How To: Running Merch At Your Show
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Chances are one of the first things you’ll be doing once your band is playing shows is selling merch. It should be. It’s really easy to do, but there is a right way and a wrong way to do it.
Most people in local bands just take money and give change when selling merch. This works, but it’s not the best way to do it. Even for local shows, it’s useful to count in your merch, keep track of sales that night, and then count out to make sure everything is correct. It’s a good habit to get into for when you’re selling more merch down the road.
Below are some sample merch tally sheets, one on paper the good old fashioned way and one in excel. If you end up doing a tour, I recommend keeping track of your sales with an Excel spreadsheet (just make a new tab for each show) on a laptop or tablet. Using a band merchandise spreadsheet is a lot easier in the long run than writing it all down by hand. There are even apps to track merch sales that are completely free, such as Merch, as well as others like AtVenu that integrate with Square POS to make credit transactions even easier.
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Here’s my typical workflow if I’m working merch:
Count the change at the start of the night – especially if the band is supplying change, not myself. Write it down.
Count the tshirts, CDs, and anything else available. Write down the quantity of each, including the number of each size in stock.
Throughout the night when you sell something, mark it down on a tally sheet. Keep track of the sizes.
At the end of the night, count your cash and deduct the change you started with. Then, compare your income with the tally of items sold. You should have gained as much money as your tallied merch is collectively worth. If your tally and cash match the counts, great! Otherwise, you have to figure out what’s wrong.
If you have too much money, odds are you forgot to tally some things when they were sold. Double check that this is the case by recounting your merchandise to make sure you have the correct amount of stock left over. If you have less stock than you should, and it accounts for the extra cash, just tally the extra sales that you forgot to mark earlier.
If you are missing money, chances are you gave the wrong change or one of the band members decided to give a comp to someone without telling you. Don’t forget to account for any credit card payments you took, too. I made that mistake once and though I was missing $60! For any major differences in cash and inventory you should have versus what you actually have, a recount is in order.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or use the chat box on the site.