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It Takes Two to Make a Thing Go Right: A Four Part Series on the Process of Getting T-Shirts Screen Printed

Invoicing and most importantly, satisfaction and follow up

This is the fourth and final article in my series of 4 articles detailing the life of an order and our internal workflow. Please read the first three articles if you have not already, or even if have so you can get the big picture of a job from beginning to end.​

The fourth and final phase of an order is invoicing the customer, shipping, collecting the balance, and the most important part which is making sure your customer is satisfied and following up with them so hopefully you can print their future orders and get some great referrals.

When a job is completed, the production manager brings the updated paperwork back up to the original salesperson so that person can finalize the order and contact the customer. When finalizing the order in the work order phase we do a few things. First, we update all the charges. We do not charge for misprints so if there are any, those quantities are removed and a note is recorded on the invoice as to why. Make sure that your system is set up so that if the volume changes and the volume discount changes due to a misprint, your prices to the customer do not change. For instance, if your customer ordered 144 pieces and that is where your volume discount occurs, you misprint and invoice for 143 pieces, the prices to the customer should not change due to your misprint. If you have ancillary charges on an invoice such as folding, poly bagging, relabel, or hang tagging, be sure to also adjust these charges to the accurate final numbers. Then next step would be to calculate and add shipping if necessary. Our production department records box sizes and weights on all work orders so this is readily available, and if you have completed your pre order checklist you should also already have the shipping address and instructions so these things that change the invoice can all be done before you contact the customer.

Below is an unpaid invoice that would be sent to the customer:

Next we send the final invoice to the customer, let them know why there were any adjustments to the invoice if there were, the final balance, and when the order should arrive to the customer dependent on when they pay the final balance. We ship all orders the same day that the balance is paid if it is before 3pm in the afternoon. It is very helpful to identify the shipping cut off time to the customer so they know what to expect, and that if they pay at 5pm that day, their order will ship out the following day.

Below is an example of a final invoice that now shows that there is no outstanding balance. This is also sent to the customer for their records, and also for one last confirmation that the payment was received and when the order will be shipping:

That concludes the physical part of an order. Now that we are done with that, we've had our great experience, it was efficient and profitable, we move on to what I consider the most important part of the vendor and customer relationship...

You worked very hard to get this customer in the door, they liked you, placed their trust in you, and decided to order with you. You worked very hard to get this customer what they wanted with the very best quality, great customer service, a clear ordering process, delivered on time, and all the other good things you do. Now we want to retain this customer and make sure they order with us again. There are lots of numbers out there, but it has been said that a new customer requires 10 times more work and investment than a returning customer and this is very true in our industry, so the most value you can get from a customer is not just that one order, it is for them to return for future orders... How do we do that? Nothing is guaranteed, and it takes more hard work, but here are some ideas...

Through the process you probably had many conversations and emails with your customer, you probably learned about their business, and hopefully even some about their personal life. Do they have kids, do they have the same kind of car, do they enjoy the same sports, are religious and other moral values aligned, or in other words, what common ground did you find with that customer that allows open friendly communication above and beyond the scope of the customer vendor relationship? There are likely many, and if you are not thinking about these things during the order process, try it and see what happens. Connect with that customer on a personal level and use it not only in the order process but when following up. Ask how the kids are doing, ask what brought them into their business, wish them luck with their business, ask about your shared sports interest, or art, or church functions, whatever you can do to reach out and connect with that person. Who knows, you may even end up with a new friend outside of work, it's happened before.

Physical thank you cards are making a comeback, and always, any sort of personal message of thanks goes a long way. This could be a follow up email or phone call, a card, and even a gift for large customers. Other things that may not be as personal but will help keep you in their minds are follow up emails or including them in your email blasts, ask them to be a fan your Facebook page, offer a discount on their next order for a referral or review, the opportunities to reach out and further charm your customers are endless and totally up to your imagination, and they work wonders.

I haven't discussed surveys yet, but that is a topic for another article!

I think that is about it, thanks to everyone who has read this series, I truly hope that it has helped. Please feel free to contact me via email at [email protected] or call me at 510.535.2222 x202 anytime, if you have questions or just want to chat.

Happy New Year, let's make the most of it!

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Dan like the articles...with permission like to print off and put in new hire booklet. Also what quoting, work order, invoicing and mock up software do you use in your articles?? Very Clean and Clear. Thanks again for sharing.
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