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A Four Part Series on the Process of Getting T-Shirts Screen Printed: Quote and Pre-Production
This is the second of a four part series. We began with "Estimate and Sales" which we covered in the previous newsletter, if you missed it you can find it here: http://www.t-shirtforums.com/t-shirtforums-newsletter-articles/t128062.html We will continue this article with "Quote and Pre Production" and will follow that with "Workorder and Production."​
Quote and Pre-Production

The second step of our order process is the quote phase. At the time a job is converted to a quote, we become more legally bound to the prices on the quote, we have also collected our deposit and received approval from the customer acknowledging that the garment selection is correct and they agree to the prices. It is important to note now, that even though we are more legally bound to the prices on the quote, it does not mean that they will not change for any reason, there are times when customer initiated changes pop up after a job converts to quote and it is good to disclose that the price could change. It is important to have a clause in the terms and conditions that states something to the effect of, "Prices may be revised at the time of invoice based on actual prints."

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Note that this quote compared to the estimate in the previous article contains a lot more information (except we always assign a name to the design, preferably the customers art file name). Print colors are called out, garments are called out, garment quantities are updated, notes are updated, and the prices changed due to the need to print some of the garments with plastisol ink and an underbase and the others with water based inks. The prices also changed because the plastisol prints fell into the 144 piece volume discount while the water based prints fell into the 288 piece volume discount when the previous estimate was at the 500 piece discount.

We have a dedicated art team who begins working on the art based on the sales team's (hopefully as accurate as possible) information which is all recorded on the quote and/or behind the scenes in the database. The quote is the phase when we provide digital mock ups to the customer for approval which we promise to do within 2 business days, but always as quickly as possible. The customer must make adjustments (the goal being no adjustments with the information sales provided) to or approve the mock up before we will proceed to the next step. Approvals are accepted using certain terminology in an email or in writing, but not verbally. (the same applies to the estimate except I forgot to mention that in the previous article!) Keep in mind, all sales related questions should have been answered by this time so the mock up and art phase is completed as efficiently as possible. We will never put a drop of ink on a shirt for a customer without a mock up approval, even including donations. Mock ups must be approved on our mock up template that we have completed even if a customer has supplied one with similar, the same, or more information than what is on ours. The reason for this is to standardize the information flow within the shop which eliminates mistakes and makes everything run more efficiently. It also helps standardize the ordering process between us and our regular customers.

Our mock ups include the following information:

1. An image of the art on a t shirt template, proportional to how it would appear printed on a size large t shirt, specific to men or women, v necks, tank tops, sweatshirts, and so on. It is important to state the size of the garment mocked up on the mock up for the customers reference because one design will look proportionately different on a small than it will on an extra large, so the customer needs to know what they are looking at.

2. An enlarged image of the design to be printed. It is the same image, but as large as it can be on the page. This gives everyone the opportunity to look closely at the details in regards to any size print whether it is a 2" wide breast print or a 15" wide full back print. Specific pantone c colors are also called out on this page.

3. The same pages in #1 and #2 are created for each print location.

4. The final page is design specifications including pantone colors again, the dimensions of the print, and the placement measurements of the print on the shirt for each location. The customer examines and approves the mock up, and our production department uses this very same document along with a work order (which will be discussed in the the next article, part three) when the printing actually occurs.

You can see an example mock up from this year's T-ShirtForums T-Shirt Design Extravaganza Contest order by clicking here [PDF].

Once mock up approval is received from the customer, then the art department begins work on separations, separating the design into 1-10 colors to print on our press then printing films for each color printed. Separations should only be done in house. We do not accept separations from customers or other print shops because we separate how we think a design will print best, and specific to the type of job, type of ink, and most importantly specific to our registration system and press.

When the art department has completed the separations and printed films, then the job is converted to a work order at which time it is released to production. The work order and production phase is when the production department physically starts working on the equipment to produce the final print. Burning screens, setting them up on the press, printing, and then packaging for shipping. This will be addressed in the part three of this series.

With the work of the sales and art team we hope and strive to send a headache free job to the production department so they can set it up, print it, and tear it down as quickly as possible. It is very important to have identified and solved every problem or speed bump that may occur before the job actually gets to press.
Dan Holzer is the founder and CFO of Forward Printing, Inc, located in Oakland, California. Forward Printing began screen printing in 2004 with very little industry experience, and has quickly excelled to be one of the leading screen printing shops in ability, quality and customer service. Forward Printing services contract and custom clients around the United States with a focus on water based inks and specialty decorations. Dan Holzer oversees business development, marketing, sales, customer relations, industry relations, and the books. He has been published, along with co owner, Dan Corcoran, in many industry publications and online journals. Forward Printing won first place awards for their promotional prints annually since 2006.
 
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