Managing Business Growth for Direct to Garment Printers
Nothing is worse for a business than turning away a high-profit DTG job because you do not have enough capacity.
Here are some tips to help you manage growth responsibly, and maintain the high level of customer service your customers want.
Expanding business is the purpose of every direct to garment printer shop, but success rarely comes without a few growing pains. The challenge is balancing the ability to handle a higher demand with the money to pay for it.
Having a strategy that takes in the practical development of your dtg printing business will help alleviate any adverse effects of too-quick growth.
Good planning makes sure you can satisfy every customer that comes through your door.
Signs you are growing too fast
The worst sign of disappointing growth control is when customer service begins to decline. One or two late orders left unattended can grow to a history of making excuses to more of your customers. This can be a slippery slope, resulting in the failure of your business!
If you feel you’re direct to garment printer business might be falling behind, the first place to look for a solution is in your turnaround time.
A good strategy is to set an established turnaround time. Choose a time that your willing to post on your website, social media and in your emails. For new clients, don’t forget to tell your customers about any prolonged delivery times.
When faced with growth, great scheduling becomes an art form.
One example is the customer who comes in on a Monday and desperately needs an order completed by Thursday. Unfortunately, you are fully booked. Instead of sending the customer to a competitor, now is the time for your best customer service. Start making phone calls to clients and see if you can move a few jobs around to fit in the urgent order.
An old saying in sales is “never over promise and under deliver.” Be careful when saying yes. Taking an order that you can’t handle will do your reputation more harm than good.
Have staff work overtime
The first thing you can do is ask your staff to work overtime. Most companies have at least one employee who would be interested in a little extra income.
Remember, overtime will cost you more. Paying time-and-a-half for employees who work over 40 hours in a week is the law. If increased productivity is only short term, the costs will be worth it.
The best thing about overtime is the consistency of current employees, the people who will provide the same quality control standards. They already know the ins and outs of your shop. Overtime is also a safe option, especially when an increase in volume is only temporary.
Overtime is a good way to see how much extra capacity you actually need. Employees working 40 hours, then working 60 hours, without making headway to meet production schedules, you may want to add another direct to garment printer, not more staff.
Is it Time to outsource?
The problem with excessive overtime is the possibility of employee burnout. To take some of the pressure off your staff, you might want to outsource some direct to garment printer projects.
This is a strategy that even the largest companies rely on in a pinch. It is as old as garment decorating itself. Even if you have Mastered the DTG techniques, from time to time, you need to bring in help.
When outsourcing, a good habit is to run some test orders in advance. The growth of the direct to garment printer industry means there is a variety of different machines and varying degrees of quality control. You can’t go wrong with a DTG business bundle including multiple machines.
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In contracting direct to garment printer output, you submit your good reputation to the work of someone else. You want to be quite sure you go with the right people. Sending out a product from an outsourced vendor with the same quality as yours, you need to know the people you are dealing with, before handing over an important order for one of your best customers.
Build a list of trusted contacts for emergencies and don’t fail to reciprocate when they want you. All business is social, and not everyone is a competitor or rival. Make good connections with others in the business.
Add a second shift
Taking on an extra shift is a serious responsibility. You will need to teach a full crew of new people, getting them to work independently as soon as possible. You simply cannot keep an eye on them 24/7. It defeats the purpose! You want to be comfortable with the people in your shop when you’re not around.
Unlike screen printing, where there is a production manager supervising a staff, direct to garment printer production manager often also is the system’s operator. Getting someone to be competent and independent takes time.
Your shop provides a level of quality and reliability that you worked hard to reach. It is why you are growing! Don’t compromise quality just to fill orders.
A second shift is an enormous obligation. You can’t just hire more people, and then turn around and say you don’t need the extra employees. When you are in the same spot later on, don’t expect them to come back. Make sure you have the added production to justify another shift.
A part-time second shift could be one option. You could have one team from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., with a second shift from 3 p.m. until 8 p.m. Part-time work could help you face higher production without the challenges of a full-time second shift.
When looking to add a second shift, examine your workflow. If you are producing 2,000 shirts a week and a part-time second shift can increase capacity 30 to 50 percent, you just improved capacity to 2,600-3,000 pieces a week. This level of success is significant for a direct to garment printer business.
When to add a new direct to garment printer
Stay on top of production needs, while anticipating added capacity. Have a weekly analysis of your orders to identify patterns and the flow of your business. Once you discover a pattern, see if over a six-month period there was lost income because you could not meet demand. You may want to extend your company physically.
If you now make 200 shirts a week, and your needs are to provide 275 shirts weekly, that is quite different from printing 1,000 shirts a week and want to do 2,500. Know your current capacity so you can arrange to meet future demand.
Developing Your Own Trends
Make sure your production spikes are a trend, as opposed to being seasonal. There is little value in spending extra money if your additional output is temporary. You would be better off either outsourcing, overtime or adding a second shift.
Where is the new business coming from? If production is up because of new customers, you have reliable information that your direct to garment printer business is growing. If a surge in new orders are because of a single customer, you may want to hold off on the purchase of another system. Losing that customer could cause you to scramble to fill your newly increased capacity.
The best thing for a direct to garment printer business is growth. It is something every business wants. Begin your smart growth by planning in advance and periodic evaluation of sales patterns. That way, you can always meet customer expectations, as well as saving yourself a lot of growing pains.
Do you have a secret for managing growth in your direct to garment printer business? Let us know in the comments below!
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