It may be hard to imagine that there are times when your embroidery professional should say “no” to an order. The fact of the matter is this – not every customer and not every job is going to embroider well. Knowing how and when to say “No” to a customer nicely is a skill that every promotional products sales person needs, even if you have to rarely use it.
Whether you are new, still building your customer base, building or enhancing your reputation in your community or working on improving the quality of your products and services, it is likely that you feel grateful for every customer and potential customer who crosses your path. However, promising that you can deliver on every embroidery order is not always in your best interest when what the customer wants is not viable.
There are several reasons why your embroidery professional may say no, or “Yes, but…” to a job. Here is what you can do in these situations to find a solution to keep your customer and your contractor happy.
1) Tiny lettering. Designs with lettering that is less than ¼" may not embroider well. Depending on the fabric of the garment, the letters may be downright impossible to read after they have been embroidered on the garment. Fabrics such as knits, sweaters, some golf shirts, textured fabrics, and polar fleece tend to “eat” small lettering. The stitches sink down in to the fabric. This problem can sometimes be remedied by adding stabilizers and toppings. They can improve the end result to varying degrees of success, depending on the lettering and fabric, but they may not help enough. Your embroidery contractor may come back to you and ask if the design can be modified to be more embroidery-friendly, possibly removing that part of the lettering, increasing the font size, or stitching it on top of an applique fabric so that it will not sink into the garment.
2) The design has color gradients. Ink has the magic ability of blending when wet to create new colors. You can blend blue and red inks to create a gradient that looks purple. It is not possible to embroider a red thread next to a blue thread to create a purple thread – you'll still have a red thread and a blue thread next to each other. Your embroidery professional may need a version of the design where the colors are distinct and not blended. They can create a design that shows colors overlapping and shifting from one to another, but it will not look the same as it does with ink. Sometimes the customer likes it, and sometimes they elect to provide different artwork for the embroidered designs.
3) The garment does not fit on the embroidery equipment. A finished golf bag, for example, is not embroidery-friendly. If the bag does not have a detachable flap, section or pocket that can be completely removed to then fit on the embroidery machine, getting an embroidered design on the bag is just not going to happen. A work around would be to select one of the golf bags that does offer the detachable element, or see if your embroidery professional can create freestanding embroidery, basically a patch, and then heat seal it on the bag.
4) The design won’t fit. Some customers have no idea how big things are when it comes to embroidery. They say they want 3" letters, when in reality, the shirt would look best with 1" letters. Trust your embroidery professional to make recommendations that will ensure the end results looks excellent. When it looks bad, you look bad. When it looks right, they will know that they can get what they need from you and that it will look good. We had a customer that demanded that they have a 4" high design on hats. The frames used to embroider caps have a sewing area that was only 3 ½" high – but embroidery needles do not penetrate stainless steel. The customer finally understood the issue when I showed him a cap in the cap frame and handed him a ruler. I did offer to break the design apart, and sew part of it in a second location, for an additional fee, or I could sew the full design at the smaller size on the front of the cap. He went away happy after knowing why he could not get what he wanted.
5) The cost of the embroidery outweighs the value of the product. There are customers who are sure they would like a huge, full front or back embroidered design with 100,000 stitches on a T-shirt. In truth, getting a full coverage full color design on a T-shirt is much more practical with screen printing, digital garment printing or transfers. There is a tipping point where the decoration process is not in balance with the product. Feel free to advise the customer about how to achieve the results they want using the best decoration methods. Yes indeed, the embroidery professional can and will do it. The real question is: Will your customer pay for it?
Your embroidery professional is there to serve as your production partner. Taking on every order that comes your way is not always in your best interest, or in theirs. The customer may want products that do not embroider well, or at all. It may be that the price point they need is way below what your contractor charges. Work with your embroidery professional to find solutions that will keep your customers happy and let your embroidery contractor shine. When you solve tricky customer requests together, you both win.
Jennifer Cox is president of the National Network of Embroidery Professionals. NNEP members receive personalized marketing consulting designed specifically for their business. To join NNEP today, visit NNEP.net, email Jennifer at email@example.com, or call 800-866-7396.