“Screen printing is a dinosaur.” I heard that in 2007 when I bought my first DTG printer from the production manager of one of the largest screen print outfits in the country.
There have been some amazing advancements in recent years in screen printing but my friend was right, screen printing has its limitations in the modern garment decoration world.
Now I’m not saying screen printing is dead, because it’s not. High volume, speed, quality, versatility, means screen printing has a permanent place in garment decoration. I’m saying direct to garment offers flexibility and diversity that every modern print shop will need to stay competitive and here’s why.
Every screen printer is familiar with the following scenario. Loyal customer orders X number of shirts for an event. Inevitably the customer ends up needing a few more for so-and-so and their kids. To setup and print three more shirts with your screen press can be extremely time consuming and real moral killer.
Rather than turn the customer away, or reluctantly set up the press again to fulfill the order, DTG offers the ability to quickly fill reorders with little to no setup time. You do not have to sacrifice the customer or your time, DTG allows for quick additional revenue, and you can provide outstanding service to a happy customer.
Low volume custom apparel is more popular than ever, mainly because garment decoration companies now have the capability to produce low minimum custom products to the masses. The population is demanding low volume customization. The question is, can your shop provide?
The customer is being trained to believe one off, custom apparel is as easy to produce as it is to order online, and these customers are the bulk of your new business. As a local garment decorator, you are competing with large online one off companies like Zazzle and Cafe Press. They have 100+ Epson F2000 printers and are turning out 1,000’s of 1 off jobs per day.
With a DTG printer at your location, you can compete with the online manufacturers and capture this bulk of new business. A printer like the Epson F2000 is extremely reliable and produces an outstanding product. Now you can provide, reliable, competitively priced, high-quality product with excellent local service to your network.
Capturing new business is not always as easy as we imagine. It’s easy to think, “I’ll reach out to restaurants, constructions companies, schools, etc.”. Often, these businesses already have a resource, or they lack the vision of what’s feasible, or they need too low-volume to justify as a screen print account, there can be many obstacles.
DTG allows you to make an impact when scouting for new business. When you approach a new prospect, come prepared. Have a price sheet, maybe a small line sheet/catalog of concepts, and a printed sample you can leave. Providing a sample says a lot about your commitment and your quality of work.
Sampling can also be a necessity for large accounts that need screen printing. Many large accounts want to see a physical sample before they commit to a large order. We all know setting up the screen print press for 1 shirt is troublesome. By offering a DTG sample you can use your DTG printer to aid in securing those big accounts.
We can screen print on a lot of different product: Tote bags, Koozies, Hoodies, Hats, etc. and you can DTG print on many of the same things you can screen print on. By diversification I’m not talking about the product you can decorate on, I’m talking about how you sell the product you have made.
A standard sales cycle might look like this. X customer calls and wants 50 shirts for an event. You (the decorator) work with their art and apparel needs, print, box, deliver and take payment. The standard practice works well sure. But let’s talk about modernizing and diversifying your revenue stream.
Consider setting up an inexpensive e-commerce page. Many are free, like BigCartel, and can link to your website. Use 1-off capability to increase revenue by showcasing your own custom designs, and only produce the product when you receive an order. Print to order can be incredibly lucrative with little to no overhead or inventory.
You could take this concept a step further by creating “shops” for your regular customers. For example; a local school regularly orders spirit wear. Make it easy by hosting all of their designs and styles in one “shop”. They can confidently and easily re-order 1 or 100 pieces. This goes a long way with customer service and encourages loyalty.
Advertise NO MINIMUMS
You can confidently advertise low minimum, full-color prints, on light and dark garments. Better yet, you can advertise no minimums. That’s right, NO MINIMUMS! Take a look at your competitors online, how many of them are advertising no minimums? Very few I can almost guarantee. The reason they don’t dare is that they do not have the confidence to reliably produce one-off custom printed shirts, that is unless they have a printer like the Epson F2000. Put 'NO MINIMUM, FULL COLOR PRINTS' big and bold on the home page of your website.
You might say “But John, there isn’t any money in one-off’s” and I agree, to an extent. Doing one custom shirt, with custom art, and customers often wild requests, can be a hard way to make a consistent profit. Our goal for offering no minimums is not to do one-offs regularly; it’s to capture the market who want low volume and save them from the pain of searching and contacting other screen printers who cannot deliver on their low minimum custom request. You’re making the customers decision to communicate with you easy by eliminating doubt, complications, and fear. Most clients don’t want just one shirt, but there is peace in knowing they can order one shirt with a full-color print, especially for reorders or fill-in needs.