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 3 lays due to shipping issues can all hamper orders. Selecting these firms in different ar- eas of the country can help alleviate some of these problems, especially since some parts of the country are more prone to hur- ricanes, severe winter weather, and flooding. "I would suggest three companies for each type of promo product you're selling," notes Ackerman. SELLING IT Successfully selling contracted promotional goods, parties agree, comes back down to how a shop already operates. "Fantastic cus- tomer support is really the best thing you can provide," says Rofe. "Because you're not wrapped up in the fulfillment side, now you have more time to add a personal touch on these orders." Whether that's an email from the shop owner ensuring the customer is satisfied with their order, a short, personal- ized thank-you note from the shop, or even some inexpensive swag like a set of coasters, all these finishing touches can help reinforce you're a shop that cares about its clients. Since these goods won't be onsite to dis- play in a shop's showroom, producers will have to be a little more creative with how they advertise these goods to their clients. Quite often, promo products companies will offer an online portal that decorators can customize to integrate with their own business' website. This setup makes it eas- ier for the customer to find all the services they need through one convenient website rather than initially contacting the decora- tor, then waiting for the decorator to confer with a contractor. Additionally, some com- panies offer a starter kit of decorated promo goods which decorators can show to their customers to give them a real-life sample of what their order will look like. However, promo companies generally charge a fee for this sample box. Shops will want to ensure they're comfortable with spending some money to obtain the client before taking this route. Parties also contend that rather than go- ing with the scattershot approach, dialing in what the customer's needs, event, and ideas are will help zero in how much and what kind of promo products will work best for high-volume contract jobs. "I think each [promotional] item has a story behind it," notes Ackerman, and by tapping into that story, decorators can combine those outsourced goods with products the shop already excels at in-house. For example, a customer interested in a large contracted order of trophies might also take an interest in custom-printed T-shirts that correspond with the event. Taking that extra time to learn more about the customer helps open doors for revenue, but it also helps cultivate more opportunities for long-term clients in- terested in those high-volume contract jobs. Once the order is set up with a promo products contractor, it may seem tempt- ing to move on to the next job since the work is offsite. But McGuire offers a part- ing thought; "Any chance you have in the process to create a client touch-point will benefit you." By maintaining that excel- lent customer service at home and vetting competent, efficient contractors, shops can find new ways to offer embellished prod- ucts outside of their standard apparel and headwear lines. PW 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.

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