have done everything I can do to make the sale a success.

But... here I sit. It's 2 am and here I am like I am every "night before the sale" running through all the things that need to be done in my mind. Oh sure, I tried to sleep. But I keep getting out of bed to add one more thing to my "to do" list for tomorrow. I don't like forgetting. I wonder if this is just me being anxious and excited about the sale, or if I have really learned my lesson... that the sale will be fine and in the end, it will be what it is.

Tomorrow we will find out how things kick off. I know it's going to be fun, it's going to be great catching up with old volunteers and meeting new volunteers, it is going to be what it is. But I know I put too much pressure on myself too. After all, this is our ministry sale. All of the proceeds go to our ministry partner... without us, they have a difficult time funding a significant portion of their annual budget. I don't know if it's anxiety or pressure or if I still, in the back of my mind have a hard time learning my lesson to trust in God. We'll know in 6 days how it all turns out. But tonight I stay up late, piddling around on my computer trying to make sure I don't forget anything.

You sale organizers... you know exactly what I am talking about.

The Paul Stanley Attitude

Written by Jenifer Gifford on .

When I was in high school many, many years ago, I attended a KISS concert. Now to tell on myself as to how old I am... this concert was back in the days that KISS decided to tour not wearing makeup. I knew then, that Gene Simmons was a brilliant marketing strategist because each member of KISS sold their own t-shirt with their own picture and their own quote on the back of the shirt. In other words, people walked out with multiple shirts instead of just one! Brilliant! Well, I was a broke high school student and didn't have any money for a t-shirt, but if I did, I would have bought Paul Stanley's. I don't remember what the other shirts said but his said "Life is like sex, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it." Of course, being a young kid I just giggled, but I have always remembered that shirt.

Now here I am, older, hopefully wiser and I get it. Business is a lot like that too. I have sale organizers who are struggling because they want a successful business, but they don't want to put anything into it to make it successful. They don't have the time or desire to put more into their business, but yet they still expect maximum results with minimum effort. If you want maximum results, you have to put more effort into it.

I must confess that I go through "seasons" with my sale. Some seasons I just don't have the time and energy to put forth a maximum effort, to be truthful, some seasons I don't hardly put forth much effort at all between being a new homeschool mom of 2 students, ailing family members, dealing with the emotions of 2 pre-teen boys, running 2 businesses and still trying to figure out what we are going to do about the size of our tiny house. Some nights I just fall into bed with absolutely no desire to think about my sale. And then there are seasons where I am all over it, every day, working to improve the sale, make the changes that need to be made in order to improve how the sale runs.

I think a lot about Paul Stanley's attitude these days as a reminder that what I put into it is what I will get out of it, and let's face it, if I want maximum results, I have to put in maximum effort. If I want to continue to grow, I have to continue to devote time to my business rather than let it sit on auto pilot doing it's own thing. So, I've got a few things up my sleeve this season... I'm going to put more into it, so I can get more out of it.

Show Me The Money

Written by Jenifer Gifford on .

One of the most popular questions I get is "Tell me exactly how much money I am going to make as a sale organizer, so I can decide if I want to start a consignment sale."

This question frustrates me more than any other question I get because yes, my sale does quite well, but that's not why I do it. I do it because I love it. It's not "work" for me. If you start a business because you think there's money in it, but you don't like it... will you be successful? Probably not. If you start a business that you love, and you work hard at making it successful... will it be? Probably so. But it's because you love what you do and you want to work at making it successful!

My advice to you is to never start any business that you aren't just absolutely crazy about. What I love about my consignment sale is the ability to make an impact on others in my community. I love helping people and I have become successful at doing that. Others aren't that way. They start a consignment sale, but they don't like helping other people and the only thing they think about is the money. They treat people poorly and their business suffers. And that's true in any business not just consignment sales.

You need to do your research before you start a consignment sale. How much are money are you willing to spend? How much time are you going to devote? Do you have a knack for hunting down bargains, or are you going to purchase all of your equipment new? Are you going to scavenge for the best location at the best price? Are you going to do mass mailings or boot strap word about your sale? How much time are you interested in spending in educating your community? Are you outsourcing your website and design or doing it yourself? What are your demographics? How big is your community? Are you a real go getter? Or are you the type to just sit back and wait for things to happen? How much are you willing to work at your business? Are you going to rely on the fact that you think these sales are great and therefore everyone will just flock to you? Or are you going to go out and bust your backside to expose people to your sale? There are so many factors, that giving someone a definitive "here's how much you can make" answer is not only impossible, but its just plain irresponsible.

When you evaluate potential business opportunities don't just look at the money. Look at what is a good fit for you and your skill sets. When you do something you love, you have a very good chance of making it successful. Follow the scent of money, and there is a good chance you will be disappointed. Successful businesses are built by people who have worked really hard to get to where they are.

Full of Grace

Written by Jenifer Gifford on .

There have been so many things going on this week, I am having a hard time choosing just one thing to write about! The sales are in full swing and my sales have been calling and texting in everything that has been going on with their sales.

But I think this was my favorite thing this week, so I am going to share with you something that happened at one of my sales. I love it. I really do. This morning I got a call from one of  my sale organizers who wanted to let me know that there was a new sale in town. Of course, I already sort of had a heads up because they came to my sale and one of my Boot Campers overheard them talking.

So anyway, this sale organizer called me to say that this other sale had "papered" her parking lot with their fliers. She found out because one of my lead volunteers had brought in some of the fliers that had been left in the parking lot. Yes, that's right, my lead volunteers shop, sell and volunteer at other sales, I know, you are probably shocked. My big hearted sale organizer went and put the fliers up at her register for customers to pick up.

Not too much later, the mother of the "other sale" came to check out and sheepishly asked "where did you get those?" And she said, "they were left in the parking lot. I figure if there are more sales, more people will be educated in our area, and our community will grow. So why not put them up here for people to pick them up?"

Needless to say, I am very proud of my sale organizer  for taking the high road. Many sale organizers don't do that. They get angry, start trashing their competition and act all ugly. Take the high road, take the low road, it doesn't matter to me, but this sale will flourish because she cares about her customers and the community, rather than her bottom line.

Kudos to you M! Proud of you girl!

Copyright Jenifer Gifford 2012. All Rights Reserved.