Archive for the ‘General News’ Category

Earth Day, Waterbase Ink, Organic Shirts, Eco Friendly Business

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Today is Earth Day and every year we get inquiries about eco-friendly inks and t-shirts. There has been more and more interest in waterbase inks and organic cotton shirts, so let’s talk about them.

Waterbase inks have been around for a very long time. They are the original inks used to decorate apparel. Plastisols were invented in 1959 and became very popular in the ’70s. I started printing with waterbase inks originally in 1970, way back in the day, because I had no way to dry the plastisols. I needed an air dry ink with good washability. Waterbase provided that.

The early inks we used were not actually pure waterbase. They were actually water-in-oil. They were an emulsion of water and solvent and could be cleaned from the screen with mineral spirits. These inks had better wash characteristics than pure waterbase inks which needed to be heat set as well.

A lot has changed with waterbase inks. The original formulas were very difficult to work with. They dried in the screen quickly and were very aggressive on the stencils. Since our production runs were short, this was not too much of a problem. Ironically, some of the very first designs I printed with waterbase were halftone images that were highly prone to drying in. Modern waterbase inks don’t have nearly the problems the older ones did.

The primary question is whether waterbase inks are ecologically more friendly than plastisols. Here the question is not so clear. Just because the inks can be dissolved or mixed with water doesn’t mean they are inherently safer or more eco-friendly. They are still resin based. They still have inorganic and organic pigments. There contain water miscible solvents that may not be so drain safe. The bottomline is, don’t be fooled into thinking that waterbase means you can do anything with the waste. These inks still need to be treated as industrial compounds, and handled accordingly.

Now, for organic cotton. This is a big area of interest. It’s no secret that cotton is one of the most pesticide and chemically dependent products. I have heard that it takes as much as 1/3 of a pound of pesticides and fertilizers to produce a pound of cotton. I don’t know if this is true or not, but it’s a figure you see in a lot of places. Regardless, the trend is toward less chemically and water intensive processing of the cotton. There are many, many brands on the market that claim to be organic.

According to the fourth annual Organic Exchange Farm and Fiber Report 2009, organic cotton production grew an impressive 20 percent over 2007/08 to 175,113 metric tons (802,599 bales) grown on 625,000 acres (253,000 hectares). Organic cotton now represents 0.76 percent of global cotton production.

Organic cotton was grown in 22 countries worldwide with the Top Ten producer countries being led by India, and including (in order of rank) Turkey, Syria, Tanzania, China, United States, Uganda, Peru, Egypt and Burkina Faso. Approximately 220,000 farmers grew the fiber.

Here’s the rub. LESS THAN 1% of all cotton produced is organic! There are far more t-shirts produced claiming to be organic cotton than there is cotton being produced. Unless you have a clear knowledge about who is certifying a garment as organic, chances are it isn’t. You also need to know how much of the fiber in the garment is actually organic. It’s common to blend inorganic with organic and then claim the garment is organic.

Like most marketing driven campaigns, it pays to ask questions and dig deeper. There is usually more to the story than meets the eye. In the case of both waterbase ink and organic cotton t-shirts, this is clearly so.


Great Ideas on Using LinkedIn

Monday, January 4th, 2010

I’m a huge believer in LinkedIn and other social media sites. They are, without a doubt, the next generation way to build our businesses. Today, I wanted to offer a guest blog post by Jim Gibson, publisher of Online Media Today. Jim’s blog post has created a great discussion in the Inbound Marketing Group on LinkedIn and I wanted to share it with you today. If you’re new to LinkedIn or want to get more out of using it, here are some great ideas. Enjoy.

By Jim Gibson - Publishing Partner, Online Media Today

Ten Tips When Using LinkedIn!

LinkedIn Tip #1: Have a Plan

Decide what you want to accomplish before you start. LinkedIn, like other business oriented social networking sites, offer a number of ways to generate the results you are after. Want to present your company? Looking for a job? Network with like-minded professionals? Need an answer? Want to establish yourself as a thought leader in your space? Each of these approaches present excellent opportunities to leverage professional online networks but make sure your plan is solid before you start.

LinkedIn Tip #2: Make Your Profile Easy to Digest

Tell your story but keep it brief. Short, pithy, sentences are more likely to be read than lengthy paragraphs. It’s like an elevator pitch (explained in less than 1 minute). Use bullet points. Readers often scan content and bullets help to highlight your successes. Provide details of your work history and make sure to highlight your special skills. Above all, make sure to check for proper grammar. Make sure to use important keywords when describing your professional experiences as these can help others find you more easily. And before you post your profile, read it aloud to yourself to hear how it sounds or better yet, ask a colleague to read it and tell you what they think.

LinkedIn Tip #3 – Your Profile Photo

You must have a picture! But make sure it’s a good one and shows you in a professional light. This is not the time to be too cutesy. Don’t upload the picture you took at your last toga party. For women, this is not the time to strike that sexy pose. Choose a professional and friendly picture that demonstrates your real personality yet shows you are here for business.

LinkedIn Tip #4: Give (and ask for) Recommendations
If you want recommendations on your profile, be prepared to ask for them. Look at those you are connected to and offer recommendations to those who deserve them. Make them short and to the point and be sure to include specific accomplishments – don’t be too general. The more genuine the recommendation you give, the more likely it is to be returned. Rule of thumb: if someone gives you a recommendation, thank them first then return the favor!

LinkedIn Tip #5: Join Groups

Be a contributor. Generate posts and respond to discussions. Group interactions provide you and your company great exposure. Check out other member profiles and follow their discussions. This is a great way to identify valuable contacts and network in meaningful ways.

LinkedIn Tip #6: Be the first to comment!

Clearly, it’s important to engage and interact with your audience. This helps to establish you as a valued contributor and can lead to more meaningful connections. But what most people do is look for posts that already have lots of comments and, only then, do they add theirs to the mix. The common thought, naturally being, posting where there are lots of people = lots more visibility.

Don’t get me wrong - that’s cool. But the important thing here is to support the post originator and there’s nothing cooler than to give that first (note: quality) acknowledgement. People post on social sites in order to get feedback and hate it when a post goes virtually unnoticed. The first one to post is a welcome sight (Ahhh.. someone noticed!) and helps to foster a new relationship with the person who started the discussion in the first place! This is the true meaning of social networking - one on one. But, by building relationships intelligently, one on ones ultimately lead to one on many.

Don’t be afraid to be the first to post a comment. A good post originator will thank you, appreciate you and most of all notice you. It’s done this way in real world social settings so why not acknowledge its effectiveness in the virtual world as well.

LinkedIn Tip #7: Connect with Thought LeadersFind those considered leaders in your industry. Search by company to find the people who are true influencers and follow what they are doing. Research who your industry leaders are through existing trade publications and find them on LinkedIn. If they are and we share a contact I know well, reach out through the contact for an introduction.

LinkedIn Tip #8 – Selecting Groups

Search groups using industry keywords and related topics
Look at the groups of industry leaders, subject matter experts and top executives
Look at groups your connections are members of
Use pertinent Q&A category and ask what groups people belong to
Pose the question in your current groups: “What other groups do you find useful?”

LinkedIn Tip #9 – Use the Search Feature

Using the “Search function on your LinkedIn home page (upper right), you can “search” on People, Jobs, Companies, Answers, Inbox and Groups.

If you move to the right of the search box and click on “Advanced,” you can search on keywords, name, company (current and past), geographic location, industry, job title (current and past), school, groups, by language, by the interest of those being searched, when they joined LinkedIn, those in or out of your network, and by relevance – and any combination of the above.

Find the companies you want to do business with and the people you need to meet at those companies. With over 50,000,000 business professionals registered, your search results can pay big dividends

LinkedIn Tip #10: Use Applications

LinkedIn has teamed up with some of the Internet’s premier companies to offer registered users access to new applications that enable you to collaborate on projects, get key insights, and present your work to your audience in interactive ways. Have a Power Point presentation you want to share? Install the free SlideShare app and instantly share your presentation to a wider audience. Need to brainstorm with your team on a new idea? Load Huddle Workspaces on your profile and instantly collaborate with your colleagues. There are many apps to choose from and several are showcased at:

Back from New Orleans

Monday, October 12th, 2009

The SGIA Show is done. It was my 30th show since 1976. The only ones I missed were 2001 cancelled by 9/11, 2005 cancelled by hurricane Katrina (also in NO), and Minneapolis in 2004. I missed Minneapolis due to a scheduling conflict with a client in Italy.

I used to really look forward to SGIA. It was the biggest show of the year and it was where all the latest technology was unveiled. It was also home to the best printing awards program in the industry. There was always plenty of buzz and it was generally four days of nonstop go-go-go.

The show is still huge, but not quite as big as days gone by. I think the economy and changes in the industry, as well as changes with tradeshows in general have taken a toll. People don’t like to travel. It’s expensive and a big hassle anymore. Manufacturers, especially the equipment companies face a huge expense to get the production machines in for just a few days.

The biggest change has been in the complexion of the show. Ten years ago there were a smattering of digital ink jet companies. The industry was dominated by companies with a long history in screen print. That’s all changed now. Huge companies like HP, Efi, Agfa, and the like now dominate the floor space. There are at least a dozen high end ink jet printers in the $1 Million - $3 Million range. Vehicle wraps are all the rage. It’s a different game now.

As for textile garment screen printing, the show is a shadow of itself. I would say 75% of the exhibit space was directly or indirectly related to digital printing. Of the remaining 25%, only a fraction was solely focused on garments. Most of those companies were actually local distributors with reps from the main supplier companies in their booths. Not exactly what most of us had in mind. The companies that were exhibiting equipment for textile decorating were, guess what, digital DirectToGarment.

Gone are the days of ballrooms packed with 700 people for a seminar. Knowledge is so easily available now. The educational program that used to be foundational, is only a shadow of itself. The content of the seminars and workshops is as good as ever, but the attendance is a different story.

We’re watching the evolution of technologies. There really isn’t anything we can do to stop it, nor should we. Survival of companies traditionally focused on screen printing will depend on their ability to adapt to new technologies, but more importantly to connect and remain relevant to their customers and markets. This includes suppliers as well as printers.

The sources and channels of where we get our information are changing too. The close relationships between associations and industry press don’t seem to be as important. Search and the Internet have replaced the press release. There are still reviews out here, but they’re different now.

I know one thing for sure, the quality of the information is much more suspect because there’s no editorial review. Anyone and anybody can throw out a piece and the public will take it at face value. There are no credentials. Anyone and everyone can declare themselves an expert and nobody seems to even notice.

The one thing you can’t really replace is the ability to actually meet face-to-face with colleagues. The networking, for me, is the number one priority. In fact, I think I spent a total of 6 hours over the three days on the show floor. The rest of the time was spent outside the convention center with client and vendor meetings. The evenings as well were full of meetings. As long as the show acts as a central gathering point, it will continue to have real value.

We certainly live in interesting times. I wonder what all this is going to look like in a couple of more years?


New Orleans SGIA This Week

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

Just wanted to let everyone know I will be in New Orleans this week for the SGIA Show. This has traditionally been the biggest tradeshow of the year for screen printers, but not necessarily for textile screen printers. It is where all the newest technology is released or shown for the first time.

I love New Orleans for a number of reasons. For one, it was the very first show I ever attended in 1976. I was still in college, a senior at the time, and I skipped my midterms, took the economy redeye on Delta from LA, and promptly ran out of money the second day I was there. I was so motivated by the show I really wasn’t all that concerned about eating. For most of the week I lived off the free hors d’oeuvres in the hospitality suites. It wasn’t very glamourous, but I knew I needed to be there and I was going to do anything I could to make it happen.

This is my 30th SGIA show. I missed the 2001 Show, cancelled due to 9/11 and the 2005 Show cancelled due to hurricane Katrina. In fact, this is the first time the show has been back since the hurricane and I’m glad it is back.

This year the show is one day shorter than typical, running from Wednesday Oct 7 until 3 pm on Friday Oct 9th. Some of the biggest names in the textile area have decided not to show, and this is a shame. I can understand the double whammy of a shorter show and the generally dismal economy. It’s simply too much to overcome. That being said, SGIA is still going to be a worthwhile and meaningful show.

If you are in New Orleans, I would love to meet up and talk with anyone who has been to the site over the last year or so and chat. I’m always looking for opinions and ideas on how to make the blog better and more relevant to all of you.


Brand Comfort - Confidence in a Far Away Place

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

I’m in Tirupur, India all this week, half way around the world from California where I live. Tirupur is in southern India about 1 hr flight time West of Chennai (Madras). It’s the center of the Indian knitwear region and has many significantly sized textile operations that supply blank as well as printed apparel for some of the world’s most notable brands.

Tirupur is also a fairly poor area, at least on the outside. I’ve been to many factories in developing countries and Tirupur fits the profile of many of them. Whenever I travel to lesser developed areas it always comes with the warning “Don’t drink the water.” This is usually very good advice.

It’s always a chance you take, even with bottled water. I’ve been in situations, more than once, where the locals will fill the bottles out of the tap and then super glue the caps back on to make it look like they are sealed. I’m always wary.

So we come to the topic of today’s post. When I got to my room at the Hotel Angel (an oasis for me!), what did I see on the table? There, in front of me was the familiar transparent blue label of Pesico’s Auqafina brand bottle drinking water, exactly as I know it in the US. My spirits peaked as I picked up the 1 ltr bottle to read the outside.

It was indeed bottled in India, but they went to great lengths to calm any concerns I might have. From the lablel:

“This bottle contains water treated through our 5-step State-Of-The-Art process that comprises UV treatment, reverse osmosis, ozonization, carbon filtration, and sand filtration. It goes on to label prominently “International Tamperproof Seal.” There are at least three quality badges or insignias on the label as well.

This is a clear case of not only the value of Brand Identity, but going further to reinforce the trust and safety of the product. Guess what? It works for me.

When I was in the hotel restaurant last night, I asked for bottled water and the waiter again brought out the Aquafina. He presented it to me so I could read the label and inspect the cap seal. I very much felt like I was confirming a fine wine selection. I commented to the waiter after looking at the bottling date on the cap that ” The April 9th, 2009 bottling was a particularly good bottling.”


I Got This Great Idea For a T Shirt! Part One

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Over the years I bet I’ve heard this over a thousand times. It almost always happens when I meet someone I don’t know and explain to them what I do. As soon as they hear “I print t shirts” out comes the idea. They’re always excited about it and they all think they’re going to make a million dollars with the idea. So, here are a few thoughts on the marketing of t shirt ideas.

Before the Internet, having a good idea for a t shirt was like having a good idea for a book. The chances of anything happening were almost impossible. At best they would invest a few hundred dollars in art, screens, and production of a dozen shirts or so. They would give some to their friends and try to sell the rest.

In the 36 years I’ve been doing this business, I’ve only seen a handful of success stories. Those were people who already knew a thing or two about marketing anyway. All the others got an expensive education in Marketing 101.

With the Internet things have changed. The technology has changed too. Today you can use any one of a number of digital Direct-to-Garment (DTG) companies like Cafe Press, Zazzle, or Printfection. These companies allow you to create great one off images and they’ll even help you market your ideas across the Internet.

Second, before you go to all the expense of printing up a bunch of expensive samples do some basic market research to see if other people are as excited about your design as you are. Start by doing a Google Search (Your Design Idea) + T Shirt. So for instance do a search for: Funny Cat + T Shirt and see how many other people are thinking the same thing you are.

Here’s an IMPORTANT TIP - you WANT competition. If you don’t find anybody who’s doing something similar, it usually means it’s a weak idea or you haven’t hit the key idea in a way others will recognize. If you find 50 Funny Cat T Shirts (and there will be a bunch,) you’ll know there are other people who have gone to the trouble of developing and marketing a similar idea. This is a really GOOD sign.

If you’re encouraged by what you find, it’s onto the production step. In the early stages of your business, it’s probably best to go with digital DTG. With DTG, you pretty much go to the company website and follow their instructions to upload your art. Many websites will now allow you to build your design online in their design lab. This is an OK approach, but you are much better off doing your design work offline and simply uploading it through their order page.

You’ll want to make sure you have the art in the proper format. Here’s a hint, DO NOT do your art work in Microsoft Word or Power Point. They’re unacceptable formats. DO NOT do a screen capture from a web page. You’ll get horrible quality. Ask for guidance on the file format and preparation.

If you really believe in what you’ve got, go the extra mile and get the art done correctly right from the beginning. Great art is what sells shirts. When you have a great idea, you get their attention, but it’s the art that closes the deal. If you need to, get a REAL graphic designer to do the art for you. Having your cousin, who has Photoshop, do the art for you is like doing brain surgery on the kitchen table. Results are not going to be good.

With a few shirts in hand, it’s off to the races to see how many you’ll sell and how fast. Remember, the more people you can get your shirt in front of, the more exposure you’ll have. YouTube and Flickr can be great for this. Be sure to link to your sales page url so everyone who sees it can buy it.


The Value of Small Business to the US

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Recently The President of the U.S. received a report entitled:

2009 - The Small Business Economy
A Report to the President

This is an annual report complied by the Office of Advocacy whose charge is to conduct and solicit research documenting the importance of entrepreneurship in the American economy and highlighting policy issues of relevance to small firms. This report contains some very interesting and informative facts. Among them small businesses in the U.S. provide about half of the nation’s private sector work force, and provide half of the nation’s nonfarm, private real gross domestic product (GDP), as well as a significant share of innovations.

In the introduction, the authors point out:

Small businesses were challenged in many ways during the year, with many struggling to make ends meet. Their top concerns in the middle of 2008 included poor sales and inflation; by year’s end, access to credit was a major concern. The nation’s job generators were forced to reevaluate their businesses, lay off workers, and postpone plans to grow their firms.

This is nothing new to any of us who are actually out in the trenches fighting the day-to-day battles. The report goes on to cite the current challenges faced by small firms, including access to capital, the cost and availability of health insurance, retaining a quality work force, global competition, and concerns about taxes, regulation, and federal procurement.

It was also noted small firms faced difficult challenges in the extremely distressed financial environment. The credit freeze in the short-term funding markets had a devastating effect on the economy and small firms. By late 2008, the normal production of goods and services had virtually stalled. While the first half of the year was largely un-effected by the changes in the financial sector, by the fourth quarter loans and credit to small businesses virtually stopped.

One of the most interesting observations was that small businesses can be divided into two groups, employers and nonemployers. The later would be single owner/family operations that do not employ outside workers. Overall, the researchers noted how the typical nonemployee firm and employer firm differ. The most immediately obvious difference is their size and number. Employers are larger operations, but nonemployers outnumber employer firms by a three-to-one ratio.

When it comes to the impact of foreign competition on small businesses several factors come into play. Small manufacturers, by the nature of their size, are less able to protect themselves from foreign competition than large manufacturers. Overall, the study fount that increased international pressures in the form of currency exchange rates lead to increased exit rates among very small manufacturers (those with fewer than 20 employees). Slightly bigger manufacturers (20-499 employees) are less sensitive to changing conditions.

While none of this is news to those in business, at least the President is now somewhat aware of the plight of small business. Whether anything can be done to improve the situation remains to be seen. The stimulus efforts to date have been weak at best.


The Coming Sales Tax Storm for Online TShirt Companies

Friday, July 10th, 2009

We’re all aware of the amazing success of the online custom t shirt companies. You can build your design using the online design software, collaborate with others, and place your order to get the shirts printed. Great idea and it’s worked really well so far.

There are lots of winners in this model. The consumer wins because they can participate in creating their graphics without being a graphic designer. They also win because the freight is usually free and there is no sales tax due, so they save some money over the local guy. The final cost of the shirt may or may not be cheaper than doing it locally, but the experience is a lot more fun and they don’t have to deal with the local “silkscreener.”

The online t shirt company wins because they are almost always “virtual.” They don’t do the actual production. They contract with screen printers all over the place to do the work for them. Nothing at all wrong with that.

It allows the virtual company to find suppliers in the general geographic region where the original order was placed so they can get it produced close to the consumer and keep their transportation/shipping costs as low as possible. Nothing wrong with that and it’s good for the environment.

The screen printers are a big winner. Traditionally they are not good at marketing or sales. They are tech junkies who would just as soon print and never have to deal with a customer. Since the online guys are great at marketing, the screen printers get a steady stream of orders to keep them busy. What a great deal for everybody.

But there’s trouble brewing on the horizon. With 44 of the 50 states currently in a financial deficit situation they are ALL looking for ways to increase their revenue and online transactions are one of those areas where the microscope is focused. Those of us in California are probably in the worst situation right now.

Trouble is, the State of California has figured out that even if you are a third party manufacturer or drop shipper for an out-of-state company, you are still liable to collect the sales tax on orders produced and shipped to customers in the state even though you did not originate the order AND you do not know how much the order was sold for. The State has some bogus formula they use to concoct the Sales Tax owed.

One of our companies was caught in this situation a couple of years ago. During a routine sales tax audit the relationship to a large virtual online company was “discovered.” This set off all kinds of bells and whistles and ultimately we got a tax bill plus penalties for many THOUSANDS of dollars.

Fortunately the online company involved did the stand-up thing and ponied up the tax due, even though they were not obligated to under the “presence” or “nexus” statutes. However, this is only one case and I know for a fact other vendors operating in California have NOT been informed of this potential HUGE liability.

This is an enormous potential liability for companies who are acting as outsourced manufacturing. I don’t know how many other states have statutes like this, but I would bet it is more than you might imagine. If you do work for online custom t shirt companies, do yourself a favor and check this out before you get a nasty surprise when the tax man shows up demanding crazy amounts of money. The one thing we can count on for sure is that this is only the beginning.


Signs of economic recovery?

Friday, May 1st, 2009

I was talking with one of the equipment financing companies last week. I was asking them how their collections were and if they were seeing any kind of an up tick. They said it depended on where you were (upper midwest is a disaster). She said the older companies that were not too leveraged were beginning to show signs of recovery, but everyone else is pretty much where they were.

Even if the economy is starting to show some faint signs of recovery there’s something else to be aware of. More new business does not necessarily mean you are headed out of the woods. The problem is that it takes money to make money. You need capital to fund new business. Simply put, you need to buy raw materials to convert to orders, and you need to be able to carry accounts receivable (AR) until you get paid. You need to collect your AR before you see any increase in your available funds to pay your bills.

When you fall behind due to slow business, you use up your available working capital. When it comes time to fund new business you have only three choices. The first is to get enough money from your customers as a deposit to pay for the goods you need. The second is to get your suppliers (vendor finance) or bank (line of credit) to advance you goods or credit. The third is to put more capital into your business, either from your savings or from additional investment.

All of these are getting harder and harder to accomplish. Oddly, the easiest one we’ve found is to get our customers to front the deposit. In the past they have been reluctant, but with all the news of tight capital markets, most are aware of just how hard it is to get credit for small business. Consequently, they’ve been much more willing to pony up the deposit. Play up the tightness of the markets and this will help you as well.

The second part of the cash cycle equation is getting paid on the back end. Once you deliver the job, you really can’t wait to convert accounts receivables to cash. If you aren’t taking credit cards, do it now. Many companies use commercial credit cards to build airline reward miles. This is a benefit to them and you. You give a few points on the front end to have your cash available pretty much immediately.

If you allow your customers to go 10, 15, 20, or 30 days before paying, you will simply run out of money trying to finance your own recovery. This is one of the most common situations for companies that close their doors. They are litereally busy up to the day the shut down. Being busy is only one part of your success. Cash liquidity or your access to available cash is critical to your on going success.

I think we’re going to seek A LOT of business failures this summer, especially if business begins to pick up. All these companies who are stretched thin and behind now are going to run out of cash trying to finance recover


Fastest Way to Get More Business

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

Here we are in the first week of March already. Business is pretty much horrible in virtually every segment of the industry. I talk to dozens of decorators a week and they’re all telling me the same thing. The few printers that are busy seem to have their business focused on one or two accounts that have something going. Everyone is asking the same question: What can I do to get more business?

The fastest way to get more business is to look at your existing customer base and see if you can’t sell them more. We’ve talked about this before and it works great until you’ve gone to the well too many times. Then what?

The next best place is to resurrect customers who’ve left you for one reason or another. I don’t know why businesses are so scared of this. Perhaps they think if a customer’s left, they don’t like you. In most cases that’s simply not true.

People leave for all kinds of reasons. Perhaps your main contact in the organization left and there’s someone new there that doesn’t know you. Perhaps their needs changed and they no longer required your services. Perhaps there was some internal disturbance that caused you to fall between the cracks. Most likely, your customer simply got too busy and time slipped by. Before you know it, it’s been a couple of years since they’ve done anything.

To make matters worse, when you’re busy, you don’t seem to notice them falling off. It’s only when times get slow and you start to look back that you see how much business has gone away. This is called attrition. It’s the easiest and fastest way to get orders in, after you’ve exhausted your currently active accounts.

Get out your total customer list. If you can, sort by customer, by most recent order. You can now go down the list and find everyone who hasn’t called you in 6 months. Get on the phone and call them. Simply ask if there’s anything wrong? Tell them you’ve noticed they haven’t ordered recently and you wanted to make sure you haven’t done something to offend them.

If you have done something wrong, you’ll learn about it here and you can correct the problem. If you haven’t your customer will find themselves in the position of having to respond. You may very possibly end up with an order on the spot.

Remember, business is built on relationships. The closer you are to your customers and clients, the more business you will get. It’s when you start drifting away that you begin to lose business. Try reactivating your old accounts as I’ve described. You will be pleasantly surprised on what develops.

Even if they have no business for you at this time, take the opportunity to ask if they know anyone who they could recommend to you who could benefit from your services. If you can get 1 - 3 names from each of the people you talk to, you’ll have a great running start toward new Spring business.