At the Event
Whew, after weeks or even months of planning, the big day has finally arrived. Here's how to have a great day.
When you arrive at the location, you will have to unload, and you will usually have to park your car at a distance from the site so your customers will have a place to park. There is often a registration booth where you pick up information and your booth location assignment. You may have already been sent your assignment in the mail, but at some point you will most likely have to sign in.
After you've set up your display, check the arrangement to see if you want to make any alterations. This can happen frequently due to the differences between the aesthetics of your home and the site. Walk by your setup from both directions to see what you like and what you want to change.
Put all of your extra stock beneath the tables, hidden by the table coverings. Make a tidy — and secure — area for change, wrap, and other business. You want to keep everything close at hand and attractive and tidy throughout the day. You'll need a trash receptacle, even if it's just a plastic sack hung off the back of your chair.
Placing your soaps on the sink counter in the bathrooms at the event is a great way for potential customers to get hands-on experience with your soap. Place a little note or business card on the mirror. A note could say something like, “Soap donated by,” the name of your company, and where you are located.
Now that you're all set up, all you have to do is wait for the people to buy your soap, right? Well, partly. You can't sell anything until they arrive, but just sitting and waiting for someone to say, “I'll take this” isn't going to sell much soap.
Most people who come to fairs and markets intend to buy something. If the event is large, many people like to go around and look at everything before making purchases. Don't be overeager at the start of the day. Let people browse and don't overwhelm obvious browsers with information about your soap. Invite them to pick up the soaps and sniff them and let them know you can answer any questions about the soap.
Standing out in front of your table, making sure everything is just so, can help you to be available to answer questions. Don't just sit there, ignoring potential customers. You will find your own style of talking to people about your soap. If you are excited about your soap and not pushy, you'll be fine.
It is effective to ask open-ended questions — those that require more than a “yes” or “no” answer. “What is your favorite fragrance?” is a good approach if the shopper looks like she is having trouble deciding between scents. Having a working knowledge of fragrance will really help you.
When a person asks you a question about your soap, don't bombard her with huge amounts of information. You, of course, know that the lavender essential oil is organic and that you stirred the lye solution and the fats together at exactly 100°F, but that isn't what most people will want to know. Tailor your pitch to the level of interest shown by the potential buyer.
When a customer has decided on the soaps he wants, be sure to let him know about how to keep the soap fresh, how to store it, and how to extend its usefulness. Tucking a brochure or a fact sheet with your contact information into the bag is a great way to extend the service customers have received from you. It also invites them to look for you and your soaps again.
Depending on the nature of the event, you may or may not have to handle money. At office and church bazaars, there is usually a group of volunteers who do that work. Some craft fairs are run that way as well. Most of the time, however, you'll have to add up the merchandise, charge tax, and make change. If you are not a champ at figuring change, by all means use a calculator. You need to be efficient and accurate.
Near the end of the day, you may find you have a lot of customers who've been waiting to make their purchases. You may even have people who want to trade their wares for yours. That is one of the finest perks of doing craft fairs and farmers' markets where barter among vendors is alive and well!
Always count the change in your cash box before an event. It is important to know how much you started with so that you will know how much you collected at the end of the day.
Taking cash only is, of course, the safest way for your customers to pay you. If you decide to take checks, be sure to get current information so you can contact the buyer if there is a problem with the check. Be certain to deposit the checks right away so that you don't make someone carry a check over to another month.
Keep a record of everyone who writes a check for their payment. Make a file for checks with the name, address, and phone number of each customer, the date of the check, the bank number, and the check number. Don't forget the amount. With this record, if for some reason a check should come back to you, you can easily find the information and contact the person to let them know about the problem.