Hire the Right People for Success

Congratulations!  Your business is doing fantastic and orders are growing everyday.  It’s gotten to the point where you need to start thinking about getting some help in the shop.  It’s a decision that a lot of shops mentally wrestle over.  Who should you hire?  Where to look?  What do we do with them once they are onboard?  This article aims at giving you a few tips to get in front of this challenge.

Who should you hire?  Like any decision in your business there are long term consequences for actions taken or not taken.  Adding staff is a crucial component to scaling your business, as the more people you have doing the work in your shop, the more work that can get accomplished.  Your focus should be on hiring the best person you can afford.  Be realistic.  If you need a manual printer, hire a manual printer.  If you need a customer service person, hire a customer service person.  However, if you are looking for experienced, talented and skilled people for these positions go in with eyes open and know that the ones that truly have the depth of knowledge will cost you more.  Think about the pay range you can offer.  “X” is the minimum amount and “X” is the maximum you can afford.

So what happens if you can’t afford an experienced, and vastly skilled person for a particular position but need help in that area?  Simple, you are going to have to hire and train that person to meet your needs.  This is usually known as growing your own talent.  There’s nothing wrong with it, but it just takes longer to get ramped up in the skill level.  Who should you hire then?

The old adage “Hire for attitude, train for skill” applies.  Look for someone that wants to make a difference.  They want to be given the opportunity to shine and grow into a new position.  This doesn’t necessarily mean they are new to working either.  Applicants may have experiences in other industries that could prove to be valuable training for what you are seeking.  I seen great candidates that grew tired of the feast or famine nature of the construction business become great staff members as they applied their hard work ethic into learning this industry.

Where do you look?  I always recommend to trying to find people that you, your vendors, customers, family or friends may know first.  Susie or Johnny may need a job and if someone knows your business and knows them then that might be a good matchmaking exercise.  You can still interview them and make a decision to hire them or not, but often these types of recommendations can work out for everyone.  If you have employees currently make an offer of a $100 bonus to them if the new hire they recommend makes it to their six month hire anniversary date.

Social media is another great way to find candidates.  If your company has a website, post you are hiring with the job description and compensation information on the page.  Use LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and your other channels to promote the website link to the job.  Your website will act as a 24/7 recruiter for you.

Lastly, there’s always traditional job postings in pay services such as Craig’s List, Indeed, Monster or your local newspaper.  These work fine, but be sure to cull out the applicant’s that won’t be a good fit.  All of these services all cost to post, so try the free ones out first before adding these to efforts.

Dig deep in your interview.  Once you have a pool of candidates start the process with some phone interviews.  These should be short; about ten minutes is all you are after.  I try to get a vague sense of the person over the phone, and make a call whether their experience and professionalism matches what’s on the resume or not.  This isn’t the interview, but just a gloss over to see if you want to spend the time interviewing them.  I probably only interview about 10-25% of the candidates that apply for any job.  Be very judgemental.  Trust your gut or inner voice.  If something strikes you as weird or off-putting just go on to the next person.

For the interview, I’m looking at the entire picture.  Do they show up early?  Do they present themselves well?  Remember, every employee you hire is a reflection on your company and will add to the culture of your business.  During the interview, I like having an extra person in the room too.  Use your department manager or another employee if you have one.  Their job is to get a sense of the person, ask a few questions, and look at their body language during the interview.  Ask questions that can’t be answered with a yes or a no.  Ask follow up questions, always.  Dig deep into their responses.  I always ask questions about how they work with others, teamwork, leadership, how they communicate, or have they ever solved a work place problem? I want to hear anecdotes about what they have accomplished before.

If the interview goes well, give them a tour of the shop.  If it doesn’t thank them for their time and show them the door.  If the candidate gets to take the tour, walk fast as you are giving it.  Do they try to keep up?  Take notice if they are asking any questions or seem extremely interested in your process.  Almost to a person, the ones that keep up, ask questions and are genuinely interested in the business are the ones that will make great employees.

You’ve hired them, now what?  Once you have made your decision and hired someone, the next step is to get them ingrained into your shop work culture immediately.   Start with the basics.  If you have a company handbook that outlines the standards and rules of your shop, review this on the first day.  They need to understand exactly what is expected of them, and how they will fit into your shop’s daily routine.  Before their first day, make a list of what they will need to know, who is training them, what some key points for them to learn.  Make the list out a week or two in advance.  If you have other people training the employee, give them the list too.

Your number one goal is to give clear expectations to your employees about what their duties are and set goals for them to achieve.  Feedback is crucial.  Talk to them constantly.  New people are going to make mistakes, it is inevitable.  Make sure they understand this and know that you are watching, and as long as the person isn’t just wantonly making errors constantly it will be ok.  Learning is what’s important here.

The master goal.  This is easy to define.  Well trained, trusted and motivated employees can carry out tasks with very little supervision.  Think about what you want for your shop and then set the expectations for your employees to achieve.  Discuss everything.  Use their ideas to grow and get better.  Hold people accountable.  When you add staff to this mix, you are adding another layer of complexity, so make sure the person you hire fits into the culture you have established and can fit into your business for the long term.  Could you see the person being cross trained into other skills?  Could they manage one day?  Don’t just think about now, think a few years ahead.  People matter, so hire accordingly.

 

New: Revamped Analytics & Expense Tracking

We just released the ability to create expenses for your shop and specific orders.  You can also see profit/loss charts for individual orders too.

Lastly we revamped out analytics features to be faster and easier to use.  You can now see:

  • Total sales
  • Total sales by user
  • Quotes/Invoices created by date
  • Revenue/expenses by date
  • Sales tax generated by date
  • Sales by line item category

This update is for all Printavo plans, enjoy!

Sub-contacts, better printing & more new features!

Hi Everyone!

New exciting features for the Printavo family:

  • Contacts under Customers – You can now have unlimited contacts/sub-customers under customers and use them when creating a quote.  This was a highly requested feature and we’re glad we could make it happen.
  • View your own customers permissions – You may now have users on your account that can only view their own customers instead of all customers.
  • Cleaner Printing – We’re constantly working on cleaning up the printing view and have released an update for that.

10 Things That Will Get Your Shop to the Next Level

Starting off in business is always hard. Surviving is even harder, especially in the decorated apparel business. So how do you go from start-up success to the next level? Eventually you’ll have to get more customers, bigger and better equipment, and even more employees. Each step can put you into a bigger group and can be either a wonderful experience or a vast plateau full of land mines. Here are some thoughts on the rungs waiting for you on the ladder of success:

Pay Your Bills. You won’t survive long if you don’t treat your vendors and employees correctly, and being fiscally responsible is the key. Don’t think it matters when you pay? Trust me, your vendors know and can look it up at the drop of a hat. You are going to need more ink, more shirts and more electricity. Your employees need to get paid. Be sure to get good financial advice and to hire an accountant to help with your books.

It’s Not About Price. While it is certainly easier to drop your pants and just charge the lowest amount you possibly can to seal the deal on orders, you won’t survive long with that strategy. Instead focus on your value proposition. A value proposition is what you bring to the table that differentiates you from the competition. This could be many things, such as your skill as a printer, amazing artwork, free delivery, faster turn times, or even post-production capabilities. Think things through and market your strengths.

Partner with Others. Scaling your business can find success with partnering with other businesses in your area. Collaborate with a marketing firm, resort, hotel, sporting complex, music venue, restaurant, embroidery shop, or educational institution. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to network and stick your hand out and introduce yourself. What would be mutually beneficial to both parties? Do some testing and come to an agreement.

Constantly Learn. There are terrific opportunities for educating yourself in this industry if you are just open to it. Trade shows, industry forum groups, videos and webinars are constantly being held all around you. Take a few and improve your skill level. Pay attention when shopping and take notes when you see something you like. Ask yourself “How did they do that?” Take it back to your shop and try to replicate it with your style and imagery. Make popular techniques work for you and grow your business.

Fail. That’s right, I said fail. You are going to make mistakes. It’s ok. The sooner you accept that and find that you can learn from this and it’s a natural part of growth; the sooner you will reach your potential. You know all those shops that win all the awards at the trade show competitions? At one point they didn’t know what they were doing either. They’ve made thousands of mistakes, and probably just as many ugly prints, learning their craft. Learn from everything you do and get better every day.

Be Yourself. While it’s wonderful that you might have heroes to emulate, and certain imagery or styles are easy to copy, at a certain point you need to establish your own creative voice in the industry. Make your mark. Be sincere and distinctive in your approach to the industry. What’s great about the decorated apparel industry is that there is room for everyone. Shops that have the greatest success though, are the ones that find their niche and blossom in their own unique style. Find yours.

Trust Others. You can’t do this alone. Get help and guidance from other people. The bigger the network of friends, advisors, staff, and mentors that you cultivate for your business the better your company will become. Seek out advice. It is ok to not understand or know something…but not ok to remain ignorant. You have to be open to the opportunity for help. People won’t do it unless you accept their grace.

Do Good Work. Don’t accept mediocrity. Insist on excellence in all facets of the game. From how to you interact with people on the phone; to how you accept payment for services rendered and all things in between. Be the best you can be. This industry is unique in that it is a combination of art, science and manufacturing. You could be the best artist on the planet, but if you can’t unlock the secret of getting your creative vision from the computer onto the shirt it doesn’t matter. Invest the time to learn to do this with perfection.

Be Customer Service Focused. There is a great Maya Angelou quote that I always think applies to customer service, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Want to grow your business? Make more people remember how you made them feel. Do you make them feel that they aren’t valued when you push past their due dates? Do you make them feel that you don’t care about them when you argue with them about something? Or, are you on the opposite end of the spectrum and would go out of your way to complete a small order, or do something extra for your customers?

Say Thank You. A Lot. Your mother was always right. Say thanks when someone helps you with something or buys something from you. Be sincere. This is how you get others to help you again, or buy from you again as they know you appreciate them. It doesn’t take much time, but it can make all the difference.

How To Use Printavo’s API – Updating Orders

An API is a way to pull and push data into one application from another.  We built an API to allow our customers to connect 3rd party applications on the web to Printavo which helps you be even more efficient.  Beware, this article might get a bit technical for some folks.

In this example, we’ll be updating an existing order using PUT to your Printavo account.  <a href=”http://blog.teamtreehouse.com/its-time-to-httparty” target=”_blank”>Read more</a> about sending data to APIs. Note that if you add an ID to a line item or fee attribute, it will update the existing object. If there’s no ID, a new object will be created.

Here’s is an example JSON object you would PUT to our API:

{
 "key": "your_api_key",
 "id": existing_order_id,
 "sales_tax": 10.0,
 "discount": 5.0,
 "discount_as_percentage": false,
 "customer_id": 91167,
 "user_id": 25,
 "orderstatus_id": 1546,
 "production_notes": "",
 "order_nickname": "",
 "formatted_due_date": "05/01/2016",
 "formatted_customer_due_date": "05/01/2016",
 "lineitems_attributes": [{
   "id": 1270394,
   "style_description": "Gildan 2000 100% Cotton 2",
   "taxable": true,
   "style_number": "G2000",
   "color": "White",
   "size_other": null,
   "size_yxs": null,
   "size_ys": null,
   "size_ym": null,
   "size_yl": null,
   "size_yxl": null,
   "size_xs": null,
   "size_s": null,
   "size_m": null,
   "size_l": 15,
   "size_xl": null,
   "size_2xl": null,
   "size_3xl": 30,
   "size_4xl": null,
   "size_5xl": null,
   "size_6xl": null,
   "unit_cost": 9.5
 }, {
   "id": 1270395,
   "style_description": "Gildan 2000 100% Cotton",
   "taxable": true,
   "style_number": "G2000",
   "color": "Blue",
   "size_other": null,
   "size_yxs": null,
   "size_ys": null,
   "size_ym": null,
   "size_yl": null,
   "size_yxl": null,
   "size_xs": null,
   "size_s": null,
   "size_m": null,
   "size_l": 40,
   "size_xl": 15,
   "size_2xl": null,
   "size_3xl": 1,
   "size_4xl": null,
   "size_5xl": null,
   "size_6xl": null,
   "unit_cost": 7.0
 }],
 "order_fees_attributes": [{
   "id": insert_existing_id
   "amount": 15.0,
   "description": "Shipping Fee",
   "taxable": true
 }]
 }

View full documentation

How To Use Printavo’s API – Creating Orders

An API is a way to pull and push data into one application from another.  We built an API to allow our customers to connect 3rd party applications on the web to Printavo which helps you be even more efficient.  Beware, this article might get a bit technical for some folks.

In this example, we’ll be POSTing a new order to your Printavo account.  Read more about sending data to APIs.

Here’s is an example JSON object you would POST to our API:

{
 "key": "your_api_key",
 "sales_tax": 10.0,
 "discount": 5.0,
 "discount_as_percentage": false,
 "customer_id": insert_customer_id,
 "user_id": insert_user_id,
 "orderstatus_id": insert_orderstatus_id,
 "production_notes": "",
 "order_nickname": "",
 "formatted_due_date": "05/01/2016",
 "formatted_customer_due_date": "05/01/2016",
 "lineitems_attributes": [{
    "style_description": "Gildan 2000 100% Cotton",
    "taxable": true,
    "style_number": "G2000",
    "color": "White",
    "size_other": null,
    "size_yxs": null,
    "size_ys": null,
    "size_ym": null,
    "size_yl": null,
    "size_yxl": null,
    "size_xs": null,
    "size_s": null,
    "size_m": null,
    "size_l": 15,
    "size_xl": null,
    "size_2xl": null,
    "size_3xl": 30,
    "size_4xl": null,
    "size_5xl": null,
    "size_6xl": null,
    "unit_cost": 6.5
 }, {
    "style_description": "Gildan 2000 100% Cotton",
    "taxable": true,
    "style_number": "G2000",
    "color": "Blue",
    "size_other": null,
    "size_yxs": null,
    "size_ys": null,
    "size_ym": null,
    "size_yl": null,
    "size_yxl": null,
    "size_xs": null,
    "size_s": null,
    "size_m": null,
    "size_l": 40,
    "size_xl": 15,
    "size_2xl": null,
    "size_3xl": 1,
    "size_4xl": null,
    "size_5xl": null,
    "size_6xl": null,
    "unit_cost": 5.0
 }],
 "order_fees_attributes": [{
    "amount": 15.0,
    "description": "Shipping Fee",
    "taxable": true
 }]
}

View full documentation