October '14

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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8 4 | Printwear O ctO b e r 20 1 4 How do I become known in my field? I want to be recognized as an expert and get more clients. Share—and writing is the best way to get started. Although you might think you don't have the best command of writing or enough to write about, frankly, sharing the situations you face starts the process. Don't be afraid of giving up secrets or be- ing wrong. Be honest, share from your experiences, and always try to provide value to your audience. Write for them, address their needs, and be consistent. You'll get that recognition you crave naturally. Erich campbEll, black Duck EmbroiDEry anD ScrEEn printing How do I manage suppliers and choose which is best for my business? In regard to suppliers—those that sell your sub- strates and decorating equipment and supplies— you first need to know their policies and write them down. Some questions to ask include: • When do they open and close? • When is the cut-off time for same-day ship- ping? • Do they guarantee certain delivery times for you? • What name brands do they carry? • Do they offer specific quantity discounts on goods? These are all important—not only for choosing a supplier but also for managing your daily rou- tines. If your T-shirt cut off is 2 p.m., but your ink is 4 p.m., count your shirts first. If you don't know something, ask. There is no perfect supplier, just like there isn't a perfect T-shirt shop. Understand that a supplier may run out of stock, get back ordered, or miss an item in your order. The important thing is to notice two things: frequency and response. If the supplier responds prompt- ly and does its best to help you, it cares about you. If mistakes are too frequent and it doesn't help you, why is it your main supplier? Also, it's important to maintain a personal relationship when- ever possible. We like to do favors for our friends, right? For a customer you particularly like, you probably do a little something extra. Grow relationships with your suppliers. Post honest reviews on their websites, email them positive feedback, provide them con- structive criticism, or just call to ask questions. When you main- tain that personal relationship with customer service reps, sales people, and managers, you have gained a friend on the inside. The last and most important thing to do is ask before you as- sume. If you need something new, different or unique, just ask. You can't assume the supplier can't or won't accommodate your needs. Even if the supplier can't accommodate, they may be able to help. I'm willing to bet that if you know your suppliers well, they are reliable, and you have built personal relationships with them, they will help you find your answer. marc Vila, colman & company The 2014 Q&A TroubleshooTing guide pw business MAnAgeMenT, sAles & MArKeTing Your

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