April '18

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 8 A P R I L P R I N T W E A R || 21 BOOK MEETINGS Set appointments with your key vendors and prod- uct reps. If you want to up your game when it comes to selling performance fabrics as the profit margins are higher, set an appointment in the booth so that the manufacturer or distributor rep can walk you through the new products, styles, decoration options, and fabrics. They want you to be proficient and informed about their products, so it is in their best interest to spend time showing you all the latest details, features, and options in their lines. You can often call before the show and set these meetings up. BE OBSERVANT AND TAKE IT ALL IN Industry trade shows are an excellent place to get your creative juic- es flowing. You get to experience new visual stories, identify fresh color patterns and palettes, and get ideas for new ways to display or pitch goods. Notice which booths capture your attention and con- sider what it is about their booth that is captivating to you. Can you recreate any of what they did in your business, sales presentations, samples, or sales materials? PLAN AHEAD Before you head to the show, review your sales over the past six months or year. What product categories have been selling well for you? Are you hitting the margins you need on those orders? You can increase revenues by selling more products or by more expen- sive products. You might be surprised to discover that one order for embroidered golf shirts is the equivalent to 14 orders for T-shirts decorated with transfers when it comes to the profits earned. You may discover that what you think is working is not what the math supports. Success in this business means doing the math and using that information to meet your goals. TAKE CLEAR NOTES I know many business owners that do a recap each evening to sort out where they want to spend more time the next day. After the first few aisles, everything begins to look and feel the same to me. I found that I needed to stop and take notes at the end of every aisle, or at least every other aisle if I found a vendor that I wanted to come back to see again. Being able to use the information you get at the show once you get home is the secret to your success. When you have clear, specific notes, you can always follow up and connect with that company in the future. ASK LOTS OF QUESTIONS Trade shows are the ultimate time and place to learn. The exhibitors are a captive audience. They are in their booth all day, every day. Ask them, "What is doing well? What decoration trends are strong right now? How do you recommend we display this? Is there a product that I have not asked about that you think I need to see? What colors are performing the strongest in that product?" TALK WITH FELLOW ATTENDEES You never know who you will meet or what you will see at these shows. If you see someone wearing or holding something awe- some, ask them about it, whether they are a fellow attendee or working in a booth. The odds are very high that they are wearing it or holding it to catch your attention, and, clearly, it worked. Sit at a table with other attendees for a quick break or a bite to eat and ask, "What have you seen that stands out?" They may send you looking for something that you missed, and it becomes a great seller for you. PROVIDE INPUT AND FEEDBACK Trade shows provide a unique opportunity for apparel decoration professionals to influence the direction of some product lines. Your feedback can help make products more appealing, which serves the manufacturers in the long run. None of us as individuals in this industry are as smart as all of us in the industry. When we come together at industry trade shows and conferences, the possibilities are endless. Trade shows are a fun, legitimate excuse to travel to interesting places, that is true. When you approach them as the unique opportunity to elevate your busi- ness above your competition, you will amplify your investment of the time and money. Make the most of your time while you are there to find the hidden gems, whether they are the people you meet, the suppliers you mix with, or the products you discover.

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