Every business has a peak season and a slow season, and slow seasons can be frightening! No one likes to watch revenue decreasing. Overall, the primary goal of every company is to make money but for most businesses this is unavoidable. While it may come as a challenge, it’s wiser to take downtime at your business as a blessing. This is the time to concentrate on other key parts of your business. Below we share key tips and ideas for what to do during the slow customer season at your printing business.
This blog will be divided into two main sections. One section will be dedicated to things hobbyist printers and shop owners can focus on and the second section will really focus on the business side of running a screen-printing shop.
If you are a hobbyist or full-time print shop focus on the following:
Learn New Creative Printing Techniques
A successful printing company should offer innovative items. As a result, you should never limit your company's creative potential. During downtime, you can always try out new printing techniques that you can monetize during the following client boom period.
Try out specialty inks! Such as plastisol high-density HD additives or plastisol puff additives to give your customer an ultra-cool 3D effect. If you typically work with plastisol inks and have been curious about water-based inks now is the time to try out this new screen-printing ink. Do the testing on your own prints not at the expense of your customers. Testing prints can be cheap! Screen Print Direct® offers most inks and specialty inks in small containers, therefore you don’t have to buy a quart of ink for one trial run. Test pellons are also a great tool for creating test prints, no more testing on brand new blank shirts. Print on a test pellon and simply throw away the sheet once you are done and satisfied with the print.
Beyond testing with different inks, you can experiment on testing on new mediums that you have not yet printed on! Try post printing, athletic wear, canvas, and more! Do your testing during the slow season and be ready to offer your customers more printing options when the time comes.
Clean Up Shop
As a printing business, you probably have multiple pieces of equipment essential for your business. So, to maintain the efficiency and durability of your equipment, care and maintenance are crucial. Since the back office isn’t busy during downtime, you can schedule servicing and cleaning of your equipment during this period.
Additionally, you want to clean your printing shop thoroughly to maintain a cleaner and more productive working space. Clean out old products on the shelf, scrub off unwanted paint, screen printing emulsion, glue residue, and fold the box of blank t-shirts you have sitting in the corner. There are endless ways to tidy up and create a more relaxing and efficient workspace.
If you are a small shop working out of your garage or a large operation focus on the following
Work On a Marketing Strategy
In general, most printing enterprises will have a slow period from November until February or March. Because of the festive holidays, many businesses temporarily close or slow down most of their operations.
Utilize this time to evaluate and plan budgets and strategies for the following year instead of pushing for sales that have a minuscule probability of happening. This period offers an excellent opportunity for you as a business to reflect on the current year.
Brainstorm your overall performance, what went wrong, what went well, and what you can do to improve. This is also an excellent time to plan stronger marketing techniques for the coming year to attract more customers. You may do everything from redesigning your website to attending trade exhibits and fairs.
However, don't confine your marketing efforts to external marketing. This planning should be expanded by reaching out to current and warm customers. You don’t have to be direct and offer the customer a particular service and push sales. Instead, make the customer feel special through appreciative messages, email blasts with company updates, or small tokens of appreciation.
Improve on Brand Awareness
Instead of marketing geared solely toward conversion, you can employ marketing campaigns that increase brand awareness. Host a social media giveaway, spend time refining your brand image, and tuning into your brand voice through social media posts. Social networking is the most convenient, efficient, and cost-effective means to improve brand awareness quickly.
Update all channels and facets of your social media content to represent your brand voice. Platform posts, blogs, videos, and testimonials are great place to start.
When was the last time you cleaned up your website SEO? This is your search engine optimization, in other words how customers find you when searching in Google or other search engines. Refining SEO on your website could be a real game changer for your business if done properly!
Many businesses are always looking for a way to slash costs while maintaining the quality of their products and services. Take time to audit your business during downtime, whether through expenditure or even printing processes.
Through this audit, you can figure out ways to improve your own printing performance, employee performance, customer retention, new customer onboarding, company workflow supply cost and so much more.
Is your current workflow optimal? Could you speed it up somehow, use less product per print? Is it time to hire a new staff member when busy season comes again? What about your vendor relations and supply costs? Are you getting the best product at the best rates? Now is the time to dive into your business and work out the kinks and improve.
During downtime, you should also conduct inventory inspections to determine what needs to be refilled. You might also come up with new innovative approaches and goods to add to your product line.
This time of peace and quiet is perfect for making financial plans. You can save money by buying in bulk and avoiding last-minute purchases, which can drastically boost your operational costs.
The end of the year is always a great time to sit down and look at your past year's cash flow and expenditures in order to project next year's budget. Most companies must do these projections during the very busy season of Q4, as printers we get a bit more leisure.
Have you been interested in upgrading equipment or moving from a garage to a warehouse? Now is a good time to sit down with your current numbers and budget for your goals!
You must analyze how the business has benefited you for that year in addition to reviewing the demands of the business. Examine aspects such as net profit, employee performance, and consumer feedback to determine the value of your products.
You may use this data to decide on a variety of things, including repricing your products and even removing products that aren't doing well or producing a profit. You should also assess new products and determine how they will be priced. It may be the year to refine the range and price of your goods and services offered.
You need the right and healthy personnel to efficiently execute your goals and strategies. As a result, set aside some time during your downtime to assess your organizational structures, operations, and individual team members. This can be done if even a solo printer! (Is it time for another employee?)
You can review what works and what doesn't, staff raises, and other essential measures for increasing team productivity at this period. It's an excellent opportunity to organize workplace getaways, parties, or even luncheons to thank your employees if working with a large team.
This is also an excellent moment to improve your team's capabilities. As a result, you can set up a brief training session to help your employees improve their skills. This will pay you in the long run since skilled employees will perform better and more creatively.
Your printing company will never run out of things to do. What does not change, though, is that your firm does not earn as much during downtime.
As a result, you should put as much effort into cost-cutting as possible to alleviate the financial strain. You might begin by looking at the general operations. You may, for example, encourage employees to take their yearly vacation over this period. With fewer employees, you save money on things like power, refreshments, transportation, and other people-related expenses.
Non-essential employees can even work from home and only come in when needed, depending on the business structure. Additionally, centralize your procedures, whether it's delivering numerous projects on the same day and trip (if possible) or shopping for equipment in one day to save money on transportation. If you keep this in mind, you'll always be able to find a method to save money no matter what you're doing.
A few tips for the printer who wants to bring in more revenue:
The number of customers drops during the quiet season. This does not, however, imply that the market is devoid of clients. As a result, you can always differentiate your company and attract more clients. Incentivizing your customers is the simplest approach to do so. Offering some additional 2-3% discounts or better quantity breaks are great examples of this.
Due to the low volume of orders, your staff has more time to focus on individual orders, allowing you to commit to quicker delivery times without sacrificing quality. The best thing about incentive programs is that they not only bring you consumers during the slow season, but they also help you retain customers and establish new relationships.
To conclude there is no such thing as downtime when you own a business. There is always plenty of work to be done, it comes down to a prioritization of your unique screen printing business needs.
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