Busy is a great word in business; it means things are thriving, and for the most part you probably have everything under control. However, there are times, including Graduation Season, when you get incredibly busy, and it pilfers absolutely all your time. The calendar tells you it’s on its way and you just know life is going to get a little crazy for a few weeks. Rather than await its arrival with dread and try to wing it, preparing for it in advance will allow you to handle it without too much pressure and know that everything else is still working as it should be. Here are several action steps you can implement right now to help prepare for the chaos.
- Stop and Make a Plan: Before anything else, stop and plan out the next few weeks. Resist the temptation to dive in and start working. Find out when all your local high schools are holding commencement ceremonies, and don’t forget about Preschool, Kindergarten, Middle School and College Graduations. Get these dates on your calendar so you can see if you need to reschedule any conflicting activities. Let your spouse, significant other or family know that you might be less available during these times and determine if you need to enlist help. Perhaps you need to arrange childcare or a carpool, hire a cleaner, prepare some freezer meals to have on hand, or hire a temporary employee.
Next, think about what you want to accomplish this busy season? Write down these objectives and goals and make sure they meet the SMART criteria (they must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Sensitive). You will find that simply creating this list will relieve much of your stress.
- Inventory Your Supplies: Next, go through your inventory and see how many Graduation sets you have. Are there any pieces that are damaged or missing that you need to replace? Do you have letters or flair in your local school colors? How many times can you spell “Congrats,” “I’m Done” or “Grad.” How many 2’s do you have available? Do you need to order more stakes or marketing signs? Make sure that you have 1 extra display set aside as a back-up just in case something gets damaged or goes missing and you don’t have time to order a new one (think champagne sprayed all over the display or intoxicated college kids that put your display in the trash. Yes these things do happen).
- Scheduling Limits: If this is your first year doing yard cards for Graduation Season, then get your stretches in and your running shoes on because it comes on hard and fast, but you don’t have to run the rat race. Things to consider in addition to your inventory before you set your scheduling limits:
- How long will it take you to pull and stake displays?
- What is your delivery area and how far are you willing to drive? (remember you must make 2 trips, 1 for set up and 1 for pick up).
- How long does each display take to set up? (we recommend using quick sets, panels, and keeping it simple to decrease the time at each location).
- How will you rotate your sets, and do you need to adjust your set up and pick up times?
- Do you need to enlist help or hire someone?
- Will you continue to take other bookings during this time, ie Birthdays or Special Events?
- And finally, what is the back-up plan in case something goes awry (and something always goes awry)!
- Update Your Calendar/Booking Settings: Now it’s time to align your planning, goals and inventory into your calendar or booking settings. Make sure your website and social media pages are all linked together to reflect the same information. Set your limits on how many Graduation bookings you will take per day. Don’t over commit and under deliver. Update your service area if you are only willing to do local Graduations. Make sure your pricing is appropriate for market value (typically Graduation Yard Cards are priced higher than Birthday Yard Cards). Will you be offering a keepsake with set-ups, and if so, will they be an additional charge?
The clock is ticking, and you must get started. Being busy during Graduation Season is exciting and a great opportunity to bring in extra revenue. Get the ball rolling today and maintain momentum throughout this busy time. We hope these tips will allow you to focus on the fun of Graduation Season!
Don’t forget to join Yard Card Supply - Business Support Facebook Group, if you haven’t already. You’ll often find additional information, tips, and videos from other carders. Also, don’t forget to check back for the next installment of Graduation Basics where we will hear from Veteran Yard Carders and their tips for a successful Graduation Season.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Elaina Boling is the owner of The Yard Life, a yard card company in Fort Collins, Colorado as well as a Creative Specialist for Yard Card Supply. She is married with 5 children and enjoys an active lifestyle. Elaina is passionate about quality products, mentoring, and growing the yard card industry.