Here is plenty of advanced notice of the the Western Canada Imprint show in Calgary on Friday September 20th and Saturday September 21st, 2019. It’s time to book your exhibit booth or, if you’re not going exhibit but just attend, mark your calendar.
As posted earlier, Roland (of graphics and digital printer fame) has entered your textile world with a new “desktop” D2G printer. You should check it out by logging on to their webinar tomorrow (Wednesday, 30th January). The times are: 10.00 am to 10.30 am Pacific; 11.00 am to 11.30 am Mountain; 1.00 pm to 1.30 pm Eastern; and 2.00 pm to 2.30 pm Atlantic. Check on Roland’s website for the logon details.
It seems that some garment manufacturers and investors are actually taking action in light of the reports of worker abuse in garment factories around the world, particularly in low-cost off-shore jurisdictions. Recent examples are North Carolina-based, Badger Sportswear, who have reportedly severed ties with Hetian Taida Apparel Co. of China due to alleged forced labour. The Norwegian investor, Norway Pension Fund Global, stopped investing in Texwinca Holdings of Hong Kong because of alleged human rights abuses at Vietnamese apparel factories. Who’s next?
No? Well some of your Canadian competitors were! They saw a new water based ink at the Wilflex booth and Roland’s new digital-to-garment “desk top” machine. But that was just scratching the surface. They also picked up tips and ideas from the hundreds of displays. And, the break from the Canadian winter didn’t hurt either. Make a note now to attend next year from the 17th to the 19th of January.
The Guardian recently revealed that the Spice Girls pop group had shirts made to support a female empowerment-focused charity initiative. Here’s where the sad irony comes in . . . The garments were produced by women factory workers in Bangladesh labouring in abusive conditions for an unlivable wage. Another black eye for our industry. The take away lesson? Source smartly!
Sometimes it takes an incident like a hacker trying to get into the admin section of your online store to make you revisit your online security. If, like many screen printers, you have your online store hosted by Shopify, not only will they let you know that an unusual source has tried to get into your site, but they can offer you a two-step authentication process to vastly increase your security. If you’re not using the free two-step authentication on your Shopify store, you should be!
Big business Chairmen and CEOs say things that appear to make sense and are taken to be great business wisdom. But “wisdom” doled out by big business doesn’t necessarily always apply to small business. For instance, take this attributed to Sam Walton: “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” For a small business owner on the front lines, like many Canadian screen printers, encouraging a difficult customer to go spend their money at a competitor, can be a great idea. You don’t have to allow a customer to make your life miserable just because some big business guy has forgotten what it’s like on the front line with some customers.
Do you know that a few years ago already in 2015, Jasmin Malik Chua wrote an article about the levels of toxicity found in garments textile screen printers handle every day? Even organic cotton garments tested positive for benzothiazoles—substances that can cause respiratory and skin issues. Some “eco-label”-branded organic garments contained 7 to 30 times more benzothiazoles than so-called “conventional” cotton garments.
Bill Gates is quoted as having said: “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” He has a point, but only to a point. Don’t you think that there are always going to be those customers you’ll be pleased to dump because they’ll never be happy? So dump them!
Are you going to be among these attendees this year on the 18th to 20th January?
In June Stanley’s announced Wilflex’s Epic Single LC White. Have you tried it yet? It’s a non-phthalate white good for multiple fabrics from polyester to cotton. It’s low-cure, non-ghosting, soft-hand, fast-flashing, and has great stretch. And obviously with one white for almost all applications, your inventory carrying costs are reduced and your ink management simplified. Call Stanley’s and ask to try this white.
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.