Screen Printing - February/March 2020 - 20
create the illusion you're
to constantly clean them.
doing complex stuff, but
"We didn't know how to
keeping it simple onsite,"
manage a line, so we had
he says. "Always think of
a giant swarm of people
ways to be faster in terms
waiting, but it was still
of load in and load out."
successful. People were
Smaller gear and easier
still getting their stuff
prints are the way to go.
and learning about the
Live screen printing delivers key drivers to your customers' customers:
"It may be good practice
process, and they're
personalization, customization, the "Amazon effect," and social media.
to deal with customers
mesmerized by how
onsite, but you're not
screen printing works plus
going to guarantee your money back, so try to find spongetting the shirt." Hellmann and Meiners learned from their
sors of upcoming races or use clients you already have in
mistakes. For example, they don't use water-based inks
your network and pitch the idea of live printing," he says.
anymore. "It took a while to get a setup we were comfortIf you're printing 500 shirts for the local 5K, why not ask if
able using," he says. Consultants can come in and set up
you can print them onsite instead? You can charge more,
your shop with workflow tips and tricks, but at the time,
garner more clients from face-to-face time, and practice.
there wasn't anything in place for live printing. "There's no
"Anywhere stuff is given out is an opportunity to live print,"
controlled environment, which is the biggest thing. You have
to be flexible and quick to fix or see issues that may be arisPromo companies are their biggest competition. "They're
ing," Hellmann says.
getting items to give out to customers, and live screen printing
That's not all that's gone wrong in the business' 10-year
is the same thing: giving items to create brand awareness," he
history. "Things don't show up, we've had to buy shirts an
says. "So instead of buying pens no one is going to use, offer
hour before the event starts because they didn't arrive on
onsite customization. People really like seeing whatever is
time, we've had to deal with squeegees not being there,
printed happen in their face."
printers not working - you name it, it's happened," says
Comic-Con is a perfect example of the excitement live
Hellmann. "The key is having a plan in place in case someprinting brings. "People wait in line for stuff you would never
thing does go wrong. If you think something is going to
wait in line for, but there's a demand because it's limited-edihappen, use your knowledge to fix it."
tion." Also, a line always draws a demand. Pro tip? "If you limit
Another mistake a live screen printing newbie can make
your shirts per day, it brings people back the next day," he says.
is physically separating themselves from the customer.
Live screen printing does not have to be your shop's
"People like talking and communicating with the printer,"
full-time work. "We've seen a lot of companies come and go,
Hellmann says. "They like to see what's happening and why
but this is our core part of the business," he says. "It depends
and how it works. It helps to create a connection, and it's
on where you're at with your business and how dedicated
more memorable for that person," he says.
you are to making it work." You can always use live screen
Hellmann shares a story about when he got a call from
printing as an add-on to help bring in additional income and
a team at Stanford while he was finishing an event in
Chicago. They realized 10 minutes before "go time" there
"Everybody wants something immediately, so to be able
weren't any squeegees for Stanford's graduation party so
to get something right away, there's instant gratification that
they couldn't print the shirts. Their solution? The team
comes from it," says Hellmann on why he thinks live screen
fashioned squeegees out of cardboard. They made it work
printing has gained popularity. "People like experiences. Now
for one design. "You just have to eat the mistake at that
people are bored with the norm, so having an experience is a
point. Always check the kit! At some point you're going to
selling point. You can get a shirt ahead of time - and they still
have to overnight something, drive something, and eat the
have their place - but when you're doing it onsite it draws
costs. We try to do checklists, but with the way things move,
people in. Plus, people love free stuff. There's an insane
things are going to happen."
reaction to both the screen printing and the free stuff."
Family Industries defines success in three ways: if the
HOW TO DO IT
client is happy, the guests are happy onsite, and no money
Hellmann suggests using your pre-existing network and
has been lost. From their days of dual unemployment to
gear you already own. He also says an in-house screen
running a global business, Hellmann and Meiners have also
printing shop and an onsite team are completely different.
defined success for themselves.
"You're not trying to replicate your shop. You're trying to
Screen Printing - February/March 2020
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