“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.”
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.
One of the biggest emerging trends in the decorated apparel industry is the notion of “Print on Demand”. This is the idea that you sync up the decoration of the shirt with the order when it is sold, and not in advance.
This high-wire trapeze act happens courtesy of technological advancements in logistics, printing, workflow, and equipment.
On this episode of Success Stories, we will chat with Kevin Oakley and Shane Snodgrass, the owners of Stoked On Printing in Las Vegas, Nevada about their push into this new ballgame for apparel decoration. What it means to them, how they are doing it, and where the future is with this space.
Have you ever wondered who is handling the apparel programs for some of the largest and most well-known brands?
The answer can be found with one Atlanta branding and promotional merchandise agency, Icebox. Founded in 2001, they have been building turn-key solutions for corporate clients that include product sourcing, in-house design, production, warehouse fulfillment, and global distribution.
Icebox has helped brands like Delta Airlines, Hooters, Buffalo Wild Wings and AT&T with their apparel programs. Co-founder, Jordy Gamson, is talking to us about what it takes to run these turn-key programs, especially through uncertain times.
Is a video worth 1,000 decorated-apparel orders? Jonathan Ornelas, owner of Success Print Shop, thinks so. On the regular, he shoots short videos of his screen-printing process and posts them to Facebook and Instagram to connect with customers and prospects.
“We show how we decorate t-shirts, and that we’re experts,” Ornelas says. “Our customers can also see that we love what we do and have a lot of fun.” For example, he plays his team’s favorite music in his videos, like Vistas’ song “Like an American.”
The most important component of your shop’s messaging is to be human first, according to Marshall Atkinson, a decorated-apparel business coach. “These days, the most human company wins,” he says. “Are you showing your vulnerability? Emotions? Victories? Defeats? People respond to other people, so inject some personality into your marketing. We all like smiling faces.”
The great news is that It’s not too late to kick your content strategy into high gear for 2020. Here are five ways to dive right in.
When Howard Potter, CEO of Utica, NY-based A&P Master Images, first started his decorated-apparel business, he operated from a 15-foot-by-15-foot room in his house. “In the beginning, I sold apparel mostly from catalogs and ordered samples to show customers only when I needed them,” he says.
As his business grew, he increased his showroom space—from 8 feet on a wall, to an 8-by-10 area, and then to a large 20-by-20 showroom. “We created a better layout and experience for our customers to view products,” Potter says. “But when we didn’t have tons of space to show actual garments, we didn’t let that become a block to stop us from selling.”
Potter focused on a couple of things: showing clients the most popular and effective mid-level and up styles in a variety of colors, plus recommending apparel and decoration unique to each client’s needs. “We want them to know that we aren’t trying to make them look like everyone else,” Potter says.
Many distributors and decorators, who’d like to sell more apparel, need to overcome their fears about selling it (even more so than overcoming their customers’ objections). Luckily, we’re here to help you get past the four most common challenges we’ve heard about.