A couple of months ago, I did a blog post soliciting help, tips, shortcuts, whatever… on being organized and efficient. Just to show you how efficient I am, 2 months later I am finally back to share what I learned! I have to give a special SHOUT OUT to Beth S. who took the time to answer my plea for help in this area. Her answers were organized by questions by the way, so 2 thumbs up!
To give you a little background on Beth, she works full time and got her first embroidery machine 5 years ago. She upgraded to a Brother PR650 6-needle after 2 years, uses Monogram Wizard Plus and also has several extra hoops (I will touch on that later). Her biggest business is logos on baseball stuff (bags, pullovers, etc.) She’s an accountant by trade, so she is super efficient and doesn’t like to have inventory sitting around the house. Her goal is to create a sizable business so she can retire from her “real job” and still have income for vacations! I think that’s how a lot of us start out… embroidery “on the side” until we can see if we can really do it full time and still contribute to the family income or make a decent living. On the side, making extra money, is always good too!
Here is the first question on organizing orders! I will continue to answer the questions from THIS POST in future posts. I don’t want to overwhelm anyone! 🙂 A lot of the answers came from Beth, some from my own experience and a few others from emails and comments on the post.
How do you organize orders?
Beth has a to-do list on her computer that she keeps open at all times. It includes to dos for her house, real job & embroidery and she updates it throughout the day. She organizes her orders in the order in which they were received, but will sometimes switch between customers based on which hoop she is using on her machine. Beth’s turnaround time is a standard “2 weeks” but she often finishes early! Personally, I get overwhelmed with big orders! If I have a big order staring at me, and a couple of onesie twosie items on my to do list, I sometimes knock out the 1 or 2 items and then work on the big order. As long as I’m getting my orders done in a timely manner, it doesn’t really matter and it feels good to mark items off the to do list!!
I sometimes carry a little notepad or notebook around with me where I keep all of my to dos! I am 40-something years old, so if it ain’t written down, it ain’t going to happen. I can have someone bring over a bib to monogram and tell me they want bubblegum pink thread and a Master Circle monogram. Fast forward a few hours, and I cannot tell you what color or what font they want if it’s not written down. Truth.
As far as organizing orders, you need to have a system for writing stuff down. Whether it be a notepad where you write down the date and what the customer wants, or something more sophisticated like a typed up order form with the date and all the important details included on it. I believe you also need a PLACE to PUT your orders and a way to keep them organized. I got this nifty thing at Hobby Lobby on clearance a couple of years ago… The numbers come in handy!
It helps that I have a dedicated sewing room now, but years ago I worked in our dining room and I had a wire industrial shelf from Target (see photo below) and baskets from Walmart where I kept all of my orders. That’s when I was doing customer work full time, and Jeff would sometimes hide stuff from me because I would become overwhelmed at my to do pile on the shelf. I think the key is to be organized as best you can! Put a date on everything. Keep a spreadsheet with important order info on it. Print emails if people email orders to you. Develop some type of system that works for you depending on where you do your embroidery, where you keep your to do orders, when you find time to work, etc.
If you aren’t organized, find a friend who is and ask for help! I have a friend who is super successful in the embroidery business. Her sister is super organized so she came in and helped her develop a system to keep track of all of her orders!
Keeping a good calendar is great too! Jeff and I have have 2 of these dry erase calendars on our wall in our office. We have 2 months going at a time. I know smart phones can do all that for us, but we like things written down.
Chime in by commenting if you have any more specific ideas! Next I will cover the best time to work and juggling the computer stuff – email, social media, etc.