I have blogged about the importance of a business plan, but this post is all about a different kind of plan, your operations plan. I would argue that it is just as important as a business plan. If you are like me, you are probably ready to jump into actually running the business, but bear with me! Taking care of these things before you start, will really help ensure that you are successful.
Basically, you need to decide how you think you are going to run your business, before you actually start your business. Now, I know that this can be as overwhelming as putting together a financial plan. But it’s not a list of hard and fast rules. All I am suggesting is that you make a list of how you are going to handle different parts of your business, think of it as an operations manual.
Putting together an operations plan doesn’t have to hard. It’s as easy as making three lists. Before Quilting, While Quilting, and After Quilting (this is just a rough list to get you started).
On the “Before Quilting” list, write out how you plan on handling quilts before they get to the quilting stage. Here are just a few of the questions that you will want to answer:
How will you receive quilts? Will you allow them to be mailed and/or dropped off?
How will you store quilts and keep track of quilting requests?
What times of the day will you be available to talk to customers? How can they contact you?
How will you schedule customers quilts?
What will your prices be? (don’t worry, I will address this in a blog post soon!)
During the Quilting Process:
How long to plan on spending on quilting each day?
What kind of supplies will you use?
After the Quilting Process:
How do you plan on returning quilts?
How will you invoice customers?
How will you plan on handling upset customers?
These are just a few things to think about, and it isn’t a complete list. And I will address some of these questions in future blog posts. You may not know the answer to each and every thing that you want to do but the great thing about being your own boss is that you can change it at any time! They aren’t hard and fast ruler, this is just a way to help you clarify exactly how you are wanting to run your business.
So how does this look in real life?
The first part of my operations plan might look like this:
-Customers can mail quilts to me anytime or drop off quilts on Mondays and Wednesday’s 9-3pm.
-When each quilt comes in, I take a picture of the quilt for my records, and fill out an informational form to attach to quilt. Include owners name and any other important information.
-I look over the quilt top to make sure there aren’t any stains and hang quilts on a clothes rack
-Email or call customer and let them know that it arrived safely (if quilt was mailed in)
Having a plan will help make sure that everything runs smoothly and you stay organized, something I still need to work on!
Today’s guest quilter is Joanna Peterson and was so nice to hang out with us today and tell us a little bit about her machine quilting business.
How long have you been machine quilting professionally?
Almost 6 years.
How did you get started?
My sister-in-law taught me how to quilt the boxes of quilt tops I had made for my son when I was pregnant. She has 6 kids so she slowly turned her clients over to me, and I eventually bought the machine and took over the business.
Do you have a routine that you follow?
I have a form that I have all of my clients fill out. It has their name, phone number (and address if they are out-of-state), description of the quilt top, and then what we’ve discussed as far as quilting patterns and services go. I also try not to answer my phone after 5 PM – then it’s family time – but I’m not too good about sticking to that rule.
What is your favorite part about quilting for others?
I love to see what other people have made. I also love to see the look on their faces when they see their finished quilt. I’ve had a lot of clients who didn’t feel like they should even bother finishing their tops because they weren’t “good enough” but brought them in anyway just to get it out of the way. When they pick them up the look on their faces is priceless. Watching them realize that they can do it, that they do love quilting, and that it was worth it to finish their project makes my day. And it makes me so grateful that I was able to help them.
What is something you wish you had known before you started quilting for others?
Not to stress so much about it. It’s taken me almost 6 years to get comfortable with the idea that my quilting is not going to be perfect, ever. There will always be slight wobbles or blips in the patterns I quilt, but that’s what makes it special and unique. And I am the only person on the planet who will notice those blips or wobbles.
Thanks so much Joanna!! I appreciate you taking the time to share with us. Make sure you check out her blog to learn more about her.