The Four Ds of Productivity

We’ve all heard the term ‘time is money. When it comes to being a small business owner, the phrase couldn’t be truer. No matter how efficient you pride yourself on being, you know the stress of daunting to-do lists, unexpected delays and days with too few hours.

If you ever find yourself running out of time to finish your weekly tasks, take a look at our list of the Four Ds of Productivity. Easy to implement with any to-do list, these key points will help you understand how simple it is to manage your time better and work smarter – instead of harder.

  1. Do It. Whether the task is sorting through resumes for a new hire, ordering a new supply of products or scheduling your social media calendar, anything that’s seen as a priority and you can do yourself should be completed immediately.020516 ToDoList When you figure out what your most significant tasks are, it’s important to do them right away so you don’t set them on the back burner and possibly forget to finish them altogether. While the biggest tasks might require the most effort, you’ll feel a great sense of relief when you simply do it.
  1. Delegate It. If someone other than you can complete a task, don’t be afraid to pass it along and leave the responsibility with him or her. After all, this is why you hired employees in the first place! When you figure out which tasks can be delegated to others, you’ll be surprised how much more time you’ll have for more important tasks.
  1. Delay It. There will always be those certain tasks that you can only do yourself but which don’t hold high priority. While it can be tempting to ‘get them out of the way,’ don’t feel bad about putting them off. If they don’t require your immediate attention, simply bump them down on your to-do list and schedule a time to go back to them. It’s far better to delay a non-urgent task than it is to 020516 Productivity1complete it at the expense of a more urgent one.
  1. Dump It. Believe it or not, some of the things taking up your valuable time are probably unnecessary. For example, checking your email every time you get a notification is far more time-consuming than checking it once or twice a day. Start each day or week by making a to-do list. Then go through it item by item and ask yourself what the consequences would be if you did not complete them. If the consequences are minimal or non-existent, the tasks are probably an inefficient use of time. If you spend your time working on something that isn’t going to add value to your business, you’ll end up wasting time that could have been spent on something truly beneficial.

5 Reasons to Take Your Brick-and-Mortar Business Online

In today’s digital age, it would be hard to find someone who hasn’t recently purchased something from the comfort of their own home. With the growing prevalence of online shopping, it’s more important than ever for retail businesses to not only have a website – but to add an e-commerce component.

We’re not saying you should shutter your windows and worriedly await the end of traditional retail as we know it; in fact, you can rest assured that Consumers Will Always Love Brick-And-Mortar-Stores. Even the greatest e-commerce giant of them all has opened a physical location in Seattle.

But in an industry teeming with competition and dominated by big-box stores, you need to increase convenience, improve customer service, reach new customers and stay relevant. Taking your store online does all of these things and more.

For further proof that taking your brick-and-mortar business online is a no-brainer, check out our list below.

  1. It’s the New Way to Shop. And it’s not a fad. From books and clothing to furniture and even food, people are turning to the internet for more and more of their needs (and wants!). So why not your products? Whether it’s a roll of wallpaper or a unique décor piece, offer your customers the convenience of buying it from their own home and with the click of a button. By building an easy-to-navigate e-commerce website, you’ll give your customers more of a reasonBM_Online1 to shop with you – and less reason to turn elsewhere. To provide even more convenience for your customers, offer both delivery and pick-up options.
  2. Supplementary Income. Imagine the feeling of logging on to your computer first thing in the morning to see that you made sales while sleeping! The beauty of e-commerce is that you can sell products at any time, to anyone with an internet connection. And you can do so without extending store hours or working longer days. While there are some costs associated with selling products online, look at the expense as a long-term investment with unlimited potential.
  3. Content is King. Selling products online is not only a way to make more sales (and thus more money), but also a way to bolster your reputation as a retailer and add value to your brand. By supplementing your e-store with content such as product reviews, product launches, how-to videos and an ongoing blog, you will establish yourself as an industry expert and a trusted source for information. You may even get potential customers joining your social media channels and contacting you with questions. The more people trust you, the more likely they will be to buy from you – whether it’s online or in-store.
  4. Search Engine Optimization. Just because you’re a small business doesn’t mean you can’t have a large customer base. By implementing strong search engine optimization (SEO), such as keywords and product descriptions, your website will appear near the top of search engines like Google when people search for particular products. In addition to creating the potential for online sales, this can help introduce you to locals and direct them to your physical store.BuyButton
  5. Customer Engagement. Speaking of new customers, a website with e-commerce capability is a great way to engage with your target market. Whether you install a live-chat function or you generate conversation on your blog, interacting with customers online is a savvy way to connect with customers and eventually make more sales. Answering questions, recommending products and suggesting complementary items (ie. upselling) are all part of your in-store customer service, so why not provide it online as well?

 

Five Tips to Grow Your Social Media Following

While social media presence can sometimes seem like a modern-day popularity contest, the truth of the matter is that followers are key to the success of a small business. According to American Express, “in November 2015, shoppers and businesses racked up an astounding 85 million social media engagements to spread the word about their favorite merchants,” and “there were more than 241,000 social media posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using ‘Small Business Saturday’ and ‘Shop Small’ hashtags.”

Since most people are on at least one social network these days (and they love to share content), businesses should see platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram not only as marketing tools, but also as a way to recruit brand advocates. After all, positive word of mouth remains one of the best (and cheapest!) ways to generate new customers, more sales and positive relationships.

So what are you waiting for? Get online and begin building your army of ambassadors. Here are five tips to get you started.

Pick Your Platforms Wisely. When it comes to creating an active social media presence, it can seem overwhelming because of all of the different platforms out there. While it’s incredibly important to “live online,” you can’t be everything to everyone. So before diving in headfirst, do some research and pick your platforms wisely. 012116 SMFollowingWhile certain businesses may thrive on niche and lesser-known platforms, independent retailers (especially in the paint and decorating industry) will probably benefit most from popular platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and even YouTube.

Post The Right Content. One of the most important things to keep in mind every time you’re about to click ‘share’ on a social media post is that this is not the place for hard selling. While it’s perfectly fine to let your followers know about a fabulous new product or a special promotion, it’s important to maintain a casual tone and post the same conversational and relevant content that initially drove them to like or follow your page. It’s also important to keep in mind that more people will engage with a post when it elicits positive emotions; so while constant selling might seem like a smart way to use social media, keep it to a minimum.

Engage With Similar People. When you’re creating a social media following, it’s important to engage regularly with like-minded businesses and organizations so you can 012116 TwitterFollowerscreate a sense of community. Pay attention to blog posts and content within your industry (and your town or city), and use the opportunity to make comments, ask questions and generate conversation. In addition, you can also follow customers who are active on your page and create conversation with them, too!

Sweepstakes, Giveaways and Contests. Social media contests are one of the most successful ways to engage and grow your social following. Not only do they get people excited about your brand, but when one of the rules for entering is a follow, retweet, share or repost, you get more eyes on your business (which could lead to future sales). If you decide to try a contest or giveaway, choose a product or service that’s relevant to your target market and be sure to spread the word with a press release, e-blast and, of course, a well-written social media post!

Don’t Neglect Your Accounts. For better or worse, social media never sleeps. Your customers are checking their accounts long after you’ve left the office for the day (or the week), so it’s important to be consistent with your posting habits. While this may seem like a big job, social media management programs such as Hootsuite and TweetDeck let you schedule posts in advance. Also, if you have a hard time connecting with your audience or can’t fit it into your schedule, pass off the responsibility to one of your employees. But one thing you should never do is allow an account to grow stagnant; it’s always better to not use a platform at all than it is to use it improperly, inefficiently or inconsistently.

Five Perks to Keep Employees Motivated

As a small business owner, you know firsthand the value of good employees. But even more importantly, you know the value of keeping good employees.

While the reality of retail means seasonal hiring sprees, higher-than-normal turnover rates and the occasional curveball, it doesn’t have to mean constant HR headaches. One of the best ways to ensure loyalty and longevity among your staff is to keep them motivated – and long gone are the days that employee discounts, basic health insurance and nominal annual raises will do the job.

Here are five simple but effective perks to keep your employees excited about work.

Flexibility. One of the benefits of owning a small business is not having to adhere to corporate regulations. Extend that benefit to your employees by being flexible with scheduling. While there’s something to be said for routine and consistency, employees will invariably need time off for errands, appointments and family emergencies. Instead of begrudging or punishing them, be as accommodating as possible. Paid time off – especially if it’s unexpected – is also a great way to show appreciation and reward hard work.

Professional development and education. One of the most common reasons for dissatisfaction in the workplace is boredom. Ensure your employees are always growing and learning new skills by showing an interest in their future.011516 ProfessionalDevelopment Whether it’s a scholarship fund for formal education or sending employees to workshops and conferences, an investment in education will pay dividends for years to come.

Empowerment. Nothing motivates an employee like a sense of responsibility. While it can be tempting to limit roles and duties based on position and experience, try empowering all of your staff members with the ability to contribute ideas and make decisions. In addition to showing that you value their opinion and trust their judgment, it will help build their confidence. An added benefit is that more hands make lighter work; the more others around you are able to do, the less work you’ll have on your plate.

Extracurricular activities. Much like a family, celebrating milestones and spending time together can make a company stronger. In addition to acknowledging business achievements, taking a personal interest in your employees’ lives will provide plenty of opportunities to bring the team together. Birthdays, pregnancies and weddings are all 011516 Appreciationgreat reasons to bring in a cake or organize a staff BBQ. Volunteering as a group is also a great team-building exercise and a way of giving back to the community.

Appreciation. If empowerment motivates employees on a professional level, appreciation is what motivates them on a personal level. From long-term managers to temporary seasonal employees, everybody likes to know they are valued. From a simple thank-you to a generous year-end bonus, there are countless ways to thank your employees for a job well done. And always remember – how you treat your employees says more about you and your business than it does about them.

5 Small Business Resolutions for 2016

The New Year is in full swing, and for many independent retailers that means its back to business as usual.

Because January is the classic time to set goals and resolutions, we thought we’ve compiled a list of ideas that will benefit your small business not only in 2016, but hopefully for years to come. And unlike typical New Year’s resolutions, which tend to be forgotten by February, the added benefit of higher profits will keep you interested and engaged for the long haul.

Here are five small business resolutions for 2016.

  1. Revamp your business plan. We hope you had a successful year in 2015, but as they always say: There’s always room for improvement! 010816 BusinessPlanJanuary is the perfect time to create a fresh new business plan and make adjustments to areas that could be better in the New Year. Whether you want to work on your branding or customer experience, or you simply want to bring in new products more regularly, now is the time to create a business model that will make it happen. Your business plan should include projections for sales and expenses and should be reviewed on a quarterly basis, so be sure to schedule that into your calendar now so you don’t forget later.
  1. Invest in education. Unless you require a certificate for a certain requirement for your business, most business owners make continuing education a low priority. But because certain methods of doing things change at such a rapid pace these days, you may find yourself doing things the old way instead of the new-and-improved way. Make continuing education a high priority in 2016 by signing up for classes in any area that you think your business could benefit from, such as our PDRA Customer Service Specialist course and our PDRA Coatings Specialist course. Attending local and national trade resolutions for 2016shows are also a great way to gain knowledge, get noticed and built connections.
  1. Don’t fear rejection. Part of being a business owner is understanding that you have to hustle in order to make money. To do that, you might have to do harder selling and cold calling than you’d like to. But although it can feel like you’re constantly bothering customers, clients or business partners, let 2016 be the year that you let go of the fear of rejection and find more success.
  1. Get help. Whether you require assistance with your social media, blog content or you simply need a few extra hands around the store, don’t be afraid to contract out some of your duties or hire new employees. While there is always added expense attached to extra manpower, look at it as an investment. While you certainly need to work hard in order to turn a profit, a healthy work balance and time for family are equally important. So if certain tasks are taking up too white_wk_logomuch of your time, 2016 is the year to get some assistance.
  1. Support local: We’re all in this together, right? If you’re looking for a resolution that you can work on in both business and your personal life, supporting small businesses should be it. Few things benefit the local economy and build community like shopping local, so lead by example. If what goes around truly comes around, others will follow suit – ensuring success for you and your business for years to come.

5 Color Trends to Watch for in 2016

Well, it’s official – we have bid farewell to 2015. It was a fantastic year in the world of paint, decorating and retail, and while we’re not sure what’s in store for 2016, some of the upcoming color trends for the New Year make it safe to say that it’s bound to be a beautiful one!

If you’re looking for a quick guide to some of the most impressive colors to watch for in 2016, you’ll love sharing these five shades with your customers. From clean whites to tranquil pinks, these are some of the most beautiful and trendy hues that are sure to make a splash in home decor this year.

Simply White. Light and fresh, this clean shade has been named as the Color of the Year for Benjamin Moore. Whether it was chosen because it can be used as01012016 BM_SimplyWhite a stand-alone neutral color or paired with an accent, the multi-purpose Simply White is an ideal shade for all areas of the home and exterior.

Ravishing Red. Many designers believe there should be at least one room in your home that’s cheerful and daring, and a bright red will certainly achieve that! With rich and lively orange undertones, a bold bright red is the perfect choice for revamping a bedroom, kitchen or reading room and transforming it into a luxurious corner of the home that won’t be ignored.

Owl Gray. If you have customers looking for a soft and stylish shade for their kitchen, they can’t go wrong with Benjamin Moore’s Owl Gray. Mellow and elegant, this timeless tone does a beautiful job at adding a cozy ambiance to an eating or living area without making it dull or dark. With a slightly brown undertone, it is perfect for many home decor styles, from rustic to upscale.

Kittery Point Green: With an earthy yet refined tone, Kittery Point Green is a universal shade that looks beautiful in both traditional and modern homes. Ideal for living areas that receive lots of natural light, this muted green color looks best when paired with bright, clean whites or with multi-dimensions using tones that are two to three shades darker in the color spectrum.

Rose Quartz and Serenity: A first from the color experts at Pantone, we’re thrilled that 01012016 RoseQuartz_Serenitythey’ve named not one but two shades as their Color of the Year. Soft and calming, the pairing of Rose Quartz and Serenity come together to create an eye-catching shade that’s reminiscent of a perfect sunset. While we think the colors combined are beautiful, each one individually can be used to turn your home walls into a stylish masterpiece. If you’re not brave enough to use them together (no judgment!), we love the idea of choosing one as a wall in a bedroom or reading room and using the other as decorative accent pieces like wall art, lamps or throw pillows.

 

Happy Holidays from PDRA

The holiday season is a perfect time to reflect on the year that was. Here at Paint & Decorating Retailers Association, we’re extremely grateful to our members and advertisers for another year of support and partnership.

Since starting out in 1947, it has been our mission to educate and support the independent paint and decorating retailer – but we couldn’t do it alone.

We truly believe that our longevity is a testament to not only our dedication and commitment to supporting small business owners,122815 Paintbrush-Santa-Ornaments-520x520 but also to the relationships we’ve built along the way.

It means the world to us that we’ve been able to grow our membership, spread our influence and play our part in the evolution of the world’s most exciting industry. Like you, we are grateful to be doing what we love and we look forward to continuing to serve you in 2016 and beyond.

From everyone here at PDRA, we hope you have a safe and joyful holiday season filled with friends, family and love.

 

Five Last-minute Gift Ideas for Paint and Décor Enthusiasts

Oops, you did it again.

Christmas is right around the corner and you’ve left your holiday shopping to the last minute.

But if one of the special people on your list happens to have a passion for paint and decor, don’t fret. Instead of rushing to the mall, struggling to find a parking spot and standing in never-ending lines, pay a visit to your local paint and decorating retailer.

Not only will a thoughtful gift from an independent business bring a smile to your loved one’s face, it will help support a neighbor and keep your money in the community. From nifty tools to supplies for DIY projects, here are five last-minute ideas to make the holidays even happier!

Brushes. The avid DIY painter can never have too many brushes. And with all the different types on the market these days, things have never been easier for a gift-buyer. 121815 PaintToolsFrom short-handled and angle sash to ergonomic, a high-quality paint brush makes a practical and thoughtful gift idea.

Specialty tools. From cutting-in tools and masking tools to compact extension poles and corner rollers, there are countless products designed to make the DIY painter’s job a little bit easier. If you have no idea where to start, simply browse the aisles at your local paint and decorating retailer or take advantage of the staff’s expertise. They’ll be more than happy to show you the latest, greatest and most unique specialty tools for any weekend painter’s personal collection.

Magazine subscriptions. With all the free and accessible information on the web these days, it’s easy to overlook physical magazines. But in addition to offering DIY tips, style advice and product reviews, specialty magazines make great coffee table “decor.” But perhaps the best thing about gifting a magazine subscription is that it keeps giving – month after month after … (you get the idea!). A few popular style and décor magazines to get you started are Elle Décor, House Beautiful and Better Homes & Gardens. For a more localized option, some publishers also offer great regional magazines.

Wall decor. Whether the person on your shopping list121815 SwatchArt owns or rents, a nice piece of wall décor is a thoughtful gift idea that will remind the recipient of you every time they look at it. And since most independent retailers carry paintings, mirrors and picture frames that the big box retailers don’t (sometimes including the works of local artisans), it is sure to be original, authentic and unique.

Artwork. Maybe you yourself are a DIY enthusiast and want to take the wall décor idea a step further. Local paint and decorating stores are a great place to get ideas – and the necessary materials for said ideas. To get your creative juices flowing, check out this cool piece of art made with paint swatches

$5,000 PDRA Scholarship Up For Grabs

By now you know that PDRA is all about educating and supporting the independent paint and decorating retailer. But we’re also big believers in building community and investing in the next generation.

That is why, with a new year upon us, we’re seeking nominations for the 8th annual PDRA Scholarship Program. One lucky student, who must be nominated by a PDRA member in good standing, will receive $5,000 towards their tuition. Candidates do not have to be relatives or employees, but must have reached the senior year of high school and cannot be over the age of 26.Scholarship Web Banner.indd

By now, members of the PDRA should have received the scholarship packet and can nominate up to two candidates. Nominations and applications, which must include a personal essay, are due by Friday, March 4, 2016. ALL required materials MUST be received in the PDRA office by deadline to be eligible.

Rules:

1. Candidates for the 2016 Paint & Decorating Retailers Association (PDRA) Scholarship must be nominated by a PDRA member in good standing. Nominations must be made in writing, addressed to:

PDRA Scholarship, c/o Paint and Decorating Retailers Association,
1401 Triad Center Drive, St. Peters, MO 63376

The nomination must set forth the name, address, age and telephone number of the candidate, the level of schooling to which the award will be applied (i.e., college, graduate school), and the name of the school or institution, if known, where he or she has been accepted or enrolled. The communication must also contain a statement of the general qualifications of the applicant. The nominating party should emphasize any facts that he or she feels might enlighten and inform the PDRA Board of Directors relative to the individual nominated. All nominations and scholarship applications, with the required essay, transcripts, and letters of recommendation, must be received at PDRA on or before Friday, March 4, 2016. PDRA members will be limited to nominating two (2) candidates.

2. To be eligible for the scholarship award, candidates:

A. Must be nominated by a PDRA retail member in good standing;
B. Must at the time of application be at least in the senior year of high school;
C. Must be no more than 26 years of age;
D. Must pledge to use scholarship award toward vocational, college or                    post-college studies;
E. May or may not be a relative of a PDRA member;
F. May or may not be an employee of a PDRA member.

Subject to the above requirements, any individual shall be eligible for the scholarship award.

3. The PDRA Board will make the award based upon character and a written essay.      The Board reserves the right to investigate and verify any information or data submitted by the candidate.

4. The Board shall, in their absolute discretion, select the recipient of this award (to be known as the PDRA Scholarship Award).

5. Announcement of the award shall be communicated and publicized at PDRA’s annual trade show. The award will be in form of a check accompanied by such other means of recognition of the successful candidate’s status as may be prescribed by the Board. The Board reserves the right to make the award in the form of a check payable to the institution attended by the successful candidate.

6. The PDRA member who sponsors the winner will be asked to present the scholarship at the member’s place of business. An article will be published in Paint & Decorating Retailer magazine, and the PDRA 121518 scholarship imagejpeg_11member will receive round-trip airfare to the 2016 PDRA Paint & Accessories Show at the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas, and will be recognized at the show.

For more information, call 1-800-737-0107 x 113, email tina@pdra.org or click here.

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