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Nickle and diming doesn’t win repeat business

One of the big challenges for textile screen printers is customer retention. A promptly-paying, no-hassle repeat customer is like gold to your business. So if your job is to retain the customers that you want to retain in the face of cheap competitor prices and other outside challenges, why would anyone create challenges by irritating customers by nickel-and-diming them?

Yet it happens. Perhaps when the airlines do it by deciding to charging a nominal fee for the first item of baggage (as both Canada’s major airlines ‘coincidentally’ did within a day of each other) they can get away with it because, regardless of how much you might hate them for it, what are your alternatives really? And law firms are notorious for charging for every photocopy page; there is just something unbearably irritating about a hundreds-of-dollars-an-hour lawyer charging a few cents for a photocopy on a bill of thousands of dollars. But again, what are your alternatives when they all do it? It is these little nickel-and-dime barbs that contribute to the negative impressions people have of airlines and lawyers.

While airlines and law firms can get away with irritating nickel-and-dime irritations, screen printers and a host of other businesses in competitive situations for whom irritating customers is risky, should be very cautious no matter how much they might be tempted to try recovering small costs by small charges. Logically, if you incur a cost you should recover it, but how you do it is critical.

I recall a trip to England to attend a wedding. The reception was held at one of those magnificent stately homes set in the Cotswolds countryside and now turned into a small hotel . Some of us stayed over in the hotel and when I went to pay the bill, I offered my credit card. The clerk then told me that there would be an additional charge of GBP 2.50 (about CAD4.50) for paying by any method other than cash or debit card.

Now, it is not the $4.50 that is the issue, but the irritation at being nickel-and-dimed. It would be an exaggeration to say that it spoiled the stay but it certainly left a bad taste. In a move that could only have been thought up by some bean counter with no understanding of customer relations, they managed to create a negative talking point in what should have been an entirely happy and positive experience.

The lesson here is that while it is necessary to recover your costs of doing business, there are smart ways and dumb ways of doing it. Any way that leaves your customers feeling that they have been nickeled-and-dimed, is the dumb way.

Mistakes to avoid in business-to-business sales

Mistakes to avoid in business-to-business sales

There are apparently five common mistakes often committed in business-to-business sales. Better sales success depends upon avoiding them.

The mistakes:

  1. Focussing on the sale instead of building a relationship.
  2. Focussing on your product instead of the the prospects needs.
  3. Rushing the prospective customer.
  4. Being disorganized.
  5. Making promises you can’t keep.

Avoid these and enjoy more sales success.

Properly-tensioned screens

Properly-tensioned screens

Flub-a-dub-dub, flub-a-dub-dub… That is the sound that we have all heard flags making as they are battered by a strong wind. And that is a good thing because that is what flags are designed to do, flap in the wind. But it is not what you want to hear screens doing under the pressure washer.

Okay, so maybe you have never had a screen become so poorly tensioned that it actually flub-a-dub-dubbed in the washout tank, but that doesn’t mean that you have to wait until a screen does that before having it re-stretched. Poorly-tensioned screens are one of the most common causes of problems printing fine lines, holding half tones and maintaining tight registration. The result? Sub-standard prints.

Tight screens are one of the fundamentals of screen printing but it is alarming to find how many textile screen shops don’t own a tension meter. A screen shop without a tension meter is like a doctor’s office without a stethoscope—not a place in which you can have much faith.

So, even in shops with a tight budget, tight screens should be a priority. The first step is to buy a tension meter and the second step is to use it. If you make a practice of using it to select Tension meterthe screens for each job, you will have eliminated one of the challenges in producing work that brings the customers back. And besides that, why make your life harder by working with poor equipment and materials?

For more information about tension meters or to order one, you can call any one of the Stanley’s Canada branches: Cambridge ON 1 877 205 9218; Calgary AB 1800 661 1553; Edmonton AB 1888 424 7446; Richmond BC 1 604 873 2451

Oh, and by the way, Stanley’s also offers stretched screens at all of their branches. Now would be a good time to take a close look at your frame inventory before things get really busy.

Tips for more consistent sales

Tips for more consistent sales

The Business Development Bank of Canada puts out a lot of good material for business owners. One such article offers tips for smoothing out the feast or famine cycle that most small businesses encounter. They recommend a number of tips in a more rigorous process for turning a lead into a sale:

  1. Systematically generating leads: This involves having a clear process or system for generating leads.
  2. Knowing your sales cycle: Understanding exactly how much time it takes on average (days, weeks or months) to progress from lead to closure. You can calculate this by reviewing recent sales.
  3. Knowing your numbers: Know how  many leads on average it takes to close a single sale. Then you’ll know how many leads you need to have in progress at any one time to meet your sales target.
  4. Actively seeking referrals: Ask your customers for referrals.
  5. Securing appointments: An in-person appointment is likely to be more effective than a telephone conversation or an email.
  6. Being ready for objections: Anticipate likely objections and be ready to address them.
  7. Following up. Always follow up.

Every industry, business, and client base is different. Not all of these tips will suit every aspect of your business but it’s a good guide to developing a process that works for your particular shop.

 

Saving the planet or saving ourselves?

Saving the planet or saving ourselves?

A well-known author, journalist, and marketing consultant who focuses on marketing communication strategies for the printing industries and who often writes on sustainability in the textile industry, recently published an article about whether we’re really serious about saving the planet.

In the introduction she suggests that we’re not doing well in the attempt to meet the sustainability goals set for 2030. In fact, shes says that “It’s a little shocking and scary!” Interestingly, this is the same journalist that made a mess of an article on glitter as a microplastic by referencing ‘biodegradable’ glitter for cosmetic products in an article about glitter in textile applications.

By all accounts, it’s true that we’re not doing well in the sustainability drive. And perhaps it’s because we’re not getting people’s attention because we’re not phrasing the problem properly. What we should be saying is that it’s about saving ourselves, not the planet. The planet has been here through thick and thin for 4 1/2 billion years, we’ve only been here for the most recent 200,000 years. The planet is going nowhere. It’s us that’s at risk.

So, maybe if we stopped talking about saving the planet and instead talked about saving ourselves, it might be more effective. Likewise, maybe when we’re talking about sustainability in our industry, it should be in the context of saving our industry.

Language matters.