Screen printing is a demanding, time-consuming industry. To turn a profit, you have to work hard every day to make sure your product is perfect and your customers are happy. But what happens when you’re stretched too thin? It may be time to get an extra set of hands. Daniela Murphy, owner of Stark Screen Printing, shares her experience on adding a new team member to her print shop.
Daniela and Amy work the front of the shop together. Photo by Daniela Murphy.
HOW TO DECIDE WHICH POSITION TO FILL
The position you fill depends on your shop. What do you like doing most? Daniela decided to add an office manager to work the front while she focused on her passion: printing.
“I took some time to think about what part was most important to me, and what I was willing to give up so I can continue growing the business,” she said.
Whoever you decide to hire, make sure they’re filling the biggest need in your shop. Daniela hired Amy DiVernieri to be Stark’s office manager. Daniela gets to focus on printing and lets Amy handle the front-end jobs.
She recommends hiring someone outside your circle of family and friends.
“You want someone that truly respects you and what you’re doing,” she said. The person you hire should also take your business as seriously as you do.
Daniela and Amy had worked together before when they both were in retail. Daniela already knew that Amy had a great work ethic and would be a good fit to the team.
“I think it is very important to find someone who fits in with your personality and what you are trying to do,” Daniela said.
WHAT DOES AN OFFICE MANAGER DO?
Amy works 20 hours a week and does all the office work. For many shops, office work means engaging with walk-in customers; answering phones, emails, and social media messages; putting estimates together; paying monthly bills/invoices; and ordering/sorting garments from warehouses. Daniella says having an office manager has been very helpful.
“I couldn’t handle doing the front end part of the business while printing all the shirts,” she said. Daniela still double-checks documents and gives them a thumbs-up before Amy sends them out.
These tasks can bog you down as a screen printer. If you’re doing all the office work plus trying to get orders out the door, finding someone like Amy will help you manage the workload and grow your business.
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THE BENEFITS OF ADDING A TEAM MEMBER
Having someone else to help you out is a good idea if you can afford it. There’s someone else to bounce ideas off of, talk to, and build your business with. Daniela says that adding an office manager has freed up a lot of her time to focus on perfecting her skills. She can also take on more jobs because she doesn’t have to worry about the front-end aspect of the company.
“I was reaching the point of either working countless hours on my own or just constantly staying stressed with my workload,” Daniela said.
While adding a team member has helped improve her workflow, Daniela has faced some challenges as well.
Amy works the front while Daniela prints. Photo by Daniela Murphy.
When you’re training someone new, growing pains are inevitable. Daniela experienced a few when adding Amy to her team.
PASSING THE BATON
At first, Daniela worried that her customers would not react well to the change.
“Over the years I have built some great relationships with my customers and I didn’t want them to not get that same experience,” she said.
In the beginning, she watched Amy closely. Once she saw that everything was going well, she started easing up and letting Amy handle the job on her own.
“Although I knew I couldn’t do everything on my own anymore, I did get anxious a lot when Amy first joined because I was worried there wouldn’t be enough work to go around,” Daniela said.
The week Amy started was slow for the company. Daniela took the opportunity to train Amy. They soon got extremely busy again, and Amy could hit the ground running.
“It has been going full force non-stop since then.” Daniela said.
Learning the screen printing industry can be tricky. Since Amy works the front of the store, she needs to know the ins and outs of orders and printing. Saying “I don’t know” isn’t an option. Amy dove into the learning process head-first, and Daniela was very impressed.
“I don’t know how I got so lucky with Amy,” Daniela said. “She’s in it 100%.”
Photo by Daniela Murphy
Luckily, the finances of adding a new team member haven’t been difficult. Since Daniela has more time to focus on printing, she can take on more jobs.
Amy works part-time, every morning. Her husband is in the military, so she receives health insurance through him. This saved Daniela stress, as she didn’t have to figure out full-time benefits.
Stark Screen Printing is looking forward to what the future holds. They have recently added a screen printer to the team, and are thinking about buying an automatic press.
Daniela’s advice to printers looking to expand their team is simple.
“Do not rush the process,” she said. “Make sure you are really busy enough to add a team member.”