Meet Melanie Van Weelden with Yard Love Cedar Rapids
What is your favorite trick of the trade that’s made your job easier?
Hiring extra help! In addition to our daughters, we have four other teenagers on our team who help when they can. They have all learned the three aspects of the business: organizing the setups, setting up the greeting, and picking the signs up. This helps so they can keep the business going while we are gone. Normally, they do all of the pickups and my husband and I do the setups. It’s a great job for the teenagers because they love driving around and listening to music anyway, so it isn’t much more effort to go pick up signs and bring them back to our house. It makes it possible to do a much higher volume of business with the help.
What’s the best part of owning your Yard Love business?
Being able to make people happy! We both have jobs that can be pretty stressful, so we love the opportunity to make people smile. Close second – Our girls are very busy with sports and school and didn’t have time for typical teenage jobs. Yard Love has allowed them to earn money because they can make their own schedules around their school activities.
Do you have a special response you’ve gotten from setting up a sign that you can share?
Our favorite story is of a five-year-old girl who was so excited about her birthday that she ran out when we came to pick up the signs and spent half an hour telling us all of her favorite presents. She was most excited about her new bike!
What is the most outlandish greeting request you’ve received?
I just had one for Holy Balls, it’s Khris’ Birthday. I had to email another Yard Love Affiliate to see if she thought it would fall under an obscene request. We decided it didn’t qualify but I still talked the lady into a more traditional birthday greeting.
What is one idea that helped you grow your business?
There were two other yard sign companies in town before we got started. We set our price point just under the lowest base price of the other two. This accomplished two things: 1.) If someone was just casually looking at websites we were still the lowest price and 2.) It created a buzz in the community that we were the company that didn’t have all the extra add on expenses at the end of the checkout process. Marketing ourselves as the flat fee place has been successful.
What was the hardest thing to get used to when you first started? How did you adjust?
Getting our routine set up was the most difficult. We now have a standard pattern that we use for birthdays which makes organizing easier. We also do all our pickups at night. We tell our customers that their 24 hour rental starts the night before their event day but they can choose to have them installed that morning if they would prefer, however we will still pick the signs up that night. Having all pickups at night makes the logistics much easier.
What advice would you provide to someone getting started?
Follow as many of the other Yard Love affiliate pages as you can. I am continually amazed by the creativity of the other affiliates and I am continually learning about how to improve displays.
What is your favorite graphic?
The jumbo cupcakes are great!
Have you ever been caught-in-the-act of setting up a surprise greeting for someone? Tell us about it.
Brian was doing a set up for a 16-year-old and she came home as he was just getting started. He dove behind a tree so she wouldn’t see him! Ha ha ha!
What is your favorite custom or unique sign you’ve done?
Probably the Happy six-month Kidney-Versary that we did for someone who was celebrating a kidney transplant. We started our Yard Love business in October 2019 as a part-time venture for our whole family. I am a full-time Senior Minister, and my husband is a full-time Senior Systems Engineer. We have three teenage daughters, Leah (19), Ella (17) and Mila (14) and two goldendoodles who love to “help” us get the signs organized!