It Is Not What It Costs That Matters

It's Not What It Costs That Matters

One mindset that I see constantly in the decorated apparel industry is entirely based on fear.

Fear of what something costs.

Hiring a new employee. Buying equipment. Attending a trade show. Trying out a new type of ink or other consumables. Ahem, getting a business coach.

There is a cost with any of these that overwhelms the decision tree into the “it costs too much money” category. Which means, sorry, but there’s no action on that.

We’ll do it next year.

But next year never comes. The decision is continually delayed. Like a kid kicking a can down a road.

A Different Mindset

Instead, what if your mindset was shifted a bit?

What if you didn’t focus on the cost, but how much money you could make? Potential opportunities? Problems or challenges that could be solved?

If you are looking at this from a potential benefit standpoint, the heft of how much something costs diminish.

Let’s look at a few common examples.

A New Employee

For larger companies bringing on new help is a continual function. But for many businesses that only have a few employees, adding one more seems like a stretch. Typically the existing crew wears many hats, including the owner.

But that’s where the problem lies.

As an owner or leader of your company how much is your time worth? Establish that as an hourly rate. Is it $50 an hour? $75? $100? $150?

So if you find yourself cleaning screens, trimming embroidery, creating art, closing the books for the month…really any task that you:

  • don’t have time to do
  • don’t know how to do
  • don’t want to do

You have to ask yourself what higher priority and frankly, more valuable tasks could be accomplished by you in that same amount of time. When you spend your time working, and sometimes even struggling, with these chores you aren’t spending your valuable time on things that matter.

Stop doing $15 an hour tasks and focus on doing $15,000 an hour tasks.

The Same Applies Elsewhere

With the rest of your shop, take some time and observe.

Are the core tasks of your business getting handled in a timely manner? Any departments backed up with work and creating bottlenecks for others downstream?

In production, does your team have to stop to take care of something before continuing? Does this affect your daily output?

Simply do the math.

How many more jobs could you get out a day with some added help? Would that trim off some overtime? Special freight? A day or two on the production turn-time? Would errors drop and quality increase?

If you can’t pull the trigger on a full-time person, what about a part-time position? Maybe someone from a temp agency? Try using an intern from a nearby college?

There are plenty of ways to solve this problem. But don’t let the idea of added cost hold you back from growing and solving problems.

Buying Equipment

The trade show season is coming up. You probably are already getting notices from suppliers, equipment dealers, and others in the industry.

Hey, if you go, be sure to look me up. I’m usually around, teaching a class, or walking the aisles checking stuff out.

But let’s get back to costs. At those shows, you will surely see and probably envy the shiny new pieces of equipment. They all look great.

And they all have a price tag. This is what prevents many shop owners from getting that first automatic press, new computer to screen system, direct to garment printer, heat press, neck tag printer, or any other gizmo that could solve a big problem for your shop.

Hey, if you don’t have the sales to back it up, I get it. Buying any of this stuff seems foolish.

But if you are busy and struggling to keep up, why are you resisting getting the proper tools that could make a difference in your shop?

In a Facebook group the other day someone was posting that they are cleaning over 250 screens a day by hand. Here’s where an auto screen cleaning machine would make perfect sense. They just haven’t run the numbers yet.

The benefits of upgrading any equipment in your shop are based on efficiency, labor savings, and output quality.

Remember, our business is based on producing an infinite number of fully customizable decorations on many different substrates. The only thing we can control is the variables for the process that we use in production.

The equipment that you choose to use in your shop has a direct effect on the outcome of that process. Better equipment controls those variables and allows you to operate more efficiently and effectively.

It’s not the cost that you should focus on, but the superior results you can achieve by using better tools.

Is it time for you to level up?

Attending a Trade Show

There are some shops that attend one or two trade shows a year. I know, because I see these folks constantly as I’m at the shows too. Quite a number of them not only attend but bring their staff as well.

Some only go once every other year or three.

There are also plenty of people who have never attended a trade show ever.


“They don’t want to be sold.”

What is the benefit of going to a trade show anyway?

Well, for starters, this is an event where the brightest minds in the industry share their ideas, skills, and knowledge. Sure, this happens in an exhibitor’s booth as they want you to learn about their new product. But this also happens in many of the seminars and classes that are offered. It also happens in the networking events, and in line for a cup of coffee. At breakfast at the hotel. Over a pitcher of beer with some wings at a shop meet-up.

Do you know that problem that you have been struggling with for the past year? Someone somewhere has solved it. The answer is just a handshake away.

The cost of attending is trivial compared to the experience and opportunity to gain more industry knowledge.

Get out of your shop and experience more in the industry.

Trying Out The New

How often are you trying something in your shop?

Last week I wrote about the danger of “the way we’ve always done it.” You need to constantly test. Not only is does this provide an avenue to make your shop better with a drive for continuous improvement, but it may give you a competitive advantage.

In other industries, this may be called “research and development”. For you, it’s trying out a new emulsion, or different type of embroidery stabilizer. Learn that new print technique, or how long that weird decoration location takes to load and print.

The cost for this is in the time, labor, and consumable expense of the new idea.

With the benefits of learning clearly visible, it’s always amazing to me how many shops aren’t making time to learn.

But what if you dedicated yourself to try and learn one new thing a week? This is in experimenting with an idea as an on-purpose learning event. Schedule it on your calendar just like a real production job.

If you did this once a week, at the end of the year you would have learned 52 new things that could bring in more business or save your shop money. Either way, it gives you a competitive advantage.

The hardest part is starting. For next week, what can you try?

Do it!

The Cost of Coaching

Hey, I saved the best for last!

If you don’t know it by now, my job is to help businesses just like yours succeed. I’m a coach.

Plenty of people just like you are scheduling time with me to come out to their shop, coach them over the phone, read one of my eBooks, or start a DIY journey with an online course. (6 Steps to Kill Your Production Downtime)

In each method, there is, of course, a cost to that. That’s how I put groceries on the table every week.

Not sure if coaching is right for your shop? Take this survey and see how you rate. For each question rate your level from 0 to 10. I’ll send you the results.

What’s the value of coaching?

Smoothing out the speedbumps. Learning new tricks or tips. Accountability. Best industry practices. Faster workflow and higher efficiency. Getting challenged by a mentor. Real-world solutions to your shop’s problems.

Believe it or not, you are already spending the money with inefficiencies, errors, problems, and missed opportunities.

Let me show you a better way.

Grab a 30-minute call with me and let’s discover how I can help your shop.

“To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions.” – Ben Franklin

“When the well is dry, they know the worth of water.” – Ben Franklin

“The worst wheel of the cart makes the most noise.” – Ben Franklin

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