October '13

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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Printwear 2013 Q&A Business Management What is the biggest benefit of developing a sustainability program in your shop? The easiest way to increase margins is to operate more efficiently. An active sustainability program is all about developing a different way to look at basic operations. Consider why you do something the way you do and question whether there is a better way that uses less product, is faster, or even if you need to do whatever the step is altogether. Get an energy audit and you will learn ways to save money on your utilities. Ask hard questions around your shop with the people you employ. They usually know what doesn't work. Find ways to eliminate steps in your process. Start a recycling program. Get SGP certified. (See Marshall Atkinson, Atkinson Consulting LLC How much should I pay my screen printing employees? Pay them as much as you can afford. Unless you want to do all the work yourself and drop dead of a heart attack at age 50, you better get some trusted employees that are trained and responsible. Anyone can buy equipment, but the final analysis of your shop is who you have working for you. If you don't pay adequate wages and benefits, good people will leave and you will have a staff that doesn't have expertise and doesn't take responsibility, and you will probably be unsuccessful and/or miserable. Money isn't everything. If working conditions are bad, no amount of money will keep people with you. Working conditions include not only how hot it is in your shop, but also the stress level, how organized things are, and how fairly you treat people. Lest you think I'm overly liberal here, let me also mention that, if you don't get rid of bad employees, that will also ruin your shop. Nobody wants to be working hard and have to pick up the slack for somebody not doing their job or for some kiss up that doesn't really work and gets ahead. Try saying thank you and telling people when they do a good job. This can go even further than money sometimes. Rick Roth, Mirror Image Inc., My business is maxed out for space, but I know our screen printing will grow if we could just add more presses. What should we do? There are a few ways to tackle this problem, most of which I've tried. We run five autos and seven manuals. The first thing we did was work a lot of over-time. When we looked at our numbers, we realized that this was eating into our profits and 78 | Printwear PW_OCT13.indd 78 not adding to them. After 5 p.m., employees are pretty well spent. We saw that they were producing less than they were in their first eight-hour shift, but we were paying time-and-a-half to get it done. We thought that the next best thing to do was to get a whole new fresh crew to run second shift. This failed miserably—it's hard enough to find great employees to run first shift, so to find the right employees to work second shift, plus find somebody to manage the shift correctly is nearly impossible. We then decided to implement a weekly bonus incentive for our top producers. We put all of the manual printers against each other and likewise with the auto printers. We gave everybody a minimum quota that had to be reached daily and the top-producing employees receive a bonus each week, so long as they exceeded their minimum quota. We then posted everybody's numbers above the time card machine so that every employee could see where they fell for the previous week. Nobody wanted to be the lowest producer so, naturally, everybody worked hard to be on the top of the list. This caused everybody's throughput to increase by about 15 percent. Finally, we replaced an older automatic with a brand new one. The new machine was able to produce, on average, 15 percent more than the older, used automatics we had. The increase in volume covered the lease payment on the press. Then we started to replace all of the autos and manuals with brand new equipment. This took our profits to new heights. It also allowed the owner to enjoy life a bit more—instead of having to be at the shop all day on standby, waiting for a machine to go down, I get to come and go as I please more easily knowing that the new equipment just works. What a great feeling when you power up your equipment and it just does what it is supposed to do without tinkering. You cannot put a price tag on that. Terry Keeven, St. Louis Screen Print Co. I constantly have to revalidate my business whenever applying for a loan, seeking better credit terms from suppliers, and/or being taken seriously when courting an established, brick-and-mortar prospective client. How can I get people to respect my budding home-based enterprise? More than half of businesses in the United States are based out of the owner's home, according to the Small Business Association. And, according to the latest U.S. Census numbers released in 2010, there were 27.1 million home-based businesses in 2007 (note: that's pre-Great Recession) with sales reaching $30 billion. Some estimate that there are more than 38 million home-based businesses today. Here are some other interesting statistics: •After three years, 70 percent of home-based companies are October 2013 9/18/13 11:53 AM

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