Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fundraising Tip #2 - Mickman Brothers Holiday Fundraiser

Partner with a Business Buying Partner!

Do you or someone in your Organization know someone that:
  • Owns their own business?
  • Works in Sales?
  • Works in Real Estate?
  • Has Vendors or Customers?
Holiday Gift Products are the perfect Holiday Appreciation Gifts!

We can customize a program to git the needs of your Buying Partner!

With each Holiday Gift purchased, a tree will be planted in honor of the recipient.  Click here to view the recipients of past Christmases.

Call the Mickman Brothers Customer Service Team with any questions. 1.800.446.4229 
Follow us on Twitter @XmasFundraiser

Are We Having Fun Yet? - Mickman Brothers Wreath Fundraiser

When we were kids back in the 1950's & 60's, our parents had a part-time Christmas Wreath Business.  Our dad worked as an aeronautical engineer at Honeywell and our mom was a stay-at-home mother with four wild boys and one nice daughter.  Mom kept the books, contacted customers and answered the phone.  She still works in the wreath business calling on interested fundraising chairpersons!  This year at age 86, she will call over 2000 people!

Some of my earliest memories are of the big truck that would arrive at our house to deliver the bundles of Balsam Boughs (wreath greenery).  It was a Big Truck - especially for young boys.  The driver was a little old, leather-faced man named 'Harry the Horseman'.  We never saw him without a cigarette dangling from his lips and his voice sounded like a goose fart on a muggy morning.

When we were old enough, my dad would schedule Harry to deliver the boughs when my brothers and I arrived home from school.  I was probably about 9 or 10 when this part started.  Climbing up this big old flat-front Mack Truck and throwing bundles of boughs from way up high was something we really looked forward to.  Sometimes the neighborhood kids would come to help with the unloading.  "Are we having fun yet?" was the infamous phrase toward the end of each 5-8 ton load of boughs.  We were always dog-tired, but we made a game out of it and loved jumping around on the big piles of boughs.

The next step was to load my dad's smaller trailer with boughs for distribution to the 'Wreath Makers'; this was called going on 'The Route'.  These Wreath Makers were all stay-at-home moms that made wreaths in their homes to earn extra Christmas money.  There were about 20 Makers that we would make weekend and evening 'Routes' to - dropping off boughs and pick up undecorated wreaths.  There were small groupings of Makers in a few different neighborhoods.  Between Makers, my brother Mark and I would get to ride in the back of the open top trailer lying on the boughs and telling stories.  Yes, we were having fun!

Upon arrival at each Maker's house, our dad would count the wreaths which were in stacks of 4 high, stored on the shady side of the house or garage.  A big Maker could make over 100 wreaths in a week.  After 'the count' dad would go inside to talk to the Maker and sign a 'pick-up slip'.  This wouldn't take long, and while he was busy talking with the lady, my brother and I would unload the specified number of boughs from the trailer and pick up the wreaths.

Picking up the wreaths involved reaching into the center hole with your wrist, grabbing the bottom wreath, picking up the stack of 4 wreaths and putting them on a 2-by-2 (which we called a 'stick').  A full 'stick of wreaths' was 18.  When we were small, my brother and I could only handle one stick at a time; when we were older we could carry 2 sticks between us.

These jobs were always fun until the snow came.  After a snow storm, the boughs would be all ice caked and heavy, and the twine would break if we pulled on it too hard.  Then we had a mess.  And when we picked up the wreaths with a fresh coating of snow on them, our wrists would become ice packed just above our wet, woolen mittens.  We dreaded that part, but what were we supposed to do?  We sure couldn't tell dad we didn't like it, for he would surely tell us that this would toughen us up and give us more character.  My brother and I always agreed that we could do with a little less character and a little warmer accommodations!

Many, many times after a really long, hard Route, dad would stop at the local 'Embers' cafe and buy us each a blueberry sundae.  They used real blueberry syrup and put a lot at the bottom, then ice cream, them blueberries on top with whipped cream.  A bright red cherry topped off this treat and it was always exciting to see the smiling waitress bring our sundaes over to our booth.  My brother and I always looked forward to this treat during which we'd talk over the events of the day on the Route with dad, and laugh and giggle about all the funny things that inevitably occurred.  Dad had a big, easy laugh and he sincerely loved spending this time with us.  I'm sure we were a wet, cold mess among all the 'proper' evening customers that were there for a night out, but I don't remember being bothered by that even one little bit.  I'm sure my dad wasn't bothered either.

'Are we having fun yet?'  I am, I hope you are too!

John S Mickman
Follow us on Twitter @XmasFundraiser

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Misplaced Medallion - Mickman Brothers Holiday Fundraiser

The following letter was sent to me a few seasons ago by a young Cub Scout after their very successful Holiday Wreath Fundraiser had concluded.  The publication, and my response, was agreed to by Daniel and his parents.

My letter back to Daniel:

"Dear Daniel,

Thank you for taking the time to write to me.  I am so sorry that your medal was lost - and lost on the special awards evening.  I can just imagine how sad you were.  As you see, I have been able to replace your Gold Medal which is enclosed.

It is a great honor for me to make this medal replacement to a person that has worked so hard to achieve this level of excellence.  When I was your age, I too was a Scout that sold Christmas Wreaths, and I remember how much work it was.  To sell 54 items is a feat achieved by few.

It is unlikely that you will be selling Wreaths when you are an adult.  However, the same focus, hard work, planning and execution it takes to sell wreaths are all character traits of a leader and a successful person.  When you choose your future career(s) please remember to choose something that you enjoy doing.  When you are doing something you enjoy, it is not called work; it is called living a successful life - no matter how much money you have.

Congratulations, Daniel.  I wish all good things for you in the future."

NOTE: An Awards Recognition Ceremony is a great way to reward your members for the hard work they did for their Holiday Wreath Fundraiser.  Establish an Awards Program based on unit sales and you'll create an opportunity to win.  Recognize your members and they'll respond with their best efforts. 

John Mickman

Fundraising Step 2 - Mickman Brothers Wreath Fundraiser

Plan your FUN-draiser Kick-Off Meeting!

Invite the Fundraising Committee and all of your members to the Kick-Off Meeting.  Call and email everyone so they can be sure to attend!  This is a really important step for your boy scout troop, cub scout pack, high school marching band, church youth group, hockey or any other Fundraising Organization!

Meeting Agenda:
  • Remind everyone WHY: you are doing the Fundraiser.  Motivate them to sell!
  • Explain the Fundraising Programs: Use your Program for Success (located in the folder you first received) as a guide.
  • Discuss the Sales Incentives: Get your members pumped-up about their Fundraiser!  Are you giving out awards or medallions to top sellers?
  • Product Knowledge: Review your Sales Aids and explain the products, their prices and delivery.
  • Explain the Goals (or set them).
  • Distribute the Fundraising Tip Sheet: Have your members fill out their 'Customer List' and get everyone started selling.  Review the Schedule of Events Calendar.
  • "Role Playing" of an actual sale: Practice what you'll say to your customers.
  • Share your tips: Have previous top sellers discuss what made them successful.
  • TIP: Encourage your members to get their Customer's email address.  This will be useful for announcing Delivery Dates and for next year's Holiday Fundraiser!

    Thursday, September 15, 2011

    Fundraising Season Planner - Mickman Brothers Holiday Fundraiser

    Why is it important to sign up now?  Follow this general timeline to keep your Fundraising Organization on track for a successful fundraiser!

    • TODAY: Fill out your Fundraising Data Sheet
    • Next Week: We'll send out your Fundraiser Kit to arrive at your shipping address within 5 to 7 business days.  This will include the Fundraising Guide explaining all 7 steps.
    • Mid to Late September: Schedule a Kick-Off Meeting with your Organization Members to distribute Sales Brochures and other fundraising materials and share all important dates.
    • Late September/October: Selling time - This is best accomplished in a 2-3 week window.  This amount of time keeps your members motivated.  Schedule a few Update Meetings to review your goal numbers and answer questions.
    • Late October: Schedule a Final Order Meeting during the last week of October to collect orders and payments (if you're participating in the Holiday Gift Program).  Final Orders are due November 1st.
    • November/December: Orders are shipped either to your organization for distribution or directly to your customers!
    • Late December/January: Awards Ceremony to recognize your members for their hard work!

    Follow this link to fill out your Fundraising Data Sheet!

    All of us at Mickman Brothers look forward to working with you.  If you have any questions, please contact us at 800.466.4229.  Our hours of operation are 8AM to 6PM CDT.

    Fundraising Tip #1 - Mickman Brothers Holiday Fundraiser

    Schedule a Fundraising Event!

    Promote your boy scout troop, high school marching band, christian youth group, or other fundraising organization by organizing a Fundraising Event!  Contact your Customer Service Rep to request a Sample Wreath for your event and watch your sales soar sky high!  800.446.4229

    Church Services:
    • Weekly Announcements & Bulletins are a fantastic way to advertise your sale!
    • Take advantage of the coffee and refreshments area; set up your Holiday Wreath order form there!
    • Use a Sample Wreath so customers can see what they're buying.  The quality of our products from the pine cones to the ribbon is the best in the industry!
    • Distribution to your Church customers will be a breeze since they will all be there every Sunday!
    School Events:
    • Choose one or two events to sell at, sporting events always draw a good crowd!  You can have your customers come back on your scheduled distribution day to pick up their wreaths or offer to deliver them to their residence.
    • Set up your Holiday Wreath order form near the entrance so everyone will see you!
    • Use a Sample Wreath to display during your sale.
    The following are great ideas for our Holiday Gift Product Program.  Just have your customers fill out the Holiday Gift Order Form, sign the card and submit their payment.  You mail the forms along with payment and we do the rest!  This will eliminate Delivery to out-of-the-way addresses.

    Community Businesses:
    • Ask your local businesses (grocery store, cafe, bank, etc.) for permission to set up an area to take orders for your Holiday Fundraiser.  
    • Use a Sample Wreath to display!  This is a superb selling tool!
    Other Location Ideas:
    • Parent/Teacher Conferences
    • School Plays
    • Fall Harvest Festivals
    • Halloween Parades and Events

        Heavenly Rewards - Mickman Brothers Wreath Fundraiser

        After working with our Christmas Wreath Fundraising Chairpersons for most of my life, I have to report that you volunteers are some of the biggest-hearted, and honest people I have ever met.  At the same time, the neighbors we have around us are great to work with, and we all go out of our way to help each other.  Put the two together, and you end up with a fantastic combination.  To wit:

        Many of our local and Midwest customers choose to pick up their orders instead of having us arrange transportation.  This usually works quite well, but I have to admit that many of the contraptions that arrive remind me of the buggies my dad used to use back in the 1950's.  We always have a lot of bailing twine handy to lash the boxes down on open, flat bed trailers; we've gotten very good at knot tying and I'm pretty sure most customers arrive home with their entire order intact.

        A couple of years ago, two good buddies from a Church Youth Group in Iowa pulled up in an old, enclosed church cube van on Saturday - just before we were closing for the day.  They had some transmission trouble on the way up they explained, but finally made it.  Well, we loaded them up and their very large order barely fit (with some custom packing by yours truly). 

        I was out by the van when they started up and waved goodbye.  They only made it about 50 feet when their transmission stopped working altogether.  After a short conversation, the fact was revealed that neither they nor their church 'transportation fund' had any money.  Hmmmm... Now there was a problem!

        So I called up my old buddy Guy Bleckenger who owns a car repair shop down the street and asked if he could come over and look at the van.  He came right over and made the dreaded proclamation that the transmission was toast.  I explained to Guy that no one had any money and asked how much a used transmission with labor would be.  He told the three of us, and it was much more reasonable than one would have thought.

        Then, one of the church guys asked Guy if he needed any carpentry done, because both he and his buddy were professional carpenters.  "Well yeah," Guy announced.  "I need to have a big expansion to my shop sheet-rocked."  In short order, Guy and the 2 church guys had it all worked out.

        Guy towed the van to his shop, then went to the junk yard to pick up the used transmission.  The church guys jumped right in and started to hang sheet rock.  When I left them at about 6:30PM, everything was well under way.  By Sunday (after church services) the two church guys were on their way back to Iowa, with a fine, used transmission and Guy had his new shop completely rocked with the first coat of tape applied.

        All the players won, once again.  The Church Youth Group had a very successful fundraiser, the Church got a new (used) transmission, I got a very loyal customer and Guy Bleckinger got his new shop rocked.  Hopefully, we'll all get our heavenly rewards too!

        John Mickman

        Thursday, September 8, 2011

        Glittered Cones - Mickman Brothers Holiday Fundraiser

        My Gramma started her wreath business in St Paul during the Great Depression; it helped immensely to sustain their family.  She and my grandpa never worked for anyone, and always earned their living with a string of small businesses.

        By the time my brother Mark and I were old enough to work (in the mind of our family) at the ages of about 8 or 9, we were borrowed to Gramma and Grampa to help during the summer in their various businesses. Grampa’s Bleach business (Hydro-Bleach) as well as Gramma’s Wreath Business were the two pursuits we worked at during those years in the 1950's.

        What did we do in the Wreath Business during the Summer? Well, painting and glittering pine cones of course. It went like this:

        Grampa would get his old 50 gallon drum that had a lid, and bring it to the top of the slope that descended to the lake they lived on, Lake Owasso in Shoreview, MN. Then, Mark and I would dump a bunch of cones from burlap sacks and pour some white paint into the drum. After securing the lid, we would roll the drum down the hill, mainly holding it back so that it didn't roll over us and end up in the lake! On the trip down the slope, the cones would bounce around inside the drum with the paint so all the tips would be painted. When we got the barrel safely to the flat spot just before the lake, we'd stop the drum, pop open the lid and dump the cones on the big sheet of plastic. Gramma would then use a shaker to shake silver glitter onto the cones. Mark and I thought they looked pretty cool! Then, he and I would roll the drum back up the hill to do another batch.
        In the hot summer sun, the cones would dry rapidly and the four of us would periodically gather them together and put them back into the burlap sacks. Grampa kept the supplies coming and carried the finished cones to the top up the hill. "Boyz-oh-boyz, those cones are heavy" he would say to Mark and me. During those years Gramma made about 5,000 wreaths a year, and wired 5 cones on each wreath - we painted and glittered 25,000 cones each summer!
        Gramma and Grampa made this project fun and we could easily see the fruits of our labor. When we got too hot we went swimming. When we got too tired we all rested. There was no rush, but Grandma was very picky about the 'look' of each cone. We always did a good job, and although we didn't earn much, my brother Mark and I always had our own money.

        Today was one of many 'Pine Cone Painting' days at Mickman Brothers. We do semi-truck load per day with a machine we invented that does a wonderful job. Some years ago I remembered glittering cones with Gramma and experimented with adding that process to our pine cone painting program. Our Wreath Production Supervisor, Berta, came up with a couple of good ideas that helped the process immensely.

        So now, all of the Classic Style Wreaths and Sprays you order have white-tipped, glittered cones and they look awesome. To my knowledge, we are the only large wreath company in the nation that adds this, what I think is a great accent, to their pine cones.

        All thanks to Gramma. I hope you like them!

        John Mickman

        Fundraising Step 1 - Mickman Brothers Holiday Wreath Fundraiser

        If your Fundraising Organization has signed up for our Holiday Fundraiser you may be wondering "Now what?"  Schedule a Fundraising Committee Planning Meeting for your boy scout troop, high school marching band, church youth group, hockey team, or other fundraising group.

        Meeting Agenda Guide:
        • Determine Group Goals: What is your goal? The Fundraising Tally Spreadsheet is an excellent tool in determining how to attain your goal.
        • Determine Selling Prices for Each Product: We recommend a profit of $5-$7 per item (make sure you have included shipping costs and bag costs as well).
        • Determine Additional Sales Tools and Accessories Needed: Do you need Door Hanger Notices or Posters?
        • Create Sales Packets: Help your members get organized! Have your committee members fill out all the pertinent information on your: Sales Aids; Holiday Gift Order Forms; Tip Sheets; Fundraising Envelopes; Door Hanger Notices; and any other Sales Tool as it applies to the brochure you are using.
        • Distribution & Delivery Address for your Shipment: Where will it be convenient for your members to pick up their orders?
        • Determine Meeting Dates and Other Major Dates: Fill this information in on Page 2 of your Fundraising Guide located in Tab 1 of your Holiday Fundraising Organizer. This information should also be included on the 'Fundraising Tip Sheet' calendar.

        Thursday, September 1, 2011

        Fundraising Testimonial - High School Gymnastics Team - Wreath Fundraiser

        Testimonial submitted by Christy L. of the St Francis Gymnastics Team:

        "Flipping Out over Mickman's Fundraiser:

        St Francis High School Gymnastics Team
        The St Francis High School Gymnastics Team has been selling wreaths through the Mickman's Wreath Fundraiser for over 11 years!  The Mickman's Fundraiser has been the biggest and most important fundraiser for the SFHS Gymnastics Team over the years and is of great importance to the team primarily because it helps to cover the cost of important assistant coaches fees which must be covered by the team and the team's booster club.  The two assistant coaches are critical to the team for two reasons: providing support for safety is a huge component to the sport of gymnastics; in addition they assist the head coach by providing additional coaching.  That ability to provide quality coaching has helped this team to achieve the status of North Suburban Conference Champs six years in a row!  The fundraiser also has helped to provide funding for new leotards for the team.

        Working with Mickman's could not be easier!  The fundraiser packets and fundraiser tools and spreadsheets are easy to use and easily accessible by mail or on their website.  We have a customer service representative assigned to our group which ensures we receive special attention and understanding of our order, and the free delivery to our designated distribution site is an amazing service provided by Mickmans!

        In addition, for two years now - a local business has used the wreath fundraising program for Christmas gifts to their customers.  Their main customers are Pheasants Forever, National Wild Turkey Federation, Ruffed Grouse Society, Ducks Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Delta Waterfowl and more.  These customers are very 'green' friendly and conservation oriented.  They really enjoy the 'Plant a Tree' program set up by this fundraising program.  The corporate offices of these previously mentioned organizations proudly have their wreaths decorating their spaces and giving a refreshing pine scent.

        The Mickman's Fundraiser provides our SFHS Gymnastics Team with a way in which to raise important funds for our team, through an organization that provides a quality product that customer love to receive, with great environmentally friendly features!  It has been, and will continue to be a great fundraising option for our team!"

        Congratulations to the St Francis Gymnastics Team on your past accomplishments!  We wish you continued success in all of your fundraising efforts!

        Mickman Brothers Holiday Fundraiser

        Pine Cone Pickers - Mickman Brothers Holiday Fundraiser

        We use over 1,500,000 pine cones on our Christmas wreaths and accents each year.  Have you ever wondered where all the pine cones come from?  Hint: There is no such thing as a Pine Cone Store.

        Back in the late 1950's and 1960's our dad, John Victor Mickman, would drive all us boys out to the Black Hills of South Dakota - the closet location to Minnesota where one can find Ponderosa Pine Trees.  Actually, the reason they call them 'The Black Hills' is because when you see them from a distance across the prairie, the profuse quantity of Ponderosa Trees make the Black Hills look black!

        My dad had a full time job as an engineer at Honeywell, and he would take his 2 week vacation to bring us out there to get the Ponderosa Pine Cones we needed for the Wreath Business.  It would take most of this time to 'pick' a load of cones in his BIG trailer; he would then take it home to Minnesota and leave us boys in the Black Hills (living in a big army tent) to pick another load (or two) depending on how many we needed.

        The first couple of years we did this, dad left just my brother Mark and me out there; the first time we stayed alone we were 10 and 12 respectively.  Mark and I were best friends, but we were also high spirited brothers, and there were many times that we got into fights over one thing or another.  One afternoon we really got into it.  Tempers flared right into the night and we just couldn't get over it; we went to bed still mad at each other.

        The next morning I woke up in the tent and immediately felt there was something different happening.  I crawled out of my sleeping bag and looked out the tent's door flap and saw that Mark was up already getting ready to start up the old Coleman Stove to make breakfast.  He was perfectly still and looking out over a small ravine that had a barbed wire fence on the other side.  There, standing still at the edge of the fence was an albino deer and her albino fawn.  They were both looking directly at my brother and me from a distance of not more than 60 feet.  None of the four of us moved for over a minute; we were entranced with the sight; the deer were surprised to see 2 young boys in the middle of nowhere, and my brother and I of the sheer miracle of nature at our doorstep.

        After a short time, the two deer effortlessly hopped over the fence and bounded across the field into the woods.  We never saw them again.

        After they disappeared, Mark turned to me and asked, "Did you see those deer?" "Yeah," I replied.  "Did you see they were pure white - they almost glowed?" Mark started pumping the stove up again and said, "They were albino deer.  I bet we're the only ones in the whole wide world that have ever seen two albino deer!"  And off our young boy chatter began, the fight from the past afternoon and night forgotten forever.

        Two independent young brothers, alone in the wilderness, having to deal with all that life was throwing at us.  We needed a miracle, and it could not have come at a better time.

        John Mickman