Last Friday AnaJet had the honor of sponsoring a full 90-minute seminar presentation at NBM Charlotte! It featured one of our top customers, Chuck Northcutt of DTG Ready and Creative Promotions in Seattle, WA. Joe Longtin was the other speaker. We had approximately 100 attendees in the audience and more trickled in as the presentation began.
THANK YOU to all of the NBM attendees for making this, our first sponsored NBM session, a huge success. Dozens stayed on after the 65-minute presentation concluded for a rousing Q&A session.
Many of you asked to see the PowerPoint presentation, so here it is in PDF format. If you have not already done so, please register for a webinar or reach out to your regional manager with any questions.
Also critical was the first official conference where we premiered the new mPower i-series printer. We ran the mP5i and mP10i on the show floor and also delivered “in the hall” training sessions that were standing room only in some instances. Wish we could appear at Charlotte EVERY year and have attendance like this!
Any proper business will tell you that customer interaction is vital to success. Whether you’re a physical store front with customers you converse with face to face or you’re an “e-store” who needs to capitalize on virtual interaction, every business owner wants to take care of their customers to keep them coming back.
We found a great article in the March/April edition of Stitches magazine that we wanted to share. “Solve Customer Conundrums” from Andraya Vantrease highlights six common “conundrums” customers find when working with a garment decorating businesses. Each problem is given a sound solution from proven business professionals and all the knowledge shared should be considered pearls of wisdom to any AnaJet owner
The first problem presented was the “Million-dollar taste on a dollar-store budget” and offers up a customer who wants a detailed job on a higher-end garment and who is shocked at the reasonable price you offer. More than likely, you’re dealing with someone who is unfamiliar with the industry and the simple solution is to hold their hand as you walk-through the explanation of charges while offering up possible alternative solutions at lower costs.
One of the many business professionals consulted in this one problem alone was Erich Campbell of Black Duck Inc. in Albuquerque, NM.
“I say, ‘Here’s the price for what you wanted. It’s not very cost-effective, but this is it.’ Then I give them additional options that will decrease the price per garment, but still keep the general look they want.”
There are five more “Customer Conundrums” that are broken down in the article and we encourage you to read the full article here. Well worth a read if you’re in the garment decorating business.
Thanks to two sets of AnaJet owners: Susan Aplin and Gene Wodzicki of Color Image Designs/Road Warrior Graphix and Chuck Northcutt of The Digi Guy/Creative Promotions and DTG Ready. Both enterprises use the mPower mP5 and mP10 direct to garment printers in their mobile operations. They contributed significantly to a feature article in April 2013 Impressions Magazine.
Thanks to their experiences, I was able to write up a brief “best practices” checklist for taking your direct to garment printer (and other garment dec technology) on the road.
Both Chuck and Susan & Gene’s businesses are their primary livelihoods. Without divulging specifics, they have definitely outgrown the “garage” phase yet they take their leisure time very seriously. Susan and Gene recently spent five weeks in Italy after about a year of being road warriors.
They are also proof that a healthy business model transcends the purchase of a great printer. You need to be willing to plan meticulously, master graphic design, and be in sync with your target market. I encourage you to look at their setups and business models to replicate what you can.
The top ten list is just a start. Of course there are myriad other things that a garment decorator or promo products distributor needs to keep in mind. The point of the article is to show that ANYONE who is motivated and able to master the basics can achieve this level of success.
Click the image to go to the digital edition of Impressions.
Long Beach in 2013 was a first for ASI so we didn’t know what to expect. The ASI Show Long Beach crowd did not disappoint, with over 2000 attendees, hundreds of distributors seeing AnaJet for the first time in person. We also enjoyed seeing several customers stop by to view the performance of the new version of the mPower, the i-series. We ran a SPRINT and an mPower mP5i.
It also was an opportunity to clear up some misconceptions about our technical support! Apparently someone was looking to buy a used SPRINT from a third party. They called and spoke to a sales person here at AnaJet to see if they would be supported.
Somehow, the buyer came away from the conversation thinking that we would not support them unless they got a $2,500 refurbishment. This perception is false. Let’s be absolutely clear:
AnaJet’s Support Promise
For USA customers, AnaJet supports all of its printers directly, for the lifespan of the printer, regardless of who owns it. We haven’t grown into the most popular direct to garment printer maker by abandoning anyone who bought second-hand.
We do not charge a dime when a third-party USA AnaJet owner calls for tech support, registers their name as new owner, logs into our customer forum, or emails us with tech questions. Which happens on a daily basis.
AnaJet makes its money after original sale only if you are buying AnaJet ink and supplies. So it’s in our best interest to see that you can get tech help – or buy replacement parts – when you need them.
Buying Third Party
If you buy an AnaJet printer from a third party and they have taken good care of it, there is no reason it should not function well. The caveat is that if they have not, you definitely should ship the printer in for inspection, repair and replacement of any wear items.
Our service team charges for the inspection, parts that require replacement and labor. This may be several hundred to a couple thousand, depending on its condition. Now, what we cannot do is transfer a warranty from owner to owner. In rare cases, it may seem inconvenient or pedantic, but overall this policy allows us to limit our overhead and keep prices down. (cf. to when you buy and sell a house: you pay for a title search, recording and other fees, no matter how long the home has been occupied. To circumvent these relatively minor fees could be financial suicide!)
Some third-party buyers negotiate with the previous owner to factor the costs of inspection/refurbishment and a new warranty into the price. Also, using an escrow account to pay the seller a negotiated amount for these costs could protect a third-party buyer from misrepresentations by the seller.
Regardless, by stepping into direct to garment, you’re giving your imaging business a new, sophisticated engine.
It’s a revenue-generating piece of equipment that could become your primary driver of income. If you buy third-party and you believe you’re saving $$, cover your assumptions. Plow that savings into refurbishment and buying a manufacturer’s warranty before you even think about taking orders.
We sat down with Brian McLaughlin at our Costa Mesa, California offices and asked him some t-shirt specific questions. Brian is National Sales Manager at Spectra USA, an apparel company out of Chino, California. AnaJet relies on Spectra shirts for good quality samples and for training our customers.
Q: We’ve been printing a lot of samples on Spectra shirts. Why do they take digital prints so much better than most of the other blanks?
A: We use a proprietary Spectra Spun yarn in 6 of the styles, we offer and it’s perfect for Direct to Garment Printers. Most blank wholesale t-shirts on the market use Open End (OE) yarn, which is one of the roughest (and cheapest) apparel yarns. OE yarn has a notably rough hand and distinct knitted ridges which are easily identifiable by the naked eye.
Q: We have seen pilling, torquing and other issues even with some well known brands. Why doesn’t DTG print well on these OE t-shirts? Sometimes they look perfect after a print, but then fail in a wash test. This drives us a little crazy.
A: Most DTG printers heat press their t-shirts before printing. In the case of OE t-shirts, the heat press flattens the ridges and the t-shirt prints great. However, once washed or tumbled, the cotton returns to its natural form and therefore the ridges separate and are exposed which results in a blurry/grainy graphic.
Q: So why does the Spectra T-shirt differ?
A: The Spectra Spun cotton in comparison to OE yarn is like comparing a Mercedes-Benz S500 to a Mitsubishi 2 door. Basically our yarn at its source is softer; it is spun slower than OE and during the process it is “brushed” which enhances the luxurious hand feel. In addition, due to the tighter knitting process we essentially eliminate/minimize the ridge effect. Plus since the yarn is spun, it exposes more fiber which fills in the natural texture that is inherent to jersey fabric.
Spectra does offer 18 singles OE t-shirts, but we only sell that to promotional style companies & do not recommend for digital printing.
Q: Our customers occasionally need a range of colors and styles. What specifically do you recommend for best results on the SPRINT or the mPower?
A: We offer several Spectra Spun styles and I always recommend you check out our website for more insights: www.SpectraUSA.net
Here’s brief description of what is available:
- Men’s 20 singles crew neck 5.5oz Spectra Spun available in 12 colors
- Men’s 30 singles crew neck 4.5oz Spectra Spun available in 12 colors
- Men’s 30 singles V-Neck 4.5oz Spectra Spun available in 3 colors
- Men’s 30 singles Tank Top 4.5oz Spectra Spun available in 3 colors for DTG
- Juniors 30 singles crew neck 4.5oz Spectra Spun available in 7 colors
- Juniors 30 singles V-neck 4.5oz Spectra Spun available in 7 colors
- Boy’s & Juvy 20 singles OE available in 15 colors – Note: we increased the yarn count to minimize the texture.
- Additional styles are available but not ideal for DTG.
Q: Pretend we’re just getting started in garment decoration. What does “20 singles” or “30 singles” mean?
A: It identifies the gauge/size of the yarn. The higher the number the finer the yarn and usually the lighter the fabric.
Q: Any other interesting bits of information that might be helpful to AnaJet owners?
A: If we do $50 or $100 million of business this year, 90% will be in just four colors: Black, White, Heather Grey & Charcoal. I tell all our clients, keep it simple and don’t try to reinvent the wheel, it’s already been done. :)
Thank you Brian for the insight. We recommend to our customers who are just getting started that they stick with the well-beaten path, phase in product lines, unusual configurations and dark colors as they become practiced in design, marketing, pricing and operations. Ringspun may have a soft hand, but it doesn’t necessarily lead to a good, durable print. Likewise, a thicker weave may require less pretreatment and deliver a very permanent print, but it can have a very rough hand.
We base our payoff calculations for our direct to garment printers on using the most inexpensive blanks. Something to keep in mind when pricing your products is to set expectations with your customers appropriately. If they are looking for a certain tactile experience, make it abundantly clear that you will have to upcharge for more expensive shirts. A short sleeve tee with a pocket can cost $5-$6 more than a plain white tee made of the cheapest cotton. You should not eat the cost of a more expensive blank – you need to pass this on to your customer in order to maintain a healthy margin.
March is the best time to prepare to jump start your spring printing business. Using your AnaJet direct to garment printer can boost your bank account and help prepare you to pay those pesky taxes due in April. If you prepare now, you can have a great finish to the first quarter and grow your customer base for years to come.
AnaJet direct to garment printers allow you to set yourself apart from the rest of the tshirt printing world by producing custom samples. Use this to your advantage for Saint Patrick’s Day. This is like Black Friday for your local watering hole and they can make a killing with t-shirts! Find a graphic of a fighting Irishman and customize print it on a t-shirt with “I got lucky at ______ bar/restaurant”.
Take the custom prints to as many bars and restaurants you can find in your area, and watch the direct to garment printer orders pour in! Some owners have reported a rate of 25% orders on these samples. The new customers will be impressed with your quick turn around and of course the quality an AnaJet direct to garment printer can produce.
You just created an excellent customer and a source of referrals for sports teams, charitable organizations and bands – for starters!