Quickbooks ~ Duplicating Group Items

If you have taken any of our webinars that demonstrate quoting then you know that the secret ingredient for quoting quickly is the Group Item. If you own QuickBooks & Quoting your Item List contains over 700 individual items. Everything you buy or sell in the course of business should be listed in your item list. QuickBooks allows you to use special items called Group Items that are collections of individual items. QuickBooks & Quoting includes a group item for virtually every kind of window treatment, service or product you offer. We have "Sub-Contracted Window Treatments" for Designers; in addition to Drapery, Shades, Hard Treatments, and many more. When you choose a Group Item the collection of individual items flows onto your proposal all ready for you to start quoting. Think of it as a "basket" full of the items that we assume you will use almost every time you do that type of proposal. (Note: The ability to duplicate items is only available in QB 2009, Pro & Premier)

A group item will contain several individual items you typically use in certain type of quote. In your Item List scroll down to the bottom and all of the Group Items are clustered together. Right-click on one of the Groups and select edit. Here is a screen shot of a group item setup screen looks like:

You can edit the default description here or on the fly in the proposal, we recommend that you begin all group items with "G-" to make it easy to retrieve on an estimate. You can see that all of the individual items are listed in the bottom of the setup screen. By clicking on an item you have the option to delete it from the group, change it to a similar item or insert a line so that you can add additional items to your group. I demonstrate editing groups in this video clip.

In addition, to editing groups you can duplicate groups to save time. Let's say you would like to create a group especially for furniture sales and deliveries outside of your normal delivery range. You would want to add an item to the group that would have a mileage surcharge appear automatically. Duplicate an Item: Right click on the group item, select duplicate, then edit the name of the item to reflect what you want it to be, as in my screenshot below. I have edited the name of the group by adding "LD" for long distance delivery. Also, notice I have inserted a line by pressing CTRL + Insert to add the mileage item.


Your Toolkit for Success in 2009

Here are some things to put in your toolkit for 2009:

  1. Learn to use your computer more effectively. Watch our Computers 101 video. Once you know how to navigate around on a computer a whole new world of possibilities is open to you.

  2. Back up your computer data online. Use either Mozy or Carbonite; both are easy to setup, very inexpensive, and easy to use.

  3. Get your accounting computerized ~ purchase QuickBooks and our QuickBooks and Quoting, then sign up for our online QuickBooks courses in January or March. (Remember, all of our courses are recorded and available for you to view for up to 60 days)

  4. Start using Microsoft Outlook as your CRM (customer relationship management) software. Outlook can handle your calendar, email and contact data information. Once you start using Outlook you can sync that information with your PDA phone. You'll love this feature! You can even purchase Customer Manager which will act as a liaison between QuickBooks and Microsoft Outlook. You will only have to enter customer information once and both QuickBooks and Outlook is updated. It's a real time saver and so inexpensive.

  5. Get a professional looking logo or maybe just freshen up your existing logo. Sign up for our newest online course, "Create a Customized Logo," and learn all the ins and outs of creating a logo.

  6. Secure a domain and create a website for your business. Give Simplified Websites a call to get started right away. Simplified Websites is easy to work with and, best of all, they will do the entire layout with their RapidStart program. All you have to do is provide them with photography and text regarding your business. Be sure to check out the examples of their work. If you don't have a website or you would like a more professional looking site, this should be high on your list. Don't put this off any longer.

  7. Update your portfolio in a totally new and unique way. Several of you accomplished this task this year after you took our "Create Fabulous Portfolios" course and some of you decided to wait. If you are one of the people that decided to wait, why not add a new updated portfolio for 2009 to your list and purchase our "Create Fabulous Portfolios" course. When you purchase this recorded online course, you will have access to it for 60 days.

  8. Start offering new and unique services like the "Design in Five" technique with Minutes Matter Studio.

  9. Read educational articles for at least three hours each week. Top of the list, of course, is the Minutes Matter E-zine. We always are sharing information from the many articles we read and the numerous conferences we attend.

  10. Revisit past marketing campaigns and revamp them for 2009. Purchase our Power of Innovative Ideas book when it becomes available in early 2009. This new and unique marketing book is chock full of innovative techniques. For more marketing tips, sign up for Jeffrey Gitomer's ezine. He is amazing and sure knows how customers want to be treated.

Review your list of goals at least once a month to ensure you are on schedule and to make necessary revisions. Wouldn't it be great to see most, if not all, of these goals accomplished by 2010? Once 2009 comes to a close and you reflect back and see all of the goals you have accomplished since the beginning of the year, the pride that you feel will be "Priceless."


Catering to High End Clientele

Did you know there is an easy way to fix digital photographs right inside Studio! I'm sure this same situation has happened to you, you've taken digital photos of your client's home and oops, you realize when you get back to the office that there's something unsightly (either inside the room or in the view outside the window) that threatens to distract from your beautiful design. Photo Clip to the rescue!

Use this amazing tool to cut out clean sections of the photo. Then paste it over objects seen outside the window or cover existing dated window treatments. You can also instantly disguise piles of children's toys left on the floor. You may have to get creative and even take some "artistic" liberties but in just a few moments you'll have a nice, clean photo on which to design! If you have not yet had a chance to see the Photo Clip tool in action be sure to view this mini video to see how it works!

This week I wanted to turn the spotlight on The Recovery Room, a full service fabric showroom and workroom opened in 1989 by Freddie Graves in the Mad River Valley of Vermont. Freddie employs four people including two fabricators, a decorative painter whom she calls L. A. (Lovely Assistant), and her mother-in-law, all working in various phases of the business from upholstery to slipcovers, window treatments and soft furnishings.

About the Clients:
The Recovery Room works with designers and their clients who are building second (or third, or fourth!) homes in this popular ski area which has become a year-round destination for outdoor activities and just plain getting away from it all. Freddie's clients favor a pared down traditional look in their homes, some of which date back hundreds of years. She does a lot of panels and Roman shades in natural fibers, and adds Duettes and the new Architella shades for even more insulation in winter when the temperatures can go as low as 40ยบ below! Freddie says she "likes to push the romance in the bedrooms" and tends to get a little more elaborate with trims, accessories and beautiful upholstered headboards. Her clients are into recycling and reusing and appreciate older furnishings so she's kept busy upholstering and slipcovering special pieces.

Favorite Project:
When asked about her favorite project, Freddie replied, "The next one!" Then she amended that with, "Or ones where I either learn a lot or make lots of money!" One home in particular was fun for her to do, or rather re-do, since the original treatments her workroom created for the home looked like "old flannel pajamas" per the customer's wishes. Her favorite designer assisted the new homeowners with her excellent color sense and Freddie and her staff transformed the home with great looking linen panels and updated window coverings.

Standing Out:
Since The Recovery Room caters to high end clientele, Freddie has found a way to stand out from other design services in her areas. Freddie started using Studio in her business about four years ago. She and her designers find it a very useful tool for checking proportions, lengths and placement. Freddie takes measurements and digital photos and prepares to-scale renderings for the designers as well as their clients. She says, "The jobs are sold almost instantly," when the clients can see how the proposed treatments will look in their rooms. Back in the workroom she and her staff utilize Studio to double check dimensions and do layouts. Freddie makes good use of the living room furniture module to show clients how their chairs and sofas will look in their new fabric choices.


5 Tips for Marketing Your Local Seminar

By Margarett DeGange, M.Ed.

Trunk shows or design seminars presented to your potential clients are not only fun, but they can help you to gain new prospects—those who are ready to buy your products and services, resulting in higher profits for you. Potential customers have a chance to “get to know you” without risk by watching how you relate to others through your presentation.

As a presenter, you have the opportunity to reach multiple prospects at one time. You can also use the excitement and positive group dynamics to foster good feelings toward you and what you are offering. Through giving seminars and presenting trunk shows, you help prepare your prospects to buy. People attend events for knowledge, solutions, and validation concerning their decorating choices. They want to know who the local authority is. They look to you for expert advice, and they trust you will give it to them.

More than ever before, the home has become a sought out retreat from life’s busyness and outside influences. People are returning to the home in droves for sanctuary, entertainment, and for family connection. Our customers and prospects are not simply looking for fabrics, furniture, and accessories— they are looking for a better life! You can make a solid connection with them through fun and informative decorating seminars and trunk shows that position you as the expert who cares and THE HERO who solves their decorating dilemmas. You gain quality leads, sales, and referrals, and they get solutions. Everyone wins!

I encourage you to get out there and do events. They translate to higher exposure and increased profits for you. Choose a single interesting topic such as color or furniture placement, and share a few helpful tips with your audience. For a trunk show, display your work and then “show and tell” the audience all about it, including your personal story about how you became a decorator. Once you have a topic, you have to get the word out.

Here are 5 tried and true, proven strategies to help ensure your success as you seek to market your local seminars:

1. Find out who meets each week or month
Contact your local chamber of commerce. Let them know you offer non-commercial speeches for any local group that needs a speaker. This means you ensure them you will not be “selling” anything during the talk. You will simply give an informative and entertaining presentation. Get a list of all the local groups that meet monthly (some even meet weekly) with contact information for chapter presidents. The chamber should have such a list. You can also contact local chapters of organizations like ABWA (American Business Women’s Association) to find out when they meet. Other groups that gather include local country club activities committees, Jaycees, and ladies auxiliary groups. Start with the chamber and go from there.

2. Know the audience you are targeting
Get an idea of the demographics that are represented by the local groups, and seek out groups whose members “look” like your ideal customers. Busy professionals and 2-income families are good prospects. Busy people don’t have time to take on major decorating projects themselves, and 2-income families may have more discretionary income. Do it yourselfers may not be your ideal crowd, and there would be no point in speaking to a group of farmers from the local tractor club if none of them were interested in decorating. A group such as American Business Women’s Association would be a much better fit.

3. Send a postcard to the local chapter leaders
Directly contact local club and organization leaders and officers with a friendly hand written postcard or note card. Inform the club leaders that you are a speaker. This will be good news to many of them since it is sometimes very difficult to find a local speaker month after month. Make sure you give them your contact information in the correspondence, and let them know you will be giving them a call about a week after they receive your postcard. Then, follow up. You will be amazed at how many group leaders will be thrilled to hear from you. Your call will be a welcome surprise. The note coupled with the call is a powerful motivator for the group leader and it gives them the chance to see you are responsible and thorough, the kind of people they look for as speakers. The follow up call is the most important part of the communication. At this time, try to set a date for a speech even if you both have to select 2 possible dates and check back with each other. You can always secure the exact date and time later, but get something on the calendar during the call.

4. Frame your topic so that it benefits the group
Many event coordinators seek out speakers with topics on both personal and professional development. However, if the group is very business oriented, you may need to frame your topic so it relates more to the business world. This is easy since beautifying interiors works for homes as well as office settings. A decorating topic can apply to both. Plus, every professional also has a home, so they may think of you later when they decide to make home improvements. Ask yourself, "How can what I know help business people or busy people who don't have time to decorate?" If you are a color consultant for example, you could frame your topic by creating a title that appeals to the audience, such as “how interior colors can help you accomplish goals and increase productivity at home and at work.”

5. Promote your seminars throughout your community
There are many ways to market your seminars through personal activities that cost little or no money. Here are a few suggestions. Deliver flyers to target neighborhoods (just let the city know, and for a small fee you will have their “permission”), post a flyer on the bulletin boards of local coffee houses, make an announcement at a nearby decorating college, and call the local television and radio stations as well as the newspaper to ask to be placed in the “what’s happening” segment, which is usually free. You can also call your past customers and let them know they are welcome to bring a friend (birds of a feather flock together). Join forces with other non-competing home improvement companies to tap into their lists. Co-sponsor a program, and have the other company or business person invite their past customers to your event. A real estate company for example might love for you to do a talk on staging, and a kitchen designer might appreciate your talk on color. You could prepare and deliver the content and have your co-sponsor provide the place and the refreshments. Invite people from both of your mailing and email lists and everyone benefits.

With a little effort you will enjoy the success of acquiring new leads and gaining new clients through local customer seminars and trunk shows. Not only will you be hailed as the local decorating expert, but you will add to your bottom line profits while having fun and meeting new friends.

Margarett (Margo) DeGange, M.Ed. is a Business Success Coach who has helped thousands professionals make higher profits, have more free time by working smarter, and create additional streams of income. She is President of The DeGangi Group and Decorating for Profits, 2 fantastic resources for design professionals and speakers who want to make more money and build success quickly. Her business-building products include both on-sight and on-line courses in decorating and business, ready-made curriculum for speakers and teachers in decorating, easy to use money-making business systems for entrepreneurs, trunk show success systems, and training kits for digital products creation and information marketing.

Margo is the Director of The DeGangi School of Interior Decoration and the Executive Director of the Decorators’ Alliance of North America. She is a Certified Human Behavior Coach who has helped business owners from all over the world to meet the needs of their clients and greatly increase sales and profits as a result.


The Best Fishing Hole

Here's something I've been doing for quite a while now, it really works... and it's FUN! It kind of reminds me of catching a fish! Here's how it works:

Organize Your Tackle Box:
When my pipeline starts to thin out, I make a list of all of my favorite clients - best clients, repeat clients, etc. Use whichever method of communication that works best for you when communicating with your client. In my business, I keep in touch using e-mail. This makes it easy for me, because within my e-mail, I have e-file folders for each client's name and I file all of my communications with them in those folders. Clients folders that were not my favorites, or were a challenge, or that I consider not to be worth the time that I had to invest with them, go into another category "NOT CURRENT". This makes it easy for me to locate the clients that I want to contact about new jobs.

Bait The Hook:
I send a personalized e-mail to each one. (Same idea, same content, just worded differently based on the relationship I have with that particular person.) I basically tell them that I'm now scheduling my fall calendar. I have a few openings and if they are interested in moving ahead on that "bathroom shade, master bedroom valance, duvet, table cover" (whatever it is that they might have mentioned to me during a past job) or if they have any projects for the home that they would like to begin, please let me know what day and time works best, so that we can meet to discuss.

Wait For A Bite:
This is the fun part. Try to relax and not check your e-mail for responses every 10 minutes. You're bound to get some jobs out of this! This is how I've filled up my pipeline the last two 'seasons' and I get so excited when I get a response. So far, this week, I've sent out 6 e-mails and only received one "No" that said they were out of home project money right now because they just added a wrap-around porch this summer. However, she would let me know when they need me for the next project. Even if this fish got away, I still kept my name in front of the client using this form of advertising. So far, I have received 4 potential jobs! One already asked for a ballpark estimate, the other three have schedules appointments the week after school starts - each mentioned specific projects that they would like for me to complete. I consider this a 'BITE'...

Reel Them In:
Now it's time to reel them in. Don't forget to get back to them to nail down a date to meet!

Catching The Big One:
When you get that deposit, you've caught one! The feeling is AMAZING! Have fun! Catch some clients! Oh, I forgot to mention that this (proven) method has cost me zero advertising dollars over the years.

~ Michelle Jamieson
Michelle Jamieson Interiors
Michelle Jamieson owns and operates a custom drapery and home furnishings workroom on the North Shore of Massachusetts. Michelle has quickly enhanced her sales process with the addition of Minutes Matter Studio. This design software took her business to another level and she even uses Studio when designing her marketing materials.


Rumor Has It . . .

Hi everyone, it's Casey. Have you ever received an email from a friend alerting you about some issue and you aren't sure if it is fact or an urban legend? I seem to receive several of these often urgent emails. For example, I've been forwarded an email by a friend letting me know that "Cell phone users must register their numbers with the National 'Do Not Call' directory by a given deadline to prevent your cell phone numbers from being released to telemarketers." So now what? Should I begin to find out how to register my cell number? Do I brush it off hoping it is not true? Well now I can find out if there is any truth to the rumor by visiting Snopes.com!

Snopes.com is an easy-to-use website which allows you to search almost any topic including business information, computers, crime, politics, fraud/scams, legal, horror stories, religion, movies, etc. For this topic, I typed in "Register Cell Number" and multiple postings appear. The first one is "Cell Phone Numbers Given to Telemarketers" so I clicked to learn more. The first title in the post describes the "Claim" to outline what is being said by people. The second title is the "Status" and informs me if the claim is true or false. The third title gives me several examples of the type emails that are being circulated around. Surprisingly, I stumble on the exact same email that I received in my inbox! The fourth title describes the "Origins" to explain how the statement began to circulate. For this cell phone rumor, the panic-induced emails grew out of a misunderstanding about the proposed creation of a wireless directory assistance service. Learn more about this cell phone urban legend.

Remember to keep your knowledgeable reputation intact and check out the next "popular topic" first before forwarding to a friend!

Quick Links... Here are a few other websites you can use to check out information:Hoax-Slayer: http://www.hoax-slayer.com/ UrbanLegends.com: http://www.urbanlegends.com/ TruthorFiction.com: http://www.truthorfiction.com/

~ Casey Green
Minutes Matter Solutions, Inc.


7 Reasons Coupons Don't Work . . .

One of the things I typically do when I take on a new client is to discontinue any discount programs. In fact, I often raise their prices. One owner was skeptical of such an idea; after all, any money in the register was money in his jeans. I told him that if we say we are a boutique or a gourmet coffee house, there is a perception of something special, a premium location or gourmet product offered. Once it is discounted, the cachet of the product is cheapened. The competitive edge is gone.
Untrained marketers who say we need to do something always go the easy let's discount way. It takes very little imagination and since everybody else does it, they assume it must work. Anyone can be a discount whore; it takes no brains or skill. There is no forethought. No magic or relationship results. And once you do it, you're often condemned to repeating it.

I will admit that certain coupons can bring in business much like spot sales can boost your numbers. The problem is that you are in dangerous waters; the icebergs are numerous.

Here are seven reasons coupons don't work:
1. Coupons are looked at as an ongoing effort. In effect, they become the whole marketing plan.
2. By the time you factor in your time in creating them, printing them, distributing them and factoring in the actual discounting itself, you have a very expensive promotion.
3. You have taught the customer that your product is not worth what you priced it at.
4. The people who found you through coupons will wait for your next one.
5. You are rewarding people who have no relationship to the success of your business.
6. Your sales staff will keep a copy of the coupon to offer to their own customers or friends.
7. If your regular customers who have supported you find out someone who's never been there is getting a better deal than they are, they just might not return.

Here's an example:
That's precisely what happened at a local restaurant in Long Beach where a group of us went for a birthday celebration. Located in an old craftsman house with antiques and a wood-burning fireplace, this was a great place to enjoy a great meal. We had ordered wine before dinner, enjoyed fabulous entrees and saved room for their signature desserts.

When the couple at the table next to us paid their check with a 50 percent off coupon, the owner must have been tipped off. He went to their table and sat down. We overheard him talk about his participation in the 50 percent off Entertainment Book. He said that he valued the Entertainment Book because it brought in customers who had never tried him before. He told them the story of his business, how he and his wife built it and how many years he'd been there. The coupon bearers told him they were from Pacoima, about an hour's drive from the restaurant and that they would never have come without the coupon. He smiled, wished them well and said he looked forward to seeing them again.

I was incensed! We lived in the neighborhood. We'd gone there for years, paid top dollar and received no special recognition. How did we feel? Who was more important? Here we had paid full price as usual and the people next to us who had no relationship paid half-price. I haven't been back since.

Cut your prices repeatedly and you'd better cut your staff because profit is what suffers.

Learn more:
You can learn read more thought provoking ideas by reading Bob Phibbs, The Retail Doctor's Sales Blog.

***Note: We received permission to use above article."If you are a newsletter editor, my past newsletters and articles are posted there as well for you to use or reference."


Color Confidence

Hello everyone, it's me, Debbie Green with Minutes Matter. Here at Minutes Matter we are always on the prowl for things that make our jobs easier and help us to be more professional. Have you been looking for a way to gain color confidence? We have found the perfect class for you. The patent pending "Color with No Regrets Selection System" was created by decorating professionals for decorating professionals. It began when co-inventor, JoAnne Lenart-Weary went looking for an easy-to-use color system to teach to people who attended the other professional decorating classes she taught. She wanted a system that removed the subjective element and truly incorporated the science of color. After working with a few other "color experts," JoAnne decided she needed to invent her own as nothing else on the market seemed to suit the needs of a decorating professional. She tagged Cyndie Stefanik, a talented decorative painter who had appeared with JoAnne on her TV segments. Together, they created the patent-pending "Color with No Regrets Selection System."

The system combines a true concern for the client's color choices while encouraging the decorating professional to use color harmonies they might not have ever considered because they weren't their favorite colors. You will never ask the "What is your favorite color?" question again. Instead you will begin the process with the non-verbal color test and then continue with measuring the existing colors in a room using a specially marked color deck to truly identify the colors in a space and not just rely on a "good eye for color."

With this process, you can create individual Perfect Palettes for a client in each room that will help them to avoid color mistakes. "Our class begins by having students identify a piece of fabric and dubbing it with a color name," says Lenart-Weary. "We have found that 90% of our students identify it as the wrong color which throws off their entire selection process. Our system makes it easy to identify the correct color each and every time to create scientific color combinations that are dazzling."

Margie Nance, President of CHF Academy, said, "I have been in the business a lot of years and have attended many classes, workshops, etc. This color system blew me away. I have never seen anything like this. It is so easy and within minutes, I figured out what was wrong with the colors in my own office!"