August '17

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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68 || P R I N T W E A R A U G U S T 2 0 1 7 SHOP TOOLS for APPAREL DECORATION This contrasts with subscription-based programs, which he says often end up costing businesses more over time with the monthly subscription fee. Plus, he notes, client/server sellers often offer financing options. WHY IT'S SO IMPORTANT In most cases, the importance of these tools comes down to the long-term success of a business. Pairing the right accessories with the right equipment helps maintain profits. "[All of these tools] contribute to higher quality jobs getting done more efficiently," states Broghamer. Plus, Clarke points out, if each depart- ment is equipped with the right tools, then the next area of the shop in the production line gets all the information it needs to do its job properly in a timely manner. "The cost benefit varies shop to shop, but each of them seeks predictability, con- sistency, and repeatability," says Clarke. "Without this trio, the only path to quality is excessive set-up time, slower production, and higher scrap rate." Clarke estimates that in many instances, production slowdowns cause anywhere be- tween $2–4 per minute in overhead. "The old saying 'Time is Money' truly ap- plies to this industry," states Williams. "You need to maximize your time to get the most orders through and stay on top of new po- tential orders down the road." A basic spreadsheet might help keep track of core company data he adds, but reliable software integrates all departments and nurtures those important client inter- actions. Ackerman agrees with this sentiment and stresses that once efficient systems are in place, companies can review profit margins to see which tools are ultimately improving their bottom line. STAYING ORGANIZED Making the tools accessible is just as impor- tant as owning them. This is especially true when it comes to chemicals in the shop, says Broghamer. "Make sure your chemicals are properly labeled and located near the area where your screens will be reclaimed," she stresses. "Oftentimes we get calls stating misuse of a product due to the placement in their screen room." Implementing a labeling system, she adds, helps decorators avoid this mistake. For safety measures, Broghamer adds that it's best to keep all chemical Safety Data Sheets (SDS) accessible in case of emergency. Clarke suggests designating ownership to an employees' set of tools, holding them ac- countable for those instruments. "It is amazing how careful folks are when half of the cost of the device belongs to them," Clarke expands. "Of course, if the tool is damaged or simply worn out, the de- vice should be returned to management for a replacement." Similarly, Williams stresses the impor- tance of having the sufficient licenses and logins for a shop's software, so all the appro- priate parties can access key information, even when one person might be out sick or on the road. "Companies can easily seem clueless to customers who call when the person who knows all the key information is out of the office and not reachable," says Williams. "You can miss opportunities because they did not have a reminder to call someone back about a future program or order." CUTTING, OR NOT CUTTING CORNERS For the do-it-yourself shop owner, some situations allow for improvisation, while other applications always require the proper tools to avoid costly errors or even safety is- sues. Online forums offer plenty of tips and tricks on how to save money, says Clarke, but those techniques don't always account for the long-term costs on machinery or overhead. He stresses anyone above the hobbyist level should exercise caution when looking to cut short-term costs solely. "If you are doing it for the money and want predictability, consistency, and re- peatability, avoid corner cutting like the plague," Clarke adds. Broghamer reinforces this point, say- There is often a disconnect between screen-makers and press operators and the tools they use. (Image courtesy Easiway Systems) Properly labeling shop chemicals is an important part of tool organiza- tion. (Image courtesy Easiway Systems)

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