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
These display shirts also are the best way to show customers your technical abilities with special-effect inks. Explaining why you need to charge more for a particular print is a lot easier when you can show the customer the end result. In my experience, just telling someone that something costs more is the quickest way to get a no to a sales pitch. Customers are more likely to spring for the extra costs such prints entail when they see what a specific special effect looks like, how it adds to a print, and the fact that you are capable of doing it.
Also try to resist the temptation to put up prints provided by others as an example of what you can do. I have often seen garment shops use printed garment samples provided by ink companies or shirt suppliers. Customers won't be impressed by a nice high-density garment decoration that your shop didn't produce. Make sure that what you show them is something you have done and can do again.
Here's looking at you
A properly maintained and presentable showroom is an essential part of marketing your business. The showroom doesn't have to be large or expensive to set up. It can, in fact, serve a double purpose as your office area. It should be kept neat, clean, and up to date at all times to make sure that you always put your best face forward to customers. Prevent this area from turning into a storeroom or shipping/receiving department. Keep those functions where they belong—in the shop. If your present location doesn't have an area that you can turn into a showroom, make sure that your next shop does.
On several occasions I have complimented printers on how nice their buildings and showrooms looked. In each case, the printer told me how much these investments had helped the business. One of the printers even said that the difference having a showroom made was so remarkable that he kicked himself for not doing it sooner. The investment was more than paid back in just a month or two with the improvement in his business—and the quality of the customers who were attracted to it.
About the author
Mike Ukena is a 15-year screen-printing veteran who has owned a textile-printing company and worked in technical services for the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association Int'l as the director of education. A member of the Academy of Screen Printing Technology, Ukena is a frequent speaker on technical and management topics at industry events. He is currently a technical sales representative for Union Ink Co., Inc.
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