PrintHustlers Guide To: Growing a Successful Screen Printing Business, Chapter 12: Setting Up Your Shop’s Workflow

Business Lessons

Before you fire up your presses and start decorating, make sure that you have a standardized workflow. In custom decoration, workflow refers to the stages a custom print job must pass through from start to finish. In later chapters, we’ll go into detail about some best practices for workflow. When first starting out, your workflow will continuously change as more and more complexities are brought into the job. Any job will start with taking the order, creating an invoice and getting basic approval before the job begins. 

Think about it this way: good information in, good product out. This front-of-house workflow will greatly influence the success and quality of your job. Once a job’s art and quote is approved, products will need to be ordered, then the job will need to be proofed for production. A hiccup in the proofing process can severely delay production, so hammering out timetables with your staff and setting customer expectations with a clear schedule helps avoid any issues.  

Once a job passes through the front office and artwork has been proofed, it is essentially ready for production. You’ll need a separate workflow for your production team to receive the artwork and products and prepare for printing. This may vary between decoration methods, but the same attention to detail is crucial across your production department. 

After a job’s production is complete, the products need to travel to the customer as quickly as possible. An invoice will need to be sent to the customer to make sure payment collection and delivery goes smoothly. There are several possibilities for communication channels for invoices: mail, email, texts, phone calls, even Facebook or Whatsapp messages.

After a job is paid for and picked up, you may be tempted to think that the job is done. That’s not all there is to it! End-action processes – like customer appreciation or a feedback survey – are a good way to ensure you’re maintaining a high standard of customer satisfaction. Scheduling for end-action processes also creates time to handle bookkeeping tasks.

While this process may fry your brain, keeping your workflow as thorough and as simple as possible is critical. You might find that there are things that work on paper but not on the production floor. Training will be necessary, so don’t be afraid to spend time with your team and make sure your process is adaptable. Don’t be afraid of changing your process. Every job is unique – what works for one job might not work for another.

At the end of the day, you are building and running a team. Like a sports team, your business thrives when your team thrives. This industry’s tight deadlines and fast turnaround times will continuously test the synergy of your team. Camaraderie and your team’s attitude depend on you, the leader and captain. Spend time getting to know your team and developing a personal rapport with them. With your team, write out a plan that has S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely) goals so they feel invested in and accountable for their success. Plan out team meetings to discuss how things are going and stick to them. Have fun. Your team will be far more productive when they enjoy their work. 

A lot of Print Hustlers got into the decorating industry because we turned our side hobby and passion into a real business. If you want to continue to expand and grow your company, you need to spend time professionally developing yourself as an entrepreneur. While you may be a talented decorator, the hands-on side of the business may prevent you from running your company well. Ask yourself if you want to run a business that decorates products – or be a decorator that happens to run a business. Developing your entrepreneurial side may mean removing yourself from the day-to-day printing grind to learn the details of running a company.

It may seem impossible.  You’ve chosen to run a company because of the freedom of being self-employed. You’re creating your own success – that means growing your knowledge and having experiences you’ve never had before. 

Now get out there and hustle! 

Screen printing is a multi-billion dollar industry with customers from every part of the world. Every year, thousands of entrepreneurs discover their passion for screen printing - and they want to claim their cut of the billions and billions of dollars spent on custom printed apparel.

But the majority of new screen printing shops fail before they reach the 5-year mark. They fail because of poor business planning, dull branding, and a lack of ability to scale.

Your shop can be different.

This is an excerpt from our book, The PrintHustlers Guide To: Growing a Successful Screen Printing Business. Written by Printavo's dynamic founder Bruce Ackerman, Campus Ink's enterprising Steven Farag, and Adam Cook. The PrintHustlers Guide To: Growing a Successful Screen Printing Business is the next generation's guide for building your own lucrative print shop.

You can purchase a physical copy of the book on Amazon.

Previous chapter: Chapter 11: Marketing Like a Maniac

Next chapter: Chapter 13: Setting Up Your Customer Workflow
Coming soon!

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Printavo is simple shop management software. Whether your shop works with screen printing, embroidery, signage, digital printing, or awards & engraving–we make your complex workflow simpler to manage and understand. Printavo keeps your shop organized by handling scheduling, estimates, quote approvals, workflow, payments, accounting and more. With Printavo, you’ll work smarter–not harder.

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