February '20

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 P R I N T W E A R F E B R U A R Y 2 0 2 0 2 0 P R I N T W E A R F E B R U A R Y 2 0 2 0 EMBROIDERY Erich's Embellishments E r i c h C a m p b e l l A Software for Everyone I 'm just starting out; I don't need any- thing that complicated." "I don't have that many jobs right now; I can handle it." "That's for major players, not smaller companies like mine." When the subject of shop management software comes up, these are the comments I hear from most embroiderers. Sadly, they often follow shortly after complaints about missed due dates, incorrectly decorated garments, or employees that never seem to know what they should be doing. In my opinion, shop management software is use- ful to any decorator for the simple fact that having a system and focusing on the pro- cess improves every business. At any stage of development, we should be attempting to work in a systematic, repeatable, and efficient way. Though this doesn't require software if it offers an advantage in making shops run reliably, why wouldn't we con- sider investing in a tool that can define and refine every part of our process? WHY STARTUP DECORATORS DON'T BUY IN It's not that startup decorators are necessarily wrong in thinking that they can take on the task of keeping things straight at first. Sole proprietors handily manage the meager work- load common the initial stages of operation with easy-to-use and low-cost 'legacy' systems. Whether that's the ancient, and yet well-tested, system of 'job jackets' consisting of enve- lopes or folders full of collected paperwork paired with whiteboards for scheduling and accountability, or the implementation of simple cloud-based spreadsheets and documents via cloud services like Google Docs, these simple ways of storing information are manage- able, if not ideal, when order volumes are low. It's easy to understand, and cost-effective to decorators who might not see the value of tools that don't seem to affect their ability to produce product directly. Sadly, this outlook can cause problems in the long term. FINDING YOUR FOOTING OR BUILDING YOUR FOUNDATION It's not until order volume builds to the point that it becomes impossible to keep things in memory or that conventional storage systems make it hard to get and stay organized. By the time a shop has difficulty with losing information or materials and starts fulfilling " There's nothing wrong with paper order forms, especially on order intake, but the best information gather- ing falls flat if the details are lost between the initial interview and the production process. Even if you start with physical forms, that information should be entered into a system. (All images courtesy the author) Automating the approval process helps to elimi- nate gross errors and misunderstandings during the initial order process. Automating the approval process helps to elimi-

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