Well, we finally closed the book for 2011 here at the Brickhouse. It took a little longer this year because we were a bit busier this year.
A couple years ago I did a year-end post and posed a series of questions to help sum up where we were and where we were going as a business. Recently, I saw an article about an interview with a CEO of a major computer company and how he developed the strategy for his company. It turns out that he also used a set of questions that he answered each year to measure his success and make adjustments to his strategy.
Now, we are far from a major company, but I too like the idea of revisiting the same questions each year to see how we have progressed and where we may need to make changes. Some of you may remember the questions – here they are:
Was it a good year?
For 2011, any way we look at it, we can only answer this question one way: YES - IN A BIG WAY!!! When we started following a couple of guys on Facebook that were starting a Winery less than 10 miles from the Brickhouse we had no idea what lie ahead. They also started following us – just being courteous, we thought. Within the first couple of months in 2011, the Co-Owners of Armstrong Valley Vineyard and Winery visited the Brickhouse to meet with Patti about some plans they had for some events throughout the year. The first event was going to be their Preview Opening in May for their Facebook followers. They wanted to have music, food – and crafts. I don’t want to make this a very long post so I won’t go into all the details but this was the beginning of a partnership that we had never dreamed of. Jake and Dean asked The Brickhouse to help get crafters to set up at the Winery for the Facebook Preview Opening weekend.
The second AVW event was their official Grand Opening in July and the third event was their Fall Harvest Festival. Each event drew more people and all these events were received very well. The Brickhouse, along with many other crafters, including some from the Brickhouse family, met many new friends who have become regular customers.
Oh yeah – there was one other AVW event we found out about at their Fall Harvest Festival. Jake and Dean were planning a Holiday Open House – including the Summer Kitchen on the property. And they wanted the Brickhouse to decorate the Summer Kitchen. Of course we said we’d love to do that. Then they said they would provide some of their staff to sell the crafts that were decorating the Summer Kitchen. So from the end of November until the middle of December, each Saturday afternoon the Brickhouse had two locations! Then in the middle of that was Black Friday and Small Business Saturday.
With all those Winery events and Holiday Sales Days, many of our regular customers – and MANY new customers came out to visit us and support us and all of the Brickhouse crafters. Oh and by the way – we were proud to introduce one of our newest crafters who we first met at Armstrong Valley Winery.
A good year - a very good year!
Did we accomplish what we set out to do?
We accomplished much of what we set out to do – we were able to cross off a number of items and throw away a few notes. We continued to add new fragrances to our line of Brickhouse Tarts and Scent Shots. We also continued to add new colors – and frosting! – to our line of dipped light strings and bulbs.
In the shop, we upgraded our music system – we’re still working on installing the ‘Porch Sitting’ speakers.
But for us, we always get the biggest sense of accomplishment out of the connections we create. We added some great new crafters this year and connected them – through their talented work – to our many wonderful customers. During the Holiday season, we found out that some of the crafts that left the Brickhouse made their way to New York, Michigan, Arizona – and Spain!
Could we have done things better?
Of course we could have – we’re not perfect. For everyone who needed to wait for an order, we apologize. This happens sometimes since everything is hand made. And Patti and I are guilty of this as well – we didn’t realize how popular our dipped lights would be – and I made a few special customer orders that took longer than expected. But – we are picky. We are customers too and so we tend to look at our work from the other side of the counter. The events that we did at the Winery taught us a lot. Throughout the year we again jotted down notes and have some homework to do. We will be holding our annual Planning meeting in a few weeks to get started on that homework.
Are we still having fun?
Absolutely – after a year like this it’s hard not to be having fun. We are still having fun watching customers who have been with us from the start still coming back to visit us. We are still having fun meeting new customers who’ve ‘been meaning to stop by for a long time – and today was the day’. We are still having fun watching Howie, the Brickhouse Greeter, get chased around the shop by our customers kids.
Yes, the fun never ends. And we love it. So bring on 2012!