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Discussion Starter #1
OK long story short- I have connection with a bunch of soccer leagues and am thinking of custom tailoring a heat press operation to take care of different leagues on site. In essence a mobile heat press operation that provides uniform try on then immediate production (or pretty darn quick.) I think I can get one league with over 1000 uniforms, and probably at least two more. The uniforms would consist of a number on the back and a small left chest logo on the front, and for some leagues a number on the front as well.

I am thinking of two digital knight heat presses, on air auto and once clamshell 20 inch presses with shuttle systems for both. This way if I could split my production to two locations for a secondary production run for late registrations.

CONCERNS-
1) haven't done much heat press production but the uniforms come with heat and pressure specs for number application which should work for the logos as well.
2) The numbers could be huge if I can sell the concept the way I think I can. How many shirts an hour do you think is reasoble with two shuttle systems working?
3) accurate placement of the numbers/logos- I have come up with a laser placement system that should keep that very consistant.
4) waste- these uniforms are NOT cheap and screw ups will be expensive. The materials are usually either the new moisture wicking fabrics or poly.

Anyhow I have been thinking about this for several years and now is the time to get rolling if I am going to get going in the fall. The great thing is that if I can pull this off then I will have a really nice setup paid for that could pave the way for a lot more business.

ANYHOW- if you have uniform production experience or mobile production experience I would love your input.

Thanks in advance
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Com'on folks somebody either tell me I am an idiot and will fail, or that the sales volume offsets the risk.

Or that it's too much too soon for a newbie.
 

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If I could offer any advice, it would be to start off a little smaller. The logistics of that quantity could turn into a mess. The biggest issue I could see would be staff. You would need folks running the press(es), and also (very important) people organizing sizes, #'s, etc. Can you try to imagine trying to size 1000+ kids in 1 day? Trying to make sure Billy gets his #? Making sure Billy and Alfredo don't have the same #? Would this be done at the league sign-up? Team assignments? Could you get 100% to show up? Now, I'm not trying to be a Debbie Downer, but I'm not sure this is the right approach for a league of that size, but maybe on a smaller one. Hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
A good deal of the production would not need to be done on the same day. For the majority of the work the uniforms could be printed, bagged and sorted by team ahead of time. The onsite aspect is as much a service as anything. Usually uniforms are a semi-nightmare because they are not sorted properly, or mis numbered, or the numbers are on two different size shirts etc. Usually it's simply because the folks "printing" the uniforms are doing putting the numbers on them then trying to sort out which go to which teams. I actually really do CARE about the kids getting the right stuff and a fair amount of the production could be done ahead of time.

The ability to produce the back end of registrants and/or replace or resize unforms is the big selling point to the leagues. Otherwise they are waiting for the supplier to get the uniforms to the league and half the time they don't make it before the first game.

The big plus in my modle is that the leagues are going to pay up front for all the uniform stock so I won't have a large carrying cost on inventory.

The other aspect of my model it to "upsell" the parents with lots of options for matching gear, names on matching jerseys etc for a much larger markup.

THANKS FOR THE REPLY!!!!
 

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I agree, that's an awful lot of people to be pressing in relatively short period of time. Calculate how long it takes you to attend to one person. You have two main parts:


  1. Sizing and number assignment
  2. Pressing
Each person is going to take 15-30 seconds of your time for the first item. Assumming they try on the shirt by their self and then provide you with an order form with the size, color, and number. You will verify and take payment. Minimum 30 seconds really.

Then your press crew will be picking numbers and shirts and pressing. At full speed, assume 15 seconds to pick shirts and numbers. 15 seconds to press, I'm guessing.

So you are at least 1 minute shirt. That assumes you don't get into a backlog. I can tell you that you will get long rushes of people sizing and then expecting you to deliver their shirts in under 5-10 miniutes. No way you'll meet their time expectations during the rush hour. or hours. Then you'll have a lot of people who's expectations are not met.

Let's do the math, 1000 shirts at 1 minute each = 1000 minutes or almost 17 hours. Assume your crew works a productive 6 hours a day (yes 8 hours shifts will get you 6-6.5 productive hours). So you are looking at at least 3 days of solid production. If your customers come 1 minute apart. They won't what are you going to do when you have 20-25 people in a 15 minute time span? Will you have 20-25 presses to meet their expectations?

I've been at gymnastics events where an operator has 2 presses and 3 staff. One taking orders, 2 pressing. Average wait time for a garment during rush, 10 minutes with only 10 customers lined up. Most of those order, walk into a 30 minute award ceremony and then come back to get their garment.

I just see this as a disaster waiting to happen. Why not size and take numbers and then deliver to the coaches on a follow-up weekend? That seems reasonable, or even deliver to the coaches as production completes.

Bottom line you are going to need sufficient capacity to meet the highest demand period to keep people happy. When I took queuing theory 30 years ago, I learned I needed to avoid queues at all possible costs. :)
 

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Go for it. It appears that you know what you want to do and have thought about it quite a bit. The customer will give you the feedback that you greatly desire.
 

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I actually really do CARE about the kids getting the right stuff...
That is a plus, you have seen both sides of the coin. From experience, it is both rewarding and nerve-racking at times producing uniforms for a league you are involved with. Lots of responsibility.

registrants and/or replace or resize unforms is the big selling point to the leagues.
could you clarify this?

The big plus in my modle is that the leagues are going to pay up front for all the uniform stock so I won't have a large carrying cost on inventory.
Ooooh, do you have any leagues on-board with this idea? You will have to keep lots of stock to cover all sizes/colors. Most leagues don't like to spend money...especially on stock that may or may not be needed.

The other aspect of my model it to "upsell" the parents with lots of options for matching gear, names on matching jerseys etc for a much larger markup.
Also, from experience, this will add to production time. If you want to put out mass quantity in a timely manner, you have to sacrifice customization...somewhat at least.
 

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The customer will give you the feedback that you greatly desire.
The problem is that if your feedback is negative, most leagues will never go back. That's the good and bad about leagues. Word travels fast...good and bad.

Trying to get a whole league is a double edged sword. You either get them (teams) all, or none. When you work with teams, there isn't as much risk.
Another point to bring up, we deal with coaches only. When we have to get 1500-2000 uniforms out the door within 2 weeks, dealing with 150-200 coaches is more managable than 1500-2000 individual players. This is the way our S.A. has done it for the past 20+ years. Now, another smaller association orders their uniforms as a league. These leagues you are wanting to fill orders for - how do teams order uniforms? Is it up to each coach? Does the league order as a whole? It may be difficult to get them to change their ways. You may have to make a presentation to a board. This is when your contacts as a coach could pay off.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Brice- MOST of the uniforms will actually be done in advance for the largest league the teams will be formed long before I even receive the stock. So more than 80% will be done in advance I am estimating. The uniform payment will have already taken place, I will need to get a signature for receipt of all goods. Everything will be on an excel spreadsheet and what I am partially selling to the league is the ability to sell a LOT more additional product to parents, siblings, grandparents with the onsite days. The idea is NOT to produce all the product onsite, but upsell to the parents once their kids know their numbers.

IF the leagues will allow me acess to their email lists I can email parents in advance letting them know their child's number and allow them to order in advance the items they may want. The onsite is basically for the "impulse buys" for parents/kids seeing the cool stuff their buddy's folks got and the parents wanting to buy to "keep up with the Jones'. The Gymnastics reference- part of my business model it to do events exactly like that one, especially the State Tournaments where virtually every kid orders a State Championship Tournament Hoodie starting at $40 for a $13 net, then adding numbers, team name, their name etc. YES the production lags like hell, but they order before a game and pick up afterwards.

gg graphics-Inventory- more money up front for a much cheaper end product and no waste(or minimal waste) Actually making money for the league via lower total costs. Uniform overages are blanks, not screwed up sizes and mismatched numbers. For the select leagues they have their teams formed in June and no real changes. For the recreational and competitive leagues they form their teams much later and uniform production is always a problem, lots of overnight freight, parents ordering wrong sizes, etc. My concept will ultimately cost a little less, put more money in the leagues pockets and eliminate a LOT of the problems and adminstrative hassles relating to getting the uniforms properly distributed.

Leftover uniforms are blanks that can be used for Spring ball, or sold on Ebay or donated depending on what the league wants to do. So rather than a total waste there is some recoup on the extra uniforms that are normally part of waste.

A lot of my "upsell products" will be things like previously silk screened metal water bottles with the league name on them. League purchases these and I sell all I can onsite on tryon day and they get the rest.

I also am offering each league it's own internet storefront, for ordering items as the season goes on. This is a pain in the butt for the leagues and allows me another avenue of profit over the course of the year. Kid loses a jersey I do it for them and ship directly, parent pays me and I kick back 15% to the sponsoring group. They have access to the sales on the stite and they can see the success of it.

The onsite production is as much about contact with the parents and coaches who might order items after the fact from a marketing perspective. The convenience factor to not receive endless calls about "where are the uniforms" is a big selling point to the leagues.

The MODEL is untested but the feedback I ahve gotten from league administrators is very strong. If I can lock up Soccer some associations have basketball, softball or other teams that need gear as well.

Thanks Guys for the Comments!!! ESPECIALLY the criticisms, as identifying problems in advance is usually the most valuable thing in any business!
 

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I started my little company with this in mind.

The issue you run into and can not account for is emotion and the lack of loyalty.

We did a lot of the things you are describing. We went and personally fit the players-sold parent shirts, window decals, car flags-you name it we had it.

Sales were good and thing were fantastic-then next year a new group is in charge and the President of the league has a friend who screen prints.......a few people vote with him on the supplier just in case he coaches the all star team because they want their son picked.

To win the business you have to be almost too competitive and the loyalty is just not there.

As for your setup-2 shuttles are not needed to produce 1000 uniforms that are being heat pressed.

We could produce that with 1 heat press in a day and a half, 2 days tops.

As for staff-have the same person do the numbers so that they are consistent. Have the same person do the fronts. Splitting the work is good.

Hard way to make an inconsistent living.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Team Wear - Yeah the more I was thinking about it my investment might be overkill with the two shuttles. I just wanted to make damn sure that I could "do what I said I was going to do." Plus a lot of the work would be done offsite or before we got onsite. In essence I look at this as a seasonal sideline business. I also realize the fickle nature of the "I have a buddy.." From my sales experience I also know that the fact that MOST people overpromise and underdeliver creates an opportunity for loyalty but in with a seasonal sale like this kind creating long term loyalty might take several years or more.

I intend of producing for other leagues first and THEN since I am the President of my league shift the business over to myself after a proven track record with the other associations. I don't know if it's a lack of caring or the fact that some sporting goods stores view uniforms as a "must provide" nuisance. We have never had a season go smoothly as far as picking and packing. Usually sloppy picking and confusing packing with no attention to detail and nearly non-existant labeling. I am hoping that the attention to detail and making things "easy" for the volunteers distributing the uniforms can win me some degree of loyalty. Creating a "if it ain't broke.. don't try to fix it" mentality from the leagues I do business with.

In essence if I can pay for my investment clean and clear with one season of uniforms I have enough other avenues for revenue generaton that my efforts won't be only seasonal.

Thanks for the reply!
 

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I do not think I would try to sell to a league where I am President-or even if I were on the board.

We have 2 sons playing school sports that we sell to and we refuse to be a part of the booster club because they write us checks.

Too many potential issues when money is involved. Even if you were successful and went on a nice vacation or bought a new car people would wonder if maybe you took advantage of your position in order to make money.

Use what you learn and sell to the other leagues. You will be happier. Besides-if you enjoy your child's baseball that much it would be ruined if everytime you go to watch your child play all you heard was something about a uniform or tshirt (good or bad).

We have been there, done that and we do not sell to youth organizations where I kids participate. Just too many distractions when we want to enjoy our won family time.
 

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I would like to see a list of your purchases as it could prove useful to other members looking to do the same thing but aren't quite sure about what to get or prices.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Teamwear- basically I am going to do a cost plus if I ever do my own league. Basically to provide more money into organization rather than provide profits to myself. More of a "we will get it done right" at a cost that will allow me a nice in kind donation to the league that will apply directly to their bottom line. The idea is NOT to make a bunch of money, but to help the league profit from expense reduction. I will make my money on the leagues I am not affiliated with.

Quite frankly I hesitated to be involved at the highest levels in my league but the begged and pleaded for me to become the lead dog, and had I not some very poor decisions would have been made.

The books on what is done by my company for the league will be open to anyone that wants a look. That is the only way I will do that work, cost Plus with the league prepaying so I am not out any out of pocket financial carrying costs. Then I can put an extra $15,000+ into the league coffers.

But I TOTALLY get your point TeamWear, it's just right now there is an inside buddy deal where it seems some money is changing hands behind the scenes. So I could save the league a LOT of money and get myself a large writeoff instead of a cash payment.
 

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right now there is an inside buddy deal where it seems some money is changing hands behind the scenes.
People will say the same of you...no matter how transparent your operation. It's just a fact of team sports, local government, etc. I'm involved in my local soccer association, as is my brother and father. We also print about 90% of the association's uniforms. Each coach is allowed to buy uniforms from wherever he/she wants, but we still get accused of doing things crookedly by some. Open competition keeps things fair. I feel comfortable with my company's quality, service, and price. I walk proud at the fields on Saturday. Do we screw up uniforms? Yep. It's how we handle it that makes me proud. To go off on a tangent, it also creates a greater sense of responsibility. It's not some random person that I'm shipping something to. This is my nephew's opponent next weekend. If I'm not doing something right, I'll see it or hear about it on Saturday. I can understand Teamwear's point of view there, but personally I don't mind it.

It can be a double-edged sword, and I wouldn't try to get the entire S.A. to buy uniforms from my shop. I believe our reputation over the past 20+ years is why people come back to us. Trying to group the whole association, in my case, would cross the line...and what a fine line it is.
 

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Here the league buys for every team. It saves them a little bit of money and everyone looks the same.

At one time the baseball organization bought just he cap and 2 button jersey. They ran into some coaches that wanted Nike pants and Under Armour shirts and the cost was higher if you got that coach instead of another one.

I think what they did was not a bad way to go-but unless you had an inside deal you did not get the business.

I TOTALLY agree that we all make mistakes and how we handle those mistakes is what separates us.

As for keeping open books-I would NEVER agree to do that. Too many people out there looking to make a buck on the side or out of the garage without a staff or overhead that will cut you off at the knees.

If it looked like you made a profit at all someone would surely think you were rich.

One of my very best customers gave me the best advice-he said "I hope you make tons of money-but if it ever looks like you are making money people will resent you". "Let your success be transparent".

All that said-3 years in and we struggle a little at times, enjoy the fruits of the labor at others.

We do like what we are doing though.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
If I am saving the league $15,000 they can think any damn thing they want. I will take the tax writeoff, and do so happily.

I guess I should say my books relating to the league woudl be open to the BOD and the Soccer Board. Basically a cost per shirt far below what they are paying now, and what woudl normally be profit being turned back into the league. And yes some folks will think there is something shady, and I don't give a crap what those folks say as long as the Board and Coaches are appreciative of having things done right, and putting more money back into the facitlites than in some "buddy's" pocket.

Though I am sure somebody somewhere will think negatively of me, I have select coaches that practically hate me because my teams win at a cost that is between $900-1400 less per season, per player. AND we have a lot more fun doing it.

The concerns are ones that I have had, and they might indeed make me decide that I don't want to do it. OF course I didn't want to be the lead dog at the Associaiton either.... so who knows.
 

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Just curious, are you really able to bid low on a job and then take a tax write off for the difference? Even if your motive is to help the league, does the IRS look at it like that?
 

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Steve, I'd like to see us all holding hands running through a grassy meadow. But the reality of youth sports is that it is vicious, vicious. I've seen boards turned upside down due to similar issues. A result of this could be that you are A) ousted along with your supporters, B) your reputation with other associations could be tarnished, or C) everyone realizes how much money they will save and all goes well. We would hope C is the result, but I'm here to tell you it could turn out bad. Vicious soccer moms.
 
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