My mind is often muddled by the hub-bub of the holiday season. From Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Year's, it's one right after another, each month taking on a new persona in the stores. From the freaky and gory to the merry and bright, we just continue right along until we can finally rest up on New Year's Day, before heading back into work and school. Our kids are hyped up on sugar the entire season and the food intake causes us to claim that resolution of losing weight every January.
For businesses, it's a time for sales, service, and chaos. When it's all over, we rest up for a day or two and then it's counting inventory, taking stock of what we have left and what we have to purchase to renew our shelves. There is no real rest for the weary, even though we've spent a good portion of our holiday season pushing sales, recruiting seasonal help, and closing out the year stronger than we had been all year. For the customer, they've been bombarded by the continuous begging to take the items home, utilize our services, put a smile on someone's face, all the while stressing about how much money they have to successfully pull off costumes for the kids, dinner with the relatives, and a tree full of presents.
For small business owners, like myself, we try not to compare ourselves to giant conglomerate corporations, and we just keep on doing what we do. We don't want to hassle our customers and potential clients with a steady stream of annoying emails that will most likely be deleted before being read (I'm certainly one of those people). We try to gently announce our sales and target a much smaller market than everyone within a national radius. Still, it seems that we struggle more because we take the time to care about our clientele and speak in terms of quality customer service over sales and commissions. Yes, our bills have to be paid too, but we care far more about our communication messaging than our willingness to harass out a sale.
For the past few years, our school programs were lighter in winter. This is a natural progression in schools, since most teachers schedule guest speakers for later in the year, when they've reached their limit and need a break from teaching. In spring of 2022, our schedule was packed to the brim, while in December, I struggled to even put one school on our calendar. Since we conduct these programs throughout the year, it has been slow to get teachers to understand that we can in-fact come into their classrooms in the winter months. To rectify this situation, I took a page from corporate textbooks and began our "Holly Days" discount.
Now, this isn't some corporate gimmick to raise all our rates only to "discount" them down to its original price. This is a legitimate marking down and giving back to teachers, while still inserting our programs into the schools during our slowest time of year. It's not much, but for a 10% discount, we have been successful in filling the gaps on our calendar. We don't just offer this discount for the holidays, either. Holly trees bud with beautiful red berries all winter long, so this discount is good on all scheduled programs until March 1st. We honor this discount for three months, not just because we want to make sales, but because we know the value of our programs doesn't simply end when the holidays are over.
Along with this discount, we will be offering a brand new teacher workshop opportunity EVERY MONTH in 2024! That's right, one day a month from January through December, we have set aside for two different types of workshops. Since creating our Coastal Curriculum, we have been putting these resources into the hands of teachers and informal educators to empower them to bring environmental and marine science into their classrooms once a week (not just when we visit them). This will happen six times next year! We will also be offering general marine science workshops the other six months, to include our big books of lesson plan resources. Each workshop description and registration/payment can be found HERE on our website. Register now, register early, and join us for amazing opportunities next year!
With our teacher workshops, we are working to include NC Environmental Educator Criteria II credits. This means half of our workshop will take place outside and will include some type of walk/talk and activity in a coastal ecosystem! We hope to partner with NC Sea Grant to provide this credit for those educators working towards their EE certifications or those needing continuing education credit.