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Discussion Starter #1
So I'm a noob trying to figure out a business plan to to profitably make low run orders. I know that if you only order 3 shirts or 3 plastisol transfers, per shirt/transfer it would be quite expensive...but what if you commited to spend, for example, $3,000 with a printer over the course of year. Are there printers that would then give you volume discounts even if you were only ordering low volume individual orders? Or do set up costs make this impossible? How much does it really cost to set up a screen?

I'm trying to figure out a way to offer a very large selection of designs without maintaining a ridiculous inventory of shirts. It just seems like if you have a very large selection, you'll constantly be getting orders for one or two designs...is there any way to profitably handle this?
 

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How would you "prove" / "guarantee" to the printer that you are going to do that volume in a year (especially with no sales record)?

I think some printers might cut deals for high volume clients, but usually those clients are proven buyers (like moving from an old printer to a new printer or have a proven buying history).

I'm trying to figure out a way to offer a very large selection of designs without maintaining a ridiculous inventory of shirts. It just seems like if you have a very large selection, you'll constantly be getting orders for one or two designs...is there any way to profitably handle this?
Many people do this with plastisol transfers (or by gradually growing the line). If you have 10 different designs, you could try ordering the minimum number of plastisol transfers from a company (I think I read 15 was the lowest).

You could also try printing the designs yourself on demand if they are simple designs that can be done with a vinyl cutter.
 

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Fat Tire said:
Are there printers that would then give you volume discounts even if you were only ordering low volume individual orders?
Rodney is right.

But yes there are companies (maily w/custom transfers) that would give you a 1000 pc. order price when you only need 100 today and the balance would be scheduled according to whatever dates during the year.

Usually they would use a factor with signed purchase order by you plus some type of a reasonable deposit.

This is where a good credit rating helps a lot.
 

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LucyRoberts said:
But yes there are companies (maily w/custom transfers) that would give you a 1000 pc. order price when you only need 100 today and the balance would be scheduled according to whatever dates during the year.
Mr. Tire - Think about this. Even if you do manage to get that special discount rate from someone, how do you know your t-shirt business is going to be successful enough to need that many transfers?

It seems like it might be better to get a great price at the beginning when you are starting out, but if that means you have to sign a contract based on an unproven business formula, you could get in trouble later on. What if your designs don't sell, and you are stuck with a contract for 1,000 of them? Ouch.

Even if you have to pay a slightly higher price at the beginning, I would say just get a few made and see how they sell. Then you can have some kind of realistic expectation for your future orders. The printer will probably be more likely to deal with you then as well, if you have a history.
 

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good realistic points JasonDa,

But then again, ruling out the possiblility that the the transfer/tshirt maker may take a liking to your designs and push it to the next level (set you up with his factor who will finance the project) would be a mistake on your part. Like they say " ask and you shall receive ".

Another scene is where the transfer/shirt maker sees the $$$$ potential and charges you peanuts for samples to test market etc..... it does happen. :D
 

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From my perspective as a contract printer I can tell you that 3k isnt that much. One way to get better pricig is to purchase your own garments and supply everything to the printer. You should only pay priting fee's rather than t-shirt markups, etc.
I have clients that spend around 40-50K per year and they get the same pricing as all contract clients. Where you make your best deals is in quanities. Print more and stock to save over all.
 

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Fluid said:
Where you make your best deals is in quanities.
good point.

But its also important to know when asking for deals that every manufacturer as a breaking point. Meaning byond a certain quantity there is no better deal.
 

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$3,000 over a year would probably be very small fry for the average printer (all at once would be a different matter).
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Rodney said:
How would you "prove" / "guarantee" to the printer that you are going to do that volume in a year (especially with no sales record)?

I think some printers might cut deals for high volume clients, but usually those clients are proven buyers (like moving from an old printer to a new printer or have a proven buying history).
You wouldn't guarantee you'd actually do the volume of printing, but you'd guarantee you'd spend 3K on the printer over the course of the year. I was thinking in terms of paying 3K in advance, and then having the printer withdraw from it over the year, and if you don't use up all that amount, he keeps the remainder.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
monkeylantern said:
$3,000 over a year would probably be very small fry for the average printer (all at once would be a different matter).
Well then perhaps if you were going to try to strike this sort of deal, mom and pop shops would be a better deal?
 

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Fat Tire said:
Well then perhaps if you were going to try to strike this sort of deal, mom and pop shops would be a better deal?
Thats not true, $ 3000 will get you alot of Transfers. The problem is finding someone that can do them right and still give you a deal.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
I'm beginning to think the only way to have a very large selection and deal with the ensuing low run orders is DTG printing, injket transfers or vinyl. Am I right in thinking vinyl is probably the cheapest, best quality option for designs which are 1 color? If you're only printing 1 color text, is there any better option than vinyl?
 

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Fat Tire said:
I was thinking in terms of paying 3K in advance, and then having the printer withdraw from it over the year, and if you don't use up all that amount, he keeps the remainder.
Then you've got to weigh up the cost of having money tied up and paid out, versus the savings you're getting for "volume" (I doubt you'd come out in front). You've also then got to worry about the printer shutting shop, or disputes over how much "credit" you have left on the account (neither should be a big concern with a reputable shop, but why potentially add another headache?).

You'd also need a big formal contract so that you can withdraw if 1) The printer is taking too long ("I have his money, why hurry"), 2) The printer is doing a lousy job ("I have his money, might as well just pump these out"), etc. And what printer wants the hassle of signing up to such a contract for $3k?
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Solmu said:
Then you've got to weigh up the cost of having money tied up and paid out, versus the savings you're getting for "volume" (I doubt you'd come out in front). You've also then got to worry about the printer shutting shop, or disputes over how much "credit" you have left on the account (neither should be a big concern with a reputable shop, but why potentially add another headache?).

You'd also need a big formal contract so that you can withdraw if 1) The printer is taking too long ("I have his money, why hurry"), 2) The printer is doing a lousy job ("I have his money, might as well just pump these out"), etc. And what printer wants the hassle of signing up to such a contract for $3k?
yeah, you're right. screw it, i'll buy a cutter i'll do vinyl with a heat press. i guess i was hoping there would be some way of getting 'on demand' printing with screen printers or with plastisol, but apparently it's just not possible without quantity.
 

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Fat Tire said:
i guess i was hoping there would be some way of getting 'on demand' printing with screen printers or with plastisol, but apparently it's just not possible without quantity.
It's totally possible (assuming on demand means 12+ shirts and not by the piece) - you're just not going to get cut a deal on pricing.
 

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Sorry, that should be "you're probably not going to get cut a deal on pricing"... you might find someone who likes the idea of a guaranteed $3k upfront and will work with that. There are headaches involved at both ends, but there might be some people out there willing to deal with that.
 
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