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Discussion Starter #1
How do home-based screen printers find customers? Perhaps that's a stupid question, but here is why I ask...

We own an embroidery shop, which is in a very prominent retail location. We're sandwiched between a Quiznos and a fancy Italian restraunt, so our visibility is high, and we get a lot of foot traffic.

Also, we offer just about every service imaginable, garment printing, dye sub, mugs, mouse pads, embroidery, monogramming, promotional products (thru ASI), and even screen printing (which we outsource).

We're involved in many networking groups, such as business associations, chamber of commerce, etc, plus advertising in the yellow pages, a website designed for SEO, etc..

The problem? Despite our best efforts, we barely break even. Our rent is pretty high, we have three full-time employees, and with all of our other expenses, it's just hard.

The screen printers in our city.. No retail location, usually located in the warehouse district. as far as we know, no networking (we should know, we're involved in just about every group), and they only offer one service.. screen printing.

So, how are getting customers? and from where? I've thought about moving on to a home-based screen print business, and finding customers is really my only obstacal.

What are THEY doing that OUR embroidery shop isn't?...
 

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What are THEY doing that OUR embroidery shop isn't?...
Try implementing many of the local marketing tips that have been shared in the forums:

local marketing related topics at T-Shirt Forums

Also, if you are marketing yourself as an "embroidery shop", then people may not realize that they need the services that you can offer.

Sometimes just a change of wording can be all the difference.

Many people realize they need "screen printing" or "t-shirt printing", but not as many people realize that they need "embroidery".

If your signage, business cards, website focus on the embroidery aspect, you may be missing out on the higher volume t-shirt printing (screen printing) business that people are looking for.
 

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The first two things about your busines I would analyze are:

1. Do you NEED 3 employees? if not and you are just breaking even, maybe you need to cut some or all of them loose and free up that cash flow.

2. You say you have high visibility (and high rent). Have you built a strong enough customer base that if you left that location you would keep thier business? if so I would consider moving your business to operate from your home if possible, or a cheaper location.

Another thing to think about is really putting your business under a microscope and finding out where your money is made (what service) and what services are you just trading dollars to offer. Dropping some of the less profittable offereings and just focusing your marketing on what makes you money could be the right direction for your business.
 

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I agree for the most part of all three previous posts all I would add is put some words on your sign out front or on your storefront window. "We also do T-Shirts printing, Mugs Ect.
 

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I run my business very part time out of my home. Some of my customers are friends or family members who own a business or work close with a business owner. I play softball so I spread the word around that way too. I guess I always keep my eyes open to people who are wearing custom apparel and just ask them questions about who makes your shirts etc. and give them some info on my business along with a business card. There are so many opportunities if you keep your eyes open and are not afraid to approach people and market your business. You may also try donating some shirts to a fundraiser or benefit and slap your company name on the shirts. Hope some of these ideas help you out.
 

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Daniel, if you've already built up a loyal customer base, you can pretty much move your shop anywhere (to a cheaper rental premise, to your backyard etc..) and they'd follow you.
 

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No matter what the economy is like, there will always be college kids with rich parents playing music. Set yourself up a myspace account and add every band within 50 miles.
 

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Like the previous post, it sounds like you have too many employees. If you are struggling to break even, you're revenues aren't high enough for 3 employees. Another reason you are breaking even is probably due to your lease rate on a retail spot. Retail spots are one of the highest rates per sq ft.

How long have you been operating? (The reason you see screen printers operating in warehouses is due to the amount of space needed, less rent, and caters to more of an industrial business.)

Since you are outsourcing screen printing, are you familiar with the daily operations that go with it? It is totally different from embroidery.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
We own an EmbroidMe franchise, so unfortunately changing the name of our business is something we can't do. Although many of our customers seem to already know that we do more than just embroidery. And we've got tons of signs on the windows advertising everything else we can do..

As far as employees, yes.. we actually do need 3 full time employees. And even that doesn't feel like enough. We have one girl running the front counter, which is constantly dealing with foot traffic. Another girl who does strictly embroidery on a 4-head and a single head. And then me (the 3rd employee/owner) who does the garment printing, heat press, digitizing, vectorization, mousepads, mug sublimation, etc. And my parents who do the networking (they're hardly ever here...)

Between the three of us in-house, we seem to barely get by... it's a zoo!:p

I'm thinking of getting into screen printing more out of curiosity than anything else. It would also be a nice addition to everything else we offer in-house. I just could never figure out how they find customers.. :)

I like the idea of the MySpace and bands. Although, I've had bad experiences with MySpace.. and most (if not all) the people on their I just don't trust... kids are fickle... :(

But really, at some point I would just like to run a business from home. No huge overhead to deal with, and I could work my own hours. You know, it would be just like those infomercials where I'm playing golf and sitting on a yaught all day :p
 

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Discussion Starter #11
How long have you been operating?
Just over a year now. Things are looking better than they were 8 months ago. And perhaps I'm just too optimistic?.. but going into screen printing out of my own garage just seems, at times, like a better choice than running an embroidery shop that breaks even at $20k a month :mad:
 

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Oh, so you have 2 employees.

Anyhow, your business plan is...your business plan, so you are the only one that really knows what you need to do. From my perspective, I am guessing you pay a % to your franchise, a pretty high retail rent space, 2 full time employees = way too much overhead. If you believe your franchise isn't helping much and you are not restricted with contract terms, maybe you should consider breaking it and perhaps move into a less expensive warehouse space with a front office as a showroom. (This would not be a choice if most of your customers are from foot traffic). This works perfect for us, as 95% of our customers are online based, 75% of our customers are from out of state. Which means no one really even comes to our showroom (this is how I want to keep it).

As far as seeing screenprinting as a easier way to do business compared to your current embroidery in your house, is a mis-conception. Even if you screen printed at home with a boat load of customers, you will not be playing golf all day...:D (keep in mind a general idea of screen printing will need, a dark room, press area, ink area, garment area, dryer area, washout booth area) Ask yourself if you will have room for this, and if you do and you have time to learn how to screen print, go right ahead! I do warn you, there is a HUGE learning curve. It is nothing like digital embroidery, dye sub, or heat pressing.

Ever consider moving your current services that you are familiar with, to your home?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Oh, so you have 2 employees.

Anyhow, your business plan is...your business plan, so you are the only one that really knows what you need to do. From my perspective, I am guessing you pay a % to your franchise, a pretty high retail rent space, 2 full time employees = way too much overhead. If you believe your franchise isn't helping much and you are not restricted with contract terms, maybe you should consider breaking it and perhaps move into a less expensive warehouse space with a front office as a showroom. (This would not be a choice if most of your customers are from foot traffic). This works perfect for us, as 95% of our customers are online based, 75% of our customers are from out of state. Which means no one really even comes to our showroom (this is how I want to keep it).

As far as seeing screenprinting as a easier way to do business compared to your current embroidery in your house, is a mis-conception. Even if you screen printed at home with a boat load of customers, you will not be playing golf all day...:D (keep in mind a general idea of screen printing will need, a dark room, press area, ink area, garment area, dryer area, washout booth area) Ask yourself if you will have room for this, and if you do and you have time to learn how to screen print, go right ahead! I do warn you, there is a HUGE learning curve. It is nothing like digital embroidery, dye sub, or heat pressing.

Ever consider moving your current services that you are familiar with, to your home?
I'm on the payroll, which why I technically count myself as a 3rd employee, also because without me, they'd have to hire someone else to take my place..

As far as playing golf all day, I was being soooooooo sarcastic. I've never played golf, and intend to keep it that way :D I would just rather be in the kind of business (like yourself) where most, if not all, of our customers are online.

As far as a learning curve, I'm confident I could learn how to screen print fairly easily. We bought this store a year ago, and before that we had no knowledge of this industry, and I mean NONE. And in that year I've learned how to do embroidery, garment print, dye sub, use a vinyl cutter, and hell, even taught myself how to digitize :)

we've got the room, not a dark room, but most if not all of our shop isn't exposed to any sunlight. and having a warehouse with a front office as a showroom is something I'm strongly considering.

We're trying to move away from our walk-in traffic orders, and focus on larger orders (sports teams, restaurants, construction companies, etc...) It's really the foot-traffic that's effin' killing us. Monograms on backpacks and towels.. yeah, they look pretty, but take a long time to set up. Just not worth it!!
 
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