Using the Slow Times to Build Your Business
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Please find some links and notes from the 2 Regular Guys Podcast. For many decorators, there is a summer lull. Many of your customers are off on a family vacation, schools are closed, and just, in general, the summertime can be slower for many businesses. Aaron and Terry are going to talk about some things you can do to take advantage of this slow time to help build your business for the busier time of the year.
Sponsored by: Equipment Zone
Our regular listeners know this, but 2 Regular Guys is all about garment decorating, a bit of fun, and no rants or lectures or selling. We are not doing this for our employers, but rather for our industry. For the past three years, 2 Regular Guys has been the first and the most listened to garment decorating industry podcast on this planet! We are humbled by all of you tuning in each week. We work hard to bring you information that will make your business better, and our industry better. Take a look at our incredible weekly guest list and you’ll understand where this industry goes for news, interviews and the heartbeat of garment decorating. Thanks for listening!!
- NBM Show Recap
- All about the “qualified” buyers
- Changes to 2 Regular Guys
- Education Events (Workshops, Webinars etc.)
Using the Slow Times to Build Your Business
#1 Where do we start?
Equipment: Start the process with a tour of your plant or facility. Look around at the equipment you didn’t use last year.
Clearing the decks: Are you still holding onto your pneumatic screen stretcher even though you’ve totally converted to retensionable frames? Is there an old flash cure unit or shell of your first four color press setting around? I’m sure all of these things have sentimental value. If so, take them home and put them in your garage with your first two-wheeler. Or, just sell them. Many decorators out there would treasure your old equipment.
Supplies & Merchandise: I know printers who will hold blank merchandise for years because they can’t bring themselves to take a loss by closing the product out. Look at it this way. You’re getting zero return on your investment if it sets on your valuable stock shelves. Turn that stagnant inventory into cash and buy products that you can sell.
Inks & Chemicals: If you’re disposing of useless inks and chemicals, be certain to do it properly. That means not putting it on the garbage truck. It’s not worth the environmental risk to others and the liability risk to you. By liability risk, I mean a big fine and continued scrutiny by your local government and beyond. If you don’t have a regular hazardous waste carrier, Google for a disposal operator in your area. They’ll take inks and chemicals off your hands and relieve you of further disposal liability.
House Cleaning: Now that you’ve cleaned out your shop, clean it up. Despite many who disagree, a dirty shop is not the “nature of the beast”. Yes, many types of decoration can be messy, but you don’t have to work in the debris every day. A clean shop lowers the risk of product spoilage and makes for a better working environment. My experience tells me that a clean shop translates into higher quality work and less product spoilage. A “show place” shop should be a goal for all decorators all of the time.
#2 Projecting sales volume for next season.
Projecting Sales: Take an honest look at what you did in sales this year, and make a reasonable, rational projection for next year.
Do you have the equipment, facility, staff to achieve your projections? Projecting sales volumes for the coming season will give us financial information as a starting point. And then, you must consider certain production aspects based on your potential sales increases. For instance, do you have the necessary equipment to handle your upcoming workload? To find out, calculate the production time needed to achieve your production goals with your current equipment. Be realistic. Base your production forecasts on your actual current experience with your equipment, not what you wish your staff and equipment could achieve.
Efficiency: Before you go out and throw money at your projected sales, take a look at your efficiency. Can you do better with what you have? Can you do better with who you have?
Options: If you find that your equipment cannot feasibly keep up with your forecasted production needs, you have three options.
Option 1: The first might be to institute another work shift. But remember, the only justification for another shift is a production load that keeps your staff busy and the equipment running at full capacity. Adding an efficient and productive second shift is much more difficult than you might imagine.
Option 2: The second option is to contract out additional work. This option should only be considered if your additional production needs will be for a limited period of time. Contract printing can be very costly if you don’t keep in very close touch with your contractor. Have one of your staff spend time on the contractor’s floor to ensure the quality you expect.
Option 3: The third option is to add new equipment. If you do this, be sure the equipment addition is compatible with the other equipment in your shop for easy parts replacement, maintenance, and employee familiarity. Or, you may choose to redirect your equipment purchases to another brand or type. Whichever direction you take, think about the big picture for your shop before you commit to a purchase. You should have an idea of what your shop will be like in the next few years, what direction you want to take your operation, and make your purchasing decisions accordingly.
#3 New Equipment, Beyond the Purchase Order
Aside from the equipment compatibility factor we discussed last week, you’ll need to look at the capabilities of your support departments in keeping up with your needs. So, if you go the new equipment route, you’ll want to install equipment and train now, rather than in the heat of battle when production is highest.
Buying New Equipment: To determine how long it will take to get new equipment operating, ask everyone (manufacturers, distributors, and other printers) how long it should take, and then double the highest estimate. For various reasons, things will not go as planned and there will be delays. In deliveries alone, I’ve had equipment delayed because a truck driver stopped over to see an NFL playoff game. A new dryer hood was crushed by falling cases of unsecured freight on a delivery trailer. That took weeks to replace. And don’t forget missing parts, broken parts, parts shaken loose during travel, and electrical or plumbing contractor problems. I’ve witnessed very few flawless installations, so be prepared for delays.
Putting that New Equipment into Service: Besides getting the new equipment installed, you also have to train employees to use it. The salesperson who sold you the equipment probably said anyone could run it with a day’s training. Well, that person has never worked for me! Allow a reasonable amount of time for your new equipment to go on line at 100% production. Expecting immediate and total understanding and efficiency from your staff is not only unrealistic but unfair. Let your operators get the feel for the new equipment during the sanity of your slow period rather than the insanity of your peak season.
#4 Promotion & Marketing for a New Season (Overview – Look for a Deep Dive on this topic in a few weeks)
- Reviewing what we’ve done
- Budgeting time and money for a new season
- Putting the plan in motion
- NBM Long Beach July 14-16
- Embroidery Mart Nashville Aug 5-6
- NBM Baltimore Aug 18-20
- ISS Nashville Sept 8-10
- SGIA Las Vegas Sept 14-16
- Complete Screen Printing Business Course – Atlas Screen Supply in Chicago – July 23-24
- Complete Screen Printing Business Course – Workhorse Products in Phoenix – August 13-14
- Compare & Contrast: Garment Decorating, Screen Printing, Sublimation, Direct-to-Garment & Heat Transfers – SGIA Las Vegas Room Number: N115 – September 14, 3:00 pm Pacific
Screen Printing: A Practical Guide to Starting Your Own T-Shirt Business Just $4.95 as an e-book.
Direct to Garment: A Practical Guide to Starting Your Own T-Shirt Business Just $4.95 as an e-book.
Scheduling and Estimating Production Time for Garment Screen Printing Just $2.99 as an e-book
This show is brought to you for a full hour by: Equipment Zone, with 20 years experience selling garment printing equipment nationwide. Equipment Zone offers the new Epson F2000 SureColor direct-to-garment printer, their own VelociJet-XL DTG printer, and the all new SpeedTreater-TX automatic pretreat machine with a full 16”x24” pretreat area. Introductory price is $3,995. Equipment Zone also carries a full line of DTG inks and supplies. Go to EquipmentZone.com
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