Monday, June 3, 2013

Embroidery Digitizing - The Learning Curve

Think back.  You’re at the embroidery show or in the sales office looking at purchasing your first embroidery machine and software.  You’ve done your homework on the internet checking different software capabilities and machine options.  The sales person is telling you how profitable and easy the embroidery business is and you’re nervous because this is a lot of money and you don’t know much about the industry. Even if you have some experience with the embroidery (in one way or another) you have no idea how to digitize a design.  Sales people will tell you that you can learn as you go, but in the meantime, the easy stuff can be auto-digitized in the software and if you come across something more difficult, there are many places you can send the design out to and get it digitized.

Any of this sounding familiar? Yea, I thought so.  I’ve been there. Not as the sales person or the customer but standing behind you at the show/in the showroom listening to what the sales people are telling potential customers. They don’t want to tell you anything overwhelming and scare you away so they say that it’s a simple thing of taking the art, running it through the software to create a stitch file, loading it into the machine, hooping the garment and selecting the thread colors. Then hit a few buttons and you’re literally “in business”!   I realize they are just doing their job but I’m going to tell you the truth.

The learning curve for running a successful embroidery business is substantial. The learning curve for understanding the process of purchasing quality digitizing is big. The learning curve for mastering digitizing yourself is huge! This is why most embroidery companies purchase their digitizing or hire a digitizer on staff. You have to be pretty big to have an on staff, full time digitizer, so today I’m just going to talk about purchasing your designs.

 Yes, there is a learning curve to purchasing your custom embroidery designs:  Your objective is to get the best quality at the most cost effective price in order to maximize your profit margin. Does that mean, just getting the digitizing as cheap as possible?  The short answer is “NO”.

Whatever your reason for getting into the embroidery business is, you must provide your customers with consistent service and quality they will come back for or, quite simply, they won’t come back, and you won’t have a profit margin to worry about.

Remember, you’re going to pass the digitizing cost along to your customer so this is not a production cost to you. However, if you’re simply buying your digitizing based on the lowest price, you’ll find there ARE hidden costs to you associated with this practice that will compromise your quality and service to your customers. Those include:

1.       Delivery time problems - when you have to have the design either redone or reedited multiple times to get it right pushing your job finish time back

2.       More fees later - Paying another digitizer to fix the design so it’s usable or companies that a-la-carte you to death on edits and second version sizes.

3.       Poor production times – the machine doesn’t sew the jobs efficiently due to poor pathing, unneeded color breaks and trims on the digitizing, driving up production time so much that it actually costs you money to do the job (see also #1)

4.       Customer satisfaction – No matter the machine, if the digitizing isn’t quality, you can’t turn out quality designs you’re proud to put your company’s name on. If you can’t get the job to them when promised, they will lose faith in your abilities. You’re trying to build and retain customers; do you really want to take chances with crummy, slow results?

5.       Poor communication with the digitizer – If you cannot talk to a live person about your design (or communicate with them because of a language barrier or time difference) it’s a waste of your time. I’ve been doing this a very long time, and when the design elements require adjusting for “sew-ability” or your customer requests changes to a design (and this happens all the time), you need to be able to discuss this with the person doing the punching. You can’t do that with a website.

6.       Inconsistent quality – Low/Cut rate digitizing companies have many digitizers on staff. It’s a draw which one will be given your design to work on each time and you can’t speak to them directly so one time the design may be OK and the next horrible. They may be using auto-digitizing softwares that don’t work well, inexperienced digitizers and many times they don’t even sew out the designs they’re creating before sending them on to you. (Caveat: Just because a company says they’ve been in business, digitizing for 20 yrs, does NOT mean that the actual person doing your work has been digitizing for that long).  You DO get what you pay for!
I cannot stress enough how important it is to build a relationship with a reputable digitizer who you can talk to directly. One that you can trust to give you reasonable pricing, consistent quality from years of experience, and someone who understands production, pathing and the need to sew out every design for quality before sending it to you.  You need a digitizer who offers personal attention and makes you look good with every job you do for your customers.
NeedleUp Digitizing is owned and operated by Donna Lehmann, a 20yr veteran of the embroidery/digitizing industry. She can be reached at, or  303-287-6633 for DIGITIZING, consultation and classes M-F.

1 comment:

Embroidery Digitizing said...

Thanks for taking time for sharing this article, it was excellent and very informative.

Embroidery Digitizing