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Simple Ways to Organize Small Print Shops   

Simple Ways to Organize Small Print Shops   

Business Tips

Jen Badger was completely taken by surprise when her one-person print shop took off. Now, ShineOn designs has moved to a commercial space and gained another full-time employee which makes communication and organization a little more challenging compared to the days when Jen was working by herself. We catch up with her today to hear all about her top methods for keeping a small-scale business organized that are affordable, simple to use, and easy for any decorator to adopt.

What were you not expecting when you grew larger than a one-person shop?

When I started, I was working alone and I was able to keep track of all the projects and every step of the process. It used to be easy for me to keep track of everything just in a notebook or in a file for each client. But as I grew and gained a new employee, communication really became a big issue. We quickly discovered that we needed to be able to tell each other how things were moving along so that everything could keep moving and nothing would get lost.

I can imagine! What kind of systems do you have in place to help with this communication?

One of the ways we were able to communicate with each other was through the use of a digital bulletin board. There's a free website we use called trello.com which also has an app you can put on your phone. As we completed each part of the process in every project, we were able to update it on there and look at all the information at a glance — without having to call or email or text each other. So that really streamlined our communication and process. There are shop management software packages out there but as I was making more money, I really wanted to reinvest that into bigger and better equipment for the business. So I’m happy to have found a way to track everything that didn't have to cost anything.

And in terms of your production process, what do you have in place for that?

So we’ve implemented a color-coded work order form. Each project gets its own work order form, and ours are color-coded by screen print, embroidery, heat transfer designs, and promotional products. That way, we know at a glance where an order is going and what it is. Then any information we feel is pertinent, like email communication, we'll just staple right to it. The work order forms are what we use for every step of the process; for shirt sizes, ink color, thread color, item numbers, basically any reference information. Then once the apparel is ordered, the work order form will go to a clipboard where it'll be used for intake. It can be referenced at every step of the process which really helps to keep everything in one location.

An electronic software can also do all that but this is a really easy, low-cost option for somebody who is just getting started or a small shop.

What do you like doing to track your long term goals as a business?

We constantly evaluate and re-evaluate our processes, even if it's something as simple as looking at our intakes and rethinking the most efficient way to keep stock. My employee and I realized that we're very visual people and we work by what we see. So we do a lot of things visually to help us stay organized and we've kept that in mind every time we adapt.

I think it's just really important to stay open in your communication and take suggestions, and just not to get so set in your ways that you can't step outside of that. Usually, in the mornings, my employee and I will sit down and go over what is scheduled for the day and then we'll look ahead, making sure we're on the same page with what we need to accomplish.