Every shop has its own method of maintaining operations. Still, every decorator wants to ensure that customers are happy, sales are steady, bills are paid, and business is running smoothly at the end of the day. Making sure all those things happen requires having the right tools in place.

If every department stays in the loop and customer orders are tracked accurately from order creation through production, you’ll spend less time cleaning up mistakes. Using some spreadsheets and paper order forms can work for a while, but eventually, your shop will need reliable shop management software to maintain operations.

Why is investing in this type of software so crucial for print shops? Before we look at some of the key reasons, let’s assume that as a business, you want to keep growing every year, be it with order volume, customer base, or another metric. Trying to grow a business without shop management software isn’t impossible, but it’ll often be more costly in the long run and more challenging because you won’t have all the tools you need to scale up.

Even if your business wants to stay small and focus on the customers you already have, shop management software helps you deliver better service, finish orders faster, and helps your team do their jobs better.

Saving Money Every Step of the Way

A reliable shop management software platform features tools like quoting/invoicing, customer relationship management (CRM), production, and job management. And ideally, the platform should be built specifically for the printing industry. It’ll allow you to track critical details of those orders like the number of ink colors, garment types and sizes, and thread weights.

Having a software system that helps you manage your shop’s operations is essential for a few big reasons:

Ordering process: Software with a good CRM system ensures that every order your team takes in gets entered into an organized system. All customer contact and order information is stored and saved. Having a system in place reduces miscommunication in the initial ordering phase. Plus, you’ll be able to quickly and efficiently reach back out to confirm an order detail or contact a customer to set up a reorder.

Pre-Press Follies: Before you even pull a squeegee, some mistakes can cost you money if you don’t have the right tools. If your art team doesn’t get the correct information and a customer design isn’t built exactly to spec, your shop has already lost money. It’s wasted labor hours having to rebuild that artwork. And it’s lost money since, in most instances, you can’t charge a customer for extra work your team has to do because of your mistakes.

Shop management software with quoting/invoicing will also give your art team an approved mockup with all the details they need to build out the artwork precisely to the customer’s specifications.

Printing Mishaps: If an incorrect order makes it to the print phase because of a lousy shop management system, things get even costlier. There’s the reprint, more labor hours, plus material costs.
That takes away from the initial job profit if you’re burning through labor hours and supplies like ink and shirts. Reputable shop management software has production management intertwined with the features, which helps create a set of checks and balances. Your team member working on press can look at the order in the system and check the ink colors and designs from the original customer art approval to ensure they’re printing precisely what they ordered.

Keeping Customers Happy

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Credit: InkSoft

Having good shop management software doesn’t just help improve your production and order management processes. It also allows for retaining existing customers and finding new ones. Now that customers are fully immersed in the e-commerce world of fast turnarounds and instant gratification, they have very high expectations of the experience when they do business with you.

Suppose orders are going out on time and are consistently high-quality. In that case, you’ll have happier long-term customers who know they can count on your shop to deliver the merch they need. Even if you can’t offer rock-bottom prices like the Amazons of the world, the quality of your service is likely to stand on its own.

In many instances, customers are happy to pay a little more if they’re getting a better service and product. And suppose a shop management system enhances the efficiency and quality of your work. In that case, that only stands to bolster your reputation with new customers who learn about your business from happy clients.

Conversely, if you’re racking up misprints and causing delays for your customers, that online space can work against your business’s reputation. While using a reliable shop management system can lead to positive online reviews and more customers, not having a good system yields the opposite result. And because reviews are so intertwined with business image, it doesn’t take long for a few one-star reviews to give your shop a bad impression to online customers locally and nationwide.

Staying Competitive

Having a reliable system in place also means your business can stay ahead of the local competition. If the shop down the road still uses paper forms and only takes orders over the phone, you’ll already have a leg up. Because of e-commerce, customers have also gotten used to doing business with companies that respond swifter than in previous years.

A reliable system gives you tools so that specific team members get emails from customers, making it easier and faster to respond to questions. It’ll also keep your communications better organized, so there’s less confusion on which customers still need a quote, who’s already approved an invoice, who needs a follow-up call, and so on.

Planning Ahead

Purchasing shop management software can often be an expensive investment at the forefront. But as you talk with different vendors, you’ll find that many offer multiple tiers of their program. You can chat with representatives to determine which version of the program best fits your shop’s goals and current needs.

Even if the best shop management software still seems a little steep for your company’s budget, consider it similar to investing in other pieces of equipment in your shop. Once you’ve invested in the right tools to help run your shop better and care for your customers, you’re setting your team up for long-term success.