How one sign shop owner transformed his business with determination, a thorough plan, and creative commerce.
Convincing the rest just took some thorough salesmanship: “We came across a few people who went to screen printers, and then I’d put out a flyer to them and they’d contact us. They’d bring us what the screen printer did, and they were disappointed in the fact that they weren’t able to get the same colors.” With DTG, the limitations are very few, Wright adds. “‘What does your logo look like? I can print it exactly like that.’
“My selling point is to try and help people understand that I can do as many colors as they want on just 10 shirts,” Wright says. Signworx’s average run size is about 20 shirts today, and orders of less than 10 are common. The day he spoke with Screen Printing, Wright was working on one run of six and another of 22 for the same client, a tractor-puller who was looking for a proof of concept that he could sell his own line of T-shirts. Another job in the works was an order of five women’s shirts and three onesies. Disney vacations and family get-togethers are huge drivers for orders of that size, Wright says.
Michael Wright, co-owner of Signworx and MEWStar Designs, exemplifies that blend of determination and imagination that only entrepreneurs have. He once took apart the shop’s AnaJet MP5i DTG printer to install a platen for printing Converse shoes.
Of course, big T-shirt orders will always exist, business no shop wants to simply turn down. Wright learned that it pays to have good business relationships. He refers large orders to a local screen printer that, in turn, farms out pesky short runs back to Signworx.
One trick to managing a direct-to-garment business is thinking about inventory in a different way. Signworx doesn’t keep many shirts stocked onsite – just a selection of random sizes and colors, Wright says. It’s a thought that might terrify many a traditionalist, or raise alarm about turnaround times, but Signworx ships most orders out in just three days. The request comes in; they order the blanks, which are delivered the next day. Day Two is for pretreatment; Day Three, the order is printed and shipped.
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