Sooner or later in your career as a t-shirt printer, you are going to have a customer come along and make you an offer that appears to be one you can't refuse. You will often be presented with what will appear to be an extraordinarily profitable order, based on one or more of the following scenarios:
(a) A gigantic sized order that is beyond the capacity of your print shop.
(b) An order with a nearly impossible production deadline.
(c) An complex print, e.g. three or more print locations on the garment.
Often orders such as these can appear to be a very lucrative cash cow but require careful consideration before acceptance. Let's examine each one in detail…
(a) The gigantic order:
More often than not, you will be approached by parties seeking an unusually large order for custom t-shirts. Typically, these “customers” are not presenting a legitimate order but rather trying to find out how low you are willing to go on your pricing. But once in a great while you will be presented with a customer who is serious and has the means to place such an order. With regard to whether or not you should “try to take on this order”, consider the following practicalities:
(b) The Rush Order:
Rush orders can be fantastically profitable and if you are in the right place at the right time you can make out very well. The danger with rush orders is that they allow very little margin for error. If the shirts or inks do not come in on time, you are in trouble. If an unexpected power failure or equipment breakdown should occur, you are in trouble. If some of your key staff calls in sick, you are in trouble. While rush orders can be very tempting because of their huge profit possibilities, weigh the positives versus the negatives carefully.
(c) Multi-location prints on shirts:
These are very profitable but they can be very time consuming to produce and each additional print location increases the possibility for a misprint. If you calculate your production time carefully based on the number of print locations and your production capabilities; multi-location printing can be reduced to a low risk, high profit job.
Another option available to you for high profit, high risk orders is to consider the use of contract printers.
Contract screen printers will produce your order for a fixed fee and will still leave room for you to enjoy a profit. It is strongly recommended that you do not place any high risk order with any contract printer you do not have experience with. If they do not produce the order on time or any other foul-up would occur, it is going to be your reputation on the line – not theirs. Most contract printers are reputable and highly reliable. However it goes without saying- choose carefully.
In closing, always weigh all factors when deciding on whether or not to take on a particular order. Greed is a very powerful force when you are presented with possible print orders that seem unusually lucrative. Always carefully consider all the factors before you decide to take on any "out-of-the-ordinary" custom t-shirt order.
ASPA Staff and others