Direct to Garment (DTG) printing has been growing and advancing rapidly the past couple of years. It’s a great time for DTG due to the plentiful options of reliable DTG printers on the market. Now, it’s more important than ever to make sure adding DTG to your shop is the right move at the right time. There are many reasons DTG can fit into your shop, but the most prevalent one is to handle low quantity orders. In this blog, we’ll discuss the reasons and what to look for so you can make the right decision about whether or not to implement DTG in your shop.
HOW MANY JOBS ARE YOU TURNING AWAY BECAUSE THEY'RE BELOW YOUR MINIMUMS?
Customers want smaller quantities of shirts that are lower than your screen printing minimums. You either turn them away or direct them to a recommended shop that can print their order.
Do some digging to see how this is impacting your sales and bottom line.
Solution Study 1: Track how many times over a couple weeks you are turning away jobs below the minimums and set an average order value for each. Let’s say that someone is coming in asking for 10 shirts that you would charge $16 each with DTG. If the shirt, ink, and pretreat costs you $5.50, then you’ve got a gross profit of $10.50 each. That comes out to making an average $105 gross profit (before overhead and labor).
Now that we’ve set up some easy numbers, let’s do some math. We’ll look at 20 working days for a month and show how much gross profit per month we could be missing out on by turning the job away.
1 Request per Day = $2,100 Monthly Gross Profit
2 Requests per Day = $4,200 Monthly Gross Profit
5 Requests per Day = $10,500 Monthly Gross Profit
This is one way to justify putting DTG into your business. I recently had a business say their number was easily $10k or more a month they were turning away. After purchasing the DTG, it’s showing to be even more valuable.
Your job as a printer is to have the solution for your customer. HOWEVER, it’s best to have the right solution for both of you vs. one that takes up way too much time. DTG is commonly compared to vinyl for low number runs. For one color jobs, vinyl can commonly win. But when we get into multi-color or detailed artwork, the amount of time it takes to weed and line up correctly allows DTG to be a more efficient way to decorate for the job.
WHAT IF YOU COULD PAY FOR YOUR DTG PRINTER JUST WITH THE JOBS YOU'RE CURRENTLY TURNING DOWN? WHAT IF YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO SEND YOUR CUSTOMERS ELSEWHERE AND POTENTIALLY LOSE THAT CUSTOMER?
Solution Study 2: Apparel decorating is a great business partially because of the large opportunity of repeat business with each customer. This is one of the main reasons I personally got involved with screen printing and was able to quickly ramp up our shop sales. We continued to follow up, offer more services, and provide solutions for our existing customers. Also, your repeat customers are extremely valuable for their referrals and testimonials! What if they started drifting away? What if they already are?
Recently, I worked with a shop that told me they saw their repeat customers start to decrease their order frequency over time. As they looked into it, apparently the person they were sending them to for low quantity runs was offering a lower price for larger quantity and getting them to switch over time. While this doesn’t always happen, it’s something to keep in mind. If you are sending your customers elsewhere, you lose control of that experience and what happens with that specific customer when they go to someone else. If it’s another screen printer who happens to have DTG, why wouldn’t they just do all their business in one place vs. two?
Look into customers you have turned away for low quantity orders or that you have referred to another shop who can provide that service. Has their screen printing orders stayed the same frequency and quantity as you’ve been used to? Has it been longer than normal since they ordered last? Or, has there been no change? Use that information to better help you decide if DTG is a good fit for your low quantity runs.
HOW MUCH TIME ARE YOU SPENDING ON PRINTING?
Solution Study 3: Let’s take a look at time. Pretend that your minimum quantity is 12. Time literally is money and when you look at DTG vs. Screen Print – it’s the top factor in which method to use for a specific order. When you print a job that’s between 12 and 24 pieces, how long does it take you to do all pre-press steps? I’m including artwork prep and separations, film printing, screen prep and coating, exposing, taping up the screen, prepping the ink, and registration. Whatever your process is to get you to your first print of the job, time those steps and add them together. This is good to do whether you’re considering DTG or not.
Now, let’s say it takes an average 5 minutes to pretreat and print a shirt. (I’m not including the cure time since you typically are curing while printing.) Could you print the job faster than it took to set the job up for screen printing or setup plus printing? If so, it could be a good fit to replace screen printing on those low runs with DTG.
While it’s different from shop to shop, I’ve found that orders at 24 pieces or less with two or more colors are typically printed faster with DTG than with screen printing. Your job is to be as efficient as possible with decorating so that you can spend as much time as possible marketing and selling your business and product. As printers, we make money SELLING NOT PRINTING. This time-based thinking is actually a great way to look at everything in your shop.
Solution Study 4: Call Ryonet and talk with one of our experts. It’s our job to make sure you’re getting into the right piece of equipment for YOUR NEEDS. While I talk quite a bit about DTG printing, I more often than not will tell shops that DTG is not right for them. Maybe, it’s not the right time and we see somewhere else in the business that could use that extra focus. We’re here to help you grow and succeed by sharing options, experiences and feedback based on what can be the most valuable to you. Please, don’t hesitate to call, email, or reach out via social media with any questions, ideas or, help needed.
Today, it’s more about “Is DTG right for you?” than “Which machine should I purchase?” when you’re looking to get into DTG. While each DTG machine has its pros and cons, those specifics mean nothing until you’ve confirmed it’s a right fit to add into your shop. Really look into WHY you want to add DTG, WHAT you are hoping to accomplish, WHO you are going to serve, and HOW you want to serve them. Start with your existing business and customers to see how DTG could impact your business in the short term. Then, we can look at the long term strategy.
DTG will be a fit if it makes sense based on a combination of your current business, long term customers, and the time it takes to serve them.