Stitches State of the Industry 2012

Turn Suppliers Into True Partners

By Christopher Ruvo

May 2012

Doing business with quality industry apparel suppliers and taking advantage of the unique services they offer can help you build your decorating business. Here are tips for maximizing those relationships:

  • Pay on time. If you pay on time, suppliers will be more willing to go the extra mile for you. Howard Potter, CEO of Yorkville, NY-based A&P Master Images, outlines a scenario in which this occurs. Say you have a credit limit with a certain supplier, but then you land a big order in which you need to exceed the limit. If your payment history is shoddy, there's a good chance you'll have to put the purchase on a credit card or obtain financing another way. But if you have good payment history, the supplier rep could get permission to fund the transaction. "It keeps your overhead down," Potter says.

  • Tap into trend expertise. Quality suppliers are clued in to apparel and decorating trends in the fashion and retail world. They know how and when these trends will impact the decorated apparel industry. Stay ahead of the curve by talking to your trusted suppliers about trends they see on the horizon. "It'll make you more informed and better positioned to meet the needs of your customers," says Marc Held, national sales manager at Bodek and Rhodes (asi/40788).

  • Take advantage of what's offered. Beyond offering trend advice, top suppliers provide a bevy of services to help you augment your business. Take advantage of everything from freight deals to technology solutions like mobile websites that enable you to access product information from smartphones and tablets. Talk to suppliers about what unique services they provide and how those offerings can be worked into your business. For example: You may not provide sublimation printing, but Vapor Apparel (asi/93396) performs the increasingly popular decoration in-house. By partnering with Vapor, you could offer customers not only the supplier's performance wear products, but also sublimation prints.