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188 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I have worked for the same screen-printing company for 17 years now. We do around 1 million in sales a year. We have eight employees, two automatic presses, and one manual press. We specialize in sports apparel (tournaments, teams, etc). But in the last 12 months things have taken a turn downwards - less sales, clients not returning, etc. and as of this Friday I have a meeting and am in charge of presenting the owners with a plan of "how to turn things around".

I am not a trained sales person. Everything I have done taking this from a 3 employee garage company to what we are now I did myself off the cuff. But I could use advice. Tips, ideas, feedback, etc.

- I bring in about 155-175 new quote/art requests a month.
- We design free artwork and send via email with a quote.
- We get about 50% of that which turns into orders.
What tips, tricks, etc do you have for turning the remaining 50% into orders (or even 25%)

- We have a lot of clients each year that disappear. Even though we email everyone once a month asking if they have any upcoming work. They go elsewhere, they forget about us, they find lower quotes, etc.
What ideas do you have to stop "bleeding" customers. I have to replace all those clients which is harder than keeping them.

- So I know it's not the best way but my boss basically has me get online and harvest emails from schools, tournaments, clubs, etc and email them specials. Basically cold calling via email.
I honestly don't know any other way of finding clients - we do not have a sales and marketing budget at all. Where else should I be looking for more reliable contacts to sell too?

- The owner thinks that perhaps we should catch up with the world and develop our social media pages. We have them but we have like 50 followers total between facebook, instagram, twitter, etc
- He wants to post daily videos, designs, specials, etc but that isn't worth much if you only have 30-50 followers right?
What tips do you have for finding followers AND utilizing social media to add sales to our company?

· Registered
69 Posts
Finding clients: if you are already in schools or clubs get them to promote you, offer a special that for for every coach or club your current customers sends your way (who then orders) he get either a 'free promo item' or a discount on his next purchase (every 11th shirt free). We get a lot of referrals this way and only have to reward when someone places an order.

· Registered
177 Posts
You probably have increased competition in your area. That will only get worse.

Is 50% your free artwork being taken to another printer and used? You might consider charging for it and wave the fee if an order is placed. Maybe require that the client comes in to see/approve it and not give them a copy.

Maybe customer loyalty discounts.

Find a way to lower your costs and therefore prices (race to the bottom).

Add to your product line. Maybe plastisol prints sold via the internet. Bowling shirts.

Sell in-shop created designs (not related to a specific business) flowers, funny sayings, cute animals, fishing, airplanes, cars; yuck - political designs - sold through a website/name/address unrelated to your main business, otherwise the opposition will bury you. Maybe two websites, one left, one right, play both sides.
Check out your competitors and their social media presence.

Identify underserved communities.

Find complimentary businesses to partner with - a trophy shop?

Tell the owner you have to spend money to make money.

Enlarge your service area. Identify small, outlying towns in your region that might have potential customers. Maybe they have a local weekly paper that you can advertise in.

* Expand your capabilities - a heat press and inkjet transfers.

Go to local (not chain) businesses, bars, craft breweries, a favorite taco truck, etc., that might benefit from a tee and see if they already have one. If not, create one and show them what you can do, especially one they can sell (the very definition of "marketing"). i.e. Bob's Beer and Bait Shop* see above

Increase your shop's visibility (maybe especially in your neighborhood).

Community outreach.

Sponsor a trophy at some local event - ugliest bass at the annual fishing contest.

Find a local underground/garage/punk/bar band. Give them t-shirts at cost with your shop design on the back.

Host a Saturday or Friday evening event at your shop or in your parking lot - a band; a (free? - invitation only? for locals?) hot dog feed - invite a local radio station to come and broadcast remotely, give them t-shirts to give away over the air; a vintage or custom motorcycle or car show (maybe coordinate with a local club); an amateur string quartet; a local artist showing; a chess tournament (maybe coordinate with a local club); a wet t-shirt contest.

Create a shop design and give the shirts away.

Sponsor a youth sports team.

· Registered
188 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for all the great ideas.

- We are going to start on social media (we have none now)

- We specialize in all "out of state" work basically. Nothing local for the most part. Took add out of yellow pages, etc because we don't want the small jobs they bring. We like 100 pieces or more or our pricing doesn't work.

- We were thinking of maybe starting to sponsor events, etc - grow our presence. Put adds in local magazines.

- A referral program was one thing we thought of - discounts for people who actually refer someone that orders.

- We have a hard time getting rid of free art. It's what we have done for 17 years. Offer free art samples to get them in the door and try to sell them.

- I like the idea of selling more types of items. We tried direct to garment but the machine would break or clogg and cost more than we make to repair it. We tried stickers, posters, banners but that machine didn't pay for itself either. My warehouse (Alpha) started offering promo products through them which might be something we can offer (bottles, keychains, pens, etc).
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