Have you considered that if yours is one of those screen shops that slow down in January it’s an ideal time to spruce things up? Put a fresh coat of paint on the walls, roller some concrete floor paint on the shop floor, replace the cracked sink in the washroom, tidy the ink room, clean up the equipment, clean the carpet in the reception area, and so on and so on. It’s an easy and inexpensive way to make good use of downtime and it will boost staff morale and impress customers.
If you’re ever offered an equipment “bundle” deal here’s something spotted in Image Magazine in an article about buying embroidery equipment that applies to all equipment purchases: “Ask about breaking the bundle apart and assess the “deal” before you sign on the dotted line.” Something to keep in mind.
Have you ever had a serious accident in your shop? Here’s one that happened in a Calgary shop a number of years ago but it can so easily happen in any shop. All it needs is for a printer to use the arm of the dryer to rest an aerosol can of spray adhesive between applications and then accidentally knock it onto the belt without realizing it. The predictable explosion occurred in the dryer and an exhaust duct fire followed. Firefighters turned up to put out it out. The shop was closed for quite a while. Production and revenue was lost. Can this happen in your shop?
What have you done to ensure that your shop can provide basic first aid until first responders arrive? Accidents happen and people get sick and as the shop owner it’s your job to make sure that you’ve done what is reasonably possible to make first aid available. It could be a matter of life and death. Why not provide basic first aid training for every staff member?
If you have a customer referral program (and you should) are you promoting it through your marketing emails and other marketing materials? Furthermore, referrals are proof that your customers love your products and which shop among us doesn’t need affirmation that what we’re producing is highly regarded?
How seriously should we take trends developing in the U.K.? Images Magazine’s November issue reports on the Schoolwear Show, October 2018: “The topic that dominated this year’s event was sustainability and its close siblings, ethics and the environment. It seemed as though every conversation touched, if not centred on the growing customer demand for products that can be shown to have been produced in an ethical and sustainable manner—one that respects both people and the planet.”
What is one of your challenges in buying a new dryer? Outgrowing it. This is why you need to make sure that the manufacturer has a trade-in or trade-up program. With this assurance you’ll be relieved of the up-front challenge of guessing at future production demands and either over- or under-buying with no recourse.
Do you know that according to Nicole Soames in The Influence Book, it’s unfortunate that technology has made it increasingly tempting to avoid face-to-face interactions? As she writes, “The fact remains that when it comes to influencing (selling etc.), meeting in person really makes a difference.” She mentions Skype and Face Time and even telephoning as preferred options if face-to-face isn’t possible.
Do you know that regardless of how annoying one or more competitors may be, there’s a very important reason for not warring with them? It’s in Characters Who Can Make Or Break Your Small Business: “When the day comes that you need an exit strategy, you don’t want to find that the obvious candidate to acquire your small business (screen shop) is the competitor with whom you waged bitter war. Now instead of a potential acquirer, you have an enemy who’d rather gouge out your eyes than negotiate with you.”
Do you know that motivating staff is a challenge in almost all small businesses in all industries? Here is a tip from Bob Nelson’s 1001 Ways to Reward Employees – “When basic compensation is adequate, it takes something extra and something tangible to motivate people to greater performance.” What would it take in your shop to keep employees motivated?
Do you know that a few months ago Impressions Magazine published an article in which it was claimed that: “In the online, instant -gratification society in which we live, customers are demanding increasingly shorter runs and customization—and they want it today.” They argued that this means that DTG is the answer and that therefore the industry is irreversibly headed in a digital direction. Is this your experience in your particular market? Have you paused to give it some thought?
Do you know that some of the newer fabrics with a knit construction that gives a smooth finish to print on allows you to minimize the ink film thickness? The benefits are not only a softer hand, but also a saving in ink and faster flash times. Next time you’re presented with a smooth fabric some experimenting might be in order.
Do you sometimes wonder what you can do about the fact that your shop is engaged in an energy-sapping battle for the same customers with every other print shop? In other words, how do you get out of the red ocean of cutthroat competition into a less crowded blue ocean? Do yourself a favour and read Blue Ocean Strategy by Kim and Mauborgne. It will get explain your predicament and get you thinking about solutions.
Do you know that when you see a great prize-winning print, it’s just the tip of the iceberg? Below it and out of sight lies a secret—proper maintenance of: the press; the exposure unit; the ink mixer; the squeegees; the screen; the coating trough; and a dozen other items of tools and equipment. How good is the maintenance program in your shop?
Do you know that a T-shirt printer in the U.K., Tshirtify, has a “Buy1Give1” (B1G1) charitable program? You may want to consider something similar for your shop. They make a donation to a selected charitable project determined by the number of shirts they print each month. The staff participate in the selection of the cause—they’re currently contributing to the construction of a house for a family in the Philippines.
Do you know that in their book “You, Inc.“, Harry Beckworth and Christine Clifford confirm that most cost-sensitive buyers haggle over everything? They go on to say that customers like these tax your patience, diminish the joy in your work, and reduce your margins. A lot of us secretly know it; so why do we do business with people like this? Consider dumping them as soon as you can.
Do you know that most manual screen printers favour the two-handed-top-grip-pull-towards-you squeegee stroke? It works but it can also cause problems such as numb fingers and sore wrists. And it’s the sore wrists that can indicate the onset of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. And carpal Tunnel Syndrome is no joke—it can mean surgery that will put you out of screen printing for a long time (several months or even longer). Ask Stanley’s about ergonomic squeegees.
Do you know that Wilflex has come out with a new low cure base for mixing ink for cotton and cotton/poly fabrics? This means that you can run your dryer at 270 degrees Fahrenheit instead of 320 degrees when printing cotton. A lower dryer temperature means lower utility bills and one setting for all substrates. It’s also a greener way to operate.
Do you know that simplifying the processes in your shop can make it much more efficient? Edward de Bono wrote: “We should not assume that simplicity always depends on major changes. Slight changes in small things can sometimes make things much simpler.” So look around for some changes (even small ones) that can simplify your operations and make your shop more efficient.
Do you know that often small shops in our industry don’t answer the phone and instead ask callers to leave a voice mail (if they bother at all)? This is no way to conduct business in an impatient world. Those callers may be potential customers who are going to take their T-shirt question or order to the competition where the phone is answered. No matter where you may be or how small your business may be, find a way to answer the phone or it might grow smaller until it disappears completely.
Do you know that your blog editor has published a book for small business owners partially based on his twenty-three years of experience as a distributor to the textile screen printing industry? One reviewer wrote: “There is such an incredible wealth of wisdom in this book—and it’s possible to just dip into a chapter (character) at a time. I loved the conversational, story-telling style, which is often funny and so very true.” It’s available from the author’s website: www.smallbusinesscharacters.com; online from Chapters-Indigo, Amazon, Barnes & Noble.
Do you know that the the Environmental Audit Committee in the U.K. has reported on the pollution of the oceans from synthetic fibres? According to a study conducted at the University of Plymouth, a single washing machine load of synthetic fabrics can release 700,000 fibres to wastewater. Makes you think, doesn’t it?
Do you know that according to the Institute of Mechanical Engineers in the U.K., the global fashion industry produced more CO2 emissions than international flights and maritime shipping combined in 2015? We haven’t heard if this is still true for 2016 and 2017, but it’s probably safe to assume that it is. Our part of the industry contributed to this. Every one of us needs to be much more aware of our carbon footprint and to each individually do something about it.
Do you know that if you’re stuck for creative designs there’s a solution that’s so easy it’s almost ridiculous. Just Google “T-shirt ideas”. You’ll find an amazing trove of creativity. We’re not suggesting copying designs, but quite often great designs can be stimulating and lead to other great designs.
Do you know that a web pallet adhesive spray is usually recommended when printing fleece? It is said to hold the heavier fleece better. But a good water-based pallet adhesive can do the job too, and it’s more environmentally and operator-health friendly. Ask Stanley’s about water-based pallet adhesives.
Do you know that if you’re going to find creative ways to reward your employees from time to time, you should make them sincere, not silly. Just because an idea is promoted, say, in a book on employee management, it doesn’t follow that it’s a good idea. Silliness can take the sincerity out of a reward and this is not good when you’re dealing with something as important as employee management.
Do you know that a portfolio of your shop’s work can do a lot to excite customers and sell your shop to them? The best format is is a ‘book’ at least 11″ x 17″ that has a print per page. The viewer can then sit down and page through it. This format allows for touching and feeling—an important consideration in textile screen printing, and especially for special effects prints and soft-hand prints.
Do you know that you could get hosed when you make an investment in a big item of equipment like, say, a press? Ask a lot of questions and leave no stone unturned. For instance, this actually happened . . . A printer bought a press and two weeks later the manufacturer announced a series of improvements to the model. He didn’t ask, so he wasn’t told.
Do you know that the way to judge the price of plastisol is not by the bucket price but by the cost per print? Cheaper but poorer quality ink can require more to be laid down, take more time to print, and produce poorer results. Don’t just compare the side-by-side bucket price, compare the side-by-side performance. You may pay less for something that’s costing you more.
Do you know that if you’re flashing shirts between screens, some garments can shrink enough under the flash cure to cause a registration problem? If this happens, a simple solution is to heat the shirt first under the flash cure before the first print. Just be sure to let it cool before printing or you’ll have ink gelling in the screen and causing a blockage.