After thousands of jobs, we have heard our fair share of horror stories regarding apparel orders. Here is a list of the three major (recurring) mistakes: 

3. Your current vendor handed you a catalog and said "pick whatever you want"! At the beginning of each year, all of the apparel companies print up catalogs as thick as an old school phone book. These catalogs have thousands of different brands and styles showcased.  The issue is simply this: It is overwhelming to try and figure out what is quality and what is junk based off the pictures. The secret to any apparel order is working as quickly as possible to get the design, logistics, and preorder in place. When you're presented with thousands of options, this drags out the process and sucks the fun right out of it. 

The fix: ask your current apparel provider for their recommendations. Any reputable apparel vendor will truly know the quality brands to print on and won’t let their clients use anything else.

2. You outsourced your art to someone unfamiliar with the production process. You found this person on a freelance site for $5! Maybe one of your members designed the new tank. WHAT A GREAT DEAL! One risk we are seeing right now is that too many businesses are outsourcing their design work to designers who are unfamiliar with the printing process with leaves you with something that looks nothing like the mock up. Designing for printed apparel and designing something digitally are two completely unrelated skills. 

The fix: your apparel provider should handle artwork in house so they can design with the end product in mind. If your current apparel provider needs you to supply the artwork, run in the opposite direction.

1. One of your members prints your apparel. “One of our members currently prints our apparel. We trade services. They print the shirts. We comp their membership”. The year is 2017, why are you discounting your membership?  Here is the classic scenario: You demand the service and attention you would normally receive as if you were paying full price. Your member expects you to not be as demanding because “they are doing it for free”. The issue is you are trading time. Your member is trading something physical AND time. There is something symbolic about trading something tangible vs. time. You’re more likely to remember the tangible “thing” more so than the time.

The fix: Give your member every opportunity to earn your business like all of your vendors. Do not suggest or accept the service swap. It leaves you with no outs. Break ups are messy. If your member designs and prints all of your apparel just as good as the best vendor out there, great! What an amazing resource to have in house! If they take too long to print, keep the designs too basic, and/or use cheap tees, then you have your out. Don’t paint yourself into a corner.

Bonus: If you are currently in one of these situations right now, you should come up with a plan to fix it. If you need help with that plan, we can help. Just shoot us a message and we’ll be more than happy to outline a specific strategy for your specific situation.

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