Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The 3 Enemies of Time Management, or, Where Did I Leave My Keys?

Whenever I see the term, “Time Management,” I laugh, ha ha, because to me, Time Management is every bit the same type of oxymoron as “Jumbo Shrimp,” “Deafening Silence,” and “Open Secret,” to name a few. (Someone suggested “Happily Married” but that one didn’t make sense to me – isn’t that right, Dear?).

There's no such thing as time management! So why should you read the rest of this blog? Because there is such a thing as self-management and that's the key to making time your ally rather than your enemy. Time really can't be managed. You can't slow it down or speed it up or manufacture it. It just IS. Time management is MANAGING YOURSELF when following some basic time management principles.

Here are all the things you need to do to become Master/Mistress of your time!

1. Find out where you're wasting time.
Many of us are victim to time-wasters that steal it.
2.  Create time management goals.
For example, you're not going to take phone calls from people you don’t recognize on caller ID between 8:00 AM and 12:00 noon.
3. Implement a time management plan.
Yeah! Right!
4. Use time management tools.
A software program such as Outlook, for instance, lets you schedule tasks easily.
5. Prioritize mercilessly.
You should start each day prioritizing the tasks for that day; if you have 20 things to do for a given day, analyze how many of them you really need to do. 
6. Learn to delegate.  
Share the load.
7. Establish routines and stick to them as much as possible.
While crises do come up, you'll be more productive if you follow routines.
8. Set time limits for tasks.
For instance, reading and answering email can eat up your whole day if you let it.
9. Be sure your systems are organized.
Are you wasting a lot of time looking for files on your computer? Take the time to organize a file management system. (Let me know when you get this done and I’ll let you do mine.)

Ok, we both know you’re not going to do any of this stuff! So here’s what you can do: Work on controlling the following three things and you’ll be more productive and less frustrated.

Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in “Democracy in America” in 1835, “Procrastination is the thief of time.” Then marketers at Nike came along and said, “Quit making excuses, putting it off, complaining about it, worrying about it. Suck it up. Hold on tight, say a prayer, make a Plan and JUST DO IT!

One study shows it takes about 25 minutes to get back into the swing of things after you’ve been interrupted. Try to manage interruptions. For instance, before 12:00 noon, determine that you’ll take phone calls from Mom, your daughter (900 miles away in college) and 3 important business contacts AND NO ONE ELSE!


This is best illustrated thusly:

Recently, on a day off, I decide to go out and water my garden. As I turn on the hose, I look over at my car and think it needs to be washed. As I start toward the garage, I notice mail on the table that I collected from the mailbox earlier. I decide to look through the mail before I wash the car. I lay my car keys on the table, put the junk mail in the trash bin under the table, and notice that it is full. So, I decide to put the bills back on the table and take out the rubbish first. But then I think, since I’m going to be near the post-box when I take out the rubbish anyway, I may as well pay the bills first.

I take my check book off the table, and see that there is only one check left. My extra checks are in the desk in my office, so I go inside the house to my desk where I find the bottle of Diet Coke I’d been drinking. I’m going to look for my checks, but first I need to push the Coke aside so that I don’t accidentally knock it over. The Coke is getting warm, and I decide to put it in the fridge to keep it cold.

As I head toward the kitchen with the Coke, a vase of flowers on the counter catches my eye – they need water. I put the Coke on the counter and find the reading glasses that I’ve been looking for all morning. I decide I better put them back on my desk, but first I’m going to water the flowers. I set the glasses back down on the counter, fill a container with water and spot the TV remote control. Someone left it on the kitchen table and I realize that tonight I’ll be looking for the remote control, but I won’t remember that it’s on the kitchen table, so I decide to put it back in the front room where it belongs, but first I’ll water the flowers.

I pour some water in the flowers, but some of it spills on the floor. So, I set the remote control back on the table, get some paper towels and wipe up the spill. Then, I head down the hall trying to remember what I was planning to do.

At the end of the day: the car isn’t washed; the bills aren’t paid; there is a warm bottle of Coke sitting on the counter; the flowers don’t have enough water; there is still only one check in my check book; I can’t find the remote control; I can’t find my glasses and I don’t remember what I did with the car keys. Then, when I try to figure out why nothing got done today, I’m really confused because I know I was busy all day, and I’m really tired.

I realize this is a serious problem, and I’ll try to get some help for it, but first I’ll check my e-mail.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Spend an Hour on November 30th with Lee Caroselli and Madeira USA

If the holidays tend to increase your sales, inspire your creativity or simply push your buttons, you may want to sit in on a webinar on November 30th. Embroidery industry icon Lee Caroselli-Barnes, whose digitizing has won her not just awards, but the adulation of the industry, will be joining Madeira USA to talk about “Threads of the Season.” Since ‘tis the season to be thinking of snowmen, stars and random sparkles everywhere, Madeira USA and Lee will team up to talk about which threads you should be thinking about these days.

Since the temperatures head south, but not all of us can, using the heavier, 12 weight threads that contain natural wool or cotton fibers, are a nice way to go for holiday designs or for customizing gifts. Madeira offers a wool blend (Burmilana) and a cotton blend (BurmilanaCo), both 12 weight threads, that are ideal for this time of year. The webinar will include how to alter a stock design, or one you may already have, to accommodate these heavier threads.

Using shading and color blending, Lee’s specialty, will also be covered. With the ability to personalize or customize gifts, the images of the season on scarves, hats, gloves, make for very appropriate gifts. Doing up some samples and making them visible to your walk-in customers might do wonders to stir the imagination. Whether its color blending, or accomplishing shading through the use of combining matte finish with lustrous thread, it’s all about increasing your knowledge and what you have to offer your customers.

Ultimately, making an ordinary design extraordinary is the ultimate goal of this upcoming webinar. The link below will make it easy for you to register. Grab a cup of the warm beverage of your choice…turn the machine off…put your feet up…relax and see what Lee and Madeira USA have to share. Increase your embroidery know-how by adding to your arsenal of threads that you are aware of, can run with ease, and even up your price by up to 20% for the added value.

To reserve your seat for the webinar, click here.

Friday, October 28, 2016

You’re Going to Have Lunch Anyway, Why Not Take a Customer?

The Law of the Lunch

There are very few things in business that are as important as the business lunch, about which absolutely nothing can be found in textbooks, MBA programs, seminars or conferences. The business lunch is a respected institution, virtually mandatory, and universally conducted according to a fixed ritual.

He or she who does the inviting does the paying! Conversation starts and for a long while remains in the area of seemingly idle chatter (also known as “jibber – jabber” or “chit – chat”) about personal interests in recreational pursuits, entertainment media, family matters, and mutual acquaintances. And don’t forget children and grandchildren, the Super Bowl and March Madness, the weather (but stay clear of politics and religion). Business is finally and gradually crept up upon while carefully avoiding any implications that the lunch exists specifically to enhance the lunchee’s opinions about the lunchor and the lunchor’s assessment of the lunchee (do we like each other?).

The business lunch and its rituals are based on the established fact that important buying decisions are rarely made on price alone or only on technical support, customer service, delivery, technical specifications or vendor competence and reputation. The lunch exists to learn about things that aren’t said, to help to establish and strengthen relationships of personal trust and understanding, to create commercial friendships and compromises, to facilitate favors hoped for and favors given, to go beyond technicalities and legalities in getting and supporting some sort of sale.

So don’t disparage it or miss the opportunities they can present.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A Thriving Industry by Any Other Name… Apparel, Apparel, Wait, What?!

Don’t look now, but the apparel industry is slowly, quietly but distinctly making its way back to the U.S., and some of our apparel friends in the Decorated Apparel Market are doing their best to move things right along. An article in the September/October issue of Textile World magazine highlights the findings of the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO). As countries outside the U.S. began to be hit with rising labor costs, shipping costs and energy bills, textile production began to find its way home. In numbers large enough to export to other countries!

Last year, American-made textiles generated $56.7 billion, a five-year increase of 13.4%. Big Box giant Wal-Mart, a former leader in off-shore strategy to lower prices, committed to increase its spending with American suppliers by $50 billion over the next 10 years. Why? Fast turn-around, high quality, low risk and cost saving! And as textiles become more available here at home, apparel manufacturers are re-thinking their strategy. Take well known Gildan, for example:

Peter Iliopoulos, Gildan’s senior VP of Public & Corporate Affairs points out, “We have invested $350 million in the U.S. in the past three years. Gildan has leveraged the great quality and superior value of USA cotton with a strong base of skilled labor, low energy costs and a stable investment climate.” Drawing their line in the sand, the Gildan official goes on to state, “We believe that U.S. consumers will increasingly position their support behind brands and companies that are investing in the USA.”

And don’t look now, but jobs at Gildan have grown by 60% since 2010, not including the 700 that were added in 2016. And sales? Since 2010, net sales have increased 96%. Kind of reminds me of the good old days. And if this is a trend – and certainly the growth noted in this article that is documented through the last 10 years – what a great bellwether for the embellishment side of the industry!

To read this article in its entirety, click here.
To learn more about the NCTO, click here.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

An Open Letter to My Next Waiter/Waitress, or, Good Customer Service is about Anticipating your Customers’ Needs

An Open Letter to My Next Waiter/Waitress, or,
Good Customer Service is about Anticipating your Customers’ Needs

With 50 years of experience providing service to customers in the business consulting field and decorated apparel industry, I thought a blog on the subject of customer service would be a good idea. The initial step to writing this blog would be to define, just what is Good Customer Service anyway?

In my mind, I differentiate between “Can you match color number X1234 to Madeira Polyneon,”… “Are there any specials,”… “What’s the difference between polyester and rayon,”…“What size needle should I use,”… “I just bought a machine, what do I do now?” etc. These, to me, are examples of marketing Customer Service situations.

“What is the tracking number,”… “I ordered white rayon and got black,” … “One of my cones arrived broken,” etc. to me are problem-solving Customer Service  situations. If they can’t be avoided, they need to be handled. The former circumstances are critical to growing your customer business, while the latter situations are critical to keeping those customers. Both situations require that answers be delivered in a timely, accurate, timely, friendly, timely, professional and timely manner.

Here’s what I mean. I don’t travel as much as I used to, but I still eat in restaurants around 5 or 6 times a week. (When I was your age I ate 15 or more meals in restaurants each week). I don’t like to wait to be seated while the host is watching one of the TV screens. I don’t care what my server’s name is. He or she is a 17 year old high school student who won’t be there the next time I drop in, nor do I care what her 17 year old taste buds find appealing on the menu.

I do want my server to quickly scan the table top to ensure that everything is there that needs to be and that all items are unsoiled. I am interested in what specials they may have but my server ought to know how they are prepared and what they cost without going to check. I do mind when they have to return to the kitchen to find out what green vegetables they have.

Stick a bottle of ketchup in your apron! Anticipate my need! I, for one, put ketchup on everything except corn flakes and I hate to have to wait (while my food gets cold) for the ketchup while my server stops to take an order from that table for six (I know, the ketchup thing is crazy, but my father swore he once saw a guy putting mustard on a banana). I want my food while it’s still hot; if the plate is as hot as my food, it’s probably been sitting under the heat lamp.

I appreciate being asked to cut into my meat or fish to, “Ensure it’s prepared the way I want it.” Don’t ask me if I want more water, just fill the glass! But DO ask if I want more coffee because what’s left in the cup may be at the exact temperature I like it. Don’t hover, but please keep an eye on me in case a need arises. Before you set down the check, make sure it’s the right one and don’t get lost.

I’m going to pay my check quickly and then leave. If the service is good, you get a 20 to 25% tip and a positive comment to the manager on the way out. If the service has been bad, you get a 20% tip (I don’t want to be responsible for you not getting a needed textbook) and a negative comment to the manager on the way out. And I’ll probably think twice before going back, at least in the short term. (I may sound like a Grumpy Old Man, but like I said, I eat out a lot).

So let’s relate my example to your business: Your customer is not calling or stopping by to “shop;” they have specific needs to complete a project, so just attend to their needs quickly and accurately and let them get back to work. If time and opportunity allow, then highlight the specials and do some cross-selling.

Research shows that customers’ impulse to punish bad service plays out dramatically in both phone-based and internet interactions, which are most companies’ largest customer service channels. In those situations, customer loyalty has a lot more to do with how well companies deliver on their basic promise, to deliver quality products, quickly and accurately, rather than how impressive the service experience might be to fix a problem.

There is an observation called The Bad-Service Ripple Effect, which indicates that service failures not only drive existing customers to defect—they also can repel prospective ones. Research shows:

  • 23% of customers who had a positive service interaction told 10 or more people about it, while
  • 48% of customers who had negative experiences told 10 or more others.

So, you need to define for yourself what constitutes Good Customer Service for you and your customers. It might be answering the phone on the first ring, a super-duper website, very knowledgeable order entry people, etc. You should periodically survey your customers to ask them what the key items might be and how you measure up.

In the end; get it right the first time! Know your customers’ needs! And the results will be:
  • Return business – the next time your customer is in need of a solution that matches your products and services, your company will be the one that they call.
  • More business – more than just customer retention, deeper penetration within your existing customers’ organizations is a powerful motivator to provide excellent customer service
  • New business – the reputation of your customer service, combined with excellent products and/or services, creates new customer opportunities.

Thank you to Harvard Business Review for inspiring these thoughts.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Don’t Miss an Opportunity to Shine…in the Eyes of Your Customers! Master Embroidery Techniques for Increasing Visibility


Don’t Miss an Opportunity to Shine…in the Eyes of Your Customers!
Master Embroidery Techniques for Increasing Visibility

On Wednesday, September 28th, Madeira USA will be presenting a webinar at 2:30pm EST (11:30am PCT). Titled “Master Embroidery Techniques for Increasing Visibility: Safety & Special Effects,” this particular webinar promises to cover a lot of ground. Madeira looked through their product portfolio, pulling out anything that shines, sparkles, glitters, and reflects light in any way. They are intent on finding ways to make your customers find more and more reasons to walk in and be intrigued by all that embroidery can do.

With the topic in hand, they then went in search of an appropriate “co-host” who would be able to discuss this topic with experience, lots of knowledge…a fearless embroiderer who could come up with ideas, sell them, and then actually translate to fabric what they say in their imagination. After reading the following description of her work in Jane Swanzy’s bio, they knew they struck gold: “Taking stock embroidery designs, combining them, changing thread colors, and placing them in unusual spots to create unique items for her customers is what she loves to do.”

Calling upon their newest BFF, Madeira USA currently is preparing a webinar that should surely be a breath of (creative) fresh air at a perfect time of year.  The webinar will take a look at both extremes of sewing for safety and special effects: creating maximum visibility for situations that are dangerous and require as much visibility as possible; and special effects that will brighten, shine and otherwise call attention to an embroidered product or garment. On the safety side, 3M™ Scotchlite Silver Reflective Appliqué Fabric will be discussed and demonstrated. This is what you want to look at for the serious side of embroidery. Then there is the fun side, and for this the webinar will cover working with reflectra® Stitchfoil Appliqué Material, Luna glow-in-the-dark embroidery thread, Supertwist #30 Metallic embroidery thread and the polyester threads that glow under black light.

Going back to Jane Swanzy, she has graciously agreed to work with all of these materials, creating fresh, illustrative examples of how to work with these items to produce special effects that will blow away your customers – not all of them, only those who are looking to do something totally unique and never-before-seen! Jane is an award winning decorator who specializes in embroidery and is the owner of Swan Marketing, dba Swan Threads, located in Houston, Texas. She started the business in 2001 as a part time venture that became full time in 2004. She works from home with a single head embroidery machine, a heat press, a vinyl cutter and lots of software. She is assisted by three cats, Samantha, Abby and Sally Ann and occasionally by her husband, Tim Bautsch, who is good at picking thread colors. Her husband, not the cats. Jane also sits on the Advisory Board of Wearables magazine.

To register for the webinar and learn more about mastering visibility with Madeira USA and Jane Swanzy, please click here.To learn more of Jane Swanzy, please click here. And to read more about the industry in Wearables magazine, click here!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Increase Sales by Upselling Your Stitch Count through Customization

Increase Sales by Upselling Your Stitch Count through Customization

Upsell: To work creatively with a customer in order to suggest additional embroidery that adds customization to their design and a unique quality to their embroidered items – enough, perhaps, to evoke compliments and comments. And dare I say it: WOW!

And when it comes to embroidery, where stitch count is your price provider, the more stitches you can talk your customer into paying you for, the better. And so, you’ll want to pay a lot of attention to the person (customer) who stands before you. What kind of car did they drive? Any bumper stickers? Do they have a pet on a leash? Regardless of what they are looking for to be embellished, further customization is nearly always possible.

With your larger customers, who may be having shirts or caps embroidered with a logo, are they celebrating a special event? An anniversary? Do they support a particular charity or local organization? Are they aware that there are more than just left chest or cap fronts to brand? While you are not looking to make a simple job overly complex, it never hurts to suggest a little creative placement of slogans or dates.

And personalization is so “in” right now! To call it a trend may be too bold, but most folks love to see their name or initials permanently added to a favorite article of clothing. Think of suggesting it to the next person who comes in looking for branded items for their company picnic. By providing something unique and creative to their boss, you make them look like a hero, which almost guarantees their coming back to you the next time a project is on the table.

Personally, I think the promotion of personal branding is the most fun. You just have to find a happy medium between being thought of as A.) a helpful, inquisitive sales professional; B.) a clever individual who is looking for ways for the person standing before you to stand out from the crowd; and C.) a creepy stalker. You’ll want to avoid “C” at all costs. But by noticing personal aspects about the person, suggesting customization in a uniquely personal way can be done in good taste – with very clever results. I work with a fellow who loves golf. Suggesting he add a stock design of clubs or a green or a ball on a tee to shirts that he is having branded might be very appealing. Even winning you a, “hey, I didn’t know I could do that!”

Music to your ears: you have just educated your customer, upped your price and have encouraged the customer’s friends and relatives to remark, “oh, cool, where’d you get that done?!”

To read more on this subject, see Impressions magazine, August issue, page 48. Or click here.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Know Your Caps and Keep A-Head of the Competition!

So, your customer comes into your shop and says, “I need about 150 caps to give out to customers.” And you say, “What kind of caps?” and you get a blank stare. Yikes! You need to give the customer a quick cap tutorial and then steer them in the right direction.

There are four basic types of caps:

FIVE PANEL CAPS:   The most distinctive feature of this cap, besides the very wide front panel, is the relationship of the front panel to the visor. View the cap from the side and you can see that there’s almost a 90-degree angle where the front panel and visor meet.

PRO STYLE SIX PANEL CAPS:   The unique features of these caps are the front middle seam (which makes it a little more challenging to embroider). Viewed from the side, the angle of the front panel to the visor is almost 90 degrees.

UNSTRUCTURED CAPS:  Sometimes called easy riders or skullcaps, they fit close to the head so the angle of the front panels to the visor slopes back towards the head and is greater than 90 degrees.

SLOPE CAPS:  These caps are six panels with a seam in the front and when viewed from the side the front panels, slant back towards the head, creating an angle to the visor greater than 90 degrees.

So now that they understand the 4 basic shapes of caps (of course, you are showing them embroidered examples), briefly explain to them (with your examples) how the caps are constructed.

CROWN this is the top of the cap that consists of 5 or 6 panels, which are sewn together and then the seams are taped over to prevent the material from unraveling. There is usually a “button” on top to finish and protect it.

VISOR is the piece that sticks out on the front of the cap and shades the eyes, unless the cap is worn backwards (which in my opinion looks adorable on children, cute on teenagers and stupid on adults; but that’s just MY OPINION).

Once the customer has made a choice about the type of cap they want, you will need to point them in the direction of the best quality cap for them to distribute (and into which you have sewn your label). Many customers will gravitate toward cheaper caps. This is where you need to (gently) inquire about their budget for this project. Here are some observations about caps (cheap and otherwise), which, if nothing else, will provide some interesting cocktail party chatter:

There are at least 100 million caps sold annually in the US. The population of the US is about 320 million, but not everyone wears caps. The total number of people in the US who wear caps could be about 40 to 50 million. That means for every person who would wear a cap there will be a couple of caps sold each year for every person who wears caps; and this is cumulative, meaning that they collect caps every year. So here is the money question: if each cap wearer has a choice of wearing any of 9 or 10 caps (whether given to them or purchased) WHY would they want to wear the cheapest cap that you or your customer can find?

Most cap wearers have a favorite cap. Suppose your customer buys a cheap give- away cap for $3.95 and has their company's name embroidered on the front and the person they give it to wears it just one time. Their advertising cost per exposure is $3.95. Now suppose they pay $15.00 for a better cap. The recipient likes its looks and when he puts it on, it does not dig into his forehead and rests comfortably and feels good. The recipient likes the cap and wears it maybe 100 times. He gets some compliments – Hey! Nice cap; where’d you get it? This isn’t unusual; if a person likes a cap they wear it non-stop. So the cost per advertising exposure is $.15. The conclusion your customer will come to is pretty apparent: it’s better to pay $.15 for advertising than $3.00. (Even if the numbers and arithmetic are a little shaky – you get the point).

Here’s an idea that may work for you if the budget just isn’t there. Get your customer to split their order between inexpensive (cheap) and higher priced caps. If they want 150 cheap caps you can suggest they get 120 cheap give-a-ways and then 30 custom caps for their best customers or personal friends. Make sure your name is in all the caps but especially in those special caps because they may end up in the hands of decision makers in other companies. By having your customer buy a few custom caps you have them showcase to other people that you can supply something other than a plain giveaway (throw away?) product. This is what can set you apart from the crowd.

Madeira USA and master/digitizer embroiderer Erich Campbell recently produced an hour-long webinar about embroidering on caps. You can see a recorded version here or download a printable version of the slide presentation

Friday, July 15, 2016

Achieving a Hand-Embroidered Look on a Commercial Machine, Or, How to Give the Impression You Spent Days on a Single Design

     Call me old fashioned, but when it comes to a special effect, that effect does not have to shine, sparkle, glow, beep or move in any way. In fact, for me, a special effect can be as simple as creating a hand-embroidered look on a commercial embroidery machine. In the July issue of Printwear magazine, on page 54 (http://read.uberflip.com/i/694596-july-16), there is an article that describes and illustrates using many of Madeira’s thicker weight threads in order to achieve a hand embroidered look. One of the illustrations is of a design with three flowers, loopy petals, and you’d swear some doting grandma hand stitched it onto their darling’s overalls. The thread used is a heavy 12 weight wool blend thread that sews like a dream and looks like a million – hand stitches!

     Remember that the process of creating a hand embroidered look by machine begins at the digitizing stage. If you don’t do your own, make sure you mention the fact to your digitizer that you are going to use a 12 weight thread. Another thread that gives a very family-friendly look is a cotton blend called BurmilanaCo, which was used to create an angel fish that is just swimming with personality. For a more sophisticated application, there are floral designs and borders that can be sewn onto curtains, bed or table linens for a look that will impress even the {most exacting} pickiest family member.

     Now for the faint of heart, you are going to have to change your needle! These thicker, 12 weight threads require a larger eye #100/16 needle in order to perform properly. The stitches you choose should be based on their resemblance to hand stitches: satin, running, cross-hatching. A chain stitch, as illustrated in the Printwear article by the snowboard badge, is also a very good choice. Without looking at the neat appearance of the reverse side of these designs, I defy any expert to tell whether a very accomplished home seamstress – or a racing machine that can hit 1500 SPM – produced these designs. And as an added benefit, you’ll use far fewer stitches than with #40 weight thread.
So click on over to http://read.uberflip.com/i/694596-july-16 and see what I’m writing about. Master the use of thicker threads, and consider them one more arrow in your creative quiver of ideas.

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.