Don’t Make This Equipment Purchase Mistake

Business of Apparel Decorating, Business Tips and News

Tips and Tricks for Avoiding Problems with Your New Purchase

Imagine this: You go to Ikea or Walmart and buy a piece of furniture. You take it out of the box, look at all the pieces, and say, “I go this.” You start putting it together, and 19 pieces in you realize this one piece should have been put in 17 steps ago. You have to disassemble the whole thing. Why is that?

Take The Trainings Offered

Everything was designed to be put together in a certain way, but maybe you missed a few steps, or intnored the instructions. Now you’re angry at Ikea or Walmart. When really it’s your fault. This is often a familiar scenario with tech support at ColDesi when someone gets their equipment for the first time. People take the attitude of “learn as you go and your mistakes teach you.” We’re often DIY people ourselves. However, what we’ve learned over the years is that if we didn’t first watch all the videos on how to properly lay tile, we would have wasted time and money.

Being a Business Owner is Unique

We want to draw the line between what you do as an entrepreneur and other professions. If you’re getting onto a plane, do you want the pilot to be the person that knows how to drive a car, but is learning to fly as he goes? Do you want your surgeon to have the manual beside him in the operating room? You probably don’t want an electrician to come into your house and be following a YouTube tutorial as he’s fixing the wiring.

Make Sure You Have the Entrepreneur Skillset

Why do we think that becoming an entrepreneur is somehow less of a skill set? One of the reasons we came up with the Custom Apparel Startups Podcasts and all the blog posts is to show you what skills you need. Of course, if a pilot doesn’t know what they’re doing, they’ll be a disaster. If you get a piece of equipment and don’t know how to operate it, it’s going to be a disaster for your business. And your personal life. In addition to training on equipment and software and how to be an entrepreneur, it’s about how to train your customers on how to do business with you.

Restaurant Example

Take this as an example: you go to a restaurant, and no one greets you right away. It might make you upset, and so it flavors the rest of your experience. You scrutinize everything. Compared to if as soon as you walk in, you’re greeted in a friendly manner If something bad happens after that, you’re more likely to be forgiving. That’s what we mean when we say training for your customer. It’s that initial experience. How do they place orders with you? How do you help them pick a good shirt? It’s all about success.

Set Yourself Up for Success

We surveyed our Custom Apparel Startups Facebook group. There were a lot of people who said they learned the most by making mistakes. In talking to our support technicians, they said that about 80% of the issues people have is something to do with training.

 

It is either they never took the training, they didn’t understand something from the training, or it was a training refresher because they hadn’t done any training in years. The worst case scenario is the people that get a machine and never get training.

 

Not getting proper training can practically destroy the printhead on a DTG printer or your UV LED printer.  You could easliy go through $500 worth of EZ Peel paper because they’re trying to figure it out on their own. All our products offer free training and cover how to avoid these common mistakes. There’s no excuse for not taking the training, but still, people don’t. It costs them time, money, their business.

Get Educated, Learn All You Can

It’s not just about the equipment, but everything that comes with being an entrepreneur. If you decide to do your own finances and you grab software, they have training videos. So often people don’t do that, and they make mistakes in their finances.

Often the local small business association will have classes or books to help you learn how to file your business in your state properly. If they don’t file properly, it gets rejected, and they have to start all over. We have tech friends that have a saying: RTM. Which means “Read the manual.” What they find is that most of the phone calls they get are because people didn’t read the manual.

Training opens the doorway. Hard knocks reinforce learned lessons.

Industry Stories

Subaru

Subaru had customers complaining that they didn’t know how to operate their new vehicles. Things were different from the old Subaru their customers had driven. “We scratched our heads trying to figure out why. As we further explored why it wasn’t so much that things didn’t work. But customers didn’t know how to work them. It turned out that 1 out of 5 calls to the Subaru call center involved a question that was answered right in the owner’s manual.” They came up with a solution to get that information in front of the customer.

Gadget Help Line

They found that 64% of men and 24% of women that were calling for tech support, had never read any of the instructions of manuals.

Don’t Ignore Your Training

You have to humble yourself to do it. But also, don’t get caught up in the “learn as you go.” You’re buying commercial software and equipment; you can break it. Even in our Custom Apparel Startups Facebook group, we will see common questions. The people in the group who have been there a while will often respond with, “Have you been to training yet?” All their questions are answered in training. So often the people that don’t want to do the training will run into an issue while they’re completing an order. Then they go online to a search page or a group to ask the question. You’re going to spend $7-10,000 on a DTG system, even though there is free online training people will get the machine.

They Make It Look Easy

The people in the videos have worked with the machine 100 times. They make it look easy. They get the machine on Thursday, and by Saturday they’re complaining that it doesn’t work. They can’t get the peel correct; the paper doesn’t work, etc. They have a job to do that they expected to be able to fill, without doing any training.   By Monday morning they’re angry. They’ve wasted three or four days. They’ve wasted supplies. They may have lost their first customer. Or they got the job out, and they didn’t do something properly, so the prints don’t wash well. You can’t get your idea out into the world in exchange for money unless you know how to accomplish that.

 

Don’t Miss This Info

Someone will say the vinyl washed off their shirt – it’s probably just temperature or pressure on your heat press. When we tell them this, they’ll do what we say, and everything works out. However, the instructions are in the box. There’s a video on how to do it. We don’t want people to miss this information.   It’s also often related to software that we don’t even sell. Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw for example, and they are hard to learn. You can spend thousands of dollars to get a degree working with this software.

 

Those people will still not know how to do everything in it. Another common question in our Facebook group is, “What graphics software should I get?” And inevitably the next question from them is, “How do I use this?”   Or perhaps the person is good at using Corel Draw for magazine covers or comics, but when it comes to t-shirt designs, it’s a different animal. Just because you know how to run an inkjet printer for vinyl does not mean you know everything you need to run a DTG printer.

 

Just because you can run a color laser printer does not mean you know how to make a t-shirt with a white toner printer. There are levels of skill and specificity that are really important. When you invest in new software, whether it’s graphics or finance, or you’re going to buy a new camera, whatever it is, one of the first decisions you need to make is how you’re going to learn to use it.

 A Well Rounded Education is Key

Make that decision before you make the purchase. Should you use FreshBooks or QuickBooks? If you ask people, all that matters to them is what they’re currently using. What matters is what you can buy and how you’re going to learn to use it. Do they teach it in a method you’re comfortable with? Is there perhaps a local training class at the community college I can take?

 

Is there a really good online course? Learning how to use something is the most important tool and the biggest mistake when you don’t know how to use it. Many online training courses are only 4 hours. If it takes you four hours to struggle with how to do something, you could have used that time to take a training course. And it would save you time in the future. The purpose of training is not only to reduce the number of support calls, but it’s also important to learn and do things in a certain order.

 

In school, they teach you basic math, then algebra, then geometry and trigonometry, then calculus. From there you can go on to other higher math and science. You can’t just jump into calculus. It’s true of apparel decorating. If you learn the DTG printer and you don’t pretreat the shirts, none of your shirts are going to come out. It’s for a purpose. Step one is often simply setting up the equipment. Doing that properly, so you don’t damage the equipment.

Benefits of Training

A benefit of doing the training is that you won’t have to make those support calls. You don’t waste time you could be filling orders. Another great aspect of the ColDesi and Colman & Company training is that you can take it more than once.

 

When you take that training, and you’re comfortable right out of the gate, you’re happy with the equipment.   You are also more successful. Your clients are happy with the product they receive. When your business is successful, it allows you to expand.

 

Let’s say you start with an embroidery machine. When you want to add bling, you call us, and you know what to do to set yourself up for success.

Dangers of New Equipment

Just because it didn’t happen the first time, does not mean you won’t make a mistake a second time. Just because you learned how to use your first machine on your own, doesn’t mean you’ll have the same success on the new machine.

 

  • You can break your machine in the first hour you buy it. Anytime something is for commercial use – whether it’s a printer or a tractor – there’s an inherent danger involved that the equipment is breakable.
  • That’s why certain chemicals for cleaning are not sold at Walmart. If you don’t wear gloves and dilute it properly, you can burn your hands.

Plus, commercial products are expensive to fix.

  • It takes you more time to learn on your own. You will spend more hours trying to figure it out on your own and trying to fix your mistakes.
  • It will cost you money because of lost time and supplies. You could mess something up on an order and have to start all over. You might not be able to deliver to the customer on time. Or you tell a customer ‘no’ because you’re still trying to learn the equipment.
  • You’re more likely to give up. People who don’t go to training get frustrated and do want to use the equipment. They think it’s not as good or doesn’t work. This often happens with people who have a full-time day job and do custom apparel on the side. They have limited time and perhaps use a hobby machine. They’re comfortable with that machine.

They’ll try for 30 minutes or an hour – whatever they have available – but it just doesn’t work for them in the end. They’ll either blame the equipment or just lose the enthusiasm.

Training Customers

You can train your customers to go rogue and do whatever they want. Or you can train them into your system. When you train them into your system, they’re more likely to be successful and be satisfied with their experience.

 

For example, at Colman & Company, we have an online store. We also have a phone number people can call. Those are the preferred methods. If you order online, it goes through the system efficiently. If you call our reps will input it into the system. However, we still have customers who will email us an invoice. So it needs to printed out and deciphered.

Communicating Naturally with Your Clients

Customers might not be using our part numbers, or the descriptions are off. We then have to call them to sort it out. They might not be available, and it becomes a game of phone tag. Or they email someone who’s on vacation.

 

It’s important when we talk to our customers to ask them to call in or go online to order. We’re training them to order in the way that’s best for them.   Do the same thing with your customers. If they are going to text you and ask for four more shirts, is that the proper way to communicate with you?

 

You might just be happy to take the money, but you should say, “I’m really happy to do that for you.   Do me a favor on my website there’s an order form, go there and fill it out, so I don’t make a mistake.” Whatever your preferred system is, example, email this form and send it back. We also train our customers on how to use tech support. They can call using our 1-800 number; they can fill out a support request, or email [email protected]

If you don’t do that – whether it’s emailing a salesperson or emailing a tech rep directly – things are not going to happen as efficiently. We don’t train them to do things that for just for us, but so that they will get the best result. When you’re talking to customers about order processing, what you’re really trying to do is make sure you get their orders right. And on time so they get the best experience.

 

If they text you and just say “I want four more shirts” you may think back to their last order which was pink shirts with their logo, all in large. That may not be what they’re talking about. There’s no information about the sizes. But there’s also no confirmation on the change in cost. It also leaves room for you to forget potentially. For example, you may get the text while you’re out delivering an order.

 

By the time you get back to your shop you have ten other things you’ve reminded yourself about and the shirts get forgotten. Regarding positive upselling, one of the ways that you upsell is to train your customers. It’s important to communicate to your customers all the advantages of doing business with you. “For an extra $1.50 a shirt, you can feel the difference in quality.”

 

You’re training them to ship differently about the garments. When they go to everyone else, they’re looking for those details. You might be training them on the value of a different placement for their design or washing instructions. There are advantages to bundling. Let them know that they can save if they order the caps and the shirts at the same time. Train them on the quality and to look out for what else they should be getting. A more educated consumer will benefit you like the business.

 

At the highest level, you’re training them to treat you as a consultant. You’re the apparel expert. All they know is they know is that they want to order a hat. However, it’s not just a hat. There are thousands of styles and tons of ways to decorate them.

 

Take a consultative approach to their order:

What do you need the shirts for?

Why is the budget so important?

What are the people going to be doing in these shirts?

Are you going to need to reorder these in the future?

Are you going to want them in different colors?

Etc.

Your customer can buy $8 shirts online, let them know why they don’t want to. Here at ColDesi, we run into this all the time. People buy a color printer from someone else and receive zero training, or the quality is just not the same. A DTG printer is going to run you $8-10,000. Meanwhile, you can get a sublimation printer for $400. We get the question all the time on why the DTG printer is so expensive. We train our customers on what makes the DTG printer that much more superior a product.

 

Plus, when you buy our printer, you get online training classes, free tech support, free podcasts on how to grow your business.

Make sure you get trained and that you train your customers. So that they come to you. Get them into the mindset that they need to get the RIGHT shirts.

Summary

It’s not just about the equipment. It’s about everything in your business. If you’re getting into online advertising, make sure you’re doing it properly, so you’re not wasting money. We find that customers that go through training and who train their customers have happier, more successful businesses.   And we know them longer because they don’t give up.

 

Two last updates: We are introducing a paid training program for custom apparel businesses that buy used machines. We are also going to have some courses on the Custom Apparel Startups website on business and software. We’re relaunching the “How to get into the T-Shirt Business” course. And stay tuned for some graphics software training. Have a good business!