February '20

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 2 0 F E B R U A R Y P R I N T W E A R 2 3 it to the customer makes that goal much more attainable. Business management software can make every person in your shop more informed, letting them track orders in which they are involved through every stage of the production and fulfillment process, as well as giving them the ability to address customer inquiries no matter their level of personal experience with the order about which they are asked. This ready knowledge of status, whether in purchase ordering, production, or billing, means that nobody in your business is in the dark, and no customer has to wait for siloed information to be tracked down from the one team member who has it. Complete, accessible information prevents 'stuck' jobs and delays. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER Combine that old adage with the oft-heard statement, "What gets measured, gets man- aged," and you have the shortest explanation of why shop management software is so helpful. For operators, there's no better way to get the right design on the right garment at the right time than to have all pertinent information and assets at the push of a but- ton. For salespeople, there's no better way to address customers than to have categorized lists of contacts, complete with buying trends, demographics, and business segments, easily searched when it's time to sell. For those owners, there's no better way to evaluate performance and make plans than to have a live-updating, ready measurement of where your business is now and where it has been. Business management software can be so much more than a collection of files and a calendar. It can be the key that unlocks hid- den potential in every part of your process. PW Erich Campbell has more than 18 years experience as an award-winning digitizer, e-commerce manager, and industry educator. He empowers decorators to do their best work and achieve a greater success. A current educator and long-time columnist, Erich takes every opportunity to provide value to the industry. ple storage, particularly when they integrate with the systems of our garment suppliers, shipping solutions, and accounting systems to reduce labor in so many key areas. COSTS AND BENEFITS OF EARLY ADOPTION In the short term, new owners will have to invest capital in business software and ini- tial training. That said, the cost is easier to justify when it means having a jumpstart on keeping a business running in an or- derly and sensible fashion and avoiding the pitfalls that often come with those early stages of growth. Moreover, the tools avail- able for automating things like purchase orders, artwork approvals, production file preparation, and customer contact will ultimately save shops a great deal of time allowing them to redeploy that time in developing revenue sources, building cus- tomer relationships, and working on, not in, their businesses. 'OLD' SHOP, NEW SOFTWARE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM The most notable and alarming indica- tor that your existing shop needs a system is that jobs are not being done correctly. If you notice that your employees don't have the information they need, when they need it, and you're noticing either errors or out- right losses that can't be easily explained or tracked, you need a better system. In truth, any time that you can't readily recall all of the jobs that you need to complete in the next day or two of production, you are probably already reaching a point at which business software would improve your pro- cess. The ability to handle customer infor- mation and accounts is necessary from your first day of operation, but it's easy to notice the pain of not having the right information when facing stalled production due to a lack of clarity or missing information. Professionalism is hard to overvalue. One strong value proposition you can offer your customers is reliability and repeatability in your ordering and production. Having a system that stores information and attaches Recording details about customer orders makes it easy to parse and fulfill orders, no matter their scale.

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