Nov 2, 2007

Scrapbook Nightmares Part 2

I'm fascinated with the idea of going in and helping a struggling business survive. The problem is that most failing businesses are so far in debt that they would never invest in a business consultant to come and help them turn their sinking ship around.

I've been watching Kitchen Nightmares on BBC. I blogged about it a couple of weeks ago. But the more I watch, the more fascinated I am by it and the more business lessons I see for scrapbook stores.

The issues that are killing these restaurants are always the same.
  • Bad food
  • Expenses too high
  • Customer base (and therefore income) too low
  • Overly complicated food
  • Lack of experience in running a restaurant
    or no one seems to be in charge

These are the same issues that kill retail scrapbook stores:

  • Poor product selection (bad food)
  • Expenses too high
  • Too few customers coming in
  • Too much selection without little coordination (overly complicated food)
  • Lack of experience in running a retail

The solutions to the restaurant problem are always the same:

  • Concentrate on fresh, seasonal and quality
  • lower expenses by buying locally or learn to make great food with less expensive ingredients
  • Market your business (he often takes them into the city and creates a buzz on the street)
  • Simplify the food
  • Learn to treat it like a business and run it accordingly

So, the scrapbook translation of that would be:

  • turn over products quickly to keep them fresh
  • lower expenses wherever you can (do you have to go to EVERY trade show and take an employee with you?)
  • reach out to the community and introduce people to your store and to scrapbooking. Don't rely on those who already shop your store to support you
  • Simplify your selection - you can't carry everything
  • Learn how to run your business. You're in it to make money.

The funny thing is that some people fight against CelebuChef Gordon Ramsey every step of the way. They don't want to hear that they are making mistakes. They are full of pride and debt and don't seem to want to change it. It's always hard to be told you're doing something wrong. But, when you're thousands of dollars in debt, at some point, you have to face up to the fact that you AREN'T doing it right.

I think many struggling scrapbook stores could be saved and kept from closing. The question is, how do we, as an industry, teach owners how to be successful? It can't be done for free, but when you've mortgaged your home and you're up to your eyeballs in debt, can you find the cash to bring in a professional to save you? I guess it depends on how bad you want to be saved.

But, even on a small and much less expensive scale, a business education group like ScrapBiz can help you. For instance, Gordon Ramsey told one chef that he wasted too much time fussing over dishes that were overly complicated with too many things on the plate. Gosh, that's exactly what I tell Scrapbook Artists NOT to do in the ScrapBiz Business Start-Up Guide. If you're being paid per page to make a custom book, you can't have too many ingredients or spend too much time fussing over the page without losing money. Keep it simple and clean. We talk about all the issues that people don't realize might be affecting their bottom line.

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