We managed to move our operation while only losing 3 days of production. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, we shuffled everything over to our new location and, on Saturday, got set up enough to restart production on Monday. There is much work left to do including building new offices and some re-wiring, but we are back up and running. A tough and costly chore for our small company, but just one of the many challenges that one must handle. Some things are tough to predict in a business plan.
We were not selected to be part of the QVC telecast from Michigan. Congrats to those companies selected. Our national exposure via Sharper Image may have hurt. Also, another model of our product failed a shipping-container drop-test at QVC last year. We redesigned the packaging, but they did no re-test it. The model we showed at the QVC trade show has a UPS-tested box, but they may still have had misgivings about shipping damage. Getting this business would have been a real boost, but we definitely were not banking on it.
We called the Good Catalog Company mentioned in these pages last month, and they seem to have a good system in place. They publish five upscale catalogs. The package they send out includes complete demographics for each catalog and a copy of each catalog.
Most catalog companies charge for photography and setup for your product. They buy some amount of your product at a wholesale price and sell at 2.0 to 2.2 times markup. They assume responsibility for stocking levels and, hopefully, pay the invoice in 30 days. (If you sign a contract with a mail-order company, be sure you understand their return policy completely. Don't hesitate to negotiate a better deal for yourself. If not, you may end up getting back a bunch of unsold goods instead of payment for the goods.)
The Good Catalog Company does things differently. If they decide that your product is good enough to appear in their catalogs, they charge a large up-front fee (interest-free installment plan available) which depends on ad size and number of catalogs you wish to be in. Then, you ship it to their warehouse and they handle all customer service — orders, shipping, returns, etc.
You don't get paid until the product sells — sort of a consignment arrangement — but if your product moves, you will get a check every two weeks for 82% of the retail price that you set. After the catalog is mailed, they provide you with a copy of the photo transparency to use as you please, ten complimentary catalogs showing your product, and the names and addresses of everyone who ordered your product. This can be quite lucrative and Techncraft is considering the possibilities.