If you are serious about either starting up or expanding the screen printing footprint of your company, you need to really know and understand as much as possible about the process before investing. I'm not saying this to scare you or deter you from making the investment, but I'm saying it so that you do not make some of the same mistakes I did. Although A&P Master Images is now thriving, there were some mistakes made that took months of research and planning to fix. So before you learn the hard way, do the research and planning now.
(All images courtesy A&P Master Images)
Screen printing is a profitable process but also very physically demanding in terms of labor and time, no matter if you start off being a one-person show or hiring others to work for your company.
You have to plan out certain days of the week to sell, produce proofs for orders, and clean and burn screens. And let's not forget to plan a whole day of printing. Your time is much more expensive and valuable.
Most people starting in the business want to compete with companies larger than them on price. That's the first mistake in this game. Do not try this. You are not refined enough to compete in the price game. You are much slower, and you need all of the profit you can get on each order so you can eventually hire people to work for you. Remember, if you make less, you can only afford less. Charge a middle of the road price and focus on your customer service and quality.
The key to any process is maximizing your space. How much money in production can you produce per square foot, safely, while being clean, and organized all at the same time? You can go around and see much larger shops for sure, but are they well put together? Are they clean? Are they wasting space and heat? Would you be proud to give your customers a tour of how you produce their order? All of this matters!
Below are some important questions to research and answer when building a business plan for getting started or expanding with the screen printing process.
- What is your customer base if you have one?
- What's your company's 5-year and 10-year plan? (More and more screen printing equipment can last 15–20 years)
- What percentage of your screen print designs are 1-color, 2-color, 3-color, etc.?
- How many orders do you produce a week and per year?
- What is your average production time? Are you working to improve that?
- What space do you have dedicated to screen printing?
- Do you have single-phase or three-phase electric?
- Is the equipment on the first floor or second floor?
- What is your widest doorway to fit the equipment as parts inside?
- How fast are you looking to get the equipment by?
- Do you have air conditioners or central air? Is it good enough to handle the extra heat from flash units and dryers to keep to no more than 85 degrees F and mid-level humidity to control your cure rate?
- What supplies will you need to get up and running?
- How many and what type of platens do you need to increase not only production but to allow you to print on a variety of products?
- Are you looking to take a loan out or lease?
- Which option is better for you, and what is the interest rate for both?