Friday, July 1, 2016

How to Treat Your Major Customers

How to Treat Your Major Customers

All companies have major customers – they are the life blood of your business. Major customers represent 20% or less of the customer base, but about 80% of your revenue (*see below). Some companies haven’t formally identified these treasured customers and that’s a mistake, since the health of all businesses depends on them.

Major customers have a higher retention rate; they are more loyal, less price sensitive, and buy more products, more often. Once you know who they are, how should your marketing strategy deal with them? One school of thought says, “Market to them like mad. Get them to buy more.” That might work, but, in most cases, it is probably a mistake. Big mistake! The better option is to work to retain them.

How did these customers become major customers, anyway? They reached that point as a result of your getting most or all of their decorating spending. They are “maxed out” on your embroidery and/or screenprinting. A good example of what we mean is when a large bank found that they couldn’t profitably market to their major customers. Those depositors maintaining high savings balances would shift to CDs or other savings instruments, but the overall amount of their balances wouldn’t change. An analysis showed that five percent of their customers provided 80% of their profits. Getting these five percent to put more savings in their bank would have been useless; they already had it. So what should you do with major customers?  Work very hard to retain them.

Think up, invent and provide them with special services that you couldn’t afford to provide to all your other customers.

  • Airlines provide first class travel upgrades and bonus miles to their frequent business flyers.
  •  Some companies create a “Diamond Club” or “Platinum Posse” and send their major customers a suitably framed membership award (I like this idea -- very affordable!).
  • Banks provide them with a personal banker (Chase Bank's “Private Client”).
  •  UPS and FedEx park trucks at their loading docks.
  •   Nieman Marcus provides special gifts and benefits.
  •   Some companies send discontinued items free to major customers as a “thank you for your business.”

Whatever you can do, let them know that they are very important to you, and show it by special services and gifts. So if you haven’t developed a special program for your major customers, get busy. It may be the single most important customer relationship program in your company.

*The Pareto Principle (commonly known as the 80/20 rule) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Management consultant Joseph M. Juran suggested the principle and named it after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto (instead of naming it for me, and I was so close!). It’s a common rule of thumb in business. For example:

    80% of a company's profits come from 20% of its customers

    80% of a company's complaints come from 20% of its customers

    80% of a company's sales come from 20% of its products

    80% of a company's sales are made by 20% of its sales staff

Hence, many businesses have easy access to dramatic improvements in profitability by focusing on the most effective areas and eliminating, ignoring, automating, delegating or retraining the rest, as appropriate.

The bottom line is, take care to maintain your major customers and work to move some of the 80 percenters up into the 20 percent realm.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Think Light!

What are slippery, hard to pin down, and everybody wants them?

If you answered Customers, you are only part right. I was thinking of performance wear fabrics. You know, the slippery, stretchy, skinny fabrics that are used in the ubiquitous sports apparel you see everywhere from the grocery store to the golf course to gymnasiums across the U.S. and beyond. The growth of this category of apparel has outpaced every other in terms of retail growth.

And so, on Wednesday, June 22, at 2:30 EST (11:30 PCT.), Madeira USA will offer the industry a free webinar that will review the best way to approach this embroidery challenge in order to produce winning results. From thread choices to digitizing decisions, to best backing, to finished product, the hour-long webinar will cover all aspects of embroidering on performance wear. Madeira product spokesperson Nancy Mini will be joined by master digitizer and embroidery artist Rich Medcraft, who operates StitchWise Embroidery Design in Eagle Point, Oregon.

According to my colleague, Nancy Mini,   “How to get the best results on a fabric that seems to fight back is a prevalent question these days. We decided to collect many of the questions we hear from customers in our Customer Sales & Support department, and address them in a single webinar. We feel that by sharing the ‘best practice’ embroidery techniques that we advise our customers to try, with the industry at large, should help many who are struggling. The very concept of performance wear should not instill fear! (Nobody likes a fraidy-cat!)  Cotton pique golf shirts that embroiderers have embellished for years are one example, followed by stretchy running gear, light weight warm up jackets, yoga and exercise outfits, and slippery tank tops.”

As with all webinars that are offered by Madeira USA, questions are taken during the presentation, and all questions are answered and sent out to registrants so that everyone has a chance to have a solution to their embroidery challenge. Remember, if a customer wanting you to embroider on performance wear has not yet entered your establishment, they will soon. Be ready! Attend this informative webinar.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Unsure of Which Backing to Use?

There is a webinar coming up on May 25 that is a must-see!

If you struggle sometimes (don't we all?) with choosing which backing is correct for a particular design project, you are in for a real treat. A treat that will not only be fun to attend, but you'll come out of it even more knowledgeable than you were going in to it. Madeira USA's E-Zee Backing & Topping division is hosting a webinar, Your Backing Choice Can Make or Break Your Next Embroidery Project: Backing Basics. It's a long title, but there is a lot of material to cover.

It will take place on Wednesday, May 25, at 2:30 pm EST (11:30 am PT). What makes it so special, beyond a topic that can be as confusing as the Long Island Expressway on a summer's afternoon, are the two ladies who will be sharing their wealth of knowledge with you. Nancy Mini, a product specialist from the E-Zee Backing & Topping side, and Joyce Jagger, an industry guru who has amassed a following of embroiderers who call upon her skills to see how she thinks they might improve their business.

Nancy Mini shares her thoughts:
“We are constantly updating our own sales and support staff with internal trainings,so it makes perfect sense to make certain that our customers also know what’s out there. We often get calls from customers asking what went wrong with their embroidery, and so many times it turns out to be the backing.” Included in what you will learn are:
  • What backings there are from which to choose
  • Which products are new to the market
  • What effect the wrong choice of backing has on finished embroidery
  • How to avoid common errors.
 This is the link to register:

Friday, February 5, 2016

Some Thoughts on Frosted Matt

Recently I had the opportunity to speak with many embroiderers at the ISS in Long Beach, California. Not a bad assignment in January! I've had a presence at this large show for a very long time, and this year I realized something that I thought was noteworthy.

8 years ago, Madeira introduced the first true matte finish embroidery thread to the industry at this show. I welcomed many show attendees to our booth with the question, "Do you have any need for a matte finish thread?" Well, you'd think I asked them if they had any need for ill-fitting shoes: No!...What? ... Why would I want that?! And why are you spelling it Frosted Matt? Where’s the “e”?

Seven/ eight years later, embroiderers have either a) matured; b) become more open-minded, c) grown to realize the benefits of this high definition, color-fast, subtle, high end thread, d) all of the above!

I'm guessing that embroiderers are clever folk who keep up with trends, when they are not setting them. And they saw Frosted Matt, Madeira's matte finish embroidery thread, as a problem solver.

This year, hearing the same question, the answers I received from visitors were not so negative, but instead, “I haven't heard of it”, “tell me more”, “what is it used for”? And, “May I have a sample”?

Frosted Matt should come to mind for these applications:
     · Tone on tone
     · Extreme exposure to sunlight
     · Vivid color
     · Small lettering and fine detail
     · Fluorescent colors
     · Shading

So keep an open mind, ask for a sample, and see how this problem solver can add to the list of possibilities you offer your clients. I personally guarantee some oooooooh's and ahhhhhhhhhh's.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Add Sparkle to Your Embroidery to Stay on Trend

While some may point out that I don’t qualify as a fashionista (who has all that time to shop?), when you are in the embroidery field, a sense of fashion and fashion trends is second nature. Embellishment is what we are all about. Specialty threads are designed to offer customers something different and designers a rich palette with which to experiment and shine. And shine is exactly where I am going with this blog! A recent perusal of top fashion magazines (purely in the name of research) crystallized for me the trend toward shine and sparkle: 

From Fashion magazine, “Somewhere between the sky-high shoulder pads and bedazzled skirt suits of the eighties, metallics got a bad rap. Today, however, shiny clothing and accessories mean one thing: glamour. On the spring 2014 runways (the introduction of 2015 trends), everyday outfits were injected with a shot of glitz thanks to some flashy, not trashy, twists on the metallic trend.” Fashion goes on to name “sparkle and shine” (in my humble opinion, the fashion equivalent of “shock and awe”) as “one of the top 6 trends for 2015.”

Harper’s Bazaar concurs in its “10 Style Risks to Take in 2015:” “Once relegated to cocktail dresses on New Year’s Eve and cocktail waitresses in Las Vegas, sparkles are starting to see the light of day…”.

As does Elle magazine: “Trend Alert: Precious Metals. Whether they come in the form of cool silvers or rich golds – we can’t get enough of these metallic colored dresses, sweaters, heels and beauty must-haves. Shine on (straight into fall!)” As well as Glamour: “Don’t wait for that evening party to pull out your metallics! This season, try metallics for day, too.”

I could go on and on (InStyle magazine lists Metallic Shimmer as “one of the 10 Top Fashion Trends seen on the red carpet”)…and Marie Claire, noting “over-the- top metallics at Europe Fashion Week,” clearly states, “…there’s no better way to make a look stand out than to incorporate a huge amount of metallic sheen.” You probably read that BeyoncĂ© recently paid $300,000 for diamond-encrusted heels. You don’t need to go that far! 

You would have to be crazy not to take advantage of the trend that is pushing fashion -- and embroidery -- towards the metallic, considering the vast choice of metallic threads ( smooth, shiny, sparkly) that you have at your disposal. And if you’re timid, your ability to charge around 20% more for a design that incorporates metallic thread should toughen you up real fast!

For the purpose of this blog, I’d like to shine a little light on Madeira’s popular Supertwist #30 thread. Unlike the smooth metallics on the market, Supertwist is the result of a three-twist process that gives the thread a unique sparkle with texture. It offers a strong nylon core that is wrapped with metallic foil in order to provide the most reflection. And while you wouldn’t want to set any speed records on your machine, it is designed to run smoothly and efficiently on commercial embroidery machines.

Running Tips 

A special effect thread, Supertwist #30 does demand some special considerations when running. Make sure you begin with a fresh #90/14 needle. A large eye variety will make it easier to thread. A thicker thread, Supertwist is best behaved when chosen for a design highlight, using longer stitches like running stitches or as an overlay for special effect. To incorporate Supertwist into a design, you may need to reduce the density by about 20%, from a 4.0 to a 6.0. As an alternative, try increasing the
size of the design by 10%. My final tip would be to lighten up your top tension for this twisted thread, since it is more pliable. Madeira recently produced a webinar on working with its metallic threads, including Supertwist. You can click here to view it and see for yourself how to run this fashion-friendly, season-stopping specialty thread. And did I mention your ability to charge more for designs that include it? Ah-hah!

Finally, if the fashion scene is of absolutely no interest to you whatsoever (have I not convinced you?), look at the calendar. We are fast approaching that time of year when snowflakes, pine cones, evergreens – wishes of the season and more -- can all be enhanced by some genuine shine and sparkle.