This is an excerpt from Get Your Greeting Cards Into Stores: How to Find and Work With Sales Reps (Updated 2017 paperback) If you like to make greeting cards, this book explains how to get your cards into stores and sell them nationwide. Learn about changing trends in the indie card market and niche opportunities available for artists. Book includes detailed guidelines on pricing cards for a profit, getting professional feedback on your designs, finding sales representatives, pitching your card line to them, approaching stores, and the industry standards you should follow. Information is also applicable to gift items, such as magnets, journals and calendars.
In my experience of working with over 100 greeting card sales reps, I have found that contracts are rarely used. Even if you don't have a contract; it is advisable to write your own business policies. If for some reason there is confusion about commission rates or shipping costs, then it is all in writing. I call this an “Agreement Form” and I asked the rep to read and sign it before I shipped a sample deck of cards to them. For example, one of my policies was that I did not accept returns. For some reps, this might be a surprise. It is better they know up front instead of finding out later, after they accept a return from a store. Having them sign a form will motivate them to read your policies thoroughly.
An agreement form might include the following:
-The rep’s territory.
This lists the wholesale price of your cards in dozens and half dozens, and if there is any discount for larger quantities.
-The rep’s commission.
This is normally 20 percent for handmade cards.
This is the day of the month the rep is paid. I made it a policy to pay reps two weeks after the prior month ended. For example, their commission for all the orders I shipped in May would be paid on June 15.
This is the minimum sized order you will accept. A good starting point is $100, but in the beginning, it is OK to not have a minimum. This allows the store to try out your line first, without investing in a large order.
State whether you accept returns and on what conditions. For example, you might accept undamaged holiday card returns.
This says what sales support materials you offer, such as catalogs, store signs or headers (sign behind cards on a rack that say things like “Birthday”) or store racks.
This says you will notify the rep of stores who are ninety days overdue on paying. This allows the rep to know the status of slow payers. They might want to help you collect.
This describes whether you offer card racks. It is something you probably do not need at the beginning of your business, but later, reps can help you consider different options for offering racks to stores.
Are your charges by weight or by a percentage of the invoice? I chose to have a percentage of the invoice, so that even the rep could estimate the shipping charges when at a sales meeting.