NUMBER 5: The embroidery shop is aligned with a single supplier.
One of the top suppliers to the embroidery and screen printing world offers a nice service to decorators like us. They are eager to help new decorators get off the ground and will help the decorator build a “custom” website with a full catalog. Want to know how to spot one of these? It will look similar to one of our catalog pages: http://www.companycasuals.com/iminstitches/start.jsp.
Companycasuals.com is a customer-facing facade of one wholesaler’s website. It seems like a nice resource, and it is. So what’s the issue? If a shop is using a companycasuals site as its home page, your choices for embroidered jackets, hats, shirts, and bags are likely to be limited to what is offered by that one wholesaler’s catalog. While that supplier has a wide selection of options from one premium label down to bare bones, it has been our experience that some of their styles among some of their labels have inconsistent quality control. That leads us to suggest alternate labels from other manufacturers depending upon the customer’s needs for more consistent and durable custom work wear.
Some of our competitors have chosen to participate in a special program with this same supplier. Their websites tout their participation in this program as if they were preferred providers of some sort. This program contractually binds the decorator to using only this supplier’s stock. They’re not preferred providers; they’re preferred buyers! Do you want an embroidery shop that prioritizes its customers first, or its supplier first?
NUMBER 4: They Are Willing to Work on Customer-Supplied Pieces.
We will probably bring on some hate for suggesting this, but contemplate this point. What critters and odors exist in your home and/or vehicle? Hopefully, few to none. Have you ever been to someone’s home or in someone’s car when you left with odors in your clothes? We have! Can you imagine some folks’ homes who have lots of animals that track in and out of the house, and what passengers those animals might be bringing in, and where they might land or hide? We can! How excited would you be to order new custom embroidered shirts or caps and discover that we shipped them with fleas or bed bugs that came into our shop because we took in stuff from an uncontrolled supply chain? Why should we expose your order to such elements because someone else insists on supplying his own items?
NUMBER 3: They promote themselves with words like “cheap” and “discount.”
Yes, you want to pay a reasonable price. No, you do not want to spend extra money that you do not have to spend. So when you see “really cheap embroidered caps,” “discount embroidered jackets,” or “wholesale embroidery pricing,” those words have a certain appeal.
There are lots of ways embroidery shops can cut corners to save a dime here and there. We have written about them in other posts in our blog, including one about reducing the stitch count to a minimum and one about using inferior thread. The bottom line, though, is that when it comes to the integrity of your logo on your customer-facing staff, why are you risking compromising your brand? If you are hunting for cheap, your brand will reflect that.
NUMBER 2: “No set-up charge” for small orders.
Most embroidery shops will charge a set-up charge when preparing a new logo for embroidery. The set-up charge helps to defray the costs associated with working with a new client to ensure that the shop is meeting their graphic standards. We will consider waiving the set-up charge under certain rare circumstances, such as trying to win a large new client, but generally we stick to it because our time has value.
So what is happening in an embroidery shop that is waiving the set-up charge for small customers? Most likely, this scenario is a new shop that purchased a “new business package” from their equipment supplier and that package includes digitizing software. We got this software when we bought our first machine and started I’m In Stitches. We quickly discovered two things: a) it was not the best software for digitizing embroidery designs, and b) mastering embroidery digitizing is an entirely different skill set from the operations and customer interaction sides of the business. In fact, embroidery digitizing requires a bit of artistic creativity. Creative and efficient are usually on different sides of the brain.
In our opinion, it’s hard to be both. Recognizing that embroidery digitizing is unique (though related) skill set, we choose to outsource that aspect to a vendor that does an outstanding job with the artistry side. That allows us to focus on trying to please our customers and growing our business.
NUMBER 1: They charge you when THEY did the job wrong!
This seems like a no-brainer, but this is torn straight from a new customer’s tale of his experience with his former embroidery shop. Here’s the first question: why would the shop show you their shoddy work results in the first place, much less get to the point of arguing about payment? If they valued long-term relationships with their clients, they would have fixed or replaced the shoddy work before you ever saw it. Do you really need to emphasize to them that you value your brand image? Didn’t you get to this point because you wanted your folks to wear the (correct) logo proudly?
We continually meet new clients who show us examples of their previously embroidered shirts or caps, who then explain how the previous shop did the job wrong. Sometimes the shop did a poor job digitizing the art. Sometimes they digitized the art at a size that is less than optimal. Sometimes they digitized the design with the goal of keeping the stitch count (i.e., machine time) low, which deprives the customer of a better looking design. Sometime the colors are just plain wrong, maybe because the shop was more interested in using rest of the thread colors in its existing inventory than in finding the best color to match the customer’s logo.
Stop paying for shoddy work! Expect better and only pay for quality work. There are embroidery and screen printing shops that take pride in doing high quality work. Wouldn’t you be better served with one of them?