What if you could crowdsource all kinds of interesting, innovative and easy ideas to save money in your decorating shop? We decided to do the heavy lifting for you and asked nine successful embroiderers and screen printers to share some simple ways they boost their bottom lines.
From buying used displays and making the most of every inch of your stabilizer, to going paperless and getting free shipping from your shoppers, you’re going to love this top 10 list.
1. Buy used and save lots of cash.
Need to furnish or redecorate your office or shop? Try finding deals on things like desks from the thrift store, a conference table off of Craigslist, filing cabinets from “buy, sale, trade” groups, and display fixtures from going-out-of-business sales. “To save dollars, we don’t buy about 85% of our displays, desks and other office essentials as new,” says Tanya , owner and graphic designer at The Visual Identity Vault. “The majority of our shop’s things are new to us, and they function and look just fine.”
2. Save your extra embroidery stabilizer.
“We save all the extra embroidery backing we cut off of jobs to use for smaller projects,” says Jennie Livezey, owner of Z Shirts Custom Printing. She and her team pick up the backing scraps, mostly from left-chest embroidery.
“For example, we just ran 165 beanies and didn’t use one new piece of backing,” Livezey says. “What we cut off is the perfect size for the Fast Clamps we use on our embroidery machines.”
3. Get more mileage out of your stabilizer.
At Strikke Knits, owner Carolyn Cagle buys her cutaway stabilizer by the roll. “I learned how to ‘march hoop’ down a strip, when hooping smaller items, so I get twice the use out of cutaway backing,” she says.
South Africa-based embroiderer, Alison Buchanan, precuts her stabilizer, and also uses Mighty Hoops, to fit more than one stitchout onto the stabilizer. “I can use them for at least three stitchings,” she says. “The stabilizer is still held firmly on all sides and I’ve had no issues doing this.”
Buchanan stores the smaller pieces in handy drawers, so they can be used later for hat backs or HoopTech clamps.
4. Use a magnetic clip to mimic multiple monitors.
At A&P Master Images, CEO, Howard Potter, found an easy—and cheaper—way to give his customer service team a better view of their CRM system. “We added $12 magnetic clips that hold a smartphone to their monitors so they can have two to three screens open at one time,” he says. “This allows our team to write up orders and invoice fasters.”
Potter estimates this simple change makes his reps at least 25% more efficient every day. “A single to double monitor add-on costs $300 to $600,” he says. “If they can write up at least two to three quotes or orders a day alone, that’s the cost of an expensive monitor add-on that we didn’t have to buy.”
5. Go paperless with your sales flyers.
Potter also put a computer in his Utica, NY shop’s showroom, that has its website with current sales flyers up at all times, so customers can browse them. “We’ve done away with printing flyers for the showroom, saving us $1,000 a year with how many we produce,” Potter says.
6. Have a plan for managing your stock wisely.
“I look for suppliers that I can count on,” says Jillian Haney, owner of The37thState.com. “I can only presell if I order from suppliers that ship in a day or two, or are located in my area.” Quick shipments from suppliers gives Haney the ability print for orders as they come in, instead of holding a bunch of stock for items that may not sell.
However, there are exceptions. “Sometimes I over-order goods that act as those ‘impulse buys’ on my website,” she says. But, what if those items aren’t selling well? As a fallback plan for this strategy, Haney has connected with a list of clients that’ll buy any excess of decorated items, that may not have been selling on her site. “I found two boutiques to sell wholesale to, so I can offload what doesn’t sell for my own store,” she says.
7. Save on those repeat customers.
Haney saves screens or transparencies for repeat customers. “We also immediately clean up ink and put it back into the bucket after a print job,” she says.
8. Try to get free shipping.
Whenever she can, Sandy Jo Pilgram orders the volume of garments needed to meet her quota, so she can get free shipping from her suppliers. “That can save you $35 or more on a shipment once you’ve met that total,” says Pilgram, owner of The T-Shirt Shop 56601. “I’d rather have the extra garments and not pay the shipping. That’s because the extra garments mean more money to my bottom line.”
Doyscher also groups orders for blanks together to earn free shipping. And, Haney avoids paying shipping by ordering $200 in blanks at a time. “If I have to fill the cart, I buy BELLA+CANVAS tees in common colors I know I’ll use,” she says.
9. Don’t underestimate your lint roller.
Sheila Graham, owner of CoolStitchesShop on Etsy, quips that the cheapest thing in her shop is a lint roller that costs 98 cents. “However, they work great for cleaning up loose thread after clipping them on anything,” she says. “I go through about three lint rollers a month.”
10. Speed up your screen cleaning.
Paul Leto, plant manager at Broken Arrow, built a post-rinse station for screens to help speed up his team’s cleaning process. “Plus, we make sure we have enough spatulas and squeegees to cover most, if not all of the colors we use,” Leto says. “That way, we spend less time cleaning and have more time for printing.”
See how many of these money- and time-saving ideas you can implement in your shop – starting today. Do you have any money-saving tips? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below.