For promotional products distributors at the whims of supply chain and service challenges, the idea of bringing decoration services in-house holds a certain amount of appeal. In-sourcing gives distributors more control over scheduling and ensuring that logo placement and color meets the specifications of a demanding client. On the flip side, adding decoration services requires a not insignificant capital outlay for equipment, and likely the need to beef up staffing as well.
Before making a decision to bring all, some or none of your decorating needs in-house, consider this list of pros and cons.
1. You’re in Control. Distributors with their own decoration services don’t need to wait in a queue for client orders to be completed, worried that a higher-priority job will bump theirs down the line. If your shop is handling decoration, you can take steps to make sure a client gets their order by the in-hands date. Plus, you have a bigger hand in quality control: No more logos in the wrong Pantone color or covered by the hood of a sweatshirt because of a miscommunication with a supplier or contract decorator.
2. Sampling Is a Breeze. Whipping up a product sample for a client so they can see what their artwork looks like on a T-shirt or other product is a simple matter with in-house decoration. Even if you don’t opt to in-source all your production needs, adding, say, a desktop direct-to-garment printer could give you an edge when dealing with local clients.
3. Become a One-Stop Shop. Offering decorating services could help you capture more revenue from existing customers. You can provide – and charge for – graphic design and printing, as well as the sourcing and creative ideation clients are already looking for from you.
4. Take Your Show on the Road. Depending on the size and type of equipment you decide to purchase, there’s opportunity to provide in-demand decoration and personalization services on site at festivals, sporting events and other venues. People love the spectacle of live decoration; plus, you can charge a premium simply for adding a name or other custom element to a pre-printed event tee.
1. It’s Going to Cost You. Adding decoration equipment to your office requires a significant capital investment in equipment, technology and training. Before you take the plunge, make sure the purchase fits into your budget and consider whether your current office space has enough square footage to accommodate the equipment you plan to buy.
2. You’ll Need to Staff Up. You’ll need staff to run your embroidery machine, screen-printing press or other digital printing equipment. Even if you plan to tap a current employee to become your in-house decorator, you’ll need to invest time and money into training that person on the new equipment.
3. What About Your Core Business? Diversification is important. After all, we’ve all seen the mess that can be made of a business that puts all its eggs in one basket. Still, there’s something to be said for having a focused core business and doubling down on strengthening that core. Will decoration services enhance your company’s mission or dilute it?
4. What’s the ROI? Take some time to calculate the return on investment of adding decoration equipment. Yes, you’ll be saving money by not having to pay a contractor or supplier to add logos to products, but you might be spending more than you’re saving by bringing decoration in house. Be sure to run the numbers thoroughly before making a decision. And remember, even if you decide to handle some decoration for customers, there’s no reason you can’t still use a contract decorator for larger or more complex orders that your equipment and staff can’t handle.