I recently ran across an article from our archives that was published 25 years ago in Impressions Magazine! It was an article titled “Display Your Specialty To Spark Lettering Sales” and it was written by Carleen Gray. Originally published in September 1989, we are going to reprint it here again, because most of the tips are still very valid and more importantly, very helpful. (please keep in mind that some of the references may not seem current, since they are from 1989) I’ll publish it in several posts. Here is part 1:
How many of you with lettering departments actively seek out lettering business? Not just the thriving team business, but the other types of lettering customers that exist in every community by the thousands? There is a hidden market out there to which only a small percentage of lettering shops are catering. Who are these customers? There are the neighbors who need 47 shirts with individual names for that upcoming family reunion. The golf club manager who wants 35 personalized shirts for the caddy crew. The joker who wants a “Can you believe Harry’s 50?” shirt for his friends’ 50th birthday party. The fishing tournament organizer who needs 10 shirts for next weeks trout contest judges. And the boss who wants to give the top salespeople a personalized “presenatation” T-shirt instead of a plaque. Are these types your customers too? If not, it’s probably because they don’t know you do lettering. Using your lettering department to its full profit potential is worth the small amount of time and effort you may have to invest. Try the following suggestions to help your lettering department become the profit center you always hoped it would be–or never realized it was!
You’re A Specialist–Market It!
Whether it’s your main business or not, let people know that you offer the specialized service of personalized lettering. Most people don’t know where to go when they want a small number of personalized shirts. One of the easiest ways to let them know is with a sign that says “Custom Lettering Done Here, While You Wait” or “Personalized Specialist.” Better yet, print that same slogan on a shirt and hang it in your window. One store owner we know attracts customers with his own brand of humor and a shirt that says “We print anything on a shirt–Your Name, Your Kid’s Name, Your Ex-Wife’s Phone Number.” There are many variations on this theme you could use. It’s worth the investment of the garment. Many store owners are reluctant to use garments from their inventory as part of a display that they may or not be able to sell in the future. It is possible to simply tack the letters on the garment so that you can remove them without damaging the garment, but it is also possible to create a few display garments that you can actually sell. Blank garments just don’t sell as fast as imprinted garments.
Show Vs. Tell
Once someone has entered your store with the intent to purchase a lettered garment, the next step is clinching the sale. Usually the customer will have a rough idea of what he or she wants, but is willing to hear suggestions from your salesperson. In this case, having real garments on hand to back up your suggestions is far more effective than showing a drawing or a picture of the garment with lettering. There is a big difference in telling the customer what the finished garment will look like and actually showing him. The real difference is he will probably give you the order if you show him. It’s very important for the customer to be ale to see the color of the garment with the color of the lettering he has chosen, as well as the design, if possible. The more time you spend showing the customer what it will look like, the more likely he is to give you the order.
It’s funny how the more things change, the more they stay the same. Watch for parts 2 and 3 and the rest of the story coming soon…