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  • Writer's pictureJacob Curtis

Unlock the Secret to Long-Term Success for Quilt & Craft Shop Owners

Russel Conwell tells about Ali Hafed, who wanted to find diamonds so badly that he sold his farm, left his family, and went off in a search that took him all over the world. His search was futile and ultimately led to nothing but his own demise. Meanwhile, the new owner of his farm discovered “the most significant diamond mine in all the history of mankind” on the farm he had purchased from Ali Hafed.

The moral of the story is to first search on your own property when seeking treasure. And I think this applies to business and marketing perfectly. The reality is that most quilt shops, especially if they have been around awhile, have a “diamond mine” right under their noses–their past and current customers.

A widely quoted statistic is that a person is 21 times more likely to buy from a business they’ve bought from in the past compared with one they’ve never purchased from. In other words, it is much easier to sell something to someone who has previously made a purchase from you. This is a huge advantage. The key is figuring out how to increase their lifetime value. Here are five major ways to increase customer lifetime value, the metrics you must track, and the four types of customers you have in your quilt shop.

1 - Raising Prices

I know no one wants to raise prices. But the reality is it is often the most overlooked way of increasing customer lifetime value. While it does need to be handled strategically, you’ll generally find that customers are less price-sensitive than you imagine. If you are positioned correctly and delivering a great customer experience, then most customers will accept pricing increases.

When was the last time you increased your prices? Here’s the thing: if you hold your prices constant for a long time, in real terms, you are lowering them because inflation makes the same nominal amount of money less valuable. You are effectively giving yourself a pay cut by not increasing your prices.

The key to raising prices is giving a reason why. Explain to your customers the increase in quality or the increase in your costs. Explain to them the benefits they’ve already received and will receive in the future. Remember, a customer won on price will also be lost on price. If done correctly, the increase in profits will outweigh any losses from lost price-shoppers.

2 - Upselling

“Would you like fries with that?” is responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for McDonald’s. It’s a simple upsell strategy. Upselling is the bundling of add-ons with the primary product being sold.

Psychologically, upselling is using the contrast principle. The contrast principle comes into play when two different things are presented one right after the other. For example, a heavy item is lifted first and then a lighter one; however, we often overestimate how much lighter the second item actually is. This holds true for pricing. When you buy the primary “expensive” item first, the suggested add-ons feel comparatively cheap.

Upselling also works because your customer was not specifically shopping for the add-ons, so they are not as sensitive to the price of the suggested item, which means higher margins for you.

A great way to frame an upsell is to say, “Most customers who buy X also buy Y.” You’ve seen this with big e-commerce stores like Amazon. People want to participate in social norms. By telling them what “normal” buying habits are, you are tapping into a powerful, deep-seated psychological human desire to fit in.

What items can you offer as add-ons? A new pattern? A layer cake, jelly roll, or fat quarter bundle?

3 - Ascension

Ascension is moving your customers to the higher priced, and hopefully higher margin, products and services. The easiest example of this is with cars with three to four trim packages widely available for the same make and model. And notice that they only offer three to four trim levels and not ten trim levels.

You can use this method with sewing machines, kits, and bundles, and pairing this strategy with the optimal three of four options is a great way to increase customer lifetime value.

4 - Frequency

Customers are forgetful and do not always do things in a timely manner, which is why you need to send reminders in the form of emails, newsletters, texts, flyers, etc. Keeping in touch with customers using a nurturing campaign is a great way to remind them of their great experience with you and your store.

One way to get customers to return is to use a loyalty or voucher program. We have used this successfully for many years, as have others. Just because it is a well-known and used strategy doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it. In fact, you should put your own spin on it and use it too.

Another popular method is subscriptions, like block-of-the-month programs. These are great ways to retain customers and keep them coming back. Again, add your unique spin to a subscription program, and don’t be afraid to try something new. A side benefit of a subscription program is that a customer’s price-shopping radar generally turns off, providing you with more margin and profit.

5 - Reactivation

If you are like most businesses and quilt shops, you have a long list of past customers. These are customers who trusted you enough to have purchased from you previously but, for one reason or another, have not made a recent purchase. This list is of tremendous value because most of the hard work in getting them to know, like, and trust is already done.

Here are the basics of running a successful reactivation campaign:

1 - Go through your list and filter out any known “bad” customers.

2 - Create a strong offer to entice them to come back. A gift card, coupon, or free offer with a strong call to action usually works well.

3 - Contact these past customers and ask why they haven’t returned. If it is something you did, apologize if appropriate, and describe your corrective actions. If they reactivate by making a purchase, follow up with them to make them feel special.

Some good reactivation headlines are “We Miss You” or “Have We Done Something Wrong?” You then tell them you noticed they haven’t bought anything in a while and you would love for them to come back so you can show them how much they mean to you. You get the idea.

In an ideal world, a reactivation campaign wouldn’t be needed, but sometimes, you’ll mess up, lose to a competitor, or just get complacent with your marketing. A reactivation campaign can do wonders to increase your customer lifetime value and bottom line.

Numbers Tell Us the Whole Story

Storytelling is a big part of marketing. But when it comes to measuring and managing the success of your quilt shop, stories often jumble the truth. Shark Tank, the TV show, is a great example. Often, the entrepreneur paints a pretty picture and positions their business or idea as the next best thing since indoor plumbing. Then, the Sharks, the seasoned investors and experts, ask about their numbers. This is a great lesson.

You’ve probably heard the maxim that what gets measured gets managed. Marketing is no different. You need to measure, manage, and improve your numbers constantly. When you go to the doctor, they gather numbers about you, such as height, weight, age, blood pressure, and so on. Even your accountant needs to know some numbers. Here are ten key marketing metrics that will help you increase customer lifetime value and long-term success.

1 - Number of leads

2 - Conversion rate

3 - Average transaction or cart value

4 - Gross margin

5 - Break-even point

6 - Customer acquisition cost

7 - Customer lifetime value

8 - Monthly recurring revenue (for subscriptions)

9 - Churn rate for subscriptions

10 - Customer satisfaction rate

Generally, these numbers are tracked on a monthly basis, but can also be tracked weekly or even daily. Even making incremental small improvements can make big changes in your quilt shop. Small hinges swing big doors.

Include these numbers in your business dashboard. Start small. If tracking all ten of these metrics is too much for you, then just start tracking a couple of metrics. A business dashboard is an early warning system; the individual metrics help you pinpoint where to look to fix the problem before it becomes a big problem. A dashboard can keep you and your team excited, motivated, and accountable.

Measuring, managing, and improving your numbers daily, weekly, and monthly is key to building a high-growth quilt shop.

The Four Types of Customers

Not every revenue dollar that comes in is equal. This is called the unequal dollar concept. This is key to creating a tribe of raving fans, not just transactional customers. This is because not all revenue is good, and not all growth is good. For example, cancer grows, but it’s not the type of growth you want. Equally lethal to quilt shops is the growth of the wrong type of revenue.

Quilt shops, like all businesses, need revenue. Cash is the lifeblood of business. Small businesses are often resource-strapped, so it is forgivable that they’re not discriminating about where their revenue comes from. However, some revenue is tainted by toxic customers and can make your quilt shop sick. In other words, a dollar from a toxic customer is not equal to a dollar from a raving fan. Generally, your customer base can be divided up into four categories.

1) The Tribe: this set of customers are raving fans, supporters, and cheerleaders who promote your quilt shop and are actively conspiring for your success. This is healthy revenue, and growing this group is key to being successful.

2) The Bargain Shoppers: this set of customers can’t really afford you. They made a purchase because of overly aggressive marketing or heavy discounts. But as soon as prices return to normal, they disappear. These types of customers can sometimes create brand problems as they often tell everyone about their “bad” experience with your shop, whether it is true or not.

3) The Vampires: this set of customers you can’t afford. They can afford you, but you can’t afford them because they take up too much of your time (and money). They often demand special attention and try to work around your systems and processes, terrorizing you and your staff. They suck the life out of your quilt shop.

4) The Snow Leopard: this very small subset of customers might be your biggest customers, the very few who make up a large chunk of your revenue and pay you a lot of money. They’re exquisite and beautiful but extremely rare and almost impossible to replicate. They tend to be the customers who are fun to work with. They’re so wonderful to you and your team that you all love to spend time with them. However, they are a bad investment because they’re so rare and don’t represent a great growth strategy. A word of caution: sometimes, you may mistake a Vampire for a Snow Leopard.

The point is that you don’t treat all customers and revenue equally. Don’t let yourself get fooled into thinking all revenue is good. I understand and get that when you are first starting out, you’ll take revenue from anyone willing to pay you, but as you grow and your quilt shop matures, you will need to be picky with whom you want as your customer base or tribe.

You have probably heard the old saying that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, right? Well, my advice is don’t give the squeaky wheel the grease; get a new wheel. Business should be fun. Yes, there will be stressful times, but generally, it should exciting and fun. No amount of money can compensate you for being miserable. Fire your bad customers or replace those squeaky wheels they are not worth it in the long run.

Next Steps

Selling to a current or past customer is much easier than converting a prospect and gives you a huge advantage. The key is figuring out how to increase a customer’s lifetime value. I have shared with you five major ways to increase customer lifetime value, the metrics you must track, and the four types of customers you have in your quilt shop.

What are you going to do to increase your customer’s lifetime value? Email me at

If you need help with this and piecing together financial freedom, please schedule a call with me by clicking the link below.


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