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The Overlooked (But Crucial) Role Of Establishing Processes

These are the main processes in screen printing.

Design your art. Create your film. Expose your screen. Rinse your stencil. Register your art. Print your desings. Clean your art. Reclaim your screen.

While screen printing is often placed in the “arts and crafts” category, it relies on very defined processes to be successful. In order for YOU to be successful, you have to embrace these processes and make them a part of your business.

What does this mean? Creating solid processes for future success is much more involved than simply learning how to do something. A successful screen printing shop has a recorded process for everything. Within those set processes is all of the training, knowledge, and specialization you need to expand your business as big as you want to. That can only happen if you have these processes set down and in place, however. If you don’t make the screen printing processes a fully integrated part of your current business, then it will be very hard to make your business successful with their addition.

Let’s be honest, if you’re “in it to win it,” you probably don’t want to be behind the press slinging ink for the rest of your life. Don’t get me wrong, I strongly recommend that you know how to screen print yourself, but if your plan for screen printing success is based on personally being the best screen printer in the world, you’re going to leave a lot on the table. The solution is simple: Document everything you do in the screen printing process. Since the screen printing process is very chronological, it’s easy to do in an organized/checklist fashion that is easy to follow and learn from. Don’t be afraid to make the screen printing process YOUR process, define what works best for you, for your customers, for your equipment and in your location.

I know this sounds like extra work, but it’s worth it. Simply write down what you do in each step of the process, save a copy that can be updated often and make it visual for yourself and or your team throughout the process. If you don’t do this you may just walk out to the shop 10 years from now and wonder what the heck is going on with the mess, waste and poor print quality because you never used to do things that way.

There’s nothing more frustrating than feeling like you’re losing control of your business. I’ve watched some of the most successful screen printing businesses hit a wall where growth was impossible for them simply because of their lack of recorded process.

Adam Funderberg of Brainless Tees Inc. is a great example of the power of process.

“The need for systems came from several sources:
1. It wasn’t fair to my customers. They are surrounded by consistent systems that take care of them. When they go to the grocery store they know where everything is or can easily get help because of the systems
in place.
2. It wasn’t fair to my employees. I got sick one time and it basically shut the shop down because all work came through me. My failure (and it was mine) was that I didn’t have a system in place to handle that part
of process.

3. It stems from me being greedy and only wanting to do the work that I want to do and not developing the processes to take care of people better. It is my own immaturity and unwillingness to do the tough emotional work that I need to do.
4. I love chaos. Out of it comes my greatest work and my worst but I tend to forget my bad work. I don’t love other people’s chaos, like my accountant’s. Her chaos scares the crap out of me. My customers are the same way. My employees are the same way.

I read in the E-Myth by Michael Gerber, a book I have read 25 times: “It’s a system. It’s always been a system but you just never took it seriously.” For some reason the last time I read it this one line stood out to me unlike the previous 24 times. In all of my previous jobs I was a technician and I had a job to do but I never equated it to being part of a system, a larger whole. I just focused on my part. All of a sudden I realized that if I really wanted to make my business increase in size I needed to be able to multiply every position and this would require saying “This is how we do it here.” Everything needed to be written out and quantified.

[Now] we can bring in an employee and show them a book on how we coat screens, burn screens, tape them off, fold them, box them etc. There are posters on the wall that serve as reminders so they don’t have to ask. [I realized that] if I want to really grow I will need everyone doing the work the same way. If everyone is working together they can be a team, and teams create and build things. If everyone does their own thing they more resemble a mob and mobs don’t build anything, they just destroy things.”
–Adam Funderburg Brainless Tees Incz

Often times the creation of documented process is enough to take a stagnant screen printing business to the next level. So document it, make it repeatable and free yourself to do whatever you actually want! Unfortunately, I know from my own experience that until this happens you will constantly be disappointed in the unpredictable outcomes of business.

I’ll give you one more piece of advice: If you’re adding screen printing to an existing business, start documenting what you do now before you even take the Screen Printing Experience Class. It will be so much easier to add new processes once you understand your current ones.

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