A customer seeking to purchase embroidered shirts, jackets, hats or other logo wear is likely to encounter the “set-up charge.” What is an embroidery set-up charge?
The set-up process is a service that is a crucial part of delivering a final product that delights the customer. We wanted to take the opportunity here to write about what the client is buying and may expect to receive when paying for the set-up charge.
Let us first walk through the new customer set-up process. A customer seeking to outfit a sales team in branded apparel will generally inquire about embroidered shirts, jackets, hats, bags, etc. The process starts with us looking over the logo and talking with the client about the suitability of the design for embroidery. Once the customer agrees to work with us, several steps are involved in bringing that logo to life in thread.
STEP 1: We have our embroidery digitizer convert the art into a file that our embroidery machines can read.
STEP 2: We run a test stitchout of the logo on plain stabilizer backing (cloth-like paper). About 50% of the time, the initial design works fine and we skip Step 3 and proceed straight to Step 4. But the other half of the time, we identify an issue that requires an edit to the design. This is usually just scaling the design up or down a bit to create a better fit for the particular garment, or creating a separate version that works better for caps, or aprons, etc. But it could also be a misplaced stitch, or the realization that we need to separate some aspect of the design into two separate machine instructions to achieve a better outcome. A major issue that a customer would not normally consider is whether the digitized design is somehow causing thread breaks, which leads to machine downtime and is not something we know until we test it out. The goal is to have a good looking design that stitches out problem-free on our machines.
STEP 3: If there are problems identified with the test stitchout, we have our digitizer work on an edit and go back to Step 2, sometimes repeatedly until we get it just right.
STEP 4: Once we have a design that works, we generally ask the client to view the digitized and/or stitched design.
* For fairly easy designs that have basic color choices (i.e., white, black, or anything you would find in an 8 Pack of Crayola crayons), a e-mailed screen shot of the stitchout against the original art is often sufficient. As you can see from the example, the digital rendering of the embroidery design accurately replicates the original logo, right down to the registered trademark. If you are noticing that it looks a bit “smushed,” that is a peculiarity only of the software’s display. The design stitched out perfectly and helped us keep this customer happy for years until the company was purchased by a larger conglomerate from another state.
* For more difficult designs with basic color choices, we will e-mail the client a photograph of the stitchout. In this example, the colors were fairly obvious. The big question was whether the text was legible enough for the client’s needs and whether the outline border stitch should be white or black where the creature’s body met the edge of the design.
* Sometimes we want to put a stitchout in front of the client’s eyes. This could happen if:
– the customer has expressly stated wanting to see a stitchout;
– the color selection is beyond the basic palette, and we want the customer to approve the thread colors we chose (or request different ones from the thread color card we will show the client);
– we need the customer to see the physical stitchout because decisions need to be made regarding change to the design or the garment choices in order to achieve the best possible outcome.
Here is an example which took six or seven iterations of stitchouts to correctly dial in not only the thread colors, but the order in which they would stitch so that the proper shading effect could be achieved to match the client’s logo.
STEP 5: Once we have an approved design, we identify and file the thread color codes associated with that design. Unless the client changes the logo, it is ready to go for any future orders. It does not need to be digitized again, so the client would not incur the set-up charge again on any future orders with the same logo.
So, has the customer purchased a product or a service? Some would say that the customer has purchased a product, namely the digitized embroidery file. That is incorrect. The customer has purchased a service, which is our time on the front end of the first transaction — time experimenting with the design and working with the client to ensure that we are meeting the client’s graphic standards. The client dictates to us whether and how to use the client’s logo. The actual digital embroidery file remains the intellectual property of I’m In Stitches, LLC, to use only as directed by the client to fulfill the client’s orders to us.