Technical mastery of the screen-printing process is no guarantee that a steady stream of customers will come knocking at your door. You also need to ensure that your facility looks professional, clearly identifies your business, and provides a place where customers can view samples of your work and discuss details of potential jobs.
By Mike Ukena
A shop I visited last month was a perfect example of what not to do. I went to see a printer for the first time at his facility, one that had no sign, just a suite number on the door. He had no showroom, no customer area, and no barrier at all between production and customer. The entrance door was right next to the roll-up cargo door, which itself became the entrance when it was open. The belt tenders were standing just inside the door, catching T-shirts coming off the dryer and putting them in boxes. A new customer visiting this location would think that they must be coming in the wrong way. But a quick scan around would show them that it was the only entrance. How bad is that?
The cost of doing business
Every business has a cost of operation. The two main elements of that cost are customer attraction and customer service. You are engaged in customer service any time a customer calls you or comes by to see you. Sales itself is a part of customer service. When a customer enters your business, especially for the first time, that first impression can make or break the relationship before it even starts. How impressed will a customer be when he or she has to enter the shop through a cargo door only to be greeted by loud equipment and inks everywhere? And how can a shop that isn't able to separate the client from the commotion present work samples for evaluation? I would be willing to bet that a great majority of customers would walk away without placing an order.
The presentation of your business does have a cost. That cost need not be extreme, but it is necessary if you expect to be successful. There are many great ways to set up a customer area that is attractive and appealing without spending a great deal of money. If I have my facts straight, we are in a creative-art field. Showing a little creativity in your customer area can make it appealing and conducive to making the sale.
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