Take the plunge in 2021

COVID-19 and 2020 has had an effect on all of us, and many of us running our own businesses have taken stock of what we are doing, how we can streamline, improve our customer service, product range and ultimately increase our profitability to secure the future. Managing director of Amaya Sales UK, Peter Wright, reports.

If you are running a print only business, whether screen printing, transfer printing or sublimation do your existing customers ever ask you for embroidery?

If they do, and you have to say no, what is your customer likely to do? There are many other suppliers out there and while they may initially only look to source the embroidery elsewhere ultimately the risk you run is they find a new supplier that offers all forms of decoration, and they move all their promotional work from you.

Adding embroidery to your print business is twofold, one you pick up extra business from new customers and your existing customers, and just as importantly you avoid losing customers too.

Printing + embroidery = £££

While I have been involved in embroidery for nearly 40 years now, and nothing phases me on the subject, I appreciate that if you have no knowledge of it, it is a bit of the unknown, with stitches, backing, digitising and more, and perceived as more complicated than print. The truth is very different and following is some advice on how to make the right choices with your new venture.

Finding the best supplier and equipment

There are many suppliers out there so look for one that will provide you with the best machine and be capable of giving comprehensive training and ongoing support.

I would recommend you find one that has been selling the same machine brand for at least 10 years. This will mean that they have good knowledge of the machine and its capabilities, and that their engineers will be experienced in installing the equipment, training you to the correct standard, and then supporting and maintaining the machine with you.

Don’t get caught in the trap of a recommendation from an existing embroiderer because they could have been using the same machine for years. Some machines have improved dramatically in recent years and will give you much more production and efficiency. Machines that were favourites 10 years ago, may not be now. So, my advice is to do your own research, read the trade magazines, search the websites and find a machine that suits your needs.

Make sure that the machine has at least a two-year manufacturer’s warranty and that it covers travelling to your premises to fix any issues. Be aware some companies offer longer warranties, but they are normally limited.

Look for equipment that give you the best possible production and allows flexibility of growth. There are two types of machines, modular or a fixed head model. On the fixed head type, you have to decide how many heads you want to start with, and usually you don’t know how much embroidery you will be doing. On the modular machines, you can start with one or as many as you want and then add more as your business grows. Modular machines are more expensive in the short term but their return on investment is much quicker. Modular machines should come with their own operating software which should be produced by the machine manufacturer for seamless operation.

Arrange a demonstration

Narrow your search down to two or three machines types. Call the supplier and arrange a demonstration so that you can see the machine working on different garments. Compare the machines in terms of build, speed, ease of use and especially the quality of embroidery. Ask the supplier to run the machine at full speed and see that the quality stays the same.

If you decide to buy a used machine, I recommend purchasing from a recognised dealer of that product. Then you will have a warranty and good training with support.

Digitising

Being able to use print graphic packages will give you a head start on embroidery digitising. Digitising is the conversion of an image into stitches. There are automatic packages that convert directly from vector file into embroidery, and then need some editing to finish off, but the software can save a great deal of time. An alternative is to send your designs to a third-party digitising company. This normally takes two to three days and costs around £15 to £20 per design.

I hope that gives you some guidance. A good industrial embroidery machine starts from around £10,000 but can be leased from around £50 per week. You only need one order a week to pay for it, so go on take the plunge and widen your product offering for 2021.

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