Stitches State of the Industry 2012

Improve Your Turnaround Time

By Christopher Ruvo

May 2012

In his years managing a large contract embroidery shop, Andy Shuman, general manager at Topton, PA-based Rockland Embroidery (asi/734150), learned that maximizing turnaround time speeds is crucial to success. That's because fast, accurate fulfillment pleases customers and increases the number of orders you can handle.

Here are tips for optimizing turnaround time:

  • Streamline logistics. For starters, make sure your shop is set up for maximum efficiency. "Consolidate the assembly line as much as possible," Shuman says. "You want your shop to flow so you're going from the 'A' part of the decorating process directly to 'B,' not 'A' to 'D,' and then back to 'B.' " Also, consider buying business management software. Rockland's initial investment in software has paid dividends, as it allows for easy order tracking. "It enables us to quickly access everything about an order, rather than go searching through multiple paper files that are difficult to find," he says.

  • Stagger shifts. Whether you're a two-person shop or a company with 200 employees, staggering shifts leads to greater efficiency. "You always keep the machines running," Shuman says. "You get a ton of extra productivity and make up a lot of time."

  • Educate customers. When working with customers for the first time, Shuman tells them exactly what Rockland will need from them to produce their orders quickly. Start educating clients by reviewing a purchase order. Also, consider printing literature or having a section on your website that reviews what you'll need to get a job rolling. By training clients at the outset, "you save a ton of hours down the road, and the customer feels appreciated," Shuman says.

  • Create a culture of efficiency. "Educate your employees so everyone realizes this is a quick-turn industry, and that working quickly and accurately keeps customers coming back," Shuman says.