Workshops can be a wonderful way to add revenue to any retail business. In fact, you don’t even need to have your own space to host a workshop. Many businesses are always looking for ways to get traffic through their doors. Don’t be afraid to ask about utilizing their space. Over the years I have learned how to host successful workshops and events for repeat students, sold-out workshops resulting in higher sales revenue and profit margins.
How to Host Successful Workshops
Here are my top 8 tips for hosting successful workshops:
1. Get Paid
The most important aspect of hosting a successful workshop? Getting paid! Make sure to have an online payment option, like PayPal, your website, Facebook pay, or Eventbrite. The chances of someone emailing or asking to join are less likely when someone can easily click a payment method at their convenience. People are BUSY! Make it as easy as possible for people to pay for their tickets. This also reduces no-shows as now your attendees are committed. This is my absolute number one tip! There is nothing more disappointing for you and a potential customer than having to pay at the door and not having enough seats or supplies. Collect payment before at the very least for supply planning purposes.
2. Market Your Workshop
Post on your website, social media, and community groups several times, and at least 30 days before your event. You might not see registrations until the cutoff date but this gives people time to plan and coordinate. Ask local businesses if you can leave a flyer at their counter and offer to take their business card to hand out in your class or post in your business. Networking is free and word of mouth is the best compliment. If you don’t have a space of your own, ask to host a workshop in another business or event space. Some businesses will charge a small fee or let you do this for free to get traffic in their doors. Don’t be afraid to ask! Sometimes, I offer to travel to an organization or location in order to bring more people there. For example, a church generally has a large space and I love that as an option. I set a minimum person requirement and add a small travel fee to cover the costs of extra packing materials or additional staffing which I build into the final cost.
3. Organize your supplies
Make a list of everything you need to create your project. Don’t forget your setup and clean up supplies and add a bit for waste. For example, I will have an extra 1 or 2 projects for every class (at the bare minimum) in case a part breaks or someone shows up without registering. That always seems to happen when you’re not prepared. Make a list and check your supplies levels. Don’t forget paper towels, toilet paper, and hand soap. It’s really easy to forget and run out when you’re doing so much beforehand. I have a document checklist saved for each class.
4. Create an agenda or outline
Your agenda can be as simple as blocks to take notes or details with every step. As your classes get bigger, the agenda can become an easy take-home reference; some people just won’t ask questions in-person because they don’t want to interrupt. Having a print-out for your guests looks professional and lets your guests take notes, like future class dates to sign up for and a way to contact you after class. Add your email and website information!
5. Have some sort of beverage
This can be as elaborate as you want or as simple as offering water. You can make labels with your business name and add them to water bottles. Offer coffee with fun flavor shots. It’s a low-cost addition and goes a long way with your guests.
6. Set up as if you’re hosting a dinner party
I’m not talking about fancy decorations… Unless you’re a little extra and love details. I love being a little extra, so pretty glass jars for rinsing paint brushes are a nice inexpensive touch… Set a place for each guest before they arrive with their project and supplies together. This keeps things running smoothly and saves time, rather than handing out supplies and having your guests figure out how to arrange it all when they pick their seats. I also suggest pre-measuring paint and other liquid items, or having a helper there to pour and measure. New guests and beginners don’t always know how much of each supply that they may need and wasted supplies have a way of cutting into your profits.
7. Practice Gracious Hosting
During your workshop make your guests feel as at home as possible. Remind them to relax and that they’re here to have fun and learn! Share stories about yourself to break the ice; I like to share a funny “art oops” moment. Don’t just teach, start conversations! Cover all the basics;make sure to point out where the restrooms, beverages or snacks are located, and encourage mingling. During the quiet times and breaks, offer to take photos! I know that I always forget to take photos when I’m having fun creating, and guests always appreciate when I offer to capture those moments.. This also helps with potential recommendations. Your guests will post the pictures you take to their social media accounts, so encourage them to tag your business page Word-of-mouth is the best way to get referrals.
8. Give an incentive
Give your guests a reason to shop and return! When you’re at the end of the workshop and during the goodbyes, offer a shopping discount to encourage product sales during the class if you’re in a retail space. If you’re using another’s business space, offer a discount for an upcoming class or purchase on your website if you have one. Have a schedule ready or a class to offer that day to make it super easy for your guests.
Hosting successful workshops is really just a matter of paying attention to the little things! I hope you find the courage to start and see what happens for you and your business. Wishing you much luck and creativity in your journey.
Kimberly is the owner and artist behind Rubbish Restyled and The Creative Mingo. You can find her retail and teaching studio in Lake Mills, Wisconsin. She is best known for her colorful whimsy furniture creations and her specialty is fun inviting spaces for creative gatherings and party hosting. Kimberly is a wife and mother of three sons and resides in Milton, Wisconsin.View Kimberly’s Full Bio