May '19

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 9 M A Y P R I N T W E A R 5 3 are to you so that your shipping costs will be as minimal as possible. Select your favorite products from the wholesale distributor that you like working with and is within one-day shipping if pos- sible. Pick up a basic 50/50 shirt that you like. Also decide what 100 percent cotton shirt and a piqué you want to work with, as these will be your 'work horses' that you always show customers. Order a size scale of these shirts; one of every size from XS through at least 2X if not 3X. You can stick with one color or go for the rainbow, with each size in a different color, but select colors that are classics for corporate and school logos if you go with the rainbow approach. When your cus- tomer is uncertain about what size to order, you will have samples on hand to help them make that decision. If you sell a lot of T- shirts, you may also want to pick up a 50/50 blend and an all-cotton T-shirt in a range of sizes and colors. While this may seem like a lot of inventory, we found that having these items on hand often helped us close the sale, moving the customer from "Should I get it?" to "What size should I get?" or "What color should I get?" It is also very helpful to have a full-length mirror available and even a dressing room so that customers can try on products. PRICING Setting your prices so you are earning a reasonable wage for the work you are do- ing is tough for most new embroidery busi- ness owners. At the bare minimum, shoot to earn at least $30/hour. In the simplest of terms, this means you should be charging 50 cents for every minute you spend on an order. Always document what you charged for each customer and every job so that when they come back and order more, you have a baseline of what to charge. Have all the de- tails, including the garments by item num- ber, color, and supplier; embroidery design used; placement details, thread colors; and even backings. Create an internal order form that tracks all these details in the same way to make it consistent. Before you quote a reorder, make sure that you measured if and how much profit you made so that you can adjust your pricing if necessary. If you would like to dig deeper into the process of setting profitable prices, email me at and I will send you some pricing worksheets and tools. TIME MANAGEMENT SKILLS Your time is your most precious asset. How you choose to spend your time will directly impact your earnings potential. Custom- ers will take as much time as you let them. Learn to manage the sales process so that you are serving your customers' needs, an- swering their questions, and still getting paid reasonably. Deliberately manage your time and streamline the different processes to be as productive as possible. Check your email twice a day, once sometime in the morn- ing and once in the afternoon. Respond to customers and suppliers as needed, delete the junk, and move things that will require more of your attention to a 'to-do' folder. Once you realize your email inbox really is filled with 'to-do's' that other people want to assign to you, it is easier to use it as a tool to help run your business, not absorb all your time. Order inventory twice a week. Simplify your inventory process by combining or- ders and then ordering inventory for several customers at the same time. You will also save on shipping. If a customer must have something sooner than that, charge them a rush fee and 100% of the shipping that will be incurred. Unpack and sort inventory once or twice a week instead of every time a box arrives. Deliver orders once a week on a designated delivery day. Create an internal inventory log to organize and track what you need to order, when it is ordered and from whom, and when it arrives at your business. BUSINESS ESSENTIALS Get a phone number, an email address, and voicemail for the business. You also need at least some sort of web presence, While you may never want or need mul- tiple machines, doing proper research on equipment that can be linked and work together will make the transition easier. (Image courtesy Otto International)

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