Selling to the school market.
One area that can be profitable yet is much misunderstood by many t-tshirt printers new to the business is selling to the school market. While most people believe that schools buy lots of custom printed t-shirts and similar products, this is not always true and more often that not, what schools do buy are often sourced from many different vendors.
Most school markets are very competitive with a great many printers (both local and national) going after their business. It often involves a great deal of politics to obtain those orders. It is not unusual to find that there are “insiders” (teachers, coaches, etc.) within schools who fast track jobs to their friends, relatives, or even have a sideline business doing screen printing themselves.
One recommendation is that if you want to secure print jobs from school markets and do not have any experience or inside connections, start off by choosing a private school for your first attempt at the school market. You will find that private schools are much easier to solicit than public schools or colleges.
Another avenue to consider is to hire some “student salesmen” to work for you. Pay a small commission for every order they provide or give a discount to them for orders they bring to you from the school organizations they are involved in.
PTA’s (Parent/Teacher Associations) and PTO’s (Parent/Teacher Organizations) within most schools purchase plenty of custom printed school and team “booster” products. These groups are usually easy to find in your community. They too make a good “starting point” for securing your first school orders. Booster organizations are typically volunteer organizations and are easier to work with than school officials and administrators.
Another easy target to go after are independent nursery schools or daycare centers. Be sure you’re capable of printing infant and youth size shirts. You will find that printing (and giving away) a few custom samples of “school logo wear” can work wonders in obtaining business from these type of schools.
Take it slow and learn what works best soliciting schools in your area. Build on your knowledge obtaining school orders and repeat what work best with the various groups and organizations within your individual school system. If you can develop a reputation as the local t-shirt shop that prints the “school shirts” in your area, the payoff can very lucrative and long lasting.
The content of this article is an excerpt from the ASPA training course The Secrets of Printing T-Shirts and How to Make Big Money!