Start Here October '20

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92 S T A R T H E R E 2 0 2 0 T o protect your business, you want to make sure you're doing everything you can to avoid miscommunication with customers and maintain a good reputation. Not having strict regula- tions can lead to gray areas and ambigu- ity in customer service, which can then cause customer dissatisfaction, and cost you money. It's important to have contracts in place to not only protect your work but layout clear policies your customers can agree to. If you aren't sure where to start, don't worry—they're easy to build. Here are four policies to include in your contracts that will help with the basics of managing a custom apparel business. 1. Sample approvals The best way to start your contract and protect your work is to create a sample approval policy. You always want to pro- vide your customer with a sample of what the design will look like before you start to fulfill their order. This way, your customer can make changes, cancel the order, or choose a different design before you spend time and materials creating the order. By having your customer sign off on a stitch-out or product design, you'll have visual proof of what the customer agreed to and something to compare the finished product to if the customer is not satisfied. This policy also keeps custom- ers from being able to change their mind about colors, placement, or design while you are in the middle of the project. You can decide based on your workflow whether you will allow customers to make changes after the initial approval. Once you make that decision, you can incorporate these details into your policy. 2. Turnaround time guarantees The most asked question you'll get from customers is, "How long will it take to receive my order?" Before we go into generating time- frames, the most crucial detail over- looked by most embroiderers is making sure the customer is aware that the pro- duction process does not start until after they've approved the sample. Be sure you do not agree to a time- frame you can't keep if the customer takes a few days to get back to you with the sample approval. State clearly in your contract that guaranteed turnaround time does not include the time it takes to receive the customer's approval. Waiting for the sample approval is not the only thing that can affect your turnaround time. If the customer wants to make changes after you've started, have a clause in the contract that states last-minute changes may affect the initial estimated turnaround time. Remember, contracts serve to make your life and run- ning a business easier. Now, when it comes to creating turn- around times, make sure you are giving yourself realistic timeframes based on work- flow because everyone works at a different pace. It's better to set a longer turnaround time than disappointing a customer. If you are not able to complete the order on time, make sure to set an agree- ment with your customer about emer- gencies and unforeseen circumstances. 3. Specialty garments Embroidery can be a little tricky. Mistakes can happen, which is why we always advise embroiderers to prac- Helpful Tips 4 Policies to Include in Embroidery Customer Contracts Aliana is the content specialist at Ricoma International where she manages social media, content, and public relations. She also serves as a copy writer for the company. By Aliana Zamorano

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