Don't turn away jobs to your competition, turn odd jobs into repeat sales.
Screen printed products essentially sell themselves. By that I mean the quality of printing with plastisol inks, using a great screen printing press, like the Lawson HD manual printer for example, creates a product that will last for many years. I've had printed garments that have been washed over 200 times, and still look great after 15 years.
The sale actually occurs when your customer is thinking, "I really need to get a batch of shirts made for my Iguana Appreciation Club." But how do you bring that particular screen printing job into your shop and make them a repeat sale? However, the sale actually occurs when your customer is sitting around their own place thinking, "I really need to get a batch of shirts made for my Iguana Appreciation Club." Job. Sold. But how do you bring that particular screen printing job into your shop, instead of letting it go to a competitor down the street? The key to doing that is personality.
There's an old saying among printers - "You can get price, quality, and delivery. Pick any 2." It has long been true that you couldn't get all three; but every single customer will still try and the industry is coming around to the idea that two out of three isn't good enough anymore. What will set you apart from the rest of your competition is your place on the continuum of like-ability.
People are drawn to personality.They want to deal with someone who treats them with respect, someone who will treat their Iguana Club shirt with the same importance they would treat an order from the San Diego Zoo. A customer will contact twenty different places to get a price on quality screen printed garments; eventually they will find that pricing really doesn't differ too much between screen shops. Likewise with delivery - unless they're in a panic mode because the National Iguana Convention starts in two days, delivery time isn't going to seal the deal either.
The fact is that most customers will seek a low price, a quick delivery, and a quality printed product, and given the choice they will get it from someone they like. They may be forced to deal with a certain print shop for the sake of convenience, but they wont return to that shop if they aren't treated well. That shop might print the first order of Iguana Appreciation shirts, but a shop owner who thinks its funny to ask them for fried iguana recipes wont be printing the second one. The Iguana Club will order online from Alaska at twice the price and pay triple freight before they go back to that guy who makes fun of them, or who doesn't seem to care much.
From your first contact, treat every customer the way you would want to be treated. It seems like a simple idea, but its often forgotten in the competition over price and delivery. Greeting a customer with irritation over their delivery date or acting as if you're doing them a favor on their little twenty-four piece shirt club order wont bring them back to you. Take a few moments to learn why they like iguanas, instead of slapping a lizard onto a shirt and shoving them out the door. Guide them through their job, put your expertise to work for them, and let them know that you value them as a customer.
Showing interest in more than just your own bottom line takes a job much farther than a one-time transaction, and puts you at the top of the list when a customer needs another job done. You can command a higher price and count on return business when you put a personal touch into each and every job. Providing value along with personality will also ensure referrals.
Did you know that iguanas have a third eye on their forehead? The arrogant shop owner who didn't put much effort into the little local Iguana Appreciation Club doesn't know that. But he'll have plenty of time on his hands while you're busy printing a shirt for each and every one of the five thousand members attending the Annual National Iguana Convention later this year!