Is it worth it to print DTG in-house?

When it comes to making a decision of investing in the DTG printing equipment and starting to print in-house, it is essential to ask yourself an honest question: “Am I really ready for this?” Dmitry Sarbaev, managing director of FLUXMALL DTG, looks to answer this question.

Every potential machine owner should pre-qualify himself for the ownership to avoid business losses and frustration and build a sustainable business.

Do your homework first

Your past business background plays a significant role as you approach the decision of DTG investment. It is one story when you own a printshop utilising different decoration methods, like screen printing, or embroidery, and would like to extend by adding DTG to your toolbox of decoration methods.

It’s a completely different scenario when all you have is a draft of business plan of how your future business might grow and some assumptions of your niche in the market, and no real market experience behind.

A stable cash flow is vital for the steady growth of your business, which is why building it up first, and buying the machine second might be a path to go in order to reduce your risks along the way.

Avoid potential risks

There are many bummocks one can meet in growing the printing business. The first and the foremost is that you are not generating initially expected income. Either you don’t print volumes that you originally expected, or just you are not able to have a proper marketing at the initial stage to attract customers – your machine keeps sitting idle longer than it is was supposed to.

Secondly, you have underestimated the TCO (total cost of ownership), have all sorts of hidden costs, which involve your daily maintenance, ink waste, consumable parts and your other overheads. You might also be not very tech savvy or disciplined enough to follow the routine of the maintenance, hence the machines start to cause you troubles and headache in operation by not giving you the quality and consistent output. Or, saying in other words, you simply need more time to learn how to run your printer and sell your printing services in order to get market share, required knowledge and exposure.

It is important to factor in all these items as you work on your business plan, assess your printing skills, and estimate your further investments for the DTG business.

Invest only when you are ready

In most of the cases it makes a lot of sense to gain the DTG industry experience prior to executing any investment plans which involve machines purchase. Subcontracting an experienced and credible DTG printing company or hooking up with a fulfillment company around that will ship on your behalf would be the best practice to follow. This way you are not only able to get your customers base, learn how to work with them and satisfy their needs beyond their expectations, but also evaluate your DTG business model and explore your niche better.

For instance, your business processes will look remarkably different, when you print ink bulk for the wholesalers, or you do one-offs for the on-demand market. Once you have accomplished these steps – build up your business, acquired customers generating stable revenue, and made your business model justifiable – you are good to go buy the DTG machine that will exactly fit your existing business needs.

This approach has many different advantages. Not only that you are able to gain valuable DTG industry experience, but once you switch to using your own printer and print in-house – your customers’ base is no different. Now when you have become a happy owner of the DTG equipment, you are able to have higher margins, and control them on a better level.

Why moving slow helps achieve better results

Every end-user should know: never rush to make investments you don’t fully understand. A lot of DTG businesses sink fast, because not everybody is ready, even if they think that they are ready.

One must be completely educated to know what business they are getting into, what they are buying and which path to take in order to succeed in DTG.

There is a high risk to be attracted to a product by a professional sales rep in the tradeshow or an open house, make an emotional purchase, and end up with the complete frustration not only with the equipment, but the technology, and the industry in general.

Making slower and wiser steps and building up your DTG business in a smarter way will help you achieve sustainable results and run a successful DTG printing business.

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