Are You Dealing with Employee Mistakes the Right Way?

At Printed Threads in Keller, TX, the laid-back El Capitan, Brett Bowden does a lot of measuring. “We track the amount of work everyone gets done each day,” he says. “We track all errors.” Why? “Mistakes happen, and we try to coach through them. Since we track the different types of errors, we see if there’s a pattern.”

For example, if there’s a misprint or mistake on a job, a Printed Thread QC (Quality control) staffer fills out a slip and turns it over to the rep managing that account. The rep then uses Google Sheets to record the job name, type of error, cost of the mistake and the person responsible.

“We keep a running tally and make sure that misprint errors don’t exceed 1% of our monthly sales”

– Brett Bowden, Printed Threads

Madeira USA, out of Gilford, NH, has a similar approach to monitoring mistakes, where process operations are metrics-driven, depending on the role. “We hold employees accountable to success metrics like customer satisfaction ratings or order fulfillment rates,” says Sam Young, vice president of marketing and sales. “We track performance so we can deliver the highest-quality service for our customers.”

And if Bowden notices that a particular press keeps logging errors because there’s not enough glue on the pallet, he knows the operator needs more training. “But look, inevitably there will be someone who isn’t good at their job,” he says. “That leads to a conversation of, ‘Maybe it’s time for you to find another company or position to make you happier.’”

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“Lessons Learned from ‘Here For Good’ Campaigns” – SUCCESS STORIES Podcast: Ep. 3 (feat. Jarrod Hennis of Rockford Art Deli)

During and after the coronavirus pandemic, many screen-printing shops found success by developing a local “Here for Good” campaign to help surrounding businesses in their community stay afloat during these difficult times.

In Rockford, Illinois, Jarrod Hennis developed a “Here for Good” campaign and assisted businesses in his area to raise money by selling t-shirts.  Each shirt sold helped that local business, but also kept Jarrod’s shop, the Rockford Art Deli in business as well.

On this edition of Success Stories, we’re going to discuss the Rockford Art Deli’s “Here for Good” campaign and learn how it worked, what Jarrod learned, and how this idea is laying a solid foundation for a successful future in his community of Rockford, Illinois.

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“The Clinic Your Website Can’t Live Without” – SUCCESS STORIES Podcast: Ep. 2 (feat. Shelby Craig of Rocket Shirts)

COVID-19 has shifted a lot more business online recently and with great uncertainty ahead, you’ll need to make sure people can find you online.  In this episode of Success Stories, we’ll help you get ahead of the competition and make sure you’re set up to drive new business to your website.

Shelby Craig with Rocket Shirts will be sharing his knowledge of what you’ll need to get optimized, and how it’s helped his business.  We’ll be touching on web design, search engine optimization, and tools that you can use to bring out your best results.

Shelby is a serial entrepreneur, marketing junkie, home chef, coffee connoisseur, and girl dad times three.  He’s also a t-shirt snob and is the founder of Rocket Shirts in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Join us on this podcast as we explore ways to make your website work for you and drive more sales to your door.

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8 Ways Decorators Are Keeping Their Shops Safe During COVID-19

Across the country, businesses small and large have had to figure out how to operate, while keeping employees and customers safe. Like many shops, during the pandemic’s early days, AZ-based decorator, Print & Stitch, closed for several weeks. When it reopened, the management team introduced a lot of new safety procedures for staffers and customers. “Now our employees work staggered shifts,” says project manager, Hilary Gardner. “Plus, our techs clean their equipment and work areas at the beginning and end of every shift.”

In this new normal, Print & Stitch also requires every employee to take their temperature before clocking into work. “And, it’s mandatory to wear a mask at all times in the building,” Gardner says.

Making customers feel at ease is also important, which is why back in March, Howard Potter, CEO of Master Your Image in Utica, NY, took to social media to let his customers know how he prioritized their safety. “They had choices when placing or picking up an order,” he says. “They could order online, and then opt for in-person delivery, shipping or curbside pickup.”

Some people have even found that they’ve benefitted from these changes, in ways they wouldn’t have thought of before. In Ann Arbor, Jeanne Fitzsimons, owner of FitzStitch Embroidery & Monogramming, heavily steered her customers toward online ordering, which made client interactions and collecting payments much easier. “That’s been a bonus, since I never wonder when I’ll receive a payment,” she says. “I also do Zoom videos with customers. It’s been more productive and time-efficient.”

How’s your shop keeping employees and customers safe? Here are eight ways smart decorators have adjusted their operations to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in their shops.

1. Be open about COVID-19 with your staff.

At A&P Master Images, Potter was ready to answer his employees’ most pressing questions: Will there be work? How do we handle customer interactions? Do we need to wear masks?

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4 Ways to Increase Your Order Sizes During COVID-19

Does it feel like, while decorated-apparel orders are still coming in (or are starting to pick back up), the order sizes have decreased? You’re not alone. Here’s a look at the range of experiences we’ve been hearing about from across the country:

  • Kris Howard, Urbandale, IA-based, KSH Design Studio: “Our volume has greatly decreased during the last three months, since our gym customers were closed. We also lost orders from canceled run/walk and car club events.”
  • Tammy LeMieux, Lake Stevens, WA-based, Ink It Your Way: “With our primary business of spring and summer youth sports coming to an abrupt halt, we started offering sublimated face covers and apparel to essential businesses. We also branched out to signage for reopening businesses. We actually flourished and hopefully will retain some great new customers.”
  • Alexa Cary, Frenchtown, NJ-based, In-House Prints: “Fortunately our business is booming! We have a lot of emergency service clients, so they’ve been keeping us busy. We also work with YouTubers who continue to push products online.”
  • Jennie Livezey, Shelbyville, IN-based, Z Shirts Custom Printing: “We came to a screeching halt with schools closing and spring sports being canceled. We’ve picked back up but aren’t back to full-time production yet.”

In order to help them avoid succumbing to the ups and downs of the market, some distributors have started  upselling, cross-selling, bundling products and providing solutions vs. being just an order-taker. Using these strategies has helped them increase their order sizes and given their business new life, so let’s take a closer look at each.

Upselling Quality and Solutions

Upselling has been a sales mainstay of merchants for decades, but with the downturn in the economy, it’s more important than ever. For example, you might regularly sell employee work shirts to your customers. It makes sense to present three options:  a $5 “good” shirt, a better-quality shirt for $10, and a “best” item for $15. When the customer calls in, they may want to order 100 shirts at the lowest possible price. This would be a $500 order for you. But, if you upsell correctly, even just to the “better” garment, you’ve doubled your order total.

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5 Exciting Upcoming ‘New for 2021’ Products

Fall is right around the corner, which means, new 2021 styles are starting to flow into our inventory. We picked five collections and styles we’re really excited about, and put together some details about what they offer, and which markets they’d fit right into.

Adidas New “Floating 3 Stripe” Series

Click here to see all the new adidas® styles for 2021

One of the things we love about these new styles is that it’s really a complete collection, filled with companion styles and accessories to match. Since adidas® is also one of the most sustainable companies in fashion, all of these new styles are made using 100% recycled polyester. There’s no better logo to co-brand your company with than the iconic three-stripes from adidas®, and this collection gives you a wide range of options to do just that.

GREAT FOR:

  • Eco-conscious and sustainable programs
  • Corporate collections
  • Premium uniforms
  • Company store offerings

The Oakley “Utility Bag” Line

In Photo: 23L Utility Backpack – FOS900549 & 50L Utility Duffel Bag – FOS900548

Few brands can match Oakley’s attention to detail, and the new “Utility Bag Line” is no different. Offered in two colors, “Blackout” and “Rye,” the series is durable, stylish, and has no shortage of the functional space and utility pockets you’ll need for your trip to work or on your next adventure. Our backpack line is a favorite amongst sales organizations that want their team to be equipped with functionality, and these will make a great addition to those programs.

GREAT FOR:

  • Outdoor sports enthusiasts
  • Corporate collections
  • Indoor lifestyle

The “Quick Flip” Hoodie (As Seen On Shark Tank)

In Video: Quikflip 2-in-1 Hero Hoodie Lite Full-Zip – LAFZH

You’ve never been as enthusiastic about a hoodie, as you will be for this one. If you’ve already seen this on Shark Tank, you’re already pumped up about selling these to your clients. The Quikflip instantly makes traveling with a hoodie practical and purposeful. No one sells this product better than the owner and jiu-jitsu master, Rener Gracie, so we’ll let the video above do most of the talking. This is sure to become an instant favorite for the school and team market.

GREAT FOR:

  • School and team programs
  • Marketing and tech firms
  • Corporate stores

Columbia’s Urban Lifestyle™ Sling Pack

In Photo: Columbia – Urban Lifestyle™ Sling Pack – 177469

The ever-popular outdoor brand, Columbia, is bringing its casual sling pack to our collection, offering you a quick on and off option in a day pack. This is perfect for the new generation of workers, who just need a quick storage pack for their tech essentials, a water bottle, or maybe even their lunch. This should be especially popular with tech and marketing firms, where their design tools are housed at the office and employees just need a pack for their daily essentials.

GREAT FOR:

  • Marketing and tech firms
  • Corporate stores
  • College Students

Richardson’s Rogue Wide Side Mesh Cap

In Photo: Richardson – Rogue Wide Side Mesh – 935

Streetwear stills reigns supreme in the world of fashion and this new mesh cap should satisfy hypebeasts everywhere, with its minimalist texture and trendy muted color selection. It’s water-resistance also lends itself to being an exciting accessory for outdoor enthusiasts, who might be looking for something more modern. And, as a bonus feature, it can float on water.

GREAT FOR:

  • Nutritional companies
  • Energy beverage companies
  • Health and fitness
  • Lifestyle brands

We’ve Gone Solar! Why We Did It and What It Means For You.

See the power of solar in our new animation

As we all get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life and building businesses, it’s easy to forget about the impact we have on the world around us. With well over seven billion people populating our planet, every little thing we do in our daily routines almost certainly has an affect on the environment and we’ve taken notice of this at S&S Activewear.

Over the past few years, we’ve started to put forth an enormous effort to become more sustainable in our daily operations. Within the past three decades, we’ve been lucky enough to expand our company reach to 6 locations (Robbinsville, NJ; McDonuough, GA; Lockport, IL; Olathe, KS; Fort Worth, TX; and Reno, NV) nationwide, and with great expansion comes great responsibility.

Taking Action

That’s why we started a major initiative to install solar panels on our facilities across the country. With the help of our local officials and dedicated staff, we’ve been able to turn 5 of our warehouses into a renewable energy source for our surrounding communities, most recently being our newest 750k sq. ft. LEED certified warehouse in Lockport, IL. This facility is our most sustainable building yet and we went to great lengths to make sure it lived up to strict environmental standards.

Companywide, we’ve installed water refilling stations where possible, placed recycling stations across our office spaces and reuse packing boxes to reduce cardboard waste.

End Users Are Watching

What does this mean for you? End users are also becoming way more focused on the practices of businesses they buy from, so operating responsibility should be any company’s top priority. “There’s no question consumers across all end markets expect their supply chains to be more environmentally focused,” says our COO, Frank Myers. A new generation of buyers means that people are more focused on knowing their hard earned dollars are being spent on something they know was made, distributed and sold responsibly.

Make An Imprint

The changes we’ve started to make within our company come from an inspiration to help preserve our environment for future generations to come and we invite you to join us and explore new ways you too can operate more sustainably. Together we can “Make An Imprint” that’ll inspire others to help keep our planet healthy for all who follow us.

To find out more about our environmental initiatives and community outreach programs, read about our “Make An Imprint” program here.

“Pivoting Out of COVID-19” – SUCCESS STORIES Podcast: Ep. 1 – (feat. Danny Rosin and Robert Fiveash of Brand Fuel)

A lot of revenue streams have dried up due to the COVID-19, and as a result, many businesses have been forced to pivot into a new direction.

Danny Rosin and Robert Fiveash, of Brand Fuel, have been leading a free-spirited brand merchandising agency for over 20 years, delivering experiences, eCommerce, inspiration, and top notch results for their customers. Find out how they’ve been able to use that experience to find success, with new opportunities opening up in today’s markets.

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How to Price for Profit, during COVID-19

Yes, decorated-apparel shops are dropping prices to win post-pandemic work. Lucas Guariglia, CEO and co-founder of Chicago-based Rowboat Creative, has definitely noticed, and doesn’t think it’s a good idea. “While shops are using this as a survival tactic to get back above water, it’s setting the tone for us to be taken advantage of due to low pricing,” he says.

When you’re simply trying to survive the pandemic, it’s easy to justify taking orders without thinking enough about profit margin, fit for your equipment, or alignment with your goals.  Even before the virus, pricing was an issue, leaving decorators trying to find the “magic number” to appeal to customers, while still netting a profit.

“The decorators who’ll enjoy long-term success are those who’ve pursued new products and different imprinting methods to serve their customers’ changed needs, while reducing costs and maintaining a profitable position,” says Erich Campbell, program manager for the Commercial Division at BriTon Leap. “Rather than shift to a lower-margin pricing scheme, many retooled their equipment and processes to decorate new products and to serve markets that haven’t been as adversely affected.”

The Impact of ‘Low-Price Shoppers’ During COVID-19

In two months, the United States lost over 36 million jobs. This translates into much smaller budgets for buyers, especially on the marketing side. Because of this, many decorators are steering away from raising prices, even with increases in production costs and materials. “Ultimately, you get what you pay for,” Guariglia says. “We’ll always stand firm on wanting to provide superior products with superior service.”

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Should You Sell Licensed Collegiate and Sports Apparel?

With fall right around the corner, don’t miss out on a major merchandising opportunity—college team wear and Greek organization gear for the back-to-school and football crowd. Although, we’re still in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a CNBC article, “The Chronicle of Higher Education has tracked over 1,000 colleges since April and has found that roughly 65% of schools are preparing for in-person classes this fall. That also means that all signs point to students still needing some gear to represent their schools, which may now also include PPE.

If you’re already in the business of selling decorated apparel, the process itself for getting a license may look murky. So, let’s talk about what licensing entails, how to go about it, and the pros and cons of selling licensed merch (with a little expert advice).

Companies, schools, teams and organizations all want to protect their market brand. For example, The Walt Disney Co. doesn’t want (or permit) unauthorized Mickey Mouse prints on T-shirts. That’s where licensing comes in.

To legally print a branded product such as a college logo or sorority letters, a printing company must be licensed by the copyright holder to print the artwork. When you apply for a license, the owner of the image (known as the licensor) gets a fee in advance for allowing you to use their images. Usually, this can be a flat fee or a percentage of income from the sales of these licensed products.

As part of this agreement, the printing company (known as the licensee) verifies quality control and the licensor approves the image usage. “If a sorority wants its letters on a crop top that advertises a year-end keg party, the licensor usually won’t approve it,” says Steve Farag, co-owner of Urbana, IL-based Campus Ink Printing. “Ultimately, a lot of the responsibility falls on you, the licensee, to ensure you’re protecting the licensor’s rights and reputation.”

The Process of Getting a License

Getting a license to sell logoed products for colleges, Greek organizations or sports teams isn’t something you can do in an afternoon. It’s a complex, multiple-step process that takes time. But, it can ultimately lead you to a great opportunity to make more sales.

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