January '19

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 9 J A N U A R Y P R I N T W E A R 5 1 THE RIGHT TIME Quite often, smaller or mid-sized shops consider contracting out their promotion- al products services if they start reaching a larger quantity. But smaller-quantity or- ders may warrant a contractor too. Parties tend to agree that margins, versus volume, will generally help determine if it's worth relying on someone else to do the heavy lifting. "As a general rule, if your promo business is averaging less than $1,000 a week you should use a promo professional to handle the business so you can focus on your core decoration business," suggests Terry McGuire, HALO Branded Solu- tions. Conversely, if a shop is pulling in a size- able amount of promo products orders, that volume might be detrimental when it reaches a certain point, so it's critical for producers to pay attention to how it's af- fecting their overall operation. "(If ) they have so many sales that they are focusing on fulfilling those orders, and they're not able to bring in new sales, then that's a key indicator," explains Rachel Rofe, Custom- Happy. In other words, if a shop is merely treading water, it may be time to look for outside help. Sources recommend that when a pro- ducer is looking to expand the promotional goods wing of their business to approach it like they do most other parts of their opera- tion. "It's very similar to garment decorating because it's about knowing your capabili- ties," contends Bruce Ackerman, Printavo. And, much like some apparel decoration clients, Ackerman points out that at the end of the day, if it seems too big or complicated of a job to take on even with the option of contracting, it's okay to say "no." FINDING YOUR FIT Since every producer has their own busi- ness plan, ethos, and clientele, finding the "perfect" promotional products contractor will vary depending on what that shop sees as a priority. "Some people want to know how green the contractor's practices are, how their people are hired, and overall morale," notes Rofe. Meanwhile, some shops might be more focused on finding a provider that can offer core fulfillment roles like efficient packaging and a fluid order tracking system. Even with these dif- ferences in priority, shops should still be discerning, mainly if they're looking to this resource for high-quantity orders. "You need to treat this as if you're hir- ing an employee, so the questions you ask them should be very similar," Ackerman points out. "Tell them to give you an ex- ample of the last time they successfully turned a 50,000-piece order, and how they did so." If a producer wants to take that assessment one step further, Ackerman recommends placing a test run order with the company to see how their real-time performance is. A test order with a short turnaround time can help a shop get a "real world" feel of that company's competency, he suggests. Coasters are a popular item that dec- orators can outsource for high-volume orders. (Im- age courtesy Pic the Gift) Because contractors stock their own raw goods, shops won't have to worry about room to store extra inventory for various hard goods. (Image courtesy Pic the Gift)

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