Your customers have a great idea for a shirt, or a blanket or a cap. You might even agree its a great idea, but it’s just not possible. Maybe it is possible, but not with your equipment or skills. How do you still win? How does your customer still get what they want?
You can still win, your customer can still win… you just have to work it out. We are here to help!
Your customer asks for something that CAN’T be done.
– They want 5 hats with embroidery on the bill for under $10 each. You aren’t getting that anywhere in the world.
– They want a DTG print that glows in the dark neon pink on a moisture wick t-shirt.
This is probably the simplest one to solve. You know they cannot go anywhere else and get this. You know they won’t find it for a price they are willing to pay.
Explain to them why, let them understand. If you explain in a way that shows how much of an expert you are they will be excited to have asked you. They will know they didn’t waste their time chasing something that doesn’t exist.
I agree that embroidery on the bill of a cap looks very cool, but these are actually done pre-construction. They actually sew on fabric, then turn it into a cap later. The issue is that getting this done comes with a pretty steep minimum order. I realize you only want 5 caps, so let’s find an alternative solution.
Your customer asks for something your equipment cannot do.
– I want an all over print on this long sleeve fishing shirt.
– I want embroidered caps (you don’t have an embroidery machine yet)
This is a case where you don’t want to send your customer away, but they have very specific desires. You have 4 choices.
1. Send them away (nope! not an option)
You don’t want to just send them walking. Part of the relationship you are building is that of a trusted adviser. The minute you say “no” and don’t offer a solution means you might not be their #1 ‘go to’ person. At minimum if you have no clue what to say go with, ” Actually I want to look into that a little bit, can you give me a day? I may just have a GREAT option for you”
2. Talk to them about things you CAN do instead
– You’ve got to take a shot at just offering what you CAN do for them. This could just be an alternative though, they may like your idea better.
– “Actually I know you mentioned embroidered hats, but a lot of my customers have been doing heat press caps with a vinyl material I use. The designs come out really clean and they are a really sharp modern look. Want to chat more about this idea?
3. Outsource the job
– You should be building relationships with local decorators. Screen printers, embroiderers, sign shops, award shops, etc. The more you have the more of a resource you will be
– Have a wholesale and pricing table that you can quote and charge. Remember these should be profitable!
– Quote as usual, be sure to build in time for delivery. Don’t over promise.
4. Refer out the job
If none of the 3 above can work based on your customer or business, be sure to refer out the business to someone very specific. Also they should know you sent them. You can do a conference call or a group text or CC on an email.
Your customer asks for something you won’t do
– I want this bible passage on a shirt (its 350 words and will need to be .25 inch font and you cut vinyl)
– I want a digital transfer print that’s a full 11×17 block square image
– I want an embroidery job on a moisture wick t-shirt that’s 12″x12″ filled
This is where it can get tough.
CAN you do it? Technically yes.
Will it look good? Meh, maybe not
Can you charge what you want? No, they dont want a $150 t-shirt
This is your time to be the expert and explain to them why it isnt a good idea. You can explain how the method you decorate apparel wouldnt look good this way. You can explain how in general this isn’t best practice for decorating a shirt.
Be the expert and offer good solutions (maybe the solution is outsourcing).
– The bible passage example, they might want 100 shirts which means it could be a good candidate for screen printing. Outsource it.
– The digital transfer won’t feel or wash well. Figure out a way to alter the art to make it work out. (stripes, remove colors, etc)
– The embroidery job can be turned into a transfer or vinyl or dtg job.
Your customer asks for something you can’t do.
OUCH. You know that this CAN be done, you just haven’t learned or perfected the art.
I would like to get caps embroidered (but you haven’t taken training or practiced on caps)
I would like to get a logo made and put on a shirt (but you arent a graphic artist)
This is a time when you might think. ‘ok I will buckle down and learn this. Then I can fulfill the job’ – PLEASE be careful doing this. You might not realize how long it could take you to master this art. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Some people pick up graphic arts easily, others struggle. If you haven’t done it before, you don’t know how hard it might be (for you).
NOTE: Don’t just go to facebook and ask if XYZ is easy. The 3-4 people probably aren’t a big enough sample size to get a true answer.
So what do you do?
– You can do similar to the above – sell something else, outsource, refer.
– You could try to produce and learn… but make sure you have two things in place
– Enough time to learn it – definitely no rush jobs
– An exit – have a place to outsource to so you can meet your deadline if you get stuck
Once all is said and done, evaluate. Is this something you want to do? How long will it take you to master it? Is the time / effort going to pay off.
The big takeaway is that YOU are the expert your customer is coming to. The same works for all other experts right?
I remember a friend telling me this grand cake they wanted for wife’s birthday. The baker said if they wanted it this many tiers tall, it would need to be a certain size (which was 2x budget and fed 2x the people). They agreed to the small cake and it was spectacular.
You might walk into a mechanic and say to replace your spark plugs, but the mechanic will tell you that for this job you should replace XYZ with it as well. Or they might tell you that the problem is misdiagnosed.
The reason people keep going back to trade experts is that they trust them. If you build that relationship with your customers, you both win.
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