Friday, May 30, 2014

The Win-Win Deal

On occasion,  I write pieces about entrepreneurship, especially as it pertains to the custom screen printing business.

Within the scope of private business, capitalism, or what have you, it’s not only possible, but indeed necessary to construct deals in which both parties gain, in order to be truly successful.

Integrity, Honesty and Frankness

Business is nothing if not a series of relationships to the bohemian sole proprietor. In my central Screen Print business, I have roughly three dozen active accounts (a.k.a. customers). My ability to earn an income is dependent on successful navigation of those relationships. It may sound altruistic to pursue the win-win deal, but it’s really pragmatic. Simply, a happy client will recommend you to others. An unhappy one will spread the word that you suck. Take it from a guy who has had both experiences!
Integrity may mean that I suggest an order of 50 shirts to someone who initially says they want 500. My experience is that you shouldn’t “over order” on a design that doesn’t have a track record, or is not presold to some group, or is for some major concert, etc. If one of my clients gets stuck with 450 shirts they have no use for, it may occur to them to blame me! If they buy 50 and sell 45, I have a new on-going client.
As for honesty, no need to tell your life store, but do keep your client informed of any information they need to know. Try to make quotes that cover all contingencies so there will be no surprise charges. If, for example, the client hands me an art file that I need to do two hours of work on, I call them right up and say, “This will cost another $130.00 in art time to produce the job.” Then, they have the chance to back out before I start the job. If they become unhappy with the new information, at least you know before the job started!
In case of a dispute, if you are straightforward and keep your client informed, and track all order information in writing, you will be able to create a chronology of the facts of the deal to support how the job unfolded. This can be a valuable tool in discussion and settlement of disputes. A chronology of facts is the only tool you would ever need in a court of law, in the unfortunate event that it comes to that (happily, this is rare indeed).
Manx Media logo
(Manx cat with no tail)

Pursuit of Quality

I’ve been in the T-Shirt printing game since I was an undergraduate in the late seventies (who knew that an easy way to earn beer and date money would turn into a “career”?).
Not a week goes by where I don’t learn something new about screen printing garments. It is a very simple technology, photographically based, that works swell for printing on fabric. But there is endless and infinite finesse (and technology) that can be brought to bear to make it work better.
As a kid, I got into the business as a low baller, (price wise) which was appropriate. As I improved my craft, it occurred to me that is was more satisfying to pursue the highest quality available, and that there is always a market for quality.
I had run a low tech water based ink shop for years, still the best approach for the low overhead start-up shop, and the perfect dorm room option. As the demand for multicolor printing on dark shirts increased, I began to farm out jobs to a colleague, Dan O’Neill Custom Screen Printing. Most of what I have learned about quality printing comes from Dan, who is incapable of doing a bad job. I subsequently expanded my shop to run these jobs in house. As of this writing, I've sold my press equipment to my former printer, David Perkin, who has gone into business for himself. All my printing is now handled by these two capable guys.
In terms of supporting the win-win deal, quality trumps everything. Everybody loves a job well done.

Copyright 2014, Steve Lafler, all rights reserved.

Email Steve for a Quote

No comments: