Have you set your new year’s resolutions yet? Many people use this time of year to evaluate and set goals in their personal lives; the new year also provides owners with the perfect reminder to evaluate their businesses, set goals and strategies for the coming year and tackle projects that often fall by the wayside. To help set yourself up for success and growth in 2019, here are some resolutions to consider for your screen printing shop.

1. Make time for goal setting and strategic planning

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When was the last time you updated your business plan? When was the last time you looked through it? This new year, dust off your plan and see how well your business lines up with your plan. Make corrections where needed. Next, think about what your goals need to be in 2019 to take your shop toward your long-term vision. Write down your goals for the year, then break that down into the steps you need to take each month to achieve that goal. Determine what benchmarks you will use throughout the year to measure your progress toward your goals. Commit each week to sitting down and creating a to-do list that applies directly toward achieving your goals.

2. Evaluate your pricing

Many screen printers are hesitant to raise their prices. Keeping prices static for too long may be a disservice to your business. The new year is the perfect time to evaluate your pricing. Look at how long it has been since your prices have increased. Consider your supply costs — If you fail to raise prices as your costs for materials, labor and energy rise, you will be making less and less over time. Finally, look at your competitors to see how they are pricing similar products and services. While it’s true that raising prices by too much or raising them too often can drive away customers, if you fail to bring prices in line with your costs or your market, your screen printing business will be making less and less per product and you’ll have to work harder to bring in the same amount of income.

For more tips on adjusting your prices, check out The Delicate Matter of Raising Your Screen Printing Prices

3. Realign your staffing, as needed

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In any small business, the owner and the employees tend to wear many hats, picking up the slack and lending a hand wherever is needed. Screen printing shops are no exception. While teamwork and the willingness to tackle any task is important, it also might lead to inefficient staffing and unclear staff responsibilities. For the new year, look at your staff to see if their time is being allocated in the most efficient way possible. Take the time to outline each position in your shop, and reallocate staff where needed. Most importantly, look to see where you can delegate some responsibilities. Putting higher-level tasks on your employees’ plates can help them grow with and feel more invested in your business. Delegating also frees up some of your time so you can focus on the elements of your plan that will keep your shop growing.

4. Reduce misprints

Misprints are a problem in every screen printing shop. They cost you money and waste your staff’s time. They also can delay delivery on customer orders and slow your production. Nearly every shop has a goal of lowering their percentage of misprints, but few take the time to strategize how they will accomplish this. Reducing misprints begins with identifying what causes misprints in your shop. Know whether pinholes, mismatched colors or art errors are to blame for the majority of your misprints. If you don’t already, create a catalog of misprints so you know when they occur, how often they occur and what the causes are. Once you understand what’s causing misprints in your shop, it’s possible to create procedures that will help reduce the instances of misprints.

Find more info on reducing misprints here: How to Avoid Screen Printing Misprints (and How to Reuse Them When They Happen Anyway)

5. Create a marketing plan

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Reaching new customers and engaging existing customers comes down to marketing. It is nearly impossible to reach your sales and growth goals if you don’t have a marketing plan in place. In creating your marketing plan, evaluate what initiatives have been successful in the past and consider areas of marketing that your business isn’t taking advantage of. Some elements you will want to include in your plan are:

  • Traditional advertising. In local markets, traditional advertising remains important. That includes advertising in local publications and with local business groups, establishing a presence at local events and sending direct-mail advertisers in targeted areas or to targeted customers.
  • Your website. At a minimum, your website should be updated once a year. Be sure that your website remains in line with your messaging and that all of the information, from your location and contact information to your products and pricing, is up-to-date and accurate.
  • Social media. Every business needs a social media presence. Social media helps cement your online presence, and it can lead customers to your screen printing shop. As part of your marketing plan, know which social media channels you want to focus your efforts on and develop a publishing schedule for each channel.
  • Customer outreach. To boost your screen printing sales, often the most important marketing element is personal contact. Set goals for how many customers you want to personally reach out to each month or each week. Make sure you have the marketing materials you need to support these contacts, including business cards, brochures, pricing sheets and a products and services list.

6. Assess your equipment

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As your screen printing operation grows, your equipment needs will change. On top of that, your existing equipment can begin to break down or become less efficient as it ages. For the new year, you should be evaluating your equipment to know if you will need to upgrade or replace existing equipment. Seriously examine whether your equipment is helping you to meet your production demands and poised to help you meet any production goals.

Consider whether this will be the year you finally purchase the piece of equipment you need to move your business forward. Is it the right time to purchase an automatic screen printing press to help you tackle bigger orders or reduce your turnaround time? Do you need a bigger or more efficient conveyor dryer to keep up with your production volume? Set aside money in the budget to go toward potential equipment purchases. Evaluate how much you spent on equipment maintenance and repairs last year so you can set allocate money in your 2019 budget for equipment issues that might arise.

Assessing equipment goes beyond large-scale purchases and maintenance. Your screens, squeegees, scoop coaters and other screen-printing supplies also need to be in perfect shape so you can produce high-quality screen prints. Evaluate your screen printing equipment and supplies to be sure that they are still production-ready. Check the frames, tension and condition of the mesh on your screens. Be sure that squeegees and scoop coaters are free from nicks and still have a firm, straight edge. Take inventory of your inks, emulsions and chemicals to be sure that they haven’t expired or spoiled.

7. Clean house

A clean shop goes a long way in the successful operation of a screen printing business. A clean shop can reduce misprints by removing dust that causes pinholes and preventing items from picking up grease or dirt that may render them unfit for customers. Making sure all supplies are in their proper place will reduce frustration and increase efficiency. Clearing floor space of boxes or supplies can make your shop safer. As your new year’s resolution, set daily and weekly cleanings schedules in your shop and assign cleaning tasks to your employees so they know who is responsible for each individual chore. Don’t forget to include larger, less frequent tasks like performing maintenance checks on your screen printing equipment. Have a zero-tolerance policy regarding messy stations and messy floors, model good habits for keeping your shop tidy and emphasize the importance of a clean shop with your employees.

8. Try something new

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When was the last time you tried a new technique, used a new type of ink or added a new substrate to your product line? Every screen printing business has its bread-and-butter products and services that keep customers coming back, but adding something unique can appeal to prospective customers, encourage existing customers to order something out-of-the-box and grow your skills as a screen printer. In 2019, commit to trying at least one new ink, technique or special effect, or add something new to your product line.

New year’s resolutions have become a tradition for a reason. This time of year provides a chance to reassess and set goals. In any business, goal setting and strategizing often falls aside to the daily drudgery. Setting resolutions at your shop can help you refocus on your goals and help you set steps to reach those goals. New year’s resolutions also can help you to make your shop more efficient, effective and profitable. If you haven’t already, sit down to seriously consider your screen printing business resolutions to set yourself up for business success in 2019.