Starting Your New T-shirt Business In The New Year, Part 4
At the beginning of the month we started a series of blog posts regarding starting your new t-shirt business in the new year! This series is based off our popular webinar from 2013, “Start Your Home T-Shirt Business”. We’ve covered many aspects of starting off your business from legal tidbits to equipment and artwork. In our final entry we’re going to address Finding Customers and Before You Start…
#8 – Finding Customers
When you work at any of the GroupeSTAHL family of companies you learn that no matter what is currently happening in our country, people are always going to want t-shirts. Sports will always want jerseys… companies will always need their logo printed on to uniforms… private schools will always need polo shirts… and so forth. There are customers everywhere. It’s just a matter of looking for them and having the right materials to give them.
One of our more popular strategies is this: Our Idea Book. A catalog of 5,000+ customizable designs speaks for itself! We sell packs of our Idea Books in a black and white, glue bound format. And the best part? Our logo is nowhere to be found on these catalogs. So you take a sticker with your company name and phone number and slap that on the cover. And now you have a GREAT visual tool to encourage sales. In addition to the Idea Books, we also offer sales flyers right from our website. You can either download and print a pre-made sales flyer, or if you have the proper software (ie: CorelDraw or Adobe Illustrator) you can download a blank flyer, use our Easy View online designer to come up with designs, save them to your computer, and then import them into the blank flyer to make your own custom flyer.
Take these catalogs and flyers now and drop them drop them off strategically. For example: the local high school. Don’t just take your catalog and drop it off at the front office. Do your homework (haha… get it?) and figure out who the athletic director is. This info is usually easily figured out from a visit to their website or a quick call to the main office. Try inquiring if they’re looking for sports uniforms – a face to face meeting is ideal. But if that’s not possible, take a minute to drop your catalog off at the school for the athletic director. And when do, include a short note explaining who you are and what the Idea Book is. Follow up a day or so later! This same strategy can be used, and tweaked a little, to work for churches, city recreation leagues, private schools, and travel sports teams. All it requires on your part is a little research in your area. And let’s not forget: the internet is a beautiful thing. Spending a few minutes on a search engine can reveal local sports teams, leagues, churches, and businesses that you didn’t know existed or had totally forgotten about.
Don’t forget to pay attention to the city around you too. Look for new businesses who are starting up. New restaurants (especially locals, or “mom and pop” startups) need aprons, polos, and shirts. New factories may need uniforms, or logo polos for company evens and trade shows. And beyond new businesses, do you have any businesses around you that serve as tourist attractions? Parks, zoos, historic sites, etc… they’re all places that people come to visit. Not only do those locations need shirts, but the people going there need shirts too! And lastly, in the warmer months, what events are happening? Here in beautiful Mentor, OH we’re about 20 minutes east of Cleveland. And there are a ton of festivals, cook-offs, concerts, and outdoor events… each of which need t-shirts. When you get good at spotting these opportunities you’ll learn to keep a catalog and flyers in your car or purse – because you never know when opportunity for custom shirts will knock.
#9 – Before You Start…
So you’ve got a customer and you can easily heat press exactly what they’re looking for in a reasonable amount of time. But… how do you charge them? And where do you get the shirts from? First, we have some recommended suppliers we think you should check out here. You’ll discover the world of wholesale garments is VERY diverse. And it’s good to know who offers what because occasionally you’ll come across a customer who is looking for something… unique. Sure, it’s easy to find blank t-shirts when they’re 50/50, cotton, etc… but make sure you have a good place to find those things that could set you apart: camo tees, tie dyes, burn out style, and of course ladies style and baby doll tees.
As far as pricing goes, we have a basic formula that is a great place for your business to start. Now this may not be perfect – you might need to tweak it with experience. You may need to take your competition into consideration. And of course other questions: will you offer discounts on first time orders? OR discounts on returning customers? What does your local competition charge for the same thing? These are all things you need to consider for you and your business. And it’s best to think this over before your first customer is standing at your counter smiling at you.
Here at Transfer Express, our Dealer Services department is dedicated to walking the path of the garment decoration industry with you. If you have a situation that you’re not sure how to handle, a product question that has you tripped up, or you’re just not sure where to go next don’t ever hesitate to give us call. We’ll tell you everything we can to help you along and get you up on your feet. We seek not only to serve as your supplier, but we’ll be your advisor, designer, and sounding board along the way! We hope these tips will benefit you in your creation of your business and we look forward to talking to you!