While finding new clients is the lifeblood of a successful company, boosting the average size of apparel orders with your current clients is an easier way to fatten your bottom line. Here are five tried-and-true methods for accomplishing that.
Ask: Anna Johnson, owner of Super Embroidery & Screenprinting (asi/339634), says that often all you have to do in order to increase your wearable order size is ask instead of merely fulfilling the order. “Ask if they need any higher-end or other items for family, office workers, travelers, customers, etc.,” she says.
It’s a simple step that Andy Shuman, general manager of Rockland Embroidery (asi/734150), says countless companies fail to take. “They won’t say, ‘While we’re doing this, can we help fit your production staff as well? Can we do caps for you? Let’s go in and let’s make sure we have all our bases covered,’” he says. Shuman adds: “The biggest thing is to not be afraid to ask them for a larger order. It seems so simple, but oddly enough, I don’t think people do it.”
Learn About Their Needs: Shuman says decorators need to gain in-depth knowledge about their customers’ apparel needs in order to make proper suggestions about add-ons. Ask questions early in the sales process: Where will the garments be worn or given away? What kind of impact are you looking to make? How often will the apparel be worn? “If you know enough about what’s going into the customer’s uniform program, you can tell them that one shirt per employee isn’t going to get them all that far,” he says. “Why don’t [you suggest] they color coordinate their days and do a red shirt with a blue design on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and on Tuesday and Thursday, do a blue shirt with a red design? That way, you can tailor it to the circumstances.”
Throw In Something Extra: Johnson suggests including a free, tangible demonstration of other logoed apparel items you can provide for your customer. “When they order, throw a hat or bag or something different in to the order for a sample,” she says. It’s a tactic that has also paid off for Shuman, particularly if Rockland Embroidery had to digitize the customer’s logo or make a screen. The only cost is a $3 hat plus the little bit of extra time to print it.
Increase Order Cost: Additional pieces aren’t the only way to bulk-up order size. You can increase the price of the order by pitching higher-quality items. “If someone is looking for 50 polos,” Shuman says, “so much of our industry’s gut reaction is to show them the $10 net-cost polo that they’re going to embroider and sell for $20. By not offering [a higher-end polo], they miss the opportunity to show them the good, better, best.
“When we go sell a shirt order, maybe I can sell them a $40 shirt instead of a $20 shirt. I’ll never know if I don’t ask.”
Prepare for Contingencies: Johnson says customers can be encouraged to order extra units by being made aware of the importance of preparedness for contingency situations – especially when the end-user happens to be a school or sports team.
“If it’s for a team,” she says, “suggest ordering a few extra [uniforms] to cover season changes, such as injuries or moving players from JV to varsity.