We’ve talked a fair bit about how to go and earn more customers. Whether it’s by creating word of mouth, or phoning customers and prospects, or using an email list. All of these are really important to help grow your business, but there’s one other aspect of business we want to touch on that will help you long term, and that’s learning.
This applies to whether you’re in the embroidery business, heat press, or really any other business. To stay ahead and earn success, you need to be continually educating yourself. If that sounds scary, it doesn’t have to be. All it takes is setting aside 30 minutes to an hour of your day to read, listen, or watch something.
We’ll break down a few basics you can work on every day to set yourself habits that will earn you more money.
We touched on this in our post about avoiding common mistakes. You must become an expert in the equipment you are using to produce the custom apparel. Whether you’ve just started your embroidery business or you’ve been up and running for a while, know the limitations and possibilities of your machine.
When a customer asks if you can do something, you should be able to give them a confident yes answer or an alternative solution. Learning as you go can cause you to mess up, costing money and time. Because there is (potentially) only one of you and one machine, your time is money. Time wasted on errors is money wasted.
Also part of knowing your equipment will be knowing which blanks work best. Can the fabric handle the heat press? How will it wash? Are certain jackets easier and cleaner to embroider on? Knowing your blanks and narrowing down your selection to recommend to clients.
Take time out of you week (or every day) to practice on your machine, to learn how to do something new, whether it’s patches, caps, etc. Find something that you could potentially offer your clients, learn how to do it, and then advertise that the service is now available.
For many people, the computer is a dreaded device. There’s so much potential in it, and that can be quite overwhelming. If your the sole person running the business, it means you’re wearing multiple hats, and so knowing how to use your computer for bookkeeping, emails, and design software are vital to the health of your business.
You don’t have to know what PHP, Drupal, CSS are to run an embroidery business. But you should know some of the basics of a using a computer. If you need to take a course from a local community college, community center or even online (you can even take a look at Udemy). They’re fairly inexpensive and will give you the confidence you need to not stress every time you have to turn the computer on.
In the embroidery business you’ll be running software like Sierra Liberty to help create designs. Learning to create custom designs in the software can give you the edge over the competition. It can become one of your unique selling points – something special to offer your clients.
Next up is your accounting software. Numbers may not be your thing, but using accounting software to keep track of all your expenses, invoices, bills, etc. will save you and your accountant time and headaches when it comes to tax season. As a business you likely have to file sales taxes every month, so keeping your information organized will be a key benefit to the smooth running of the business.
It’s no secret that the world of marketing has changed. Where people get their information about businesses and products has shifted, and to stay relevant and at the forefront of your customers’ minds it’s important to shift with them, and learn what some of the new business basics are.
Most people have a Facebook page and it’s where they often get their news from. So learning how to market on Facebook becomes key. There is also a shift where more an more baby boomers are getting onto Facebook because it allows them to connect with friends and family whom they may otherwise be unable to see or talk to. Depending on your business these may be your target market and so you want to be able to connect with them. Being on Facebook allows you not only to create ads, but to post content that customers may be interested in, and give them an opportunity to connect with you. A newspaper ad can be someone impersonal, there’s no back and forth communication. Facebook allows you to talk directly with your customers.
Your smart phone unties you from your computer and allows you to stay connected to your business. As an example, perhaps you’ve stepped away from your office and you get a message from a potential customer asking for a quote. Instead of waiting another hour or two to respond to them, you can send them a message right away, letting them know you’ll get back to them with the information by 5pm. What this does is reassures the customer that you’ve received their message and provides the promise that you will provide them with information.
Your social media can also be done directly from your phone. Such as replying to Facebook comments and messages. Or sharing a picture of a customer’s order.
We don’t want you to feel like you have to be connected 24/7. We encourage you to set a “downtime” on your phone, say from 10pm-7am as to not be disturbed by email notifications.
Pictures & Video
Taking quality photos of the custom apparel you produce is important for your business and advertising. This can be with your phone or a camera, but it’s important to learn how to take good photos. What lighting works best? Perhaps there’s a space in your house that has great natural lighting (and perhaps at a particular time of day). Is there a background that shows off your shirts really well? These photos will then be able to go on Facebook and your website so that potential customers can see the quality you can produce.
If you’re unsure what makes a good photo, we recommend checking out Instagram – it’s a platform for people to share photos. Fashion bloggers, clothing lines, etc. are all great places to start, because they’ll be showing off clothing, accessories, etc. Then really take notes on what makes one picture better than then others. Then play around and have some fun with filters, backgrounds, etc.
Learning to take good videos may take a little more time, but some of the key elements still apply like lighting. Video can be a great opportunity to show clients how a shirt gets embroidered or how heat press really works.
Do some online research, or perhaps take a photography course, to make sure you’re comfortable taking photos and videos.
There are a ton of great authors and books out there that will really teach you about business and give you motivation to excel. You probably know other people who have read these books as well, so don’t be shy about asking to read and discuss them with you, or for more recommended books.
- How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
- Buying Customers – Bradley Sugars
- 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey
- The E-Myth – Michael Gerber