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25 Ways To Build Customer Loyalty – Part 2

Posted By on October 7, 2013

Companies, large and small, are working harder than ever to become 100% customer sensitive as they attempt to gain and keep their customers.  Yet the customers still leave.  What can we, as small and medium size businesses, do to get the “edge” over the competition?  This second segment of our three part series gives even more ways to acquire and keep those valued customers.

9.  Stay in touch with your customers.  Send helpful information to them.  A one-page “newsletter” or “tips for the day” or a “bulletin” can do wonders for retaining those precious customers.  You can always add a couple of “specials” to the information sheet, just don’t make it all advertising.

10.  Make your business look different.  After awhile, all stores and businesses “look alike” to the customers.  Think about what you can do to set your store or business apart – change the colors or change the sign, or the company logo.  Add an additional line of products or services to what you already have.  Make an effort to be different.

11.  Ship FREE.  If you do anything by mail, you will see a dramatic increase in business if you offer to ship free.  “Fast, free shipping” would certainly catch the customer’s attention.

12.  Send holiday “thank you” cards.  Since Christmas cards can sometimes “get lost in the shuffle”, why not try sending a “thank you” card at Thanksgiving?

13.  Offer more “freebies” than your competitors.  This is especially valuable to mail order, direct mail or on-line businesses.  However, any type of business can offer a “freebie” in conjunction with a special sale.  A “freebie” with a high perceived value, can increase the sale of almost any product or service.

14.  Be enthusiastic.  An up-beat, positive attitude will let the customer know you are happy they are doing business with you.  Enthusiasm rubs off.  People will stay around longer in an enthusiastic atmosphere than they will where it seems cold and indifferent.  And the longer customers stay around the more they will probably buy!

15.  Hold a customer “appreciation” day.  Years ago one particular store in the small town I grew up in, held an appreciation day every year, and gave out balloons to the kids, had hot dogs and coffee available free and really went all out with banners and signs and goodies for the customers.  All day long it was like a family reunion with people everywhere.  And customers were buying!

16.  Answer the telephone promptly and don’t act hurried.  Acting hurried raises the customer’s anxiety level and gives them the idea that you really would rather be doing something else instead of talking to them.  It’s telling the customer that you’re “too busy” for them.  Even if you ARE busy, use a normal conversational tone on the telephone or the customer will call somewhere else where the attendant will have time for them.

Start putting these “customer loyalty” principles to use in your own business and propel your business forward faster than the competition.  Go back and review the first segment again and start putting it all together.
Next week we’ll add the final segment to building customer loyalty.

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How To Alter Skirt Patterns For Plus Size/Overweight Children

Posted By on October 2, 2013

Regardless of what size pattern you buy for your plus size/overweight child, there are always changes that need to be made.  Sometimes a single change will do it, and other times there may be 2, 3, 4 changes necessary before the store bought pattern will actually fit the plus size child.  We are starting a series of alterations to patterns that may be needed in order to get the fit you want for your plus size child.

The first clothing garment we will work on will be the skirt.  Many of the overweight children have a large protruding stomach, so we’ll start with that issue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LARGE ABDOMEN (stomach) – the skirt will be too short and will ride up in the front.  Draw a horizontal line across the fullest part of the abdomen on the pattern as indicated.  Cut the line beginning at the center front and cut to within 1/2″ from the side seam.  Separate the pieces the necessary amount and tape in place, as shown.  Redraw the center front line, as indicated with dashed lines, from the bottom to the top, keeping the original line straight.  This correction will make the waist larger so you will have to make the “fullness” into a small amount of gathers, which would give a little extra fullness for the large tummy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A.  WAIST/HIP – check your child’s waist and hip measurements and compare them to the measurements on the pattern.  If the amount of change is the same for both, make the necessary change at the center front and center back lines.  draw in the new skirt lines as shown with dashed lines.

B.  LARGE WAIST – To make just the waist larger, extend the front and back waist line each 1/4 of the total necessary amount.  Draw in the new waist to hipline curve as shown with dashed lines.

These alterations to store bought patterns is an excerpt from the book “Altering Store Bought Patterns For Plus Size Children“.  Additional pattern making classes and full size clothing patterns for plus size children can be seen at PatternsThatFitYou.com and PlusSizeChildren.com.  If you have a lot of plus size children in your area, you might want to consider going into business sewing for them – check our our Sewing For Plus Size Children As A Home Business manual.

 

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25 Ways To Build Customer Loyalty – Part 1

Posted By on September 30, 2013

There was a time in this country when customers were fiercely loyal.  Today, however, customers seem to have a “what’s in it for me” attitude, and will jump from one merchant to another to “find the best deal”, or whatever will satisfy their needs at that moment.  They do business on a one-way basis.  Yet, there is always the lure of “customers for life” possibility.  In the following segments, we’ll outline various ways to build customer loyalty.  Depending on the type of business you have – brick & mortar store, mail order business, online website business – you may be able to incorporate many of the methods outlined.

1.  Provide the very best service!  Educate the customers on HOW you provide the best service, then do what you say you’ll do!  Show enthusiasm for going out of your way to prove that you’re highly service-oriented.

2.  Offer a superior guarantee.  Every business can offer a guarantee of some kind.  A desirable guarantee will bring and keep the customers.

3.  Offer a higher quality product or service.  You must be specific – tell the customers exactly WHY your quality is unmatched by the competitors.  People will pay for quality, but only when they realize the value.  Again, be specific, and it must be convincing.  Customers are not fooled by unkept claims.  don’t make unrealistic promises.  When competition is tough, it’s easy to overpromise, and that can make your marketing position even worse.  The goal is to look better, not worse.

4.  Provide toll-free telephone access.  Those that provide 800 number service are letting their customers know that they are making it as easy as possible for them to communicate with the business.  This would not apply to those who are doing business strictly in a local area, and would not be doing business in any area except where local calls can be made.

5.  Get customer feed-back.  Listen to what the customers are saying.  Use their suggestions to help shape your business.  Make sure it’s the customers who are running your business.  A marketing-driven company operates just one way:  the total effort – product, service, price and promotion – must be adapted to the needs and wants of customers.

6.  Say “thank you” at every opportunity.  Let the customer know that they are noticed and appreciated.  Show appreciation.  Let your customers know that you WANT their business.  Don’t ever assume that they know.  Don’t think that price is all they care about.  Customers want to know they are appreciated.  Good word of mouth “advertising” comes from the customers that KNOW you care about them and that you appreciate them.

7.  Concentrate on consulting.  Develop new ways to tailor your products and services to meet precise needs of the customer.  Spend more time with your customers.  Be more helpful, understanding and supportive.

8.  Respond promptly.  Address customer complaints immediately.  For every customer that complains, there may be many that remain silent, but disappear as customers.  It is very important, therefore, to satisfy those that do complain, in order to try to keep them as customers.  Help your customers solve their problems better than anyone else.

Next week we’ll cover the next 8 ways to build customer loyalty, which in turn means victory, success and ever-increasing profits for YOU.

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Do Your Blouses and Dresses Bunch or Wrinkle In The Bodice Area?

Posted By on September 25, 2013

Misses size patterns are made with a standard “B” cup and half sizes are made with a standard “C” cup.  If you use a Misses size pattern and wear an “A”, “C” or “D” cup bra, your bodice will be baggy (A cup) or tight with wrinkles (C or D cup).  The same thing applies to half sizes that wear an “A”, “B” or “D” cup bra.  The Shape-A-Dart tool has PRE-MEASURED dart widths to correct darts on all commercial patterns, beginning with size 6 and going through 24 1/2, and includes sizes 38 to 46.  Simply find YOUR pattern size and PERSONAL bra cup size on the Shape-A-Dart and make the correction.

Do your blouses, dresses and jackets look like the “before” pictures?  Simply adjust the dart on the pattern with a Shape-A-Dart, following the easy instructions that are included, and you will have a perfect fitting garment and a “fit that flatters”!  You can see this tool at ShapeADart.com.

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Hand Sewing Secrets

Posted By on September 23, 2013

For those of us in the sewing or craft businesses, there’s always hand sewing that needs to be done.  Some projects require more handwork than others, but very seldom do we skate through a project without at least a little hand sewing to do.  There are a lot of little things that can be done to make the hand sewing go much faster, so I’ll list a few of these “secrets” here.

1.  Keep small pieces of handwork near the telephone so you can work as you talk.  You’ll be surprised how much “extra” sewing you’ll get done this way.  I was AMAZED at the amount of hand sewing I got done in a days time using the “telephone time” that would otherwise have been wasted.

2.  For hand sewing, thread several needles before you start.  This will eliminate having to stop as often to re-thread – just reach for another needle.  This works GREAT for hand sewing while on the telephone.

3.  When getting thread ready for hand sewing, thread the needle FIRST then take the length off the spool.  If you knot the end that comes off the spool last, you will have much less tangling and knotting of the thread while you sew.

4.  To reduce tangles when hand sewing, keep your thread length under 20″.

5.  When hand sewing hems, keep the stitches loose so the hems will not get the “gathered” look.

6. Before discarding old rubber gloves, cut off a 2″ length of the thumb and needle fingers — these work great on hand sewing projects where the needle is hard to pull through the fabric.

7.  By using a fine sharp needle for hand basting, you will eliminate the unsightly stitch marks which will be left if you use a thicker needle.

8.  And, when hand basting, DO NOT knot the thread – it will be easier to remove if you don’t have to worry about the knot.

As we all know in our businesses, time is money, so whatever we can do to speed up a project just a little bit will add minutes, then hours to our sewing time.  There are times that I’ve gotten a project finished enough ahead of my “schedule”, that I’ve been able to start cutting something else out, or do some extra sewing on a different project.  WOW!  Does that ever feel good!

 

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Sewing For Plus Size Children

Posted By on August 9, 2013

As we get ready for the fall season and school to begin, we once again get many emails asking for information on how to sew good fitting clothing for plus size children.  Shopping for clothes for plus size children is very hard considering the fact that so few clothing stores carry clothing that will fit these children.  Pattern companies are not much better, since their patterns will only fit large size children of the same age – for example patterns for size 14 or the plus size 14 — but what happens if you  have a daughter that is only 8 years old that has the measurements of a 14 year old.  Those patterns will never fit the younger child because the younger person won’t be as tall as a regular 14 year old, nor will the arms be the length of an actual 14 year old.

At Plus Size Children.com we carry patterns that are made using actual measurements of those plus size children – boys and girls – that are 8 years old, 10 years old, etc.  As a sample of what we have, you can check out the shorts/pants for plus size girls, or perhaps the blouses and tops that are available.  Browse through all the categories and see what all is available.

If you have patterns already in your sewing room, but they just won’t fit the plus sizes, you probably would like to check out the book “Altering Store Bought Patterns For Plus Size Children” - this book gives information on how to alter the chest, waist/abdomen, hips, etc for the plus sizes.

School starts here the 19th of August, so we’re either at the fabric store or at the sewing machine!  I just love it when we can let the kids help pick fabrics, and they’re at the age now that they like to help pin the pieces, then take the pins out when finished with the sewing.  By helping make the garments, they’re so proud to wear the clothes and show them off.

Happy Sewing!

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School Starts Soon. 50% Sale Starts TODAY!

Posted By on July 30, 2013

In just three weeks school will be starting again in our area.  Summer seems great for the kids, but long before school actually starts, the kids get BORED – tired of the “everyday” things that they do, and are as ready for school to start as their parents!

The big thing is —- are YOU ready for the kids to start school?  If your kids are like my grandchildren – they’ve outgrown the clothes they wore last year and we are BUSY getting clothing made for this year.   As you probably already know, I have a set of 7 year old quadruplet grandchildren (and their BIG brother who just turned 9 this past Sunday)!  These kids can be difficult to find or make clothes for them!  The two boys will wear anything — one of them likes shirts that button down the front and the other one likes pullovers, but does want collars on them (easy peasy!).   The girls, on the other hand are the difficult ones!  One of the girls wants ONLY pink things – pink stripes, pink printed, pink polka dots – just as long as it is pink, so we shop for as many different pink patterns and shades of pink fabrics as we can find, then get busy sewing.   The other granddaughter wants purple – so it’s the same story as with her sister – only it means finding fabrics of all kinds in purple shades and prints.  As you have probably guessed, they NEVER share their clothes!

 

I’m thrilled to let you know that we are having a Sizzling Summer Sale at PatternsThatFitYou, where we’re giving a 50% discount on all downloadable books, patterns and classes, through August 15.   Use the promo code SUMMER50 to take advantage of the huge sale prices!  Grab a bunch of the books, patterns and classes now while the sale is on – don’t forget the Holiday Season will be coming up quicker than you think, and with these books and classes you’ll be ready for all your fall sewing, whether you’re sewing for men, women, children or doing the crafty sewing.

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New Kindle Version of Sewing Machine Repair Book

Posted By on July 6, 2013

We are super excited to announce that the new Kindle version of our best selling Sewing Machine Repair for the Home Sewer book is now available. Now you can grab this helpful book and take it everywhere with you on your reader or smartphone, or even read it on your computer, for just $19.95 – a lower price than the $24.95 print version!

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Great Garden Projects from Miracle-Gro’s Gro Project

Posted By on May 24, 2013

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Miracle-Gro for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

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The Gro Project from Miracle-Gro would like to help take you beyond the desktop so you can go from green to green thumb. The weather has turned so pretty lately that I’m more than ready to get out in the yard and get started on some fun garden projects.

Toyrarium from The Gro Project

At The Gro Project Facebook page you’ll find all sorts of fun ideas like the Toyrarium shown here, an Origami Garden, Ukulele Garden and lots of others. My five kiddos would have a blast building their own Toyrariums and they’re super simple to put together. The site even has step-by-step pictures for each project so you can’t go wrong!

I’ve got lots of flowering bushes, roses and shrubs around the house and they can be difficult to mow around so I’m also planning to use the Miracle-Gro Shake’n Feed All Purpose Plant Food tohelp prevent weeds and feed the plants. One jug will treat at least 135 square feet and will help prevent weeds from popping up for three months.

I’m also a big fan of the Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix for both my indoor and outdoor potted plants. Now that the weather has become so nice outside I can’t wait to get out there and make some pretty container gardens for the back patio using this potting mix because it absorbs more water than ordinary potting soil and helps prevent overwatering. I’d love to hear about any gardening projects you’ve got planned! Please let me know about them in the comments below.

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Save On Your Heating Bill With Harman Pellet Stoves

Posted By on February 3, 2013

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Harman Stoves for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

 

We don't get too many days of freezing weather here in the south, but it's been a very cold winter this year and our central propane heat has been costing a bundle to keep the house warm. 

When I found out that Harman Pellet Stoves can save a bunch of money on our heating bill, I just had to share the info with you. According to the infographic below, using a pellet stove or fireplace insert costs 44% less than oil, 47% less than electric and 53% less than propane heat.

Pellet Stoves are Awesome

I was amazed to learn that pellet fuel is such a popular heating alternative, and that it can save us over half off the cost of our current propane heat. Even more exciting though, is the news that you can get a Federal tax credit on 75% efficient biomass heating appliances. The 10% tax credit of up to $300 is available for qualifying biomass heating appliances purchased through December 31, 2013. With over 36 models of stoves, inserts and home heating units available from Harman, you're sure to find something that's perfect for your home.

And, thanks to Harman one lucky US reader will win a cool notebook made from recycled materials complete with pen! How do you win? Just leave a comment below telling us what you like about Harman or something you learned from visiting their website.  You can also earn extra entries by doing the following:

Like Harman on Facebook

Follow Harman Stoves on Twitter

Be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry – up to three per person.

I will pick the winner on 2/23/13 and send an announcement via email. If there is no response within 48 hours a new winner will be chosen.

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