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.
How’s your maintenance schedule?
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.
Take your business to my competitor!
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.
Use ergonomic squeegees; avoid Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
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.
Save money and operate greener.
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.
Answer the phone no matter where you are. Customers expect you to.
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?
Textile industry has an enormous carbon footprint.
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.
Use Google to find creative T-shirt design ideas.
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.
Hi Stanley’s. Tell me about water-based pallet adhesive.
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.
Is this how you’re going to show your appreciation? Com’on, get serious.
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.
You didn’t tell me that I was getting an outdated model!
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.
Stop! Do you know the real cost of the cheaper product?
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.
Employees want to love where they work
Do you know that if you want to reward employees to show your appreciation in a way that doesn’t break the bank, there are a lot of ideas you can use? For instance: a free taxi ride home; tickets to a movie; a day off with pay; a free lunch; a magazine subscription; and a ton more you could probably think of. It doesn’t just make you a likable boss, it’s also good business practice.
Screen printing could be older than the Egyptian pyramids.
Do you know that screen printing has been traced back to about 3,000 BC in Ancient Egypt? Not only is it a long-established but famous people in more recent times, like Andy Warhol, have given it prominence as an art form? Now this is something to keep in mind as you sweat over your press!
Do you know that company pets (usually dogs) are very common in the textile screen printing industry? Image Magazine is still doing a regular feature on print-shop pets in Britain. They’re up to about 30 by now. However, pets lack discretion in a business setting — that part is up to you to manage.
Keep that blade sharp.
Do you know that a good sharp edge on a squeegee shears off the ink better? When last did you sharpen your squeegee blades? Don’t have the equipment to do it? Look up a service or ask Stanley’s about it.
Do you know that employees are a valuable source of good ideas? One way to tap into are brainstorming sessions. Just do some research first on how to conduct a successful brainstorming session.
Do you know that a lot of plastisol inks can be a bit “thick” and difficult to work for manual printers. The answer is curable reducer. It makes the ink flow better without affecting the curing qualities.
Print at a studio for occasional and small printers.
Do you know that screen printing studios exist in Britain? For £100 you can get 50 hours of access. They have all the stuff you need for a screen printing project. Small independents and online T-shirt retailers use the service extensively. When will we have something like this in some of our bigger centres?
Do you know that while some DTG equipment and ink manufacturers claim that you can print directly onto white without pre-treatment, some printers say that without pre-treatment the colours are no vibrant enough? And on darks, pre-treatment is essential.
How much corporate-wear are you printing?
Do you know that the world corporate-wear market is worth over CAD20 billion at wholesale value, and expected to keep growing. What are you doing about gaining access to some of that in your local market?
Do you know that experts advocate that if you’re going to reward an employee it should not be done in private. For maximum effect it should be done publicly — at least in front of his or her colleagues.
I’m glad I called you.
Do you know that fibrillation (that pesky condition where small fibres stick up through the print and make it look dusty or furry) need not be a problem? There are various remedies to deal with this. Ask Stanley’s in Cambridge at 1 877 205 9218 or Calgary 1 877 661 1553. .
Do you know that it’s only a couple of months before the kids head back to school? There’s a lot of textile screen printing business associated with the beginning of a new school year. Are you out looking for your share of it?