Small Business Struggles

It's just a simple logo!
It's just a simple logo!

Over the past few weeks, we have been trying to get some promotional items with the lovely helping hands logo embroidered on them. Since our Hermit Haus business has previously purchase such items from the big online vendors, we knew that the quality of the items they provide tends to leave a bit to be desired. So we decided to buy the shirts from Lands End and have a local company embroider them. This decision provides the quality we like while supporting local businesses, a win-win.

Based on our experience so far, here are a few rules to follow if you want to avoid doing business.

Don’t Have the Equipment

Our first call was to a local tailoring and alterations business. It was a long shot, but we like her, so we wanted to give them the business if we could. Unfortunately, they don’t have the right sewing machine for the embroidery work. That’s not really surprising, since it isn’t their core business. It’s not a big deal, but it does keep them from expanding.
They did refer us to another local business that does. They just didn’t tell us that’s what they were doing.
Don’t Follow Through on Commitments
The owner of the second business actually did have the equipment and called us at 9:00 o’clock on a Saturday night (impressing us with their dedication) to say they would call on Monday to talk about the details. They didn’t. We did get an email Monday night saying they would be in touch with us on Tuesday. They weren’t. Nor did they answer when we called back the original number.
Don’t Provide Contact Information
We then set about looking for another local business to do the work for us. We found a Facebook page for one with no phone number and no email listed. See the previous “rule” and guess what happened to our FaBoo messages. How are you going to get new business if you make it impossible for your customers to contact you? You don’t have to answer the phone yourself, but somebody needs to.
Don’t Have a Physical Location
Now you may think that brick and mortar operations are passé. It so, why did Amazon buy Whole Foods? Why does Google have so many offices throughout the country for Google Fiber and their other marketing ventures. No, if you’re going to have to interact with your customers—especially if you rely on local customers—you need a place to do it.

The result of all this is the Hearts leadership team is going to our first industry event without clothing to identify us to potential customers and referral sources. Sigh. Anybody have a Sharpie?