You've secured your spot with CLF, now what?
This is Farmhouse Frock's fourth year being a part of the CLF (Country Living Fair) and we've learned a lot in those four years. Because of our experience we thought we could share some tips and encouragement with other artisans who are participating in the show this year.
- Be Organized.
- This is key for a successful show. Preparations begins months in advance and the more organized we are the less stress we have just before we are ready to leave, during set up, and at the show.
- Our company has thirty Amish seamstresses who make our products for us and so we have to communicate well with them and get the show's frocks ordered early so they have time to make them.
- Social Media.
- Having a following on social media can be key to a successful show with CLF. I (Lena) could probably write a book on social media and how it relates to business but the most important things you need to know are to post good quality photos, have your brand stand out, be relational, and use proper hashtags.
- We use these hashtags: #clffinds #countrylivingfair #clfair #farmhousefrocks #fhf
- Once we are at the show it is important to do live posts for social media so people can see what we are up to and get excited to get to the show and find your booth.
- Book Air BnB or Homeaway
- We book our home for the week 2-3 months in advance of the show.
- Airbnb or Homeaway is what we like to get rather than a hotel room because this way the staff isn’t sitting on top of each other in a hotel room and each has some space to be alone if they want or need it.
- Before booking I read the reviews online and look at the pictures they provide. I want to see if they haphazardly threw a house together, or if they thought of comfort and small details that make our stay a pleasant experience.
- Seating in the living room needs to be comfortable so we have a place to decompress from the day before turning in for the night.
- Map Our Display
- We do this one week before we leave for the show.
- Collect items for our display between the time we book the show until we map out our display. We are always looking for unique cupboards/tables/shelving to display our filler items.
- While mapping out our booth we keep a few things in mind.
- It needs to ooze our brand.
- Be inviting.
- Functional. It is very important to be intentional with where you place your items in your booth so people can navigate through the booth and also get to try their pieces on in the dressing room if they want to.
- For a 10x20 booth I take seven racks for products. And then we take other displays for lower priced items.
- We like bringing live plants along to set around our booth. Something seasonal to freshen up your booth.
- Plan Our Outfits.
- This is important for our type of business because the frocks we wear often catch our customer's eyes and we sell more of those items. By planning our outfits we can have our seamstresses sew plenty of those items for the show.
- If someone hasn't planned enough outfits they can always "shop" our store while we are there. :)
- Book Our Business Coach.
- Our business coach has been a part of Farmhouse Frock's success and he always has helpful advice for our staff as we get ready to leave for the show.
He touches on things like customer service, how to handle conflict between staff members while on the floor, not eating in front of customers and cell phone etiquette.
- Plan And Prepare Freezer Meals.
- I plan out freezer meals a few weeks ahead of the event and take a day or two to prepare enough meals for dinner time while we are at the show.
- A few of our favorite meals include:
- Meat loaf, mashed potatoes and corn
- Crock pot roast beef and baked potatoes
- Amish chicken and scalloped potatoes
- Gather Items On Our "Take Along List."
- This list is very important for our success and here is what we bring along.
- Lace top
- Checkout counter
- Cash drawer
- Extension cords
- Change - Bring plenty
- Shopping bags
- Fishing line
- Drop Clothes
- Mirror if selling clothing
- Printed out price tags
- Extra price tags
- Clorox wipes
- Shrink wrap
- Energy bars
- Good attitude
- Products/Packing The Trailer
- As we pick up the finished products from our seamstresses our staff tags everything and gets them packaged so the garments can safely be packed into our trailer.
- We like to have the trailer packed a week in advance of traveling to the show so we can finish up last minute details and prepare ourselves mentally and spiritually for the show.
- We usually get to the show about Wednesday noon and we start the set up and we have things planned on how we are setting up before we get there.
- It takes us a day and a half to set up our booth. We like to get done early so we can walk around and see the other vendors booths and mingle with them.
Important To Remember
- It is all about the details.
- We are representing our company at all times so no matter where we are - in our booth, store, or in someone else's establishment we want to look fresh at all times. (A mint in our mouths goes a long way while providing customer service.)
- On our ride to the show we plan on which staff member is in charge of the various tasks we need to do to get our booth set up. Some of those tasks are unloading the trailer, putting the racks together, setting things up, creating a dressing room, decorating, etc. It all gets easier every time we do another show.
- While working at the booth our staff doesn't have their cell phones on their person. Being on your cell phone and eating in front of customers can appear that you are disinterested in providing good customer service. We are always looking for dropped water bottles and other litter that can happen in a large crowd. We spend time tidying up the booth when there is a free moment too.
- We pray every morning when we are driving to the show. We pray for our day, for our booth and all the people coming by our booth that day. This is probably the most important thing we do all day long.
- Battery packs if electricity isn't provided. We like to play music at our booth and so we make sure we have something to power our playlists.
- Bring plenty of change. We learned this rule very quickly.
- Have enough staff. This is something we plan for. We also plan breaks for our staff so they can go behind the scenes and get a good bite to eat and rest for a few moments.
- At some point you will want to do some grocery shopping once you've arrived. We make sure we have plenty of high protein options for lunches and break times for our staff. We like to prepare wraps and have a cooler handy with good, healthy options to be replenished before heading back to our booth.
- Bring plenty of bottled water for your staff. There isn't always time to run and wait in lines to get another bottle of water.
After The Show
- A Plan To Tear Down Your Booth
- A leader needs to be positive at this point and speak life into her team because the staff is tired and just wants to go home. Before we tear down our booth we get together and I (Lena) will give positive feedback to each of our staff and will give a little pep talk before our tear down begins.
- Stella Shows has a strict rule about not tearing down before the close of the show.
- Have a plan in place for how tear down is going to look like. Who is going to accomplish which task(s) and encourage your staff to help each other when others need help.
- Once your booth is packed up you have to get it inspected by Stella Shows and they will give you a slip that you are ready to load your trailer.
- This is where patience is required or you will be miserable. Every other vendor is as ready to leave as your team is and so everyone wants to bring their trailer in and get loaded at the same time. This can take some time and you have to be willing to wait in line with all the other vendors until your turn comes up.