November '14

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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20 1 4 N ov e m b e r Printwear | 91 3. Track and record your steps and average times in a spreadsheet before making any changes. You can use a simple Excel sheet to record the time it takes to complete steps before adjusting the process. This step is more important than people re- alize because studies have shown that 60 percent of the time, we tend to incorrect- ly estimate how long tasks take. Dealing with art re- quests In many smaller companies, customers tend to call, email, or even walk in and directly request work from the artist. Often, this is both good and bad, depending on how the company is set up and the specific client re- lationship. On the positive side, there's less confu- sion because client communication isn't repeated or converted for the artist, and the client tends to approve work faster. This also helps develop a close relationship between the client and artist, which im- proves customer loyalty. Conversely, clients can become so nit- picky that they take hours to approve simple jobs or encourage artists to spend time on nonproductive work. Artists comply because they are programmed to please customers and are loyal to the relationship. Critical in- formation about order details and revisions also gets lost when it's only mentioned to the artist and not the others involved in the pro- cess. Luckily, establishing a few simple steps can create some basic boundaries and pro- cedures that reduce or eliminate headaches from those extra-demanding clients. 1. Insist that art order requests, revisions, and related details are presented in writ- ing in an email or an art-request form (see Figure 1). If a client walks in and starts talking, gently plead a poor mem- ory and provide an art-request sheet. You and the client can fill it out together. Al- ternative communication methods, such as Skype, texting, or social media, should redirect to your primary communication process. 2. Requiring an art deposit is often a touchy subject for smaller companies, but if it isn't addressed, it can make the difference between profiting and losing money. Sometimes, it's easier to call it an "order deposit" and not charge for art. Experi- ence has shown that forcing clients to pay a deposit leads to faster decisions and approvals. 3. Simplify emailed art requests with online forms, email fields, and preset layouts for repeat customers to capture all important information in the first request. If addi- tional questions are in the request, the artist should answer them all together to complete the process in the least amount of steps. If it takes more than two emails to iron out, a quick phone call is best and often saves five to six emails. Figure 2: Using Photoshop, adjust the size of your artwork to resample the resolution. You can then sharpen the edges of the image or add contrast within the program.

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