Is Accepting Rush Orders Good For Your Business?

“I need 100 screen-printed shirts, but I needed them yesterday.” It’s a pretty common scenario for decorating shops to get a phone call that starts with that harried line. Rush and last-minute orders are part of doing business in this industry, and shop owners have mixed feelings about how to handle them.

“We’re in the sales and customer service business, so customers ask for things, not realizing how it affects our world,” says Jordy Gamson, co-founder at The Icebox“You want to make their lives easier, but sometimes it creates havoc on our side of the fence.”

“We do our best to accommodate a new customer’s fast-turn request, so it doesn’t affect our other customers. It’s an ongoing challenge, but we’re always trying to rise to the occasion.” 

Jordy Gamson, co-founder of The Icebox

Sandy Jo Pilgram, owner of Rhinestonetemplates.com and The T-Shirt Shop 56601, takes last-minute orders and upcharges for them accordingly. “These last-minute orders don’t affect my other jobs,” she says. “I build in time to fulfill those requests after-hours, and we get it done.”

While you probably won’t see the value in taking every rush order that comes your way, there are times when it makes good business sense. “We do our best to accommodate a new or existing customer’s fast-turn request so it doesn’t affect our other customers,” Gamson says. “It’s an ongoing challenge, but we’re always trying to rise to the occasion.” 

Now might be a good time to look at how you could incorporate last-minute requests into your shop’s operations, without stressing your team or normal workflow. You might even identify some bottlenecks that prevent you from flexing your production workflow with ease.

Here are eight ways to think about adding rush orders into your shop’s regular workflow.

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How To Setup Effective Physical and Virtual Product Showrooms

The first three years that Megan Lindholm ran her decorated-apparel business from her home, she hauled samples everywhere, from uniform fittings to school offices to baseball fields. “We had apparel literally everywhere, since we saved our print overruns for sampling,” says Lindholm, owner of 643SPIRIT in New Albany, OH. “We created endless mock sheets for people with style ideas. We took lots of bad photos of spirit shirts or basketball socks and sent them to clients.”

“We host uniform fittings instead of hauling samples all over town.”

Megan Lindholm, owner of 643SPIRIT

Finally, Lindholm was over the time-consuming back-and-forth with her customers and moved into a showroom. “It’s been fantastic,” she says. “People stop in to pick up what they want for their organization sales, and it takes five minutes instead of an hour. We host uniform fittings instead of carting samples all over town. People driving by see our signs for masks, custom tees and work apparel, and stop-in to order tees and hoodies for their workplace.” Are uniform fittings still a thing with COVID?

Here are 10 ways to set up an effective apparel showroom that customers can’t wait to visit.

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How to Fix These 6 Common Customer Complaints

Want some not-so-fun customer service news? The average American tells 15 people when they’ve had a poor customer service experience—and 56% of buyers have stopped doing business with a company because they’ve experienced poor customer service, Microsoft reports.

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”

Bill Gates, Co-founder of Microsoft

But here’s the good news: 67% of customer churn is preventable if your shop resolves customers issues the first time they occur.

“Your customer service team can make or break your success with each customer,” says Zach Ellsworth, general manager at Stahls’. “If you’re receiving complaints often, it’s time to dig in and take improvement seriously.”

To quote the great Bill Gates, “your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” The customer complaints your shop racks up the most often are your best resource for understanding how your business can perform better.

We asked the experts to break down six common customer complaints decorators get—and how to fix them for good.

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Does Your Customer Experience Need a Big Makeover?

Whether you call this our “new normal” or “next normal,” things definitely aren’t the same as they were back in January. Your business is different, and your customer also has different concerns and needs now.

The question isn’t what needs to change. It’s what do you change first?”

Marshall Atkinson, Owner of Atkinson Consulting

“It’s time to revamp what’s not working—back in Q1, you could live with it because you were busy,” says Marshall Atkinson, decorated-apparel expert and owner of Atkinson Consulting. “But now, the river has receded with the drought and exposed the flaws in your system. The question isn’t what needs to change. It’s what do you change first?”

Now is the time to take a closer look at how customers are experiencing your business during consultations, while shopping online or browsing social media. Here are five expert-recommended ways you can start adjusting and improving your customers’ overall experience with your company.

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How Inksoft’s Fundraising Feature Is Keeping Decorators Afloat During COVID

During times like these, you’d think that buying t-shirts is the last thing on anyone’s mind, but now they’re more valuable than ever. Using InkSoft’s fundraising feature, decorators around the country have started creating fundraising campaign sites, to help support local businesses and keep their shops running.

These campaign sites are loaded up with t-shirts, each being decorated with the logo of local businesses, from around town. People can then find their favorite restaurant or shop’s tee on the site, and when they buy one, part of the proceeds will go directly to that business. It’s a win win for everyone, that’s turned into a major movement all around the industry, known as #HereForGood.

Shirt Kong, located just outside of the St. Louis area, first heard about this idea from the shop that started it all, Tiny Little Monster. Soon after that, they put together a fundraising site of their own, and $10 from each sale went directly to a business in St. Louis.

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5 days ago. Monday. I was the last one at the shop finishing up some office work. I get so much done when it’s quiet. No interuptions. It’s like 5x normal speed. So there I was in a zone and the phone starts ringing. Made me jump. Normally it wouldn’t, but the phone doesn’t ring much anymore. Startled, I look down at the caller ID and it’s @tinylittlemonster. The ringing fades out – I wonder why they’re calling. Tiny is a shop not far from ours. But the thing is we’ve never met before. Ever. As I reach to pick up, the ringing gets louder – I bring the receiver closer and say “Hello, Shirt Kong,” and a voice says, “Hey, it’s Sloan from Tiny.” . We talk about our shops. We share stories. We talk about the times – the quarantine and how we’re both hanging in there. Then she starts telling me about a movement she started called “Here For Good.” It’s a movement that helps support small businesses in our city by setting up online stores where people can buy a shirt and 100% of the proceeds go directly to that business. She went on and on…and on, I mean she’s really pumped about it. I couldn’t tell her no. . Sloan’s tagline is “We’re in this together” and she’s right. Maybe this crisis helps bring this country together. It did for me and Sloan. . Our store is now live We are starting with over 20 and adding more daily Our goal is to raise $10,000 Link is in our profile Thanks for your support! . Time for pizza, more beer and more #tigerking . #shirtkong #screenprinting #screenprintingshop #screenprintinglife #customtshirts #ink #tshirts #stl #printshop #graphicdesign #graphicartist #printlife #embroidery #makeitcount #bandmerch #entrepreneurlife #mrprint

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4 Ways To Take Your Business to New Heights w/ Hybrid Marketing

Brandon Levy first opened his storefront after moving his decorated-apparel business out of his garage. At that time, he offered his local community a one-week-only coupon for one free monogram on any item they brought to his shop. The Denver, NC-based business ended up having a great turnout, in part because Levy used Facebook’s paid ads to promote his offer. “People loved the idea of something free—who doesn’t, right—and the majority of people who came in for their monograms also purchased another product or service,” says Levy, president and owner of Digitize4u.

Levy’s strategy was a great example of what’s often called hybrid marketing. This marriage of online and offline marketing allows marketers and business owners to combine two effective concepts, into one streamlined campaign. Plus, with the power behind hybrid marketing, you’re more likely to see better ROI on your advertising dollars, via better conversion or expanded market reach. “It’s a bricks-and-clicks approach,” says Luke Webster, a digital marketing analyst with San Diego, CA-based Miva. “Your company most likely already has some type of physical location, along with a digital presence.”

Focus Is Key

In the current multichannel browsing-and-buying climate, you can’t just focus on one or two marketing channels to get your message out to prospects and customers. Instead, it’s vital that your company crafts a marketing strategy using varied platforms and mediums to connect with the appropriate audience. 

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