March '20

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 2 0 M A R C H P R I N T W E A R 1 3 finger-pointing (anger) will not reverse the root cause of the problem. Also anticipate that you will try to alleviate the condition through horse-trading and compromise with healthier factions within the business (bargaining) or allow the effect of the prob- lem to consume your every thought and deed, paralyzing you into non-action (de- pression). The first four stages are normal and necessary in order to break through to a comprehensive problem analysis and "treatment" plan. Some commonly found "cancers" lurking within decorated-apparel businesses these days include: • Not dedicating enough time to pros- pecting, and to building and keeping the sales pipeline full of promising and profitable opportunities • Taking convenient short cuts in the production process that result in higher than acceptable reject rates at the end of the line • A steady and/or significant decrease in cash flow through the business (e.g. nonchalant collection practices and too liberal of credit terms) • Ignoring the competition and resting on your laurels technologically • Failure to set key business goals and consistently measure progress made • Reducing personal contact with cus- tomers and prospects and failing to re- main appraised of their strongest unmet needs and unfulfilled desires Before I began chemo and radiation therapies, my oncologists put me through a battery of tests and procedures. Among them, I had a bone marrow biopsy and car- diogram to see if my body would be able to withstand the treatment and to see how widespread the disease had become. Like- wise, once you detect an "unfavorable con- dition" within your business, take the time to determine how pervasive the problem is and whether the organization will be able to tolerate the side effects of various possible cures. If you've attempted what has been suggested thus far in this article, you should now be able to design a solution. Of course, the solution will involve change. There is an old Chinese say- ing that the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different/better outcome. You can ill-afford to continue to do what you've always done. And don't kid yourself: The treatment will have side effects, sometimes serious ones. Whatever solution is prescribed for your corporate condition, do not expect it to be pain- less, without costing valuable resources of time, money, personnel, and so on. So once new practices are implemented, don't abandon the solution at the first sign of discomfort. Don't fight the treatment, embrace it. Educate your team of the potential fallout or obsta- cles they will need to endure and overcome. Utilize tolerance as a medication to ease a minor setback or two. Keep spirits high, so that your company will be able to weather this storm and triumph over it. Focus on the goal: to eradicate the debilitating condition, whatever specific one it is for your business, once and for all. Adopt an attitude of laughing in the face of adversity and trust that the well-thought-out, time-tested, proven treatment plan you've selected will eventually pay huge dividends, if carried out to its conclusion. ONCE VICTORIOUS, HOLD THE GAINS Recently, I read an online news item written by a prostate-cancer survivor entitled "The cancer's gone, so where's my confidence?" In it he wrote that after he was given a clean bill- of-health, he discovered he'd become indecisive over the smallest things, a general sense of dread washed over him, and he felt nagging visions of spectacular failures at work and in life. I can relate to his experience. There's no accounting for the toll cancer and its treat- ment takes on one's mind and self-confidence. Logically, a business organization that has claimed victory over a nemesis may want to assess the lasting and on-going effects of its ordeal. Passage through a difficult time is a significant emotional event in the life of such an organization. Think of what The Boeing Company will need to deal with, if and when it emerges from its 737 MAX aircraft soft- ware and safety catastrophe. Once you walk through the fire, make permanent the changes you know you need to make to reduce the chances of ever having to face the same dilemma again. Call it holding the gains. In my case, I believe I've smoked my last cigar. My eating and drinking habits have been altered dramatically. My new work habits, spirituality, and perspective on my own mortality have, I believe, made me into a better man. Plan to celebrate your business's success in the same way. One way to do so is to begin to study and tackle the next most important area for improvement. Another is to "pay it forward," publishing your solution so that other organizations facing similar circumstances don't have to reinvent their similar wheels. Regardless, keep moving ahead. Spend little to no time looking backward—dwelling on what could have been—except to remind yourself not to revert to your misguided ways. Take it from someone who's been there: Your return on this investment will be tenfold. Good luck and good health! PW Vince DiCecco is a dynamic and sought-after seminar speaker and author with a unique perspective on business development and management subjects, primarily in the decorated and promotional apparel industries. With over 20 years of experience in sales, marketing, and training, he is presently an independent consultant to various apparel decorating businesses looking to improve profitability and sharpen their competitive edge. Visit his new website at, and send email to

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