The Candle Cauldron - Everything You Want to Know About Candlemaking!
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  Wholesale & Private Label Accounts  
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The following article was written and submitted by Tina "Glimmer Gal".
It is very well written and helpful, full of excellent tips!  Thanks Tina!
How to get wholesale/private label contracts
 
There are three keys to selling wholesale; knowing and utilizing these tips can make you a lot of money! 

1) Image -  Creating a consistent, professional company image on all of your literature/products is the best way to get your business recognized.  Whether you work in your basement, kitchen or a huge commercial facility if your products look professional you will attract professionals.  When you meet with prospective clients (I call wholesale customers clients and their customers are my customers too) it is important for you to look professional also.  Think of it as a job interview and dress accordingly.  I believe in the philosophy you have to spend money to make money.  Have things professionally printed, don’t skimp and buy the cheap things.  If you do skimp your company and products will be perceived as cheap.  It is better to negotiate a lower cost on a better item then to settle for lesser quality!

2) Confidence -  First have confidence in your product.  Has it been tested, tried and true?  Have you sold them to individuals, friends and family?  Do you have product liability insurance?  Do you have the time and money to keep up with demand if one is created?  If you have confidence in your products and company ability? It will show.  

3) Negotiation skills -  Everyone in retail businesses have the same thing in mind.  Will my customer buy this and how much profit can I make?  If you decide you will have your clients sign a contract, and I highly recommend that you do, ask a lawyer to draw it up for you or at the very least review what you have.  It will be binding in a court of law.  It is up to you how you want to set this up, you can either offer a specific discount or negotiate one.  I offer a set discount and a set maximum retail price.  I don’t want stores to over-charge for my candles and then be considered over-priced.

How I market to actually get into the stores:

My best asset is I am an avid shopper.  I usually will check out a shop I think may be a good candidate for my candles in person.  I am very particular about this and am only interested in shops I would personally shop in.  This is just my preference though.  (I usually go “hunting” during the day on weekdays because shop owners are usually there.)  If I like the shop and think it is a good fit; I will ask the shop keep who does their buying.  I will say, “Your shop is so lovely.  It is obvious the person who does your buying has great taste...is it you?”  They will either say yes and be so pleased and receptive to any offer I make or they will say no, Betty the owner does the buying or corporate headquarters, etc.
 
If it is the person, I will ask them how they usually go about finding new products.   Do you go to large wholesale gift shows; do you prefer catalogs, local artist, etc?  Then I tell them I have my own business making candles and think my line would go well in their shop.  I ask if I can send them information...and 9 times out of 10 they agree.  I will usually either mail or drop off my packet and follow up 3-5 days later by phone.
 
If they are nice to me in person...I usually try to buy some small item to show goodwill.  However, this is not necessary, I just love to shop! If they are impolite or downright rude to me, I still send a packet (everyone has a bad day), but don't follow up gregariously.  I don't want to do business with discourteous people...and neither will your customers.

If the buyer/owner is unavailable, I ask for their name and the best way to reach that person.  Do you they prefer phone, mail, e-mail.  I will also leave a card with my name.  

My packets are sent UPS so I know they have been received. I use a two-pocket high quality folder I buy from the office store and I apply a large company logo on the front of. (I use these same folders for home party packets, wholesale packets and fundraiser info.)

Wholesale packets include the following:

1. A personalized letter introducing myself, reminding them of our initial meeting or mention that I was in and loved the shop.
2. My standard brochure, which has, retail pricing listed. 
3. Order form. 
4. A sales guide. I sell soy wax candles and a lot of people are still unfamiliar with them so I made a little letter explaining the difference and benefits of soy. 
5. A sample candle they can burn and test.
6. A generic letter outlining the opportunity and profit that can be made by selling my candles and the purchasing guidelines.
 Very simple - 
- Discount which I offer is 50% off retail. 
- Cannot sell above my suggested retail.
- Minimum order $150 first order $50 reorder

If you send a packet ahead and follow up in person or by phone it is MUCH easier than making cold-calls.  Also, avoid calling by phone only.  Avoid stopping in without an appointment or during their busy season or time.  If you use my "just stopped in to shop" method, be sincere and laid back about the business, not pushy.   Never sound like you need the business.  Desperation breeds skepticism.

Don’t be afraid to ask for the business!  I know this is a little sales cliché, but it is important.  By the end of your second contact with this person be direct and say, “Do you think my product line is something you are interested in purchasing?  Don’t torture yourself waiting for them to call, either get a yes or a no faster and move on to the next one.

Finally, once you and your client are happily doing business for at least three months as them if they know any shops similar to their in other areas that they know of and ask for a referral.    It can’t hurt!

You can also set up booths at wholesale shows around the locally or around the country if you can.   

What is private label and why should I do it?

Private label is a thriving industry everyone from beverage companies, grocery stores and import stores do it.  A store wants to create a certain brand image but doesn’t want the expense of many manufacturing facilities.  The most famous private label candles that I know of are:  Pier One Imports. Everything is private labeled and bought from other manufactures.  They specialize in the marketing, sales, and delivery of the products.  You may not be able to get a huge retailer like Pier 1 right away, but there are many opportunities for private label.

Some ideas for private label are:  Art & gift shops, florist, interior decorating stores, and the list goes on.

For private label I charge the client the same as my wholesale clients, however, I add no labels except for the generic warning label like the ones that BC sells. The client pays for his/her own label printing and staff to apply them. Which means I make an additional $ .15/per candle in profit and save a lot of time, which to me is invaluable right now. 

The private label I do has their own "Signature Scents" and a different container that I do not sell in my retail line. I make them buy 5 cases (of 12) at a time. They buy in 16 oz jars so it averages out to about 50 lbs of wax at a time.

My lawyer also drew up a release of liability form for my private label clients. I don't know if this would hold up in a court of law or not...but it at least gives me a layer of protection...should something happen. It doesn't prevent the client or their customer from suing me...but it makes it a little harder.

Good luck and get out there and sell, sell, sell!
 

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