The Failure Trap

September 7th, 2010

Welcome back friends from the long weekend.  Today’s post is focused on “time traps” I’ve read a great book written by Todd Duncan called Time Traps – Proven Strategies for Swamped Sales People. (available on-line at Amazon or Borders) The author lays out 8 “time traps” that stop of us from achieving our goals.  The one I’m going to focus on today is called The Failure Trap

The Failure Trap:  Stop wasting time worrying about yesterday.  Discovery how to make the most of the only moment you can do anything about: This Moment.  I know….easier said than done.  The point here is no regrets.  Learn from your past and from your mistakes and move forward. Stop wasting time.  I’ll leave you with a quote in the chapter.

“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker.  Failure is a delay, but not defeat.  It is a temporary detour, not a dead end street.”   – william ward

Trends to Watch – Teamwear

August 31st, 2010

Looking for a product line that leads to annual reorders and additional add-on sales? Youth sports and teamwear apparel is the market to target. “Youth sports is a lucrative opportunity, especially if you’re already involved,” says Patrick Doyle, owner of Proforma Synergy (asi/490543).

Doyle is a hockey parent who has put in more than 200 hours at the rink, and now he’s started providing uniforms and other products to the teams in his area. Margaret Crow, director of marketing for S&S Activewear (asi/84358), agrees with Doyle. “There’s so much opportunity in the teamwear market,” she says. “After you’ve identified the opportunities and serviced the team, there are consistent reorders.”

Getting in the door definitely seems to be the biggest challenge associated with selling teamwear. “It’s a wonderful business with sustainable margins,” says Mark Mertens, president and CEO of A/4 Moshay (asi/30121). “It’s relationship-driven. Customers are hard to get, but they stick with the suppliers that add value to their transactions.”

So, how can a distributor establish contacts and win new clients in the youth sports market? The first step is to “research the schools in your area to find out about their booster clubs and current team uniform needs,” advises Crow. Knowledge and connections definitely play a major part in winning new youth sports clients.

“It’s challenging to sell sports apparel if you don’t understand the culture,” Doyle says. “If you walk into a club’s or coach’s office with the wrong products, you don’t stand a chance of winning the client. You have to do your due diligence to learn about the products that are out there, view the online offerings of large uniform distributors, visit the schools and programs you’re targeting, attend their games. You need to become part of their culture.” Indeed, before you can even make product suggestions, there’s a lot of information to gather from these sources – including the needs of the team, plus the products, price points and performance characteristics that players and coaches are looking for.

Though Doyle cites supplier websites and representatives as good sources for details, he puts one information source above all the rest. “Go talk to a hockey mom,” he says, “or a football mom, or any sports parent, really. Go talk to them and ask where the pains are. They’ll tell you.”

Being a part of the team culture means having access to the parents and players themselves, which might possibly be the most important source of information required to get your foot in the door. “Sitting in the hockey rink for so many hours, I talked to a lot of moms who complained about the cold seats,” Doyle says. The team jackets offered to the parents and boosters were warm, but they cut off at the waist, leaving their bottom halves exposed to the cold, metal bleachers. “I sourced a jacket that had a longer fit,” says Doyle, “and I offered them a jacket that they could sit on the benches with and still be warm and comfortable.”

Demonstrating an inside knowledge of the culture and needs of any team, like Doyle has done, is a surefire way to win the business, especially if their current vendor isn’t taking the time to listen.

While finding out the needs and issues of parents and players, it’s also vital to get the viewpoint of the coaches and athletic directors. “Coaches, athletic directors and league commissioners are busy and inexperienced with uniforms,” Mertens says. “They require lots of additional handling.”

This is especially true when you consider the number of highly personalized uniforms and products someone like a commissioner is responsible for, as compared to a traditional corporate buyer. “The vendor that is both prepared and willing to spend the extra time to help with fitting and the ordering process will get the initial order and be invited back next season,” Mertens says. Doyle agrees: “I like being able to walk in with a full solution. It makes everyone’s job much easier.”

Walking in with that full solution means you understand the challenges and needs of the market. “One of the biggest challenges in selling is that leagues, teams and schools often require many customizations in color, fabric and style,” says Shaukat Shaik, president of Force 2000 Athletic Apparel (asi/55056). Having distinct team colors represented accurately throughout their teams is important to coaches, but they may not know how to articulate exactly what their color needs are. Working with a vendor that is able to customize is important. Another challenge is the need for quick turnaround on most orders. “When an order is placed with us, we ship it that day and the distributor has it within just a few days to get the decoration done,” says Chad Trollinger, marketing director for Augusta Sportswear (asi/37461). Service and availability of uniforms are crucial when it comes to making the coach’s job easier.

Another great tactic for finding new clients and building relationships is by reaching out to the booster club before asking for the uniform business. “Approach the booster club with a fundraising idea for the team to get your foot in the door,” says Crow. “You can start by offering printed T-shirts that the club and the students can sell to raise money. You’re helping them right away, and providing the benefits of dealing with you as a supplier.”

Once you’ve worked with them on one successful project, you can share your uniform samples and show them what you have to offer. This idea also works in reverse. If you currently have clients in youth sports and teamwear, consider what money you might be leaving on the table with fundraisers and non-uniform products. “In many cases, add-on sales are where the profits are to be found,” says Mertens. “Accessories, coaches’ gear, travel uniforms and hard goods can turn an order that is marginal into a winner.”

It’s a strategy that Doyle has employed with his youth sports clients. “If you sell them workout gear, drinkware, even spirit-related items,” he says, “you can make a little more money on each sale. If you keep increasing your sales by just a few percent by doing that, think of the dollars you’re adding to the bottom line without doing the extra footwork to find new clients.”

Finally, succeeding in this market is all about being thorough and patient. “Schools and leagues will stick with who they are currently buying from rather than go through the motions of looking for a new supplier,” says Crow. “Sometimes there is red tape to cut through in order to become an approved vendor. You have to be persistent, patient and available. Know that you may approach a potential client for a year before you get the first order.” But, once you start building that relationship, it stands to be a loyal and profitable one.

from Emroidery Business Insights Newsletter

Part 4 of 4 – 16 Strategies to Jump Start Sales

August 25th, 2010

#13.  ABL – Always Be Learning – Industry trade shows, marketing classes etc…

#14.  Interview Your Customers – Don’t sell them, find out their challenges and how you can solve them.

#15.  Keep a Success Journal – Keep track of testimonials for use in your marketing materials, and online reviews

#16.  Follow the Leaders – What are the “best” doing and try some of their strategies

Hope this helps, happy hunting I welcome your feedback.

Originally printed in Advantages Magazine  Jan 2010 by Sara Welch

Part 3 of 4 – 16 Strategies to Jumo Start Sales

August 23rd, 2010

9. Consider Charitable work to make contacts – Pro Bono work, a little extra work for fundraisers will go along way to building your database and future sales.

10.  Mine your own clients – Try not to stick to one contact.  Try to get contacts from other departments.  You never know when your trusted insider will split for greener pasture.  In investment terms, a little diversification within each client is great strategy

11.  Share the pain – Times are tough go back to suppliers and renegotiate

12.  Know your customers personality style – Adjust your pitch accordingly.  Treat other as they want to be treated, not as you want to be treated.

Originally printed in Advantages Magazine by Sara Welch

16 Strategies to Jump Start Sales – Part 2

August 18th, 2010

Part 2 of 4, #’s 5 – 8

5.  Network with like minded individuals – continue to meet new people.  Lots of good literature out there on this topic.

6.  Start an idea file – If you’re like me ideas come to me all the time, keep notes so you can actually execute on them

7.  Make one extra sales call per day – easy to say, much harder to do

8.  Organize and purge your customer database – spend some time each week garbage in, garbage out

This was written by Sara Welch for Advantages magazine 

16 Strategies to Jump Start Sales – Part 1

August 16th, 2010

This will be a 4 part series, I welcome your comments.  This was written by Sara Welch for Advantages magazine 

1.  Have a plan and work it – Don’t be random with your efforts

2.  Don’t hide behind Technology – The Technology Trap will suck valuable sales time

3.  Quilify potential customers before meeting them – Have a standard questionaire ready that makes sense for you

4.  Co Branding – think joint promotions with other clients, must be win-win for both parties.

Trends to Watch – Headwear

August 13th, 2010

Looking for a versatile product? Caps are the perfect all-year item for clients interested in apparel. Even better, they can be easier to fulfill orders for than many other apparel items.

Decorators don’t have to order more than 20 different sizes in order to fit the range of recipients their client has in mind; instead, for the most part, one size fits all. “Hats and caps are one of the best branding vehicles in the market,” says Margaret Crow, director of marketing for S&S Activewear (asi/84358). “Hats are popular with consumers, and are worn over and over. And that ensures your customers’ logos are seen time and time again.”

Headwear pieces can also make a great addition to almost any apparel sale. “Hats are such an easy add-on sale for decorators,” Crow says. “Decorators should be well acquainted with the styles of hats available to the imprintables market, and should offer them to customers as affordable and effective branding mechanisms. Hats can be added to corporate gift bags as giveaways.” Hats are also a great add-on for golf and other sport clients, school groups and gift shops, tradeshow uniform items, events and more. “Or, headwear can also stand alone as a giveaway,” Crow says.

In addition to knowing about the different hats and caps available in the ad specialty market, it’s important to recognize retail trends in headwear. “Two new trends this fall are the front-branded caps and flat bill caps,” Crow says. “By front-branded, I mean that the brand logo is already on the front of the hat. For example, some TaylorMade and adidas caps come with their brand logo on the front.”

This type of decoration is a valuable co-branding opportunity for clients and allows them to place their own logos on the back or side of the cap. Another big seller this summer and fall is camouflage hats. “This isn’t a new trend, but camouflage is selling really well this season,” Crow says.

(Reprinted from STICHES Newsletter)

Say it in Stitches Launches New Website

August 9th, 2010

Premier national embroidery company revamps site with more resources and information for clients

 Ft. Lauderdale, FL (July 27, 2010) – Say it in Stitches a premier full-service contract embroidery and digitizing services company, has launched a new website to better serve clients and showcase its work.

The site, www.sayitinstitches.com, was redesigned with a fresh look and several features that provide additional value to clients, including:

Promotions and special offers – marketing agencies, promotional products companies and screen printers can register on the home page to receive updates on specials and other news via email.

Discounts for new clients on first order

News and industry information – featuring educational articles on what to look for in the embroidery process

Resources such as work order form, pricing list, thread color selection and conversion charts, glossary and price matching policy

Request a quote – from the home page or always one click away

Samples of work and Say it in Stitches’ digitized logo database

Say it in Stitches’ blog, with educational information and news

Home page links to Say it in Stitches’ Facebook and Twitter pages, and blog

Say it in Stitches provides premier embroidery services for hundreds of national promotional products companies, agencies and brand licensees. Professionally managed, SIIS is a trusted partner with the production, logistical and service capabilities to deliver the finest quality decorated products. View Say it in Stitches’ new website at www.sayitinstitches.com.

 About Say it in Stitches

Since 1994, Say it in Stitches has been providing outsourced contract embroidery services for hundreds of promotional products companies, screen printers and marketing agencies nationwide. With a state-of-the-art facility located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Say it in Stitches employs a highly skilled production staff and in-house logo digitizers capable of delivering the finest quality digitizing and embroidery services. For more information, visit www.SayItInStitches.com or call 954-776-0010.

Office Depot selects Say it in Stitches

July 30th, 2010
National custom embroiderer inks deal to provide embroidery for corporate and client products

 (July 27, 2010) – Say it in Stitches (www.sayitinstitches.com), a premier full-service contract embroidery and digitizing services company, has been selected by Office Depot to provide contract embroidery services for branded apparel and accessories. Through the partnership, Say it in Stitches will embroider shirts, hats and other accessories to fulfill Office Depot’s internal needs as well as for the company’s clients served through the Copy & Print Depot group.
“We’re proud to secure this partnership with Office Depot in the Southeast, especially because we know by way of the thorough benchmarking process that they value quality vendors,” said Alex Fernandez, CEO of Say it in Stitches (SIIS).

After initial testing to showcase its embroidery quality, Say it in Stitches began work on branded items associated with Office Depot’s corporate NASCAR sponsorship, and will continue to provide services for other corporate needs. In addition, Office Depot’s “Copy & Print Depot” group, which offers custom promotional products for clients, will utilize Say it in Stitches for embroidery services on products it sells to Office Depot clients.

For more than 15 years, Say it in Stitches has digitized a multitude of logos under license and produced decorated apparel for many licensed brands.

 

Thread types and performance

July 26th, 2010

Here’s a table of key performance charachteristics by thread types. 

  Polyester Rayon  
Colorfastness Colorfast, will not

fade, can be bleached.

Some colors may bleed,

but rare.  Possible fading over time.

Strength &

Durability

Stronger and more durable

than Rayon thread.  Can be run at higher embroidery machine speeds.

Less durable than polyester, but may

create less wear and tear on machines.

Cost Less expensive than Rayon thread. Slightly more expensive than polyester,

although cost per garment difference is minimal.

Elasticity/Stretch More elastic than Rayon. 

Not as good for embroidering intricate details.

Less elastic, ideal for sewing small details on embroidery designs.
Sheen Less lustrous than Rayon, although improvements have been made. More lustrous than polyester.