March '15

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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STITCH SOLUTIONS BY JENNIFER COX | | | | Jennifer Cox is the president and co-founder of the National Network of Em- broidery Professionals (NNEP), a professional organization for apparel decora- tion business owners. NNEP supports the success of NNEP members with best practices, ideas, sources, solutions, volume-buying benefits, and services. Cox was recognized as a Top 50 Small Business Influencer and Community Choice Leader by Small Biz Trends in 2013, is recognized as one of the industry's "Most Creative Thinkers," and repeatedly ranks in the top 40 on the industry's "Power List." Reach her at or go to 5 8 | PRINTWEAR M A RC H 20 1 5 S omething has baffled me about our industry for two decades now. Why is it that we ask our customers, "Is that OK?" when discussing the details of an order or quoting a price? We talk with embroidery business owners from all over the country on a daily basis, and no matter their loca- tion, business size, or experience level, this tentative attitude remains a constant. I propose that we actively and consciously choose to stop seeking permission from customers to run successful and profitable businesses. What does that mean? Let me give you some examples. SHOW YOUR AUTHORITY When you discuss order details, set a deadline for when you can complete the order— period. Don't follow up your delivery date with a wishy-washy question. If you need to confirm that this date is acceptable, try saying, "Our production is running X number of days. To complete this order sooner, there will be a rush charge." This sort of statement positions you as a professional who's fulfilling many cus- tomers' needs, establishes an expectation of value for your time, and distinguishes you as the authority and decision-maker. When you seek permission, you put the customer in the position of authority over you, your production schedule, and your business. When you quote a price, it matters how you state the information. Your customer will either accept your price or think the price is a guess and open for negotiation. If your voice inflects upward at the end of your statement, it sounds like a question. Let me demonstrate. Say in your head, "Would you like fries with that?" The word "that" is tonally raised at the end, right? Now apply this phrasing to your pricing statement: "That shirt with that design is $34.50?" It sounds like you're asking the customer the price rather than stating the price. You just handed control of your profitability to the customer. There are two simple ways to over- come this tendency. One is to not raise your tone at the end of the sentence. Say this out loud without raising your tone, "That shirt with that design is $34.50." It gets easier with practice. The second is to state the price in the middle of the sentence, not at the end: "That shirt is $34.50 with that Stand Your Ground Take control of your profitability and success

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