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Embroidery Business Owners: Things to Consider During COVID-19

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a shock to our system in many ways. No economy or market can be truly prepared for something like this. But you don’t have to get blind-sided twice! There are things you can do to prepare now for a strong economic turnaround. 

Imagine this scenario: the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on our economy might be like a rubber band. We are stretched and pulled, seemingly to our limits, when suddenly restrictions are lifted, the streets begin to fill with people again, and life starts to return to normal. This snap-back, like a rubber band, could turn out to be as fast and as strong as the downturn itself. We shall see! 

If that turns out to be the case, will you be ready? Here are some ideas to keep you on track during our current reality. Above all, remember, WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER! 

Focus on your employees. 
Business owners, managers, and leaders assume a certain level of responsibility for the safety and well-being of their teams. Many small businesses are finding success with working from home, or in staggered shifts. Can your team work from home? Can you stagger shifts to meet social distancing requirements? If your business is considered “non-essential”, is it feasible to set up temporary operation from home (either yours or an employees) to continue taking, fulfilling, and shipping orders? If production must be paused or delayed, can you offer your customers a back-order? There may be ways to shift and adapt, spend some time brainstorming with your team to see what possibilities are out there. 
 
Focus on your community. 
In what ways can your business help the local community? A meaningful contribution here, either voluntary or paid, can have both short term and long-term benefits for your business and community! Medical, emergency responders, military, local charities and churches may be seeking help. Try to find a need in your community that you can fill. 

Clean house! 
We all have those “I’ll get to it later” tasks, where later never seems to come. Use this time to spruce up the shop, declutter, reorganize, and make sure your workspace is optimized for production efficiency! Not only does a clean and organized workspace feel good, it will help you stay focused and energized, and be able to work more efficiently. 

Get Training. 
Have a new technique or application you’ve been wanting to learn? Fire up YouTube and get after it! Dedicate some time every day to improving your skills in business, sales, marketing, leadership, or operations. Read books. Watch videos. Practice your craft. Invest in training for your employees. Every business owner, machine operator, digitizer and artist should always be training. Is there something you don’t know? Is there someone out there that is better than you? If yes, then you should be training! If no, then congrats on being the unicorn of the embroidery world! I think we all could benefit by taking this time to establish some good habits and routines that will help business and bottom line! 

Adjust Marketing. 
I recently heard a quote attributed to Henry Ford that really stuck: “Stopping advertising to save money is like stopping your watch to save time.” 

While it may be wise to tighten up or cut back in some areas, this should be approached with utmost care. Take the time to evaluate areas of your marketing that are producing, the areas where you’re seeing the greatest ROI, and keep those running. If you have some areas that are underperforming, consider reducing, cutting, or shifting those dollars to areas that ARE producing. 

Use this time to evaluate your website. Every website can be improved, so take a good, honest, humble look at yours, and don’t be afraid to solicit feedback from people you trust! Make sure your brand image is solid. Does your primary messaging clearly communicate who you are, and the services and products you offer? What about your calls to action? Are they inviting and compelling, or could they be updated? How’s the user experience? Is your site easy to navigate? Address any areas that need immediate attention and make a list of items that you can work on or update over the long term. 

This is also a great time to review your social media presence. When was the last time you updated your Facebook page? Are you posting helpful, informative content for your customers? What about that Instagram or Pinterest account you’ve been putting off? Social media has proven itself to be a great tool to stay connected to your customers. And the best part? In many cases, it’s free, with the investment of your time. 

No matter what decisions you make here, it is imperative that you keep your brand, your name, your image alive and well. 

Considerations for Investing in Equipment and Software. 
If you’ve had your eye on a new piece of equipment for your business, now may be the best time to talk to your rep and get the deal done. Here are three reasons why a modest investment in your business NOW is a great decision for long term success: 

  1. It’s a buyer’s market. With economic downturn comes a reduction in price. If you’ve been waiting for that killer deal from a trade show or seasonal promo, well, times have changed. You know by now that shows have been cancelled or postponed. Normal buying and selling cycles have been interrupted. Manufacturers and dealers may be willing to work out a deal on equipment now that may not have been available otherwise.
     
  2. Take advantage of the slow-down to learn new equipment. Now is the time to get trained and get up to speed on that new embroidery machine or digital printer. Melco has just released a series of online training videos that show you how to operate your machine and software! Check them out HERE
     
  3. Stay ahead of the market! You may be experiencing a reduction in orders now, but this is temporary. If you were thinking about expanding Pre-COVID-19, there’s good reason to invest now, so you’re ready to go when things DO turn around, and they surely will! 

 

As our nation, regions, and local communities respond to this pandemic, many changes impacting this industry will present challenges. But, challenges also present opportunities. I encourage everyone to maintain an honest, realistic attitude, while hanging on to hope, knowing that things WILL get better! Accept the current reality, and let it motivate you to take action wherever you can. There’s a reason our military trains its soldiers to Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome. With that in mind, you and your business can weather this storm, and come out the other side stronger than ever!