Host an Open House

Showcase your business with an annual open house

It’s time to put the spotlight on your business. Accomplishing your goals is no longer enough. It’s time to show off all of that hard work and build support within your own local community. Showcase everything that you do, plus what is new and exciting about your business. An open house should be your annual spring board for the holidays or busy season, pushing you towards an early deadline for implementation and team training on all new initiatives.

IMAGINE – all of your new initiatives implemented, your location in pristine condition, your team trained and your community informed BEFORE your busiest selling season! Think of the amazing customer experience that you can provide when everything is already in place and customers can be your only focus. 

Quick tips for hosting an effective open house:

  • Involve your full team. Keeping them engaged and motivated with a level of responsibility and accountability is the key to being highly successful.
  • Start planning early and stay organized. Start planning your event at least 60 days before it takes place. Create a calendar for your team and a detailed checklist. Breaking the event down into small, simple daily tasks that are assigned to specific team members will make for successful execution. Keep the calendar/checklist in a centrally located area so that all team members can track the progress.
  • Establish a reasonable budget.
  • Partner with other local businesses. To highlight members of your community and save on expenses, ask local businesses to be the vendors for your event. Offer them promotional opportunities in trade for free or discounted services. Make your planning process easier by relying upon their expertise. Arrange for these services as early as possible in the planning process. What do they require for set up? What do you need to provide? How early will they need to set up? Ask them to preview the space. Confirm each partner’s participation one week prior to the event.
  • Set the scene. Look at your business from the eyes of a new customer, from the moment he or she spots your location to the time that he or she is leaving your area. Start with curb appeal, then focus your efforts on your customer space and private work areas. Do not neglect your bathroom! Pull weeds; paint curbs; clean windows and refresh window displays. Organize interior displays and backroom supplies. Thoroughly clean every inch of every area, inside and outside. This is the time to invest in carpet cleaning, and other commercial cleaning services. Repair and replace dated, damaged or unappealing items. A fresh coat of paint can work wonders! What needs to be purchased? What can you create in-house? How much will this cost?
  • Brainstorm a locally inspired theme. Celebrate your local culture and infuse seasonal elements. Brainstorm ways to communicate to visitors that you are opening up your family, home and business up to their family, home and business. What décor can appropriately accomplish these themes? Is there another local event, holiday or season that you could represent?
  • Update all samples and displays. Update all dated and worn samples. Create samples of all new products and services that you will be launching. Feature local images by community artists and your customers on all samples to keep with the theme and the neighborhood atmosphere. Update your digital signage feed. Update and print brochures, rack cards, newsletter, stuffer and calendar of events. These can be placed anywhere and everywhere during the event, as well as inside gift bags.
  • Create a unique guest experience. Plan out every moment of the attendee experience. How will traffic flow through the event? Where will food, beverage and entertainment be placed? What will enhance the guest experience and help to make it seamless?
  • Require “all hands on deck” for maximum success. All team members should commit to being at your event prior to set up until after cleanup is complete. Have custom name tags created and worn. Consider also having team shirts. These could be fun and themed. It is important for guests to be able to easily pick out team members. If you are adhering to a more stylized theme, consider hats or costumes. Offer meals, snacks and hydration to your team throughout the day. Take turns taking breaks and eating, one at a time. Treat your team to a celebration within one week following the event. Celebrate your success and discuss your next event!
  • Be the host(ess) with the most(ess)! Do not schedule yourself to do anything but be the host/hostess. Socialize with your guests. Personally acknowledge and thank your partners and special invited guests. Your sole responsibility is to create, foster and nurture relationships with the members of your community on behalf of your business.

Check out the promo video for our next brand launch open house for The Print Refinery:

The Print Refinery Team

Do you provide proper training for your team?

Last week we talked about how to attract, engage and develop the right team members. One very important piece of engagement and development is team training. While most employers provide job-specific, individualized training, it is important to supplement this with initial and ongoing training for your full team.

The first training piece should always be to immerse your new team members in your company culture and brand story. All team members should have the same training and be able to communicate all of this back to you following their training.

Consider standardizing this training with online course creation software. You can include slides, downloads, images and videos. You can even add quizzes and track how your team members score and which training modules they have completed. When instituting a new training module, make it interactive by offering it as an interactive game for the entire team. Offer treats and prizes for higher engagement while working through the module as a group.

Having team members go through uniform training creates a cohesive and consistent experience for your customers. Offering training in a group setting brings the team closer together. On occasion, bring in an outside trainer or materials on a topic that would be relevant for everyone (customer service, leadership, productivity, etc.).

Learn more about The Print Refinery and our team training modules in Teachable at

The Print Refinery Team

The Right Team: Your Ticket to Success

The right team can make or break you. An engaged team, rooted in a strong culture, is the ticket to customer experience and retention. Here are a few brief tips on attracting the right team members, developing their talents and keeping them engaged long-term.

  1. Define your culture and clearly communicate it to your existing team members, as well as new hires. Start from the very beginning – include it in your job descriptions.
  2. Have applicants and team members describe your culture back to you to guarantee comprehension; everyone on your team should be able to communicate your brand story.
  3. Hire against culture first and skills second; your team members should all share the same vision and values.
  4. Nurture your team members’ individual talents; their expertise should complement each other.
  5. Be a team player yourself. Pitch in to help and teach often. Don’t ask of your team members what you wouldn’t be willing to do yourself.
  6. Hire HAPPY problem solvers that are active listeners + open sharers. Communication on a team is key.

Learn more about The Print Refinery team at

The Gather Box, Signature Product, The Print Refinery

Signature Products Separate You from the Competition

Do you offer products or services that are unique to the marketplace? Set yourself apart from your competition by offering something (or a version of something) that no one else does. If you provide something unique and can create demand for it – you can be the solo supplier!

Creating something entirely new can be challenging. Develop a system within your business in which innovation, creativity and out-of-the-box thinking is encouraged and rewarded. Consider running an internal “Shark Tank” competition or an online customer contest. Promote not just the chosen products/services, but the process and the participants. Position yourself as an innovation engine within your industry.

Need help getting started? Here’s some inspiration:

Still need help? Check out Signature Products developed by The Print Refinery for inspiration, like The Gather Box, Memory Mash-Up, Locally Inspired products and History Wall:

merchandising display

Curate Product Selection In-Store + Online

Many business owners in our industry and in others get carried away when it comes to displaying every little thing that they can do, in every size, without any thought to curation. This leads to a cluttered and busy store (and/or website) – no matter how beautiful the products are. Displaying too many choices is overwhelming to the customer. Curate and make it easy for them. Showcase your capabilities and inspire creativity and customization, without overdoing it. Here are some questions to ask yourself when curating:

  • What’s new?
  • What’s on trend?
  • What are your top sellers?
  • What brings you the highest margins?

In-store, use the support of digital signage, printed literature, a material + size sample display and the expertise of your team members to decrease clutter. Only display your very best work; never display irregulars.

Online, feature the products that answer the questions above first. Remove poor sellers and dated designs.

Happy curating!

Retail Store Floor Plan and Layout

Design Musts for Your Retail Store

Are you preparing for a remodel or move? Are you opening a new store? Stuck on where to get started with your store design?

When designing your experiential retail space, start by considering the journey that you want your customers to have. Where should they start? What should they see? What would you like them to touch? What sounds and smells will they experience? How will all of these touch points influence their purchasing? Do you want to encourage lingering for more sales opportunities?

Once you have your customer journey mapped out, it’s best to consult a professional on designing a floor plan that will provide this experience, while sticking to other retail design best practices. A professional can also assist with effective lighting, appropriate paint colors, proportions and incorporating architectural elements and focal walls or furnishings.

Here are some other store design musts:

  • Declutter and regularly clean guest areas.
  • Consider how surfaces and work stations will be used and make them multi-functional – especially in small spaces!
  • Curate your displays to show all that you can do and inspire creativity, without overwhelming your customer with too many choices.
  • Incorporate digital signage and samples of products, sizes and materials into your design to show more with less clutter.
  • Rely upon professionally designed brochures and catalogs to show the full extent of what you do.

Next week we’ll be talking much more about the topic of curation. Stay tuned!

experiential retail, customer experience, class, coach, consult, collaborate, educate, train

Experiential Retail Wins Over Big Box and Online Giants Any Day

“Create a closer bond between the consumer and the brand by immersing them in a fun and memorable experience.” – David Moth of Ecoconsultancy

Experiential retail attracts a “tribe” of influencers that makes your products and services its passion and visiting your business part of its lifestyle. People are more likely to associate positive emotions from an experience with a brand, encouraging higher customer lifetime value. The future sustainability of brick and mortar businesses is the emotional experience that customers have while inside those four walls.

“Shoppertainment” creates value. Your store should be an entertainment destination – an interactive playground that transports customers to another world. Pamper them and provide a fresh, fun and shareable experience. Provide a full range of learning experiences for everything photo, printing, technical, décor, business services – all of it! Offer tech support, one-on-one coaching, project consultation + collaboration, engaging group education and entertaining social events.

Give your customers something that they will love to do. Inspire creativity; enrich + enhance their lives; add value to their lifestyle. Capitalize on your expertise by teaching skills that lead to profitable repeat purchases in a comfortable, nurturing and social environment. Consistently improving their photography skills and regularly creating products to show off should become your customers’ new hobby! Get to know your customer, form a bond and forge a lifetime relationship that is based on repeat and referral business to establish a loyal brand culture.

We want your business to be the “third place”.

Customer Experience Musts:

  • Free wifi
  • Beverages + treats (for adults, children and dogs)
  • Celebration of local culture, teams, architecture and geography
  • Restroom that resembles highly appointed residential powder room
  • Beautiful, ready-to-gift packaging
  • Pleasant citrus or vanilla scent
  • Universally pleasing music that is upbeat and mid-volume
  • No clutter!
  • Absolute cleanliness!
Defining Your Culture

Unique Culture and Consistent Branding

We developed our licensed business model, The Print RefineryTM, by understanding that unique culture and consistent branding are the most important attributes to a business in today’s retail environment. Everything that a customer sees, hear, feels or senses about your business is your brand; it should be consistent across all touch points. Your customer should experience consistent brand engagement online (website, social media + blog) and in-store (when interacting with your team). Your store should have a distinct culture and personality that sets it apart.

This is so much more that just your logos, colors and fonts. It even surpasses the brand voice and language style. Those are just surface items – the icing on the proverbial cake. Those items are derived from your brand culture. If your brand was a person, who would she/he be? How would she/he look, sound, etc.? Start by identifying the very basics of your culture before worrying about anything else.

Have you gone through the exercise of strategic planning for your business? In the first five steps, you’ll develop the pieces on which your culture is based.

  1. What is your WHY? Why do you do what you do? Why should customers want to follow?
  2. Define your vision statement. Where do you want the business to go?
  3. Define your mission statement. What do you do and how do you do it differently from the competition?
  4. Establish your team’s guiding principles. What are your common values and core beliefs?
  5. Set your brand promise. What unique, emotional expectation do you want to set?

From there, you can define your customer experience and map out your customer journey.

Now, clearly communicate these items to your team – up front from the job description during the recruitment process! Let it shape the characteristics for which you are hiring and the questions you ask during the interview process. Be sure that team members can communicate these items back to you and that there is total buy-in with all team members sharing the same vision and values. Regular internal communication and training is key,.

You can describe your ideal team member and provide team training to achieve total buy-in with all team members sharing th

Now that you have established a unique culture, you can work on the consistent branding that will be evident across all customer touch points through your logos, fonts, colors, voice, team, website, social media, store design, etc.

Success: Your Reinvention Formula

IPI – Member Network’s focus is the growth and success of independent businesses. We designed our 2017-2018 Formula for Success using the 13 key future growth areas mentioned below. I also highly recommend that every business join an association like IPI – Member Network, PRO, Foto Source, Camera House or Imaging Alliance. These groups offer tremendous value and are the only way to compete today.

  • We developed our licensed business model, The Print RefineryTM, by understanding that unique culture and consistent branding are most important. Everything that a customer sees, hear, feels or senses about your business is your brand; it should be consistent across all touch points.
  • You need a robust and mobile friendly website that matches your in-store brand experience. Use Google Analytics to track your results and then adjust accordingly.
  • Thoughtfully designed retail experiences allow you to compete against the online giants. Carefully create a customer journey that takes your customer from brand discovery to a store visit, from the purchase process to the packaging, from the use of your product to repeat business.
  • If what happens in-store is your best offense, put your best foot forward. A clean, simple and modern store design that incorporates smart focal points, effective lighting and clutter-free digital displays will be sure to impress.
  • Carefully curate product selection and displays to highlight what’s new and on trend, plus top sellers and high-margin items.
  • Offer unique products and services; think local and personalized.
  • Hire the right team by clearly communicating your culture, brand story, vision and values from the beginning.
  • Incorporate a stellar initial training program and offer continuous team training.
  • Position your business as the local expert by promoting the expertise of your team members and offering an engaging curriculum of classes and events.
  • Develop a local following by partnering with local influencers and groups, as well as hosting neighborhood events an empowering team members to share their excitement.
  • Deploy highly targeted marketing campaigns (Facebook makes this easy!) and track your results to adjust future efforts.
  • Hold an annual open house to engage your local community.
  • Creatively partner with other local businesses to fulfill their design, printing and photography needs.