As individual business owners, policy makers and employees, we must keep an open mind about changing to meet the needs of our respective employees, customers and employers. No longer can we continue to produce the same products at the same prices and expect to stay competitive while meeting the needs of our customers.
Today, more than ever, the customer knows what to expect with embroidery. He has seen it used for many years. Ten years ago embroidery was new and the customer mutely took what was available. Today, embroidery is everywhere on almost everything, and the quality is the very best. We are now dealing with a very knowledgeable clientele and we must do so accordingly.
Look what the equipment manufacturers are selling these days. Aren't some of these items ones that we were wanting some years back when we were customers? These manufacturers have listened to their customers and today, more than ever, are producing equipment to handle the needs of embroiderers. The accessories and all the other sideline items embroiderers need are now available. Thread, hooping tables and even hoops for shoes are now available. Punching equipment, once thought to be only the computer genius, is now manufactured for the beginner and is used with a great deal of success.
When many of us get started in business, we look all over the internet to information we need. After a time, and with a certain amount of success, we become complacent and no longer keep up with the new products, equipment and items being produced. We seem to fall into a comfortable niche and stay there until something like an irate customer wakes us up by storming off. By then it's too late and we must again start looking in the magazines to discover all the wonderful items being produced by newer companies with newer methods, products, equipment and accessories. This does not mean that you have to purchase all new equipment to stay competitive.
However, being informed of trends, new products and methods of producing these items will be essential in the future. There is now and always will be a place for the small in-home embroidery shop with less formal staff structures. However, larger shops will find that employees have greater demands for health and dental insurance, and other benefit packages that have been available in the past from only the very large companies and now expected from almost every employer. The industry is changing gears. For the past few years, second and third gear was sufficient. Now you've got to get into overdrive if you expect to make it into the future with a good strong company.
Make every effort to keep informed with what is available in the market. What kind of embroidered products are being produced and what kind of customer is buying them? When was the last time you went to the local mall and looked at the products being sold? Did you see T-shirts with 10,000 stitches on the front selling for $60? Did you see caps with logos and designs selling for $25.95? These discoveries can be major eye openers. People are willing to pay kind of money for a T-shirt with a 4-inch embroidered design.
When is the last time you spoke with another embroiderer in your area? Talking to the competition does not mean that you have to give away your company secrets or discuss your customer list. It is always good to remain friendly with your competition so you can call them when you need help-or when you can offer them help. You may run into an unresponsive person, but you might also discover a real friend and fellow embroiderer willing to discuss common problems and solutions.
When was the last time you contributed to an industry web forum or blog with a helpful production shortcut or hint on making a task easier? Taking the time o pass on your experience will also get you more involved in learning and trying new things.
Get involved with the industry on the convention and conference level, too. Many embroiderers start going to conventions because they needed to find products and equipment. After a few years and all the equipment has been found, interest in attending as frequently can decline. What these folks many not realize is that they are missing the potential exchange with other embroiderers. Just talking, listening and learning how they have made their businesses work can give you many new ideas.. Meeting these people can be an invaluable tool. Not only are you likely to become friends with many of them, but you will also learn many valuable lessons. Even a beginner can teach you something if you listen.
The embroidery industry, like any business or industry, is getting more sophisticated all the time. We must keep informed of the latest news, products and to succeed. Getting involved and extending yourself is a sure way of keeping informed.