Running a Small Catalog Business: How to Plan & Trust Others
For many years, Jim Ruma, founder of the Ruma’s Fruit & Gift Basket World catalog, was a self-described “one-man band.” Eventually, however, as his company grew, he had to “let go” and allow employees to run the daily operations so he could plan the company’s next level. In a presentation Ruma gave during the recent NEMOA conference in Cambridge, Mass., Ruma outlined several tips for other entrepreneurial catalog owners also looking to take that next step.
1. Wean yourself off micromanaging. It’s hard for most entrepreneurial catalog founder/owners to let others do what they’ve done for years. But, as Ruma pointed out, “If you don’t do this, you’re cheating yourself out of the talent you’re paying for.”
2. Manage by walking around. “I try to walk around the warehouse every day and check out what’s going on,” Ruma noted.
3. Hire competent employees and keep them. “Keep your mouth shut,” he advised, “and don’t micromanage them.”
4. Create a company manual. Cross-train employees.
5. Read read read. “I read articles [about the catalog trade],” Ruma pointed out, “and file them in a binder for future reference. He recommends the book, “Positively Outrageous Service,” by T. Scott Gross (Warner Business Books, 1994). “I had all my employees read that book or view the DVD.”
6. Make changes to increase sales. Ruma’s recently expanded its page count from 24 to 32 pages, Ruma said and bumped up the book’s trim size to increase sales.
7. Make full use of industry organizations. Ruma makes the most of the organizations he belongs to, such as NEMOA, the Vermont/New Hampshire Direct Marketing Group as well as such user groups as Mail Order Manager (MOM).
8. Sell sell sell. “A lot of sales cover a lot of sins,” Ruma said. “Keep selling.”
9. Use outside consultants. There’s nothing wrong with searching for outside avenues to help you with your business decisions, he pointed out.