Marla Bosworth is the founder and owner of Back Porch Soap Company. She is a modern alchemist, shamanic practitioner and soul destiny coach. She travels worldwide, teaching conscious beauty experiential workshops that combine making soap and herbal skincare with alchemy and energetics.

March 06, 2014

Tips to Increase Profitability for Your Handmade Soap and Bath & Body Business

I bet you’re breathing a huge sigh of relief about now. 2013 is a closed chapter and a fresh, new 2014 calendar awaits your business strategy. If you haven’t already reviewed 2013, now is the time to do it. What worked for you last year and what didn’t? Where were you most profitable? Being more selective with opportunities presented to you in 2014 will positively affect your bottom line.

I’ve already let several projects from 2013 fall to the wayside in 2014. They made sense last year, but as I continually raise my business standards and become more selective in where I put my energy there were several things that I’ve let go.
In addition to reviewing 2013, another project on the top of your list should be your annual growth strategy. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to grow their business. But let’s get specific. Do you want to grow your business 5%, 10% or more this year?
There are several ways to grow your business. One way is to reduce your bottom line. The other is to increase your sales. Let’s take a look at reducing your bottom line first. A little planning and strategizing could save you a total of 5-30% in this area. Here are some simple suggestions to save money, which in turn will put more back into your bank account:
·         Negotiate lower merchant account credit card processing rates. Did your credit card sales increase this year? Do you expect more sales this year? Call the merchant processing company and tell them you are looking for lower rates. If you reduce your rate by 0.5-1% you’re doing well.
·         Review your annual cost of goods spending and shop around for the best prices on ingredients. This year work on buying in bulk to lower your costs. Instead of purchasing in small quantities frequently, determine price breaks and order quarterly or twice a year instead. This can save you anywhere from 3-5% or more on your cost of goods spending.
·         Re-evaluate contracts, service subscriptions (webhosting, etc.) and memberships. Which of these are worth keeping and which have little to no return on investment? Estimated potential savings here is 1-3%.
·         Review shipping costs from suppliers. Would you save money buying in bulk and shipping your orders via freight versus UPS? You could save up to 10% on current shipping costs depending on your buying habits.
·         Re-evaluate your marketing budget. What did you pay for marketing in 2013? Which of your marketing initiatives resulted in a high return on investment? Which did not?
Let’s look at increasing sales

Have a specific goal in increasing sales (i.e., this year we will increase sales by 20%).  Here are some suggestions on how to increase sales:

·         Nuture relationships with current customers. Your best customers know your brand and will have good suggestions on what products to add, how to improve customer service, new services and more. Tap into their resources and remember to reward them with discounts and paybacks.
·         Upsell to customers. Did you know that more than 80 percent of sales are impulse purchases? This is a relatively easy way to increase sales by 5-10 percent annually. Ask for the sale at checkout (i.e., “Would you like to take advantage of our lip balm special?”)
·         Add new products or services. Be specific. For example, how many new products will you introduce by May? How many by September?
·         Increase your wholesale and private label accounts. How many annually? How many new accounts does that mean per month? Per week?
·         Re-evaluate your retail sales. Which trade shows and retail shows were worth your time last year? Are there new shows you want to try this year?
·         Update your website. There’s always something to improve, from product photography to product descriptions. Add quality search engine optimization and increase your social media interactions.
·         How can you work more efficiently? Distractions lead to wasted time which cut into your bottom line. Schedule your time, limit access to time-wasting websites (use apps such as RescueTime to see how much time you’re spending on Facebook and other sites). If you spend less time on Facebook weekly (five to seven hours per week), what could you accomplish in that timeframe for your business?
·         Disorganization is another efficiency killer. How much time do you waste looking for ingredients or packaging that you were sure was “just right there” but now you have to place a rush order to fill an order? It’s frustrating – I’ve been there! Invest in inventory software. Get your business organized into a mean, lean operating machine.
These are just a few suggestions to get your business ready for a fabulous 2014. Prioritize what makes the most sense for your business. Then begin implementing them as soon as possible. Keep good records so you can track your results. Once 2015 rolls around you’ll be ahead of the game. Happy sales (and savings).

I'd love to hear your tips on increasing profitability. 

Reprinted with permission from the January 2014 Saponifier Magazine, written by Marla Bosworth


Anne said...

Just read this post from the beginning of the year. Things I have done in 2014 is try to settle on 2 -3 favorite soap recipes. I have been experimenting when I hear about a different ingredient to use, but I am to the point that I can narrow down the ones that produce a soap I want to sell. I printed my own labels with Avery software but tired of label sheets feeding crooked or having sheets partially printed and trying to use them up, so I bought a thermal label printer and simplified my work. Not color but don't care. Easy to print 1 label.
I can get all my information on 1 label to fit the soap. Am trying a show I did 2 years ago and didn't like to give it another chance. I utilized a hobby machine I own to cut my soap wrappers making them look better. I am using Evernote to keep track of recipes and receipts etc. There sure is a learning curve with it though. Thanks for your pep talk. Will keep watching your blog.

thelma harcum said...

This message is for Anne Butcher.

If you have trouble with printing your sticker correctly(alignment), you can use the Avery chat and they will tell you what to do. I had the same problem. I'll type here the best I can the solution.
Go to Options, then click on applications, than right click on Portable Document Format
PDF-default, thank click on adobe acrobat reader in the drop down and check OK and close the window.

This should work for you as it did for me. It will reduce your frustration with losing money on your sticker sheets or business cards sheets. I hope you see this comment.

Hill said...

We’ve been stumbling around the internet and found your blog along the way.

We love your work! What a great corner of the internet :)

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