When saying ‘Please’ isn’t polite

How you ask for something really does matter, never more so than in the case of asking a customer for feedback.  It’s something that’s bothered me for a while now but I’ve only just got round to replying to the email which says ‘Hi Mrs Lucy A Pimblott, will you please take a minute to share your experience?’ and telling them why I have been ignoring them for the last few years!

To me, this feedback request is more of a barked command than an appeal for a favour. I know as well as anyone that genuine customer feedback and reviews are the life blood of any business, especially an online one, but it has to be politely asked for not demanded.

Maybe it’s just me and the way I read the words in the way they have been written, they are after all just words and arranged differently they make a perfectly pleasant request to share my online buying experience of, in this case, a doorbell. But bear with me, put your parent / grown up / teacher / boss / co-worker head on, say these few sentences out loud and see which sounds more like something you’d want to respond positively to…

  • ‘Will you please put your dirty clothes in the laundry basket?’
  • ‘Please will you put your dirty clothes in the laundry basket?’
  • ‘Will you please rewrite this report including your references?’
  • ‘Please will you rewrite this report including your references?’
  • ‘Will you please get your coat and shoes on and get ready for school…?’
  • ‘Please will you get your coat and shoes on and get ready for school…?’

Ok so you get a small insight into our household there, the report one was for a work type scenario but I’m sure you see what I mean.

Adding please after the request makes it sound like an exasperated parent entreating their child to just bloody well do what they’ve asked them to do at least 10 times previously. We add please to what is essentially a demand to try to make it look as though we are being polite when actually we’re not, we’re being sarcastic. When I’m trying to get Pipsqueak to tidy her bedroom or to just do as she’s asked the first time I ask, that’s fine (you can challenge my parenting techniques but sarcasm and exasperation feature highly and it’s working to an extent), but it’s not a good tone of voice to use when asking customers for extremely valuable feedback.

I’m hoping that by raising this small matter with the customer feedback team, a very small but important change can be made. I may even suggest they do a champion challenger test to see which wording achieves the most actual feedback before they make the change and see things my way!

Feedback is crucial, how you ask for it can influence what is said…

Lucy
Chief Glitter Sprinkler
Lubylu Ltd
www.lubylu.com

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What being accepted on the ’e-spark’ programme means to me

Yay – New Year, new opportunities for Lubylu®! I have been accepted onto the next enrolment of the Entrepreneurial Spark programme starting with a full day boot camp at the end of January.

To say I’m excited would be a massive understatement, I am so overly in awe of what this opportunity means for me and Lubylu® I struggled to put it into words but I’m going to try.

It’s not just that by being in the Hatchery (the term used by e-spark for their office hubs) I will have access to a business enabler whose role it is to help me strip my business down to the bare bones, work out what works and what doesn’t and then re-build it in a scalable, process and profit driven model. It’s not simply that by having experienced business mentors available for chats, meetings and advice I will be able to overcome many of the hurdles I have encountered so far and discuss possible ways forward. And it’s not just that I will be in the Hatchery with other like-minded business individuals who all have that #GoDo attitude and a desire to make things happen. It’s mainly because it means that they believe in me.

The business mentors, the enablers, the powers that be at Entrepreneurial Spark read my application, investigated my business, interviewed me and listened to my 60 second pitch and decided that Lubylu® and I are worth investing their time, effort and expertise in! That to me is a major accolade and achievement on my part. It means to me that they see a business that is scalable, capable of developing from its current existence as a successful lifestyle business into one which has a positive impact on its market place and the economy.

Just this validation of being given the chance to prove myself and show what I am actually capable of has made me more focused over the last few weeks. It’s made me look at the business from a distance, work out where I want to pitch myself, what I ultimately want to achieve, where I want to be and how I want Lubylu® to look and feel over the next few years.

If just being accepted into the programme can do all this for me, just think what I can achieve when I’m actually part of the action!

#GoDo

Lucy
Chief Glitter Sprinkler
Lubylu Ltd
www.lubylu.com
lucy@lubylu.com

www.entrepreneurial-spark.com

 

Seasonal candle safety – tea lights

candle-safety-2

“I can just use any old tea light….”

This time of year is candle season, more candles than at any time other time are lit and enjoyed and tea lights play a large part in the candle consumption.

It might seem trivial and I know, through my many discussions recently, that people believe all tea lights to be equal and can be used with any oil burner / wax warmer. Sorry to say, it’s not true and by ignoring some of the safety elements regarding tea lights you can cause some serious damage.

They’re tiny little candles, what harm can they do…. Quite a bit actually.

Unscented tea lights are designed to burn for certain lengths of time, usually 4 hours however there are some on the market that are meant to burn for 8 hours. These a lovely for open topped tea light holders where there is loads of air for the heat build up to be set free into, not so much underneath an oil burner! What happens is the heat build-up causes the burner to overheat, best case scenario is that the wax in the burner bowl is heated too high, the fragrance burns off really quickly and then soon just smells ‘waxy’. Worst case is that the heat intensity is too much for the burner and it cracks, this can cause the wax to spit and land in the flames OR the flame of the tea light becomes so intense that it licks up around the side the of the burner and catches the wax on fire…. My advice is to ensure that there is approximately 5 cm between the top of the flame of the tea light and the bottom of the bowl of the burner and that there is plenty of ventilation for the heat to escape.

Let’s double the scent throw!

Not only are tea lights that are too large for the burner used but some people also used scented tea lights which is really dangerous. The fragrance oil that is added to the wax to give it that amazing scent makes it burn hotter. For this reason scented tea lights should only be used where there is plenty of ventilation (and I don’t mean that your windows don’t fit or you’ve opened a window!)

When used safely and with a little thought, burning candles and tea lights creates a lovely warm glow and welcoming fragrance but please do be aware that naked flames can be dangerous.

Tea light top tips

  • Only use small, unscented tea lights in wax warmers
  • Ensure there is 5cm between the top of the flame and the bottom of your wax warmer
  • Scented tea lights should only be used in holders which have plenty of ventilation
  • Ensure your tea lights are in a suitable heat proof container
  • If the flame gets out of hand, extinguish immediately and allow to cool

Wishing you a safely fragranced and fun festive season

Lucy

http://www.lubylu.com

I am my own worst enemy

The first weekend in December means two things; it’s Small Business Saturday but also, for a 10 year old who is more excited about Christmas than a newly released vlog from Zoella and Alfie, it’s the weekend that Christmas decorations simply MUST be put up!

I made a decision to choose to spend the day with Pipsqueak, putting trees up, spraying fake snow on the windows, testing lights, buying more lights and of course more ornaments, instead of selling my handmade wares at a local event. ‘You’re crazy’ I hear you all gasp, and that’s what I thought several times, albeit briefly, today at various points as I made the mistake of checking social media and seeing how fabulous a time Small Business Buddies were having at their Christmas events.

But then I reminded myself that part of the reason I wanted to run my own business was to be able to make my own decisions, whether good or bad, they are my decisions and they are whatever I feel is best for my family at whatever point in time. For a tweenager, soon to be at high school, I made the decision that making this Christmas extra special and just a little bit magical, was more important than sales at an event.

Don’t get me wrong, we didn’t have one of those Disney film Christmas days whereby everyone pulls together, decorates the tree watching ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, shares a laugh, a tear and generally finds the long lost underlying meaning of Christmas but we did have a day together, minimal phone input and we’re still friends at bedtime which I take to be a success these days! I did try watching ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ but I couldn’t get into it so I put St. Elmo’s Fire on instead, it’s more my era!

I think what I’m trying to convey is that we all do what we do for a reason. Whether it be working for a global corporate conglomerate, cleaning floors or running our own small business but as long as the decisions we make are ours to make and we make them for the right reason we can consider ourselves successful. I need to remind myself of this when I doubt myself as indeed, I am my own worst enemy…

#smallbusinesssaturday #handmade #ilovemyjob #shoplocal

 

Lucy

Chief Glitter Sprinkler

Lubylu Ltd

http://www.lubylu..com

Running 10k is like running a business!

I was thinking of this blog post as I ran my first 10k of the year this morning and it’s still true – good news is I was a little further on with my timings and I’m a little further on with my business… 🙂

lubylupim

I ran my last 10k while in my 30’s this morning. I make it sound like it’s something I do all the time but actually it’s only my 3rd ever 10k race. I didn’t do it in any earth shattering, record breaking time but I did it (1hr 3mins and that is my personal best). There were about 500 other runners all doing their thing for their own reasons whether it be to raise money or for personal fitness goals, we were all there, with our lycra on, running apps at the ready, prepared to challenge ourselves on a lovely Sunday morning in October.

Obviously it gave me an hour to think (during the parts when I wasn’t having to solely concentrate on just breathing in and out!) and made me realise that all the runners could represent businesses and the market place in general. We’re all there with…

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We spend how much on candles….?

I read a great article in ‘Stella’ magazine from The Telegraph 1 the other day, apparently the scented candle market is on the rise and we Britons are spending £90million on them each year!

Kerry Potter’s article made for interesting reading citing the recent research from Kantar that shows more than 25% of British households buy scented candles and that spending is up 22%. That’s great news for all of us in the candle and home fragrance business, now all we need to do is direct some of the big brand spending towards the smaller, UK, handmade candle companies and we’ll be as happy as kid in a candy shop or a scented candle lover in a candle shop I should say!

I completely agree with Kerry that many people do buy ‘high end’ candles as a way of owning a piece of that brand, a way of making themselves feel as though they too can afford the lifestyle of the rich and famous. It’s the ‘lipstick luxury’ sensation, when you may not be able to afford the new outfit so you buy a new lipstick instead.

When the candles that were talked about in the article were all upwards of £30, some as much as £390 (but that is for a candle that weighs nearly 2kg and has artwork on the pot it is in) you can see how easy it is for the spending figures to grow, yet from what I could see, all the featured candles were mass produced, not handmade, and the main things that people were buying was a branded sticker and possibly a pretty box. I know at least one of the brands mentioned in the article have their candles made for them by a generic candle company so whilst they may have signed off on the scent and the packaging, it’s not really ‘their’ product so to speak, not in the same way a handmade candle is.

There does also appear to be a growth in the ‘artisan’, handmade candle companies where the owners have sourced their fragrances, waxes, wicks, colours and packaging with an immense level of attention to detail and care that can only come when what you sell actually matters to you. Some of us are keen to support other UK businesses and make a point of using UK fragrance houses, wicks and packaging manufactured in the UK and packaging designed and made, yep, you guessed it, in the UK. I believe that we have some excellent business skills and manufacturing capability within our own small island and as such, we should make use of them and support them where possible.

It certainly is good to know that money is being spent on candles and the other good news that some research coming out of North America conducted by Mintel2 is showing a growth in the ‘ethical buyer’ as well. Conscientious consumers who care about supporting local and small businesses, the ‘mom and pop’ businesses where every pound or dollar spent actually matters to the business and the people working on and in it. For the small candle businesses I can confirm that every sale matters, every contact with a potential customer or gift recipient is a chance for us to share all the hard work and dedication that has gone into our creations. Whilst it is true that the basics of making candles is actually quite straight forward, getting the right blend of wax, colour, fragrance oil, correctly sized wick for the container and the other elements to ensure a great scent throw and clean burn, can be quite complicated and very time consuming meaning that every candle and how it burns matters a great deal to us.

I was  ever so pleased to read that Kerry concluded that she will continue to purchase her scented candles as the very lighting of them relaxes and calms her in times of stress, perhaps I should send her some Lubylu candles so she can experience the warm glow of a handmade, vegan friendly, manufactured in the UK soy wax candle….

@StellaMagazine #scentedcandles #handmade #soywax #vegan #madeinuk #smallbusiness #homefragrance #candles

Links

  1. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life/scented-candles-status-symbols-that-burn-money-or-worth-every-pe/
  2. Source – Mintel North America Consumer Trends 2016