Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Embroidery Digitizing - Customers - Changing Their Minds (Like changing their underwear)

We’ve all been there: Customer calls multiple times, either changing their order, adding to it or just altering the design or placement.  You can’t seem to get to “Final Answer” but they still want their job by the original deadline. Only that’s getting closer and closer….or worse, you’ve already started the job.  Now what?

You must draw the line in the sand. Small hurdle or huge ordeal?  Take a minute to access the situation.  Is this latest change something you can reasonably do?  Can you keep them happy and still meet your deadline?  Will you need to charge more for this addition? Of course, you want to keep the customer and you should absolutely do anything that you can to make them happy in the name of customer service, right?  Right!  ...... sort of.

Resist the urge to tell them that anything can be done for a price. While true at times remember that you cannot buy more time, so it’s up to you whether you’d like to place your sleeping bag in front of the machine or pay for overtime to get the job finished. Then there’s the fees that may be required for the change including the possible editing of the design, more garments, more supplies (thread, backing toppings), rush fees, more shipping or pick up fees, etc.  In the case of design changes, you need to go through the approval process again so there are no surprises or issues on what the customer expects.  Failing to get the new version of the design pre-approved before production can bite you in the butt, even if it’s just for a slightly different size or color. All these things eat up time, time you don’t really have if you are to meet the deadline.

Specifically, with regard to the digitizing, as always, get as much information as possible about what the customer now wants, what’s been changed and get an idea of how much time it will take to edit the design and if there are fees involved.  If the change is size related, have an idea of what size they now want.  Telling the digitizer, “I don’t know, just smaller” doesn’t help either of you to be timely. Be specific and you can get back on track to the deadline faster.

Finally, be up front with your customer and let them know as soon as possible if there will be any costs because of the changes they’re making.  Give them a choice so they are not surprised when the bill comes.  Be honest and realistic about what you can get done in the time you have and whether you can still meet the deadline. If you say you can, then you definitely need to!  Maybe your customer can take a partial order at deadline and receive the rest after;  let the customer decide.   That’s how you cross the finish line!

***For more information on NeedleUp’s digitizing services, visit our website at http://www.needleup.com or contact Donna Lehmann by email:  donna@needleup.com

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Embroidery Digitizing - Hats - New Placements, Old Problems

Hats are a very popular item to embroider but a stinker on the production: Not all designs are created equal when the customer decides they want hats. For a little while now, I’ve seen more of a trend towards different placements that I want to address.

Most hat jobs are the usual front design with maybe a back design arced over the keyhole or straight for flex flit type styles. Customers are trying to come up with new spots to embroider that stray from this by embroidering a design on the side of the hat or placing a design on the front panel to one side within the two seams. I’ve even seen a “bug” style logo squished down into the bottom right side of the left side panel. Limitations include the kind of hat frame used for the job but for the most part, you have approx. 3” of sewing space between seams (on a six-panel baseball type cap) and around 2” tall for height on the front two panels and 1.5” height on side panels.  These are very small areas and not every design will be able to shrink to those dimensions. 

You’ll need a simpler design with minimal or no text to fit those spots effectively.  Font style and size are very important, not too fancy and not too small.  Even ¼” text, which is normally considered minimum for flats, is too small for hats without a fill of some kind for support underneath it. Of course, there’s a gray area depending on the brand and fabric of the hats as usual.

While I understand the appeal of doing an alternate placement to make the hat different than the mainstream, you must understand the limitations of embroidery and your customer’s logo and be able to explain it to them and come up with an option that works for both of you.

Know your hat frame and sewing fields/available area so that you have that information for the digitizer.  That way, the design can be created at the correct size and without secondary editing and resizing to get it to fit.  Educate your customer to be flexible and realistic about what will fit the area to be embroidered.  Know that the same issues with registration on hats still exist and be mindful that you are sewing up and away from the center seam whether you will be crossing the seam or not.  This means that the design is not interchangeable should the customer change their mind and decide to sew it center front after all. 

If you talk to your customer and spend a moment to describe the issues and get to final answer before the digitizing, you may avoid costly edits and restarts to get to the finished order.  Hats are one of the most challenging garments that we embroider on but spend the time to understand the issues at hand and what your hat frame is capable of doing and you’ll be on your way to more hat jobs with happy clients!

**For more information on NeedleUp’s digitizing services, visit our website at http://www.needleup.com or contact Donna Lehmann by email:  donna@needleup.com