December '16

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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Page 38 of 134

34 || P R I N T W E A R D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 6 TIME MANAGEMENT AND TRACKING For small-shop solo-preneurs and large-shop workers alike, this is a good time to start a time-tracking habit. Whether with apps or tick- ing boxes on paper, a rough idea of what takes up your time helps you to be more conscious of how it should be spent. Redefine your goals for your shop's growth and your personal growth; having them in mind will make it easier to judge which tasks are critical for overall progress and which are unnecessary busy work. Classify tasks as to whether they are important for goal-oriented progress or they just feel urgent. Cut or simplify as many of the latter as you can. Prune your daily practices and look into how technology or tools might speed up tasks that survive the cut. Doing this during the slowdown means that you'll have a tuned time-monitoring habit in place and less on your to-do list when production speeds up. Customer communications are one exception to the split between urgency and importance. Responsiveness is incredibly important to clients. In a world where social media makes the expectation of immediate replies commonplace, it's often the first respondent to a researching customer who gets the job. If you maintain a presence on Facebook, you'll notice that your average response time is listed prominently on your company profile. The importance of respon- siveness places customer contact in that rare position of being both urgent and vital to your reputation for care and service. CROSS-TRAINING Slow periods are perfect for employee cross-training. It's when you can afford some time for doubling employees at a station and some hand-holding. Not only will you have a more robust shop when every position has some form of backup, but the increased under- standing each team member has of the needs of their coworkers will increase staff cooperation. Cross-training makes it easier to balance workloads and has the added benefit of dismantling misunderstand- ERICH'S EMBELLISHMENTS Top Left: It may seem like a ponderous practice, but flow-charting can prove an excellent way to find inefficiencies in your order flow. (Image cour- tesy the author) Top Center: Even if you are working on paper, accurate and complete information capture is the foundation of a clear, easy to fol- low workflow. (Image courtesy the author) Top Right: Order management systems are fantastic, but they are only as useful as they can be when properly implemented. When analyzing workflow, it's important to make sure every department is fulfilling their part of the order entry and status tracking chores accurately. (Image courtesy the author) Above Left: Cross-training is a vital part of any decoration business. While you might not want your embroidery digitizer on the heat press the way I am here, you never want the reason why you can't get a job done to be because your heat-press operator isn't in. Especially with tasks that don't take an age to get basic proficiency, cross-training is a quick and easy win. (Image courtesy Celeste Schwartz) Above Right: Testing new materials and techniques is a great downtime activity that pays off in added capabilities and sharpened skills. I created this testing swatch on a live example of a pre-made patch with a new sublimation ink formulation, creating a reference palette for future color matching purposes. (Image courtesy the author)

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