Teaching in Your Shop,
Part II: More Class Planning

by Martha Beth Lewis

originally published in The Needlework Retailer
copyright 2004, Martha Beth Lewis

The previous article covered class length, profit, etc., but there are a few other points needing attention at the planning stage so your shop class is a fantastic success.

Teaching Area. If you are lucky, you have a dedicated teaching/casual stitching area in your shop. If not, can you clear a small space for a short time to make room for a table by moving spinners, etc.? Students shouldn't impede other customers' ability to move around in the shop.

Although you can hold class in an entirely different venue (library, community center), this negates the class's main raison d'ętre: to get those stitchers into your shop to buy!

Teaching Equipment. You must have a table. There's no way around this. Stitchers shouldn't be asked to balance things on their laps.

You must have good light. There's no way around this, either. Eyestrain and over-many mistakes because stitchers can't see won't reflect positively on the future of shop classes and on your business itself.

It is wonderful if you have lighted magnifiers for each student, but you probably don't, so:

Class Size. How many can the teaching accommodate? How many students do you (or your teacher) feel comfortable teaching? I recommend a maximum of 12.

It's better to have a class that could have been larger and have stitchers leave delighted at the personalized attention they received than to have a class so large that students feel lost in the shuffle. Remember, this class is a marketing tool. Make it as appealing as possible to your students!

What is the smallest number that would make the class worth the costs, prep, promotion, and shop disruption? The answer is usually 5.

What happens if you don't have sufficient registration to make the class a go? Reschedule the class? Cancel altogether? Have a plan.

Cancellation and Waiting List . Will you allow students to cancel? (You should.) Will you refund the fee in cash or in merchandise certificates? What date would you set? (A week before is standard, although you could take cancellations right up to class time if you refunded with merchandise certificates.)

When taking the waiting list, be sure to note the date along with the name.

Registration Cut-Off. You'll probably want to set a cut-off date because you'll need to order leaflets and/or make class kits. If the kit is not complicated, you can pull from your stock just before class and keep registration open right up to class time. Advertising. You already know the general drill, but here ar

e some ideas that relate specifically to an in-shop class.

Important note: If you're using an image of the design for any of these purposes. ask the copyright holder for permission (either the designer or the publisher).

Miscellaneous. Stitchers should bring scissors (and their other must-have stitching tools). Make sure this is clear in your advertising and reiterated at sign-up. Even so, some stitchers will forget their scissors. They can borrow from a neighbor, or you can have a pair on hand.

Particularly mention magnification at sign-up time if you will not furnish it. If you sell magnification/stitching lights, consider making them available to students at a small discount on class day.

Consider discounting your high-end lighted magnifiers, too. Getting a class discount may be just the thing that nudges the fence-sitters into the substantial purchase.

If special tools are needed (or recommended) for the class, such as straight-bladed scissors for Hardanger, you might offer students a discount on these on class day.

How about other discounts for registrants? Do you want to offer a discount on all purchases made on class day? For purchases which meet or exceed some minimum?

Receiving a lower price on one purchase usually means the stitcher can rationalize buying something else with the money "saved," and often this second purchase is more expensive than the money not spent on the discounted item!

Telling your customers in advance that certain items will be discounted for students in the class can increase class registration, as well as producing after-class sales.

With careful planning, your class can generate great buzz about your shop and sales of other materials, as well as making the class itself an enjoyable activity.

The article deals with selecting the design and the teacher.

copyright 2004, Martha Beth Lewis
Contact me about reprint permission.

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Bio: Martha Beth Lewis has taught at consumer festivals for many years and writes for consumer needlework magazines. She is the author of Handbook for Needlework Teachers: An Experienced Festival Teacher's Advice (See this file for more information.) 3 Lewis - Teaching in Your Shop, Part II: More Planning