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Seriously. This is a universal problem. Every nonprofit group has seen their pool of willing and able volunteers diminish. But if yours is a nonprofit resale shop

you might be getting desperate!

Some of the problem, might be “the people who volunteer are simply getting older and can’t put as much energy into volunteering as they used to.”  Or it could be that with all the pressures on working-age folk, like student loans to repay, people haven’t got the time to volunteer. They’re being Uber drivers or part-timing somewhere. If your area’s pool of potential volunteers cry

“I’d love to volunteer but I haven’t got the TIME!”

show them that they can, indeed, fit volunteering into their lives. After all, what with the child-bearing years growing steadily upward*, and what with more work-at-home choices in jobs**, one could almost argue that 25-50 year-olds have more available-to-participate time than ever.

I believe the key to getting volunteers to be, well, more volunteer-y is to do the same thing you do to motivate shoppers…

tell (and SHOW) them the WIIFM***.

Your message cannot be just that your cause needs helpers… it’s the “What’s In It For Me” factor you need to present. Show, tell, cajole potential volunteers into realizing that heck, volunteering is not just the right thing to do… it’s downright rewarding.

What are time-pressed adults yearning for and what can volunteering with you give them?

  • Sociability: they can perhaps make new friends while volunteering. Belonging: volunteering makes a person feel like they are part of the solution to the problem. And Connection: Making contacts with like-minded individuals whose goals match theirs.
  • And of course there’s always Fun: Whether it’s doing window displays, helping a family decide on a couch, or testing to see if a small appliance works before it’s placed for sale.
  • Another thing that potential volunteers might be yearning to do, is to use their skills. He used to be on the faculty of the business school? Maybe he’s a good match for your Volunteer Coordinator position. She retired from owning a jewelry store? Perfect for your Appraisal Crew. Younger people might be interested in practising newly-learned talents, adding to their real-life experience, or even adding to their resume or college application.

More ways to lure volunteers in:

  • Play up the perks. You get to see, first, all the amazing goodies that we receive! Always yearned to redecorate? Help us set displays to showcase our merchandise! 
  • Overcome shyness. Yes, believe it or not, there exist people who support your cause but aren’t gregarious. They most definitely have no wish to become sales staff. Well, do you have things they can do behind the scenes? Price incoming? Do internet research? Maybe health is an issue? Are there tasks they can contribute from home… washing and ironing, polishing silver? Letting the public know there’s more than one way to volunteer might require some imagination on your part, but could be super rewarding.
  • Overcome their fear of over-commitment. Many potential volunteers wouldn’t mind spending some hours in your shop, but they can’t promise to come in every week, at a given time, on a given day. If your business can work with casual hours, let them know you’re happy to see them whenever (and keep in contact, so well-meaning but overbooked volunteers don’t forget how much fun they have when they come in!)

And once you have them, keep them enthusiastic and productive:

  • Make sure they know how much they are appreciated. Surprise nibbles in the break room, little holiday gifts, public praise are real motivators. As are yearly or semi-yearly certificates they can take home. It goes without saying, doesn’t it, that a birthday card will be in their home mailbox every year?
  • Sponsor off-campus get-togethers. Not only will even something as simple as a Dutch-treat breakfast be appreciated, but they will get to interact with fellow volunteers whom they normally don’t work with.
  • Let them choose. If your charity raises money used as scholarships or grants… make sure your Board of Directors has one segment of that process that is decided by a vote of the volunteers. There’s nothing more powerful than volunteers working to raise funds because they want to see your charity help renovate the old theater or give money towards a new playground.

* “The average age of first-time mothers [in 2018] is 26, up from 21 in 1972, and for fathers it’s 31, up from 27.” From here.

** “Regular work-at-home, among the non-self-employed population, has grown by 140% since 2005, nearly 10x faster than the rest of the workforce or the self-employed.” From here.

*** Our Resaler’s Glossary defines this term.

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What if "not enough customers" isn't the actual problem, asks TGtbT.blog

What if you could motivate more people to come into your shop?

Your staff can help you build traffic with their own business cards! It’s simple, cheap, and foolproof. As an added bonus, your crew will realize that they are an important factor in your continuing success. Each of your staffers encounters many people in their life outside of work: all these people deserve a warm thank-you and an acknowledgment that their extra effort is appreciated. And who better to thank them than someone who also deals with the public and knows how important good service is? *

And you could get them to come in more often?

Promote, maintain, and use your want list for items customers are looking for. Can’t fulfill their request in a month or so? Call them and tell them you’ll continue looking if they would like you do (and do try to mention something else that you do have that they might like!) *

And you could tempt them into buying more on each visit?

Imagine the possibilities for increased sales with the same traffic in your store you now have. Examine how many people leave your store without a purchase. Now calculate that if you managed to satisfy the needs of just one in ten of those “walkers”, and sold them just one item… how much more would you sell each day? Exciting, isn’t it? And believe me, those people aren’t “just looking.” All those customers need is a nurturing atmosphere in which to explore, examine, try, and think about what you are offering. *

Then, you’d have enough customers.

 * Just three thoughts out of this TGtbT.com Product for the Professional Resaler.

A Too Good to be Threw Product for the Professional Resaler can be yours PDQ!

From 10 Steps to Build Bigger Sales all the way thru to How to Increase Store Traffic, this TGtbT.com PDF booklet is chock-ful of ideas to increase your bottom line by moving more product every day. Get it in your email Pretty Darn Quick.

 

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As your consignors, sellers, donors tidy up after the holidays, they are faced with the BIG decision: Is this worth keeping ’til next year?

The ugly Christmas sweater, holiday decor, entertaining extras from folding chairs to poinsettia- bedecked table runners. Little velvet dresses and silly family PJs. The Santa that lights up, the twig reindeer.

If their decision is no, they don’t want to keep and store things… and if you want that stuff (keep reading, you will…) … (more…)

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A shopkeeper asks:

“Can you tell me how to figure out how much it costs to accept a single item?”

Auntie Kate answers:

This figure is not easy to pinpoint exactly, but we can get a rough number in two steps:

1- Your daily overhead, divided by the amount of time spent per item (obviously, an average). That’s the FIXED COST. Do not include expenses directly related to employees at this point. If you have only one person working, use the full amount of the time segment; otherwise, divide the daily overhead by the number of staff normally present.

2- PLUS how much the person (more…)

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How’d you like every single residence in a targeted area of your community to get your flier in their mailbox? Without your having to sort for bulk mail (oh the horror!), know their adresses or even their names? Yes, it can be done, for way less than you think.

Such is the beauty of Every Door Direct Mail, a service offered by the United States Postal Service.

EDDM map with stats from the USPSTake a look at the postal routes in your shop’s market area. This is fascinating even if you decide not to use EDDM. You can see census data for each route: age range, number of people in the household, average income… and of course, how much it would cost to use EDDM.

For example as in my graphic, it would cost one more time, my legacy shop in Columbus OH, 18 cents each to reach all the 730 addresses in the nearby neighborhood which has an average household income of well over $100,000.

Definitely worth investigating.

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Resale shop coupon in Welcome Baby Basket at TGtbT.comJudy asked: I have just contacted our community’s chamber of commerce with the idea of including a $5 Gift Certificate to my store for the “Welcome Baskets” which are given to Moms in our hospital –about 25 baskets every couple of weeks.

Does this make sense as a

(more…)

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Everyone is a winner with this consignment shop idea from TGtbT.comThere’s a “real” shop (you know, one which sells newly-manufactured stuff) that I really like. The owner doesn’t know from social media, she’s literally hidden on a street which is basically an alley, and I’ve never seen an ad for her shop.

But she makes a good go of it in her tiny shop. By making customers feel like they are

ALL WINNERS.

And how does she do that? Well, every time you come in, she asks you to add your name and phone number to her fishbowl. You could win twenty bucks store money! she says. So of course, I do. Every time.

Then what happens?

I win! Yes, I get a phone call from the shop, saying my name’s been drawn this week, and stop by soon to get your $20 store money!

So of course I do.

But you know her secret? She pulls multiple winners and phones them, whenever she needs some more traffic. I know because both my sister and myself have “won” multiple times.

Why not? It works. In fact, it works so well that I don’t even remember if the deal is $20 off a minimum $50 purchase, or off $100… because I always spend more than I would otherwise. After all, she’s made me a winner!

For more on the magical use of fishbowls, see this post.

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