Selling your product for a fair price

February 20, 2024

I currently run a successful St Louis digital t-shirt printing company. I consider myself extremely blessed to be able to say that, as it wasn’t that many years ago that I didn’t have the advantages that technology has lent itself to and I had to do things in a similar way to the old school conventional method that i had been doing for decades. It used to be that conventional screen printing was the only option when processing an order of custom tees. What normally was taken into consideration when quoting a job was the amount of colors involved as well as the quantity. Conventional screen printing requires the exact same setup regardless of the amount of apparel being processed. It also involves the same exact cleanup process. Every color in the image will require its own screen and before anything else, there needs to be color separations. This means each individual color has to be pulled out of the design. A finished product would never be any better than the artwork it’s came from so a good clean image is paramount.

This usually required vectorized art that was created either in Photoshop or Correll. Nowadays, there is a significantly lesser need for any of that. With the advancement of technology, we are able to process an order, using a digital t-shirt printing machine. This is a much simpler process and it also requires  hardly any cleanup. The amount of colors in the artwork means almost nothing. The order is processed the exact same way, whether or not you’re doing one item at a time or a run of 12 at a time. It makes no difference.

It wasn’t that long ago when I used to turn small orders away that were under twelve units because by the time you figured in what it took to set up and break down a job, it simply wasn’t cost effective. I would have to bid that one item so high, that the potential customer would get sticker shock and end up passing on the order. Therefore, I ended up losing a sale. I mentioned that quantity means a lot but even if it’s one piece, I make an extremely high profit margin on that particular item, in comparison to a potential order that would require let’s say 500 pieces. The lesson I learned here is that there is no victory im selling a huge job, if I didn’t even make a fair profit margin when things were all said and done. All I really did was work hard for nothing.

When it comes to screen printing and embroidery, I have no desire to be the biggest company in St Louis. What I am hoping to accomplish is that I hope to be the most profitable. I can remember an old joke we used to tell. There’s a guy on the street corner selling bananas and he has a sign that says his bananas are the cheapest in town. He actually lost one penny for everyone he sold. A customer comes up and asked him why he is selling these so inexpensively and how do you make a profit? He looks at that person and smiles and replies, volume. As funny as that sounds, there are companies who take this approach. This is something that would aggravate me because not only are they selling themselves short and not making any money, but they’re ruining it for everyone else in the industry. It usually doesn’t take very long and they’re out of business. The point I’m making here is that any idiot can just give it away.

Be proud of what you do and people don’t usually mind paying a little bit more if the product is worth it. On the other hand, they sure don’t want to overpay either, so the answer would be somewhere in the middle. Give them a good product for a good price and not only will you likely make the initial sale, but you’ll be around 6 months later when they need more.