A few weeks ago we had a huge mega sale in my facebook group right before I came down with Pneumonia. So then, of course, I got behind on the busiest week the group has ever had. Which was followed by attempting to catch up.
Would you look at that pile? Today my task is printing shipping labels and taping them on so they can go out tomorrow. There are 59 boxes/envelopes in that pile.
Facebook groups are run totally differently than any time of shop that I have ever managed.
In case you ever wondered why I basically disappeared from blogland the day Ozark fabric (facebook group) opened, I thought I would quickly run through the process:
My group currently has over 1700 members. They put in requests for different types of fabric, patterns or notions. Over half of the members are not from the states. The reason the group works so well for everyone is that I hold boxes for all members until they are full. Some members take months to fill their boxes while others fill one per week. Large flat boxes hold approx 40 yards of fabric but are much less expensive on International buyers to use for shipping than shipping an order at a time. This alone is the basic reason the group is highly successful. (too successful, I have to keep putting the breaks on as I dont want it to grow too big for my britches).
I have 4 admin helpers. These are volunteers that understand I cannot do this alone. In exchange for their help I give them a discount on their purchases. Here is a basic rundown of a week:
I list lines of fabric/notions on Monday-Wednesday... which includes photos, price, qty available.
The buyers start shopping it. While they are shopping an admin is working behind the scenes setting up a spreadsheet.
On Thursday we close the open albums and stop the shopping. While one admin is recording purchases, another admin is keeping the group busy by posting Thursday's Tips and Tutorials. After the recording admin is done, it moves to the checking admin..who's job is to just double check the work. Then it moves a couple of places...one admin takes the spreadsheet file and turns it into a pdf for me to print, while a different admin takes the file and spends Friday invoicing all the buyers for their purchases.
On Friday, I list new fabric, notions or patterns for purchase all over again...only this time it is a prebuy that someone has spoken a wish for. The process starts all over again, ending Monday when the new process starts.
Once I have the pdf in hand, I start the cutting process. I cut an entire bolt at a time, slipping orders into the appropriate boxes. Of course, I have to cut prebuys as they show up and I am always listing new fabric, etc, so I am ALWAYS busy.
Shipping I only do after each session, so basically twice a week. Normal is about 20 ish boxes get full and ready to go out each session but 40 is not unheard of.
There is one more dynamic that makes the facebook group totally different than any retail experience I have had...and that is messaging and the fact I can never 'close the doors'. I get messages 24 hours a day 7 days a week. If I am using my mobile device...there is no hiding. I have tried to combat the fact that if I allow it my time can be yanked totally away from me by giving them other options for messaging me. But with each new member (average of 10 a day) then we have to train them to the process all over again...including "DONT MESSAGE THE HILLBILLY".
There is so much more to the process than described above, such as the admins trying to get members to agree to the rules, box size situations, getting their info for invoicing, etc. It keeps all of us very busy!! While I am quite busy trying to design quilts, do ahhhhs, sew, teach school to two boys, deal with a sick hubby, run a website AND a facebook group, all the admins have busy lives and I am so thankful that they are willing to help me.
So now, when I am silent for long periods of time...you know why. I TRY to scale back Ozark fabric, but then there is Jerry. He missed 5 days at the end of last month and 2 so far (and counting) of this month so far. You know what this means...I have to step up my game plan, sell more fabric, to cover his lack of pay. This is why we are praying for a life change for Jerry. The state is good to him as he misses a LOT of work, but I wish he could just come home for good. I wish there was some way we didnt have to rely on his working. Right now he needs the insurance though, so we plug along.
I guess I had better start my days work! First up, breakfast for a very handsome young man.