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Is your online presence up to date?

Have you had this experience? . . . You’re planning on doing business with someone—maybe you’re considering passing them some work or even buying their business —so the first thing you do is check them and their business out online. You’re likely to take a look at their website, blog, and perhaps social media pages like Facebook and Instagram.

What you’re looking for is a level of comfort and assurances that this person or business is legitimate, presents a professional image, and is serious about their business—in short, someone with whom you’d be comfortable doing business or associating professionally.

Then you find that while they have a web site, blog, Facebook page, and Instagram, none of it is up to date. The last entries are months old. It leaves a bad impression. You begin to rethink your original intentions.

So here’s the message . . . Keep your online presence current with good material to at least demonstrate that you’re serious about your business. Demonstrate that you’re dynamic. An out-of-date online presence is not very reassuring at all

Differentiate your shop with a label

Nowadays promoting your shop as sustainably responsible is a good business practice—provided, of course, that your shop actually is sustainably responsible.

So, how to do it? Well, here’s a suggestion for how you can do it with a label attached to every tee that leaves the shop. A good graphic artist would be able to capture the all or some of the points below in an eye-catching, easily-read way:

  • Congratulations on your new T-shirt.
  • Did you know that according to National Geographic it took 2,700 liters of water to produce your shirt? That’s enough drinking water for one person for 900 days!
  • It used up some more water in the printing process and will use even more every time you wash it.
  • Why do we mention this? Because here at <your shop’s name inserted here> we are concerned about the environment.
  • We don’t have an endless supply of fresh water.
  • Only 1% of all the water on earth is useable fresh water. Of this 1%, 70% is used for agriculture, 20% for industry, and only 10% is available for domestic consumption.
  • When you no longer want this shirt, please donate it for further use as a garment so that we make sure that the planet gets full value for the 2,700 liters of fresh water that went into producing it.
  • If it’s worn out to the extent that it cannot be donated, please re-purpose it. The internet has a lot of good ideas for repurposing a Tee that can no longer be worn.

It will differentiate you from the competition, your contract printing customers should see it as value added to your service and, best of all, you’ll be doing the planet a favour.

Can an “offensive” tee damage your business?

Can an “offensive” tee damage your business?

It’s not difficult to offend some people (even unintentionally)—it’s just part of existing in a society. In most cases it blows over quickly and we all continue with the rest of our day. But sometimes it doesn’t blow over quickly, such as when a message on a T-shirt is deemed to be “offensive” by a large number of people.

For instance, a few years ago a large retailer withdrew a tee that annoyed enough people to produce a 53,000-signature petition demanding it’s withdrawal. The slogan on the tee was: “Are you gluten free?” The petition argued that coeliac was a disease, not a trend. The retailer issued an apology regretting that the shirt might be interpreted as a trivialization of coeliac disease and saying that it was the absolute opposite of their intentions. That was that and the matter soon blew over without any damage to the retailer who had weathered this type of storm before. But what if an independent textile screen shop with its own line put out an “offensive” Tee?

Slogan tees are still popular, and in the increasingly politically-correct environment in which we live, there’s a risk for all textile screen printers that something you print on a t-shirt may cause offense. The question is, can an “offensive” print coming out of your shop cause your business damage? It’s not a simple matter—it’s one of those “depends” answers.

It depends if you printed the offending tee for a customer and they take all the heat for it or if it’s part of your own line and you take the heat for it. It depends how offensive or inappropriate the print is. It depends whether it might have internal consequences by offending the employees who have to produce the artwork and print the shirt regardless of whether it’s for a customer or part of your own line.

There are a lot of “depends” and a lot of watchful interest groups out there; it may pay to exercise caution over what you print and what can become associated with your print shop.

Employee management — What is progressive discipline?

Employee management — What is progressive discipline?

Any business owner has at some time or other had to deal with employee performance or behaviour issues. It’s never easy but it can be made easier and produce better results if it’s handled according to a deliberate strep-by-step process. This is where “progressive discipline” comes in handy.

There are four steps in progressive discipline:

  1. Have a first meeting to discuss the issue. Depending upon the circumstances, you may want to have a witness present. Make the point that the meeting is about identifying and the issue and finding ways to deal with it. Set a turnaround target date and mention that there will be a follow-up meeting. Keep minutes of the meeting.
  2. If the target date comes and goes and there has been insufficient improvement, have the another meeting. This time set a timeframe with a deadline with specific goals. It should be given to the employee in writing and they should sign it to acknowledge that they’ve received it. Again, point out that there will be a follow-up meeting.
  3. If by the third meeting there are still issues, confirm to the employee that suspension or termination have become options. Set another deadline. Again, issue the warning in writing and have the employee sign it to acknowledge receipt.
  4. This step is the fourth and final and likely termination. But, be careful to comply with all statutes, employment standards, etcetera. Disgruntled employees will try their luck with labour boards and other similar resources no matter how weak their case may be. So, be sure to have your documentation and notes ready.

Taking disciplinary action is not pleasant. That’s why a definite step-by-step process can make it easier.

After solving a customer issue

Shopify may not be everyone’s idea of an ideal e-commerce website host, but they put out some pretty useful small business management guides. I recently came across one of their papers on customer service and one item in particular caught my eye. It’s one of those things one wouldn’t ordinarily think about, but those are the kind of small things that can make a big difference in delivering excellent customer service.

This one is about what to do after you’ve solved a customer’s issue. It’s about not just dropping the matter but instead using the opportunity to drive home the fact that your shop offers great customer service. So, after the problem is solved, say something like this: “I’m glad that helped! Please don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any other questions or concerns.”

What this simple, easily-delivered message does is demonstrate sincerity and thoughtfulness. They leave or put the phone down with the impression that your shop cares about their business and cares enough to commit to solving their issues. This makes you likeable. And remember that people prefer to do business with people they like.

Preventing it from coming out in the wash

Preventing it from coming out in the wash

Look, we all know that no matter how many  labels we hang or print on a T-shirt about washing in cool water with mild detergent on the gentle cycle, that tee is going to be tossed into the wash with the towels, socks, and dog’s blanket, on the heavy cycle in hot water.

And we also know that if the print on the tee wasn’t properly cured, some or all of it, along with your reputation as a textile screen printer and whatever washes out of the dog’s blanket, is going down the drain.

So, you need to do two things to ensure that all your prints are properly cured. First, test your dryer at least a couple of times a day to ensure that it is still reaching cure temperature. The best way to do this is with a Thermoprobe.. The second thing to do is a wash test, particularly on critical jobs when there may be a lot at stake in terms of money and reputation.

A good way to do a wash test is to cut the print in half. Wash one half with three heavy bath towels in hot water and liquid detergent. Tumble-dry the load on high until dry.. When you compare the washed half with the unwashed half, there should be no cracking or loss of part or all of the print. If there is, the print wasn’t properly cured. Then you can establish the cause and correct it.

It’s much better to have a failure in your washing machine before the tees are delivered, than afterwards in the customers’ washing machines.