Our Experiences ...

     Ever wanted to do an OPEN HOUSE, but

     weren't sure if you could do it?  What all

     is involved? 

 

     Read on for some ideas, experiences,

     successes, failures ... and then just DO IT!!

 

 

   For the last 3 years I've made a big deal about having a Christmas Open House.  This year I went to the BEE and upon returning home, I just felt too much stress about all the work that was always involved for my open house: invitations, pricing my retired items, food, mementos, uninvited people coming that just heard about it---never would buy anything full price, but wanted a bargain, etc., etc.  After much thought, I decided I'd compile a list of merchandise, price it with a "regular and now amount", send the list by email, put a table filled with items and price tags on my sun porch, and have them stop by for a few days at their convenience!  They even came when I wasn't home......I loved it!  I have the CC Mailbox on an inside door, so they came, shopped, and left their check/cash in the basket and I made around $900 with no overhead this weekend!  My customers loved it....if they couldn't come, they'd email or call and I held the item back they were wanting.  Also, I had the new items on display from the November/December flyer and have booked 2 shows for November!  I have a BA that told me to make things easier because this is something I love, but it could become something I hate......so I changed my plan and boy, do I feel better!!!!! 
Just had to post and tell you that I've decided not to overwhelm myself because this a still a hobby, even though I spend lots of time working my business.....but it won't become a job since I couldn't possibly make a living out of it in "my town"!!!  My customers and I have fun with the products....we decorate our homes, we carry our baskets around the workplace and town, and we use our Longaberger to take our special recipes to the church get-togethers!  It will continue to always be fun with me now, since I made that executive decision earlier!!!
 
Vicki in KY
 

 

 

 

     I had my open house Friday evening and Saturday morning.  It was also the first time my customers/guests were able to see my new home.  I had 27 people come through and visit, pick up their catalogues, shop my cash & carry ($875 sold) and I was able to book 5 new shows for the next 2 months :)  I had a good time and it was fun to have everyone over.  I served crusty bread with the new Parmesan dipping sauce, I made up the BLT as a cheese ball and had pretzel sticks and carrots, and I spread the Tuscan Olive mix on tomato and basil tortillas and added some chopped black olives, rolled them up and cut them into slices for another appetizer.  My desserts were mini éclairs and crème puffs and soda and water were my beverages. I gave out little scarecrow treat bags from the dollar store with a package of apple cider mix, some candy corn, a cinnamon stick and a candy bar in it to everyone who came through and did a drawing for a basket.  I invited my whole mailing group with their September flyer which is about 80+ people and sent out the 25 post cards we were given to some of those who like that extra reminder.
SueG in WI

 

   In answer to M in New York, congratulations on your event.  I want to encourage you to continue it.  Four years I started out with an event.  I was scared to death, and we had around 135 people.  We have grown steadily and this year we had close to 200 and raised over $3,000.  We found it was best to have it at the same place, we worked hard to have women speakers--(this is what we have found most appeals to the ladies).  It was amazing this year to see our numbers grow. Many people return each year as now it is an event that is looked forward to in our town. I would say close to %75 or higher return.  As far as getting a profit off of the accessories, be sure and keep their telephone numbers from the ticket (we ask for their number on the ticket for a number of reasons: order info, getting the basket to them if they don't come to the event, etc) then call and ask if they want to buy the accessories.  This takes time, but the telephone contacts really help and it also gives you a chance to thank them for coming and getting feed back for next year.  We found late August is the best date for us as people are back from vacations and before school.  I do encourage you to continue the event.  It will grow because word of mouth is your best advertisement. It always helps, also, to choose a place that serves good food!  Also I courage you to continue it for the its main purpose--to raise money to the American Cancer Society.  This is so important.  Good luck and keep up the good work.

    Had my open house last weekend and thought I'd share what we did.  It was a celebration with my customers/hostesses of my 10th year with LB, so did a little more than I usual would.  I have 2 OHs a year, usually...have a Basket Lover's Brunch in February (will have to be January next year!) and then one in August - all so everyone can come and see new products, get new WL and flyer, newsletters, etc. and most of all, have fun!  I had a few bookings, some orders are now trickling in this week and sold a bunch of cash and carry.  Pretty much a success!  

Here is most of what was served:

Veggie and fruit tray in serve it up basket - had the jalapeno/cilantro dip from the homestead for the veggies side but filled the whole other side with fruit - no dip in there.

Made little labels for all the sauces/dips/mixes to put next to each item.  (used the address label format-3 across, 10 down and copied the pics of the little jars, etc. from my shop with me page)  This way, I didn't have to constantly keep telling everyone what they were eating!!

Had BLT mix (make it with the sour cream and mayo), Roasted Garlic and Tangy Lemon Caper sauces all in dessert bowls or crocks.  Put the BLT and Caper on divided dish with carrots & celery.

Had Key Lime mix with honey graham sticks and White Choc Am mix with chocolate graham sticks (each in crocks in middle of rectangular trays).

Honey Mustard sauce with little pretzel sticks

Tuscan Olive mix, made the Bruschetta, and baked them on the retired cake plate (I should have used the neighbor's oven, because my house was way too hot!!!)

Cream cheese/butter mix with peppered Raspberry recipe for Torta - served with cinnamon raisin bagel chips.

Made the Very Berry Drop Cookies and added white chocolate chips - excellent - (even though we forgot to add the last sugar packet - probably would have been too sweet then)

Bought chips at Chili's to serve with our Salsa in the Serve Around...

Was going to have Edy's ice cream (served in frozen 2 quart crocks) with the bumble berry and chocolate decadence, but everyone was too full by then.

Also made margaritas, pina coladas, volcanic punch (no alcohol) in the large fruit basket - awesome!   and pineapple jello shooters.  After all, it was to celebrate my 10th LB anniversary!!  :)

Gave out and little wood hand made tropical flower tie-ons (got the shapes at Michaels).

Had lots of door prizes too - tropical stuff, as well as some of the food products with the recipes printed out from mylb.  Gave out a trial CC membership and a few $5 gift certificates for their next order.

That's basically it......had everyone sign in, gave out tickets - 1 for rsvp (yes or no), 1 for coming, 2 if they wore something tropical, 1 for booking a show.  (That was listed on the invitation to help with rsvps.)

Good luck to everyone having their open houses!!

Lisa in VB

 

 

 

   CYBER OPEN HOUSE - I have moved and re-started my business two times in 6 years. I have done a few of the cyber open houses for my far away customers and it was fun and well received! We did it online either using an interactive chat room or by using AIM and doing a room there. Everyone that RSVP'd to me got a little goodie in the mail (I would suggest giving them all a sample size of the cocoa mixes, a coaster and a current flier and put that in a cello bag with shred and a cute ribbon).  You can play a game online and then give away a 5.00 gift certificate (or more depending on what you are comfortable with and it doesn't cost much to send it). I am a pretty fast typist so that worked OK for me. The other thing you can do is a conference call. I use www.freeconference.com for my branch meetings and you could use this for the cyber show too. Most folks either have cell phones or cheap or free long distance at home. Hope that helps! Vickie in Oregon

 

     I like to do my open house in September, the first part. I have 3 kids very active in everything from football and cheerleading to soccer and girl scouts. My time is consumed with kid stuff all the time. I usually have my invitation sent with my Christmas newsletter and it is a simple invitation with a map on the reverse. Not everyone will come, you need to remind people. I did one that was from 3 to 9 and another from 7-9 (different years). More people came to the 3-9. They can stop on their way home from work. Or even come over before the kids get home from school. I give everyone a lapboard as they come in. I have a drawing for a $5.00 gift certificate from me every 1/2 hour. (Note it does not say the company name on it), everyone enjoys seeing the new catalog, Flyers and displays. I try to display my products as I would normally. I do set up a Christmas table with Holiday decorations, I don't set up a tree, remember my time is limited. I have a cash and carry table with retired items. Liners and protectors go great. I do have some regular line items that I mark are strictly "displayed only", I don't even give them a receipt for these, as they are "cash and carry." I take the shipping and tax off, and explain that I only do this occasionally because I like to change my kit around. The food is simple, something chocolate, salty, fat free, and yummy. (brownies, pretzels, yogurt dip and fruit, cheese cake tarts with cherries, chips and dip. I also offer Hot Cider in the cookie jar with a warmed buffet brick in the cake basket, beer, wine, soda, and coffee. As they leave I give them a votive or teabags or such, something simple but not more than a $1 a piece (closer to 50 cents if I can). Everyone usually buys something, but the main objective is to create bookings for future shows, get them in the books and give them their hostess packet. Once you start an Open House, if you continue to be regular every year they will come. My customers enjoy it and some even do their own show right there. This is a relaxed setting. I usually have someone there to help take orders.

 

 

   I held my open house today, from 1 to 6 p.m.  This was probably about my 9th one over 8 years as a consultant.
 
Invitations sent out:  about 50
In attendance:  20
Served:  all from the Longaberger Kitchen - Potato Cheddar Soup, tortilla roll-ups with BLT seasoning mix, Parmesan Herb mix in olive oil with French bread, and a Pumpkin bundt cake with the pumpkin maple "tunnel", and Cinnamon Pear Caramel sauce drizzled over it.
(Favorites:  the potato soup and the Parmesan Herb oil and bread.)
(Note - the cake recipe may work at lower altitudes, but it needs some serious tweaking for 8,000 ft and above.  Way too much butter!  Cake was heavy and too sweet for most of us.)
Total Sales:  just over $700 so far, plus a $157 show one customer called in.
Cash & Carry:  slightly over $2000.  Whoo Hoo.  There's my new carpet!!!!
Bookings:  2
 
This was the best open house yet!  I have 3 people who always order and buy some cash & carry who had called and could not get here, and asked to come by later in the week. 
 
For new consultants, it takes time to build up to this.  I usually do more in sales, but the cash & carry was really extensive and prices were very good this year.  However, one of the bookings will be an order this month of about $350 or more, and these are all customers who would have ordered today had they not spent their "budget" in the cash & carry room.  They need 2 weeks before making their order.
 
Anyway, my first open house had 3 in attendance, and I sold about $35 in cash & carry (I WAY over-priced the little I had), and orders were about $200, I think.  It has taken a long time, and now many of my customers wait for my open house announcements and mark their calendars way in advance.  Funny, though.....I still worry that no one will show up. 
 
Anyway, that's my report.  Now, if I can just find that darn post card I'm suppose to fill out and send in!
 
Kathi in CO

 

     We did a huge, Branch-wide Open House. Almost all consultants in the Branch who lived locally participated. Each one was assigned a couple of pages from the Wish List and was responsible for displaying all items on those pages (didn't have to be exact - in other words, if you couldn't find the Liner or Protector that was okay and you didn't have to have the same layout and props!). We borrowed items from each other to complete the displays. Our BA even arranged with a local furniture company to deliver some "display furniture" that morning and we set up a bedroom and home office area using the furniture. In exchange for the furniture use, we put up a big sign advertising the furniture company's loan of the furniture. Our BA had gotten the bedding that was available at that time to make up the bed in Provincial Cottage fabrics. I think she got the stuff loaned to her from LB as a perk of being a BA. It was great, but was a lot of work! Our customers were really impressed though!

Each consultant was responsible for preparing their own Cash and Carry. We had to put two tags on each item, attached with string, ribbon, yarn, etc. The tags had to include the name and year of the product, any accessories included with the product being sold that day (if it was a Set, you had to list the Liner, Protector, Lid, etc.), the selling price for that day, the original price (if possible), and the name of the consultant selling the piece. Some also included the Bentley value of the product on the tags. Liners, Garters, Napkins, Placemats, Tie-Ons, etc. were to be in their original bags or boxes if at all possible. If not, you could use a Ziploc baggie. The tags were put inside the bags with the item. Large items (baskets, pottery, wrought iron, etc.) were put out on long tables at the back of the Fire Hall in rough groupings (Mother's Day Baskets, May Series, retired regular line, etc.). Liners, etc. were put into big baskets or plastic Rubbermaid type containers grouped by basic color of fabric or season of fabric and lined up in another area with room for people to get into the bins from either side.

We had several consultants who'd volunteered to take the money for Cash and Carry. When customers were ready to check out, they took the stuff to one of these consultants set up at a long table near the exit door. We had a couple of lines just for credit card purchases. These purchases were run on our BA's credit card machine. All checks were to be made out to our BA as well. As the consultants did the check out they were to check the tags to make sure that all pieces of a Set were there and to make sure that no extra pieces (Garters, Tie-Ons, etc.) that weren't supposed to be included in the selling price had been added. Sometimes the customers would try a Garter or something on a basket to see how it looked/if it fit. In the flurry, they would sometimes forget that this item was extra and was not included in the price of the set. The consultant handling the check-out would add up the cost of all items being purchased by that customer and would collect the money for it. She would also take one tag from each of the products being bought by that customer. Each consultant participating had a large manila envelope with their name in big, bold letters on it. Any tags from products bought from that consultant when then go in their envelope. The customers got to keep the other tag so they'd remember how much each piece cost, etc. Their purchases were put into bags for them (old shopping bags from the Homestead, department stores, etc.). After all money had been deposited into our BA's account, she went through the tags in each consultant's envelope and totaled up how much was bought from them and wrote them a check for the correct amount. The tags for the items sold and the check were then given to that consultant.

We had a couple of consultants who volunteered to handle the refreshments. They set up a table on the edge of the action well away from the cash and carry and payment areas. We had punch, cookies, candies, nuts, pretzels, things of that sort all served in LB products of course! They received money to buy these items from the cost per consultant to participate.

The cost per consultant also covered the rental of the Fire Hall. I think it worked out to be between $10 and $15 apiece.

Each consultant was also to supply a door prize to be given away during the event. The door prize could be anything you wanted as long as it was an LB product, met LB guidelines for door prizes (no pre-campaign, no booking items, etc.), and cost the consultant between $15 and $25. We were to "floof and fluff" the product by adding related goodies, tying on ribbons, etc. We had Cookie Molds (about the only way you could get rid of them) with a box of gingerbread mix attached; Mugs filled with candies, pencils and stickers, hot cocoa mixes, etc.; Utensil Crocks filled with goodies; etc. As people came in they were to fill out the door prize slips to be entered for the drawing, that was the only requirement. We randomly drew a few names every so often until all the door prizes were gone. If the person was still there when their name was drawn, they got it right then. If they'd already left, their consultant was responsible for delivering their prize to them. There was a space on the drawing slips for their consultant's name. At the end of the day, these slips were divided up and given to each consultant so they could tell which of their customers had come, etc.

Each consultant was also responsible for putting together the "goody bags" for their customers. Most of us made a few extras for those who didn't bother to RSVP. The goody bags were to contain the new Wish List and holiday flyer, but could also contain other handouts and little goodies (small ornaments, candies, bookmarks, post-it pads, things like that) just for that consultant's customers. Some of the goody bags were just plain manila envelopes, others were envelopes that had been decorated with stickers or rubber stamps, others were store bought gift bags, others were homemade gift bags, etc.

We also had consultants who wandered around straightening up displays, returning items to their proper place in the Cash and Carry area, answering questions, greeting people as they came in, replenishing refreshments, helping customers carry purchases to their cars, etc.

We've done similar Open Houses the last few years as a Branch. Most haven't been quite as elaborate as this one was. We've scaled back on the product displays and the refreshments some. Most of our customers are mainly interested in seeing the new stuff and buying the Cash and Carry! HTH

Michele in MD