November '14

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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9 6 | Printwear N ov e m b e r 20 1 4 For some decorators, these bare mini- mums may also include blank goods. Think about what blanks, if any, you use almost daily—those should be stocked. For in- stance, if you own a beachside T-shirt shop, white Ts are likely a bare minimum. This may not be the case for other apparel deco- rating businesses; your needs aren't the same as anyone else's. Because every business is different, this isn't an easy problem to solve. Seek advice from your equipment dealers, consumable suppliers, and blank goods warehouses. Explain what your business does and your specific short-term goals. The apparel deco- rating industry is full of people who are glad to offer advice. If you're a new business, start with enough consumables and blank goods to practice your craft. Don't concern yourself with ful- ly stocking your inventory just yet. At this point, set your customers' expectations cor- rectly. If you're ready to sell and produce, allow ample time to order everything you need to produce a high-quality decorated garment. You can order small quantities of just about anything nowadays, so take ad- vantage of that. Learn and grow from those experiences. Also, understand some of these initial orders might not be as profitable—if at all—while you grow your inventory of consumables. Common mistakes Although you need plenty of inventory for your bare minimums, there's another side to the coin: the business owner who car- ries everything, in every color, and every size. Stop that. You don't need every color of plastisol or a cone of every thread that exists. Many consumables have a shelf life, and you will either waste time attempting to use an expired product or throw away money. Carry a rotating inventory of your con- sumables and expand from there. It's per- fectly fine to order some items in small quantities. While it might be cheaper to buy in bulk, if it sits on your shelf untouched, it's a waste of money and space. Start small and grow based on your individual needs. Overpromising is another issue, and it's a hard cycle to break when you're busy. If you overpromise on your delivery and pro- duction times, you can force your business into a situation where you have to pay for overnight deliveries or order from a supplier you don't prefer to use. Before making promises to a customer, know your facts and prepare for complica- tions. Are you sure your supplier still carries the shirt shown in your catalog from last year? Is the product on clearance? Does the supplier have inventory issues? All too of- ten, I see decorators trying to chase down inventory management a Lesson From Car DeaLers C ar dealers run incen- tives and specials on inventory they have in stock or can get cheaper, a practice that can easily be implemented into your ap- parel decorating business. If you have the opportu- nity to purchase a specific consumable at a reduced rate, push these products. Let's say you have black Ts and crystal rhinestones. offer customers a special for buying a black T over a red one, and explain how the design would look amazing with added crystal rhinestones. You don't have to be a car salesperson to learn from your customer. When a customer asks for an item you normally don't carry, offer what you do carry, as well. The custom- er might be just as happy with one shade of holo- graphic spangle vinyl over another, but if you don't ask, how can you know? everyone wins if you can offer the customer a better price on a product that's readily available. pw

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