All posts by Larry

When Larry isn't talking about PriceIt Software or managing orders at Perfect Image Screen Printing and Embroidery he's either fishing or gigging with his band Thunderhook as lead singer/guitarist. He also enjoys gardening and loves to cook for his beautiful wife Sandy.

What’s in Your Toolbox?

“Do I put my car repair tools in my carpentry toolbox? Do I put my electrical tools and multi-meter in my plumbing toolbox? The answer was “no!”"

What’s in Your Toolbox?

What is a toolbox? A toolbox is simply a place to keep your tools where you can find them again. As with any profession we have a place to keep our tools we use to do our daily work. It doesn’t matter if we are a mechanic, carpenter, chef, screen printer, landscaping, or a computer programmer – we all use tools.

Every day I get to talk with Screen Printers and Embroiderers from around the country. I try to listen to what our customers want and what the latest trends are in the industry so we can stay in step with what’s going on. Especially during this pandemic – people are getting creative in keeping their shops open. One of these creative solutions has been to expand their market to beyond their own zip code as well as make it super-easy for their customers to order and pay for an order without even having to come into the shop. One thing that keeps ringing like a bell lately is Web Stores and Micro-sites.

One of our customers, Tom Rauen (owner and founder of Envision Sportswear) has been using PriceIt for a long time. We are honored to be part of his success as we’ve watched his business grow into the powerhouse that it is today. Not long ago he asked us to integrate his web stores with PriceIt. We thought about it for a while and tossed around a lot of ideas. Originally we were going to develop our own web store within PriceIt. One thing that kept ringing loud and clear was do we really want to fill up the PriceIt toolbox with more tools and create a mega-bloated program? Do I put my car repair tools in my carpentry toolbox? Do I put my electrical tools and multi-meter in my plumbing toolbox? The answer was “no!” Why not? They are all different with different functions. Now all my tools may be in the same garage but they are not all stuffed into the same box. It’s a bad idea and can lead to confusion, unnecessary searching, and a big freaking mess. Why do we want to do that with our software?

PriceIt handles Shop Management very well. Shopify does web stores very well. We’ve already integrated PriceIt with Quickbooks, Hubspot, SanMar, AlphaBroder, (working on S&S), Outlook, UPS, Authorize.net, etc… Why not build a bridge and just integrate? So that is exactly what we did. Our developer and owner Ron spent many weekends and evenings to get it done and I am more than excited about the results. I took another look at it today and it literally blew my mind. This means that orders can be submitted and paid while you sleep and then easily pushed to PriceIt for further order management. He even went a step further and made it so a new customer is automatically added or updated to Hubspot when a Shopify order is pushed to PriceIt. If you haven’t checked it out yet that’s ok. I haven’t finished the video overview of it. That will be done in the next few days. Keep and eye out for it and let me know what you think. Trust me – you’re going to want to see this amazing feature in action! If you’re an existing PriceIt Customer and use Shopify you should call us ASAP so we can get you on board as a beta tester.

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It Turns Out You Can In Fact Buy Time

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Communication Breakdown?

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What’s in Your Toolbox?

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Communication Breakdown?

“We’ve empowered our customers to communicate clearly and effectively that they approve or do not approve their estimate.”

I’m not talking about a wicked cool song by Led Zeppelin – I’m talking about what happens every day in businesses everywhere – all the time.

You can be the best _______ (fill in the blank with any profession) ever in the history of ever at something but if you don’t have happy customers you probably won’t be in business for very long unless you work for the DMV. (lol) I know you’re probably thinking, “yeah no sh!t Sherlock!” However every day many of us respond to our customers like they are an inconvenience or a pain in the a$$. Nine times out of ten if they are unhappy or being difficult it’s because there has been a communication breakdown somewhere along the way. The truth is that it’s very difficult to keep up with everything happening at once at the speed of light. Invariably we get overwhelmed and we don’t always communicate the way we want or intend to. Stuff just falls through the cracks.

Anyone who’s ever been in a relationship or married can attest that the biggest problem most of them face is horrible communication. Talk to any marriage/relationship counselor and they will agree. Of course the rules for relationships are universal and whether we are talking about a significant other, a family member – or our business – the rules still apply. Our relationships with our customers are directly linked to how we communicate with them. What is the most important part of communication? Listening. It is paramount that we take the time to listen to our customers. When a customer knows they are being listened to – trust is developed. I always like it when an order taker at the drive through reads my order back to me. That way any mistakes can be addressed before I get my order and drive away. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ordered something only to be told “OK drive around” only to find out that the Big Mac I ordered somehow got translated to Chicken Sandwich after checking the receipt. This happens all the time with Screen Printing and Embroidery Shops. Sometimes it’s because of lazy listening skills – other times it’s because information about the order isn’t communicated clearly to other departments.

The latter can be addressed by simply enacting well thought-out protocol along with the use of shop management software. The software we use at our shop allows us to easily communicate with our customers. From estimates to shipping and every step of the process in between. Some recent development has made the art proofing process much easier and more importantly – more effective. The dialog between artist and customer flows back and forth dynamically until proofs are approved with a signature and all communication is logged and time-stamped. Another way communication flows better is when we email an invoice to our customer they can approve it with the click of a mouse. We’ve empowered our customers to communicate clearly and effectively that they approve or do not approve their estimate. The days of phone tag and lost emails are over. In most cases turn-around time from estimate to job takes minutes instead of hours or even days.

At Perfect Image we use PriceIt Software. We love it – we should – we developed it. Better communication has not only strengthened our relationships with our customers – it has increased our bottom line. Customers are never “left in the dark” wondering what is going on and where we are in the production process. Never before has communication with our customers been this good.

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Recent post title

It Turns Out You Can In Fact Buy Time

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Communication Breakdown?

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It Turns Out You Can In Fact Buy Time

It Turns Out You Can In Fact Buy Time

“…you can buy land, food, cars, even this tractor here, anything you want in life. The one thing you cannot buy is time…”

Back in the 1970s as a kid I remember sitting with my Grandfather one day on a break from working in the hot hay field on his farm in upstate New York. The skies were beginning to get dark with the ominous prophecy of a summertime storm about to unleash it’s welcoming rainstorm. This was a double-edged blessing because it meant it was about to get much cooler – and it also meant a mid-day trout fishing trip to the pond across the road. On the other side of the coin it also meant that the hay still in the field was about to get wet and there wasn’t a thing we could do about it. I remember saying, “it’s too bad we can’t just buy more time so we can get this finished up before we go fishing!” My Grandfather looked at me with a grin that told me I was about to hear something either smart-ass or life changing wisdom was about to be bestowed upon my young naive mind. Turns out it was the latter. He turned to me and said, “you can buy land, food, cars, even this tractor here, anything you want in life. The one thing you cannot buy is time. Once its gone, its gone and you can’t get it back – you can’t buy it back or buy more time. Even in life once our time in this life is done you cannot buy more time.” I sat and thought about it for a few seconds and shrugged my shoulders and said, “Ok – let’s go fishing!”

While a younger me shrugged his shoulders and initially put off my Grandfather’s words as something old people say, it never left my mind. The older I got the more I understood what he meant by his “you can’t buy time” words of wisdom. While his words may be true in a universal sense – it doesn’t mean you can’t invest in processes that use time more efficiently. In effect – you CAN buy time. Let me explain what I mean by that. In addition to marketing and sales for PriceIt Software I also help manage orders at Perfect Image Screen Printing and Embroidery wherever I’m needed. Three of the biggest time sucks of the job are:

  1. Chasing Quotes and Deposits – 1 hour a day
  2. Ordering blank goods – 1 hour a day
  3. Artwork Proofing and Approval – 2 hours a day

Half the day is spent doing these things – or used to take that much time. Of course selling PriceIt and being an end-user as well has its advantages. One is that I get to play with new features before anyone else does. Here are my experiences both before – and after using PriceIt 9.1 for each of the tasks listed above.

Chasing Quotes and Deposits before: Get the list of open estimates. Make phone call. Ask if they received the estimate you emailed them. Get told they did but haven’t look at it. Call back again another day. Leave voicemail. Call again and finally get a hold of the decision maker. Get put off another week. Finally get the go ahead but now have to wait for them to come in with a payment, or take their credit card over the phone.

Chasing Quotes with PriceIt 9.1: Email the estimate with a link for estimate approval and a link for deposit. Customer interacts with email to approve the estimate and makes payment.

Ordering Blank Goods before: Open Vendor website. Log in. Print purchasing report. Refer to purchasing report to punch in item number. Click on color. Scroll down to warehouses. Find default warehouse. Check inventory. Type each quantity one at a time into the sizes. Click “add to cart.” Go to cart, open it, and ask Brian or Ron to double check the order against the purchasing report. Make corrections if needed. Finish transaction.

Ordering Blank Good after PriceIt 9.1: Open purchasing report. Click “Send to Vendor.” Finish transaction. Done.

Getting artwork proofs approved before PriceIt 9.1: Create Proof. Send in an email. Wait. Call customer to see if they received the proofs. Wait for call or email back. Proof eventually gets approved after several back and forth emails and a lot of frustration. Most of the time the proofs aren’t signed leaving legal burden in our lap in case of misprints. The acronym PIA comes to mind here.

Getting Artwork proofs approved after PriceIt 9.1: Create Proof. Send email with approval link. Customer clicks the link to either approve or deny the proof(s) with a digital signature. Back-and-forth communication is logged with history. Easy Peasy.

These are just three of the last few features developed to make these processes easy and less time consuming. Giving me more time to do thing like write this blog, tell folks about PriceIt, and go fishing.

It turns out you can, in fact, buy time. (No disrespect Grandpa!)

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It Turns Out You Can In Fact Buy Time

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