Parents frequently joke that young children enjoy the box a gift comes in as much as they like the present. That's true of adults, too, when a gift is beautifully wrapped. If your friends and family members are reluctant to dismantle your gift wrapped creations this may suggest you could be successful in the gift wrapping business. This article will suggest some other things you should consider in starting a gift wrapping business.
How to start a gift wrapping business
Develop a business plan. Even a not-quite-up-and-running small business needs a business plan. Your should contain (1) a list of possible customers (friends count but are unlikely to be enough; compile a list of all the stores you're willing to travel to to market your services; (2) a list of suppliers for wrap, tissue, boxes and ribbon and their costs; (3) estimates of your costs and possible profits; (4) a clear picture of how fast you work and how much time you can devote to this; (5) a rough idea of how much you hope to earn from this business; (6) local requirements--are your services taxable? Is there insurance available for your sort of service--no matter how kindly you treated that huge glass bowl, the recipient insists it's broken and has the fragments to prove it; (7) location of your work: in your client's stores or in your home.
A very good way to start planning your business is to get the free advice offered by your closest Small Business Administration office and local chapter of SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives).
Research the market. Are there similar services in your area? How do local businesses handle gift-wrapping? Wrap up some of your empty sample boxes (note how long it takes and what it costs in materials, set some possible prices (or leave your business card and offer to return with prices the next day). Put your wrapped samples in an attractive container (it's all in the presentation) and find your comfortable shoes and your business cards. Expect to spend several days doing "show and tell" at likely merchants. Exchange cards--you're going to need their exact name, phone and contact names as much as they need yours. File this in your notebook with any other useful information. For example, they liked the idea of your creating a distinct "look" for their store and the manager Carmella can look at samples on Wednesday. No matter where you've planned to go, case the street. There may be another business to drop in on. Always leave a card.
Follow up. Send the manager or whomever you talked to a thank you card, including a quick message and another one of your business cards. If this seems a bit excessive, remember the business you're trying to start. Everyone who gets a gift is supposed to say thank you. This will make you appear to be a detail-minded carry-through person, just the kind of person other would like to do their gift wrapping.
Play the angles. Show up in stores eight to six weeks before any major gift-related holiday and talk . Leave your card and wait for panic to strike. A friend with flu before Christmas? Let somebody else make chicken soup--you'll wrap her kids' presents for free! Offer your services to a charity or at the PTA auction. One successful wrapper worked as a Christmas wrapping volunteer for her favorite cause in a local mall. (If you're going to be an auction item, be sure to set a minimum bid.) If a friend is giving a big party, offer to do her party favors (perhaps she'd pay for your supplies).
Share what you know in another way. Teach others to wrap their own gifts. Gift-wrapping makes a popular adult-education course. It can also be a popular demonstration at a community club or philanthropic organization. You'll make a bit as a teacher and perhaps collect a small demonstration fee but your name and your skills will definitely get around. Word-of-mouth advertising is wonderful.
As your business begins to grow, stop from time to time to photograph your work. A small album tells a prospective employer more about what you do than words do. Photos also enhance you-as-an-auction-item and applications to teach or demonstrate. Some photos should be conventional--by now, you have a "look" to sell. Others show your versatility--the mountain of wrapped groom's cake boxes at the wedding, the Fourth of July party favors, the five-foot stuffed giraffe, and the riding lawnmower. Even if you're so busy you can't stop, stop and take those pictures.
Everyone has days when things go wrong. When they do, remember what you are really selling: competence and promptness. Like catering and other occasion-related service businesses, what matters absolutely the most to customers is that their order is where it's supposed to be when it's supposed to be. Therefore, promptness is one of the most important commodities you have to sell. Get there on time and all other problems get smaller.