Printwear

November '14

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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20 1 4 N ov e m b e r Printwear | 99 consumables or blank goods that aren't readily available. Research before you quote a customer a time and price. If the customer wants something unique, make sure the blanks are available in the sizes and colors you need. It's perfectly reasonable to say, "Let me check my inventory and availability before I promise you I can get this done by Friday." Saying yes and then figuring it out often causes more trouble than it's worth. Not only could you have to renege on a promise but you could also cost yourself money and lose that customer, plus all the referrals that would have come with the job. But no matter how well you stock your inventory, it will happen—you will have a customer who wants an item you never car- ry. First, be honest and tell the customer a unique product requires a special order. You then need to contact your supplier to find out its availability and cost. There's nothing wrong with explaining that this item isn't normally stocked, but you're confident you can take care of the order. From there, it comes down to managing the future of that inventory. The consum- able you're ordering might have a minimum quantity that won't make this order profit- able. You might need to charge an extra fee to special order an item that might not sell again. Most people will understand your predicament and pay or change the order. If a customer is unreasonable about this, you have to ask if he or she would have been a good customer at all. Cleaning up the mess What about those who have already made mistakes? How do you go back and fix your inventory issues? Step one is cleaning up. Keep it simple by organizing your chaotic closet full of supplies into three categories: • Expired supplies and junk: Get rid of old ink, crumpled transfer paper, and unwound thread cones. It doesn't feel good throwing away supplies, but sometimes it has to be done. A cleaner storage area is worth it. • To be used: This is all of your staples— the things you reach for often and know you will sell soon. Prioritize these items so that they're easily reached and avail- able. • Who would buy this: You don't even remember ordering apple-shaped rhin- estuds, do you? Make a plan and expi- ration date for these items. Throw them away, use them to make samples, or maybe even sell them. You don't have an infinite amount of space, so know when it's time to let go of clutter. Keep a schedule of when you will review your inventory. Count every item and keep track of its history. An uncomplicat- ed spreadsheet is all you need to start. This spreadsheet, which will prove to be invalu- able in the future, should track quantities in stock, count date, part number, description, supplier, and cost. You can track trends and determine what items should be ordered in bulk and what items are stuck on the shelf. When you need to start an order, you can reference your inventory right from your computer or mobile device. These counts should happen often but will vary based on your business. If you're so busy you need to count on a weekly or daily basis, invest in software that helps manage sales and inven- tory together. As your business grows and clientele changes, so will your inventory needs. Al- ways keep your bare-minimum consum- ables heavily stocked, don't be afraid to carry new products when your customers ask for them, and stay organized. Many people don't deal with their inventory well, which leads to unnecessary stress and wast- ed money. Managing your inventory is just as important as perfecting your craft and caring for your customers. If you don't get a hold of your inventory, it will get a hold of you. pw

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