June '19

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 9 J U N E P R I N T W E A R 1 9 shipping once a month or a quarter. We even built in a paid day off where they could create their own embroidered goods for themselves or as gifts for the holidays. There is no reason that you can't be as effective and innovative about how you find, train, and keep staff as you are in creating quality embroidered products. Great and growing businesses are created when you as the business owner realize that you can't do any more than you already are and decide to expand your workforce. Just like when you expand your machine output capacity, imagine how much more can be accomplished when you expand your manpower. PW Jennifer Cox is the president and co-founder of the National Network of Embroidery Professionals (NNEP), a professional organization for apparel decoration business owners. NNEP sup- ports the success of NNEP members with best practices, ideas, sources, solutions, volume-buying benefits, and services. Cox was recognized as a Top 50 Small Business Influencer and Community Choice Leader by Small Biz Trends in 2013, is recognized as one of the industry's "Most Creative Thinkers," and repeatedly ranks in the top 40 on the industry's "Power List." Reach her at or go to want to bring them on in a more perma- nent position. Some people start with a very brief training period, even as short as one week. We found that 20–30 days worked best for us. That gave the new hire enough time to get over the newness factor and be- gin to function as a staff member. You will be able to gauge how well they see color, as there is definitely a sliding scale when it comes to this ability. It also gave us enough time to see their skills develop, or not, to determine if they would be capable of doing the work. If things do not work out, at the end of the trial period, you can let them go without much fuss. Once we decided that we wanted to bring them in as a regular employee, we offered them a schedule of regular hours and an in- crease in pay. We offered some other highly valued employee benefits such as time off for their family's needs and school events, and the option to buy clothes at cost plus TO COMPETE OR NON-COMPETE? M any business owners feel that when they spend the time and effort to train a new person, they are doing so at their own risk. What if that person quits and then opens a competing business in town? Or that person will go work for another embroidery or apparel decoration business in town? In order to reduce these risks, some business owners require new hires to sign a non-compete agreement. But, unless you are willing to spend the time and money to act on that agreement by going to court to enforce it, don't waste your time. It sets you up in an adversarial role with your new hire from the onset. Plus, research shows that investing your time and effort to train new hires well makes them more likely to stay with your business. It turns out that the companies with the best training win in the long run. For more hiring tips visit

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