Business Lessons 101, A Continuing Series for New Artisans
#10 --- That was Then. This is Now!
|The Original River Girls, Mermaids in 2000 and 2010!|
|Lauren Bacall Today Still |
Getting it Done!
|Lauren Bacall Then|
At River Girls, keeping with our reputation for producing gentle, fragrant vegetable-based soaps, I abandoned a supplier of 10 years to adopt an entirely new soap base. This one would contain no detergents while maintaining its core components of coconut and palm oils. It was not an easy decision, for my customers seemed very happy and few ever asked about ingredients. They loved the way it looked, smelled and performed, and kept coming back for more. Ultimately, however, the decision was based on a long term view to the health and well being of my customers and the environment.
The process of testing such new bases took over a year and also required altering the proprietary blend River Girls uses to nourish its bars. The end result was spectacular, the same gentle sudsy bar but harder and significantly kinder to the body and the planet. In short, change will and must come, but keep the following in mind:
1. Know explicitly why you are making the change. For financial reasons? To improve your competitiveness in the market place? To promote the health and well-being of your clients and customers? Having a clear cut reason is vital. Introducing new products or shelving others willy-nilly without thorough examination and foresight can lead to rapid deficit spending.
2. Are you emotionally ready? Expect applause ....but some boos. No matter what your motivation and how successful you view the change, a small percentage of faithful customers will not be pleased with ANY changes in your product, appearance or presentation. These will often be loyal veterans who have been with you from the beginning. One of River Girls biggest supporters and most lucrative customers immediately detected a change in the soap and declared he did not like it! As a result, he now orders his soap as a custom product with us using the old base for his order.
3. Be prepared to monitor the impact of change. Are customers buying less, the more or the same? Are you garnering more positive public relations and comments? What did you seek to achieve and is it being achieved? Once River Girls' new soaps had quietly been on the market for a few months, I wrote individually and polled our oldest and most loyal customers. The response was overwhelmingly positive and an indication that indeed the change was the right one.
Copyright Wanda Fleming, 2011