When is it a good idea to choose a vendor based solely on price?
1) When I worked on a committee to build an annex to our church, the price tag was close to $5 million. The church members didn’t like that price one bit. But you know what? We were instructed by the architect to throw out the low bid. Period. Why? Because the low man is usually the one that skimps on the details. Either they didn’t factor something into the bid that he would have to eat, and make up for elsewhere, or he uses the lowest bidding subs on the job, who are usually the sloppiest tradesmen.
2) The building our store was located in for years was owned by a very nice man….with a very tight wallet. He was decades my senior, was on the cutting edge of the computer craze (that’s how long ago this was) but he ALWAYS, AND I MEAN ALWAYS went with the low bidder, and it ended up costing him time, frustration, and more money down the line. The City inspectors knew they had a disaster on their hands any time he applied for a permit. Parking lot? Crumbled in a few years. Landscaping? Pitiful. Roof leaks? Let’s just say he replaced a lot of merchandise, ceiling tiles, fixtures…. and eventually had to re-roof before it’s time. After years of observing these types of experiences, he asked me: “Why do you have such good luck with contractors, inspectors and vendors?” I thought it was obvious. At least it was to me. And I was shocked that the owner of the building would be asking a young budget conscious business owner. My answer? “Because I get what I pay for.”
3) Years ago, I was doing some custom printed glass votives for an organization, and gave them what I knew was a good price. The person in charge on their end happened to be one of my staff members, who looked online and found a less expensive version by a good bit, and asked (pleaded) with me to meet the price. I struggled with this… it was a vendor I wasn’t familiar with. But it was my staff member, so we had a relationship, and we had such a huge amount of lead time I agreed. I gave the vendor a normal lead time (3 weeks) and they MISSED the deadline. That is unforgivable in an events related industry. Once the glasses arrived, 1/3 of them were broken, and a high percentage that were in tact were sloppily printed, with parts of the artwork missing or blurred. I send them pictures immediately and they refused to re-print until I sent the broken and misprinted items back to them IN TEXAS. Mind you, they were under the impression that the event was the coming week. Did not care. Once we finally pieced the order together, weeks later, the real event date was fast approaching, and I had many many frustrating hours invested on the phone with this company to try to make my client happy. That was a lesson I didn’t need to learn, but I learned it just the same.
4) Another client wanted really cheap pens. I all but said no. She insisted. I gave her 15 reasons not to. She insisted. I absolved myself of responsibility. She insisted. After all, they were only going be used in the staffing industry where people come in, fill out an application and leave, many of which will never return. OK. Fine. The pens came in. On time. And a week later I got a call with several complaints. They didn’t write well. A few of them leaked, one exploded. Even the logo printed on the pens was starting to wear off. Imagine my shock So I did what any business owner would do in that position—-I replaced the pens, on my dime, with a nicer version. Why? Because that was just the right thing to do. And you know what? She has been a customer of mine for years since that transaction, always heeding any advice I might have for a quality product at a good price.
5) Panic. There have been dozens and dozens of tearful pleas from college students and companies alike to PLEASE HELP them. Could we please rush an order (or fix an order) that another vendor dropped the ball on? And by rush I mean print in just a few days. Despite a busy production schedule. In almost every case, we were able to help. But I ask myself every time…..what would it take for the person in charge of the order to understand the risks of using chapter money to place an order that’s $1 less per shirt, when they increase their chances of needing to replace the items completely, fix them at a cost, or miss an event for which they were to be worn? I truly believe that you get what you pay for. Now, we are not the most expensive vendors out there by any stretch. BUT WE USE ONLY TRUSTED, TRIED AND TRUE products, inks, staff, equipment, vendors, carriers and reps. They are not the cheapest for a very good reason. Because they do a good job, every time. THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR QUALITY. We believe this wholeheartedly. Won’t you share this with those who are in charge of placing bulk orders for your organization? If it’s not us, then please, use a company that holds themselves to the same standards. Not the price matchers. Not the rep of the month. Not the one with cute artwork (since we actually create all artwork to order, straight from your concept). Pick the ones who will get you samples. Who will create and tweak the art until you’re happy and your advisor is happy. Who is Greek licensed. Who is there (and has been for almost 30 years). Help yourselves, and help the good guys in the industry. Because it is worth it!
“What makes us different from others in our industry?”
People often ask us “what makes you different from others in your industry?”
I’ve often found that difficult to answer without my answer sounding contrite, but it really is customer service. If I ever forget just exactly how much it means to our clients that we go the extra step, all I have to do is read the testimonials they send us. It bolsters my faith in that piece of doing business that is often intangible. I mean…..it might mean that we order samples for someone to try on before placing a group order, which technically is tangible. And it may mean that we get the majority of our orders out the door before they’re due. That’s fairly tangible. But there are 100’s of subtle gestures we make daily that keep our clients coming back, telling their friends, and singing our praises. I’ll list a few here, straight from our recent testimonials:
1) Guidance. We try to be sure you have all the information on hand before you make a decision, which often means telling you about other options that might be more durable, less expensive, or have a quicker turn around time. We don’t mind making recommendations, and in fact, do so readily.
2) Attention to craftsmanship. We either do all the work in-house (apparel primarily) or we have a top notch, industry leading manufacturer do the work. Either way, we don’t skimp. We aim to see smiling faces every time we deliver an order. No skimping
3) We take deadlines seriously. If we can’t do something in time, we won’t take the order. If we can, we make sure it’s done. Our customers occasionally call it magic. We call it service.
4) We partner with you. We sometimes need to work very closely together to get the intended end result on a custom item, and we love the collaboration aspect! We care about the things you care about. It makes for a pleasant experience, to say the least.
5) We make it easy. People have told us this in many different ways over the years: painless, fun, awesome….but most often we hear “Thanks, that was SO easy!” Yup.
6) We become friends with our clients. We really do! Life is too short to not love what you do. We want to enjoy the process, and want you to also. Simple as that.
7) Responsiveness. We hear that a lot too. We believe in returning calls promptly and emails as well. In fact, if we won’t have an answer to your question that same day, we will write to tell you we received your inquiry, and provide a time when we believe we’ll have the answers. It’s common courtesy and just the way we like to do things.
8) We don’t think you’re crazy. (well, maybe occasionally!) But honestly, we know even the most uncommon requests are valid, and often super fun…..and if we can find a way to accommodate, we will, or we will make a recommendation if we can’t.
9) We’re honest. Simply put. Right down to our willingness to tell you if we think a better option is available at a lower price. We sleep well at night following this mantra.
10) The little things. Need your car loaded? Got it. Want to borrow the hand truck to take an order down the street? Sure. Prefer a bag over a box? Why not?
Thanks for listening. If we forgot anything, we’re always in the mood to hear what our customers have to say. Some call them testimonials!~we call them Happy Grams!
As soon as we experience our first frost in the northeast, we realize we finally need to let go of summer. This is the week. It’s a hard realization, but thank goodness for the fun things of fall! Flip flops turn to boots, tank tops turn to long sleeved tees (in our case, Comfort Colors pocket tees!) and iced coffees turn to pumpkin lattes. So, we let go reluctantly, but let’s face it, we love fall, don’t we?
Here in our store, we embrace all the really great things about fall fashion. Gold monogrammed necklaces and bracelets are hot this season. In fact, all things monogram are selling like crazy! Puffy vests, cozy quarter zips, and really pretty plaid scarves, to name a few. We do plenty of individual items for gifts (and self-gifting, let’s face it). We also do some great chapter PR orders for sororities this time of year. Screen printed quarter zips, rugby shirts, polar fleece jackets….just about anything you can put a Greek monogram or letters on is fair game. If you haven’t placed your orders yet, we’re glad to help. A quick email is enough to get the ball rolling: email@example.com Happy to help!
So, as you attend all the events of fall… tailgates, hay rides, philanthropy events, sisterhood retreats… embrace the great styles of the season. And give in to that apple cider donut craving, at least once!
How did we move all of this stuff?
If you’re not on our e-blast list, and didn’t see the posts on social media, let me first share the news. WE’VE MOVED! We’re in the same town, in fact only a 4 minute walk from our original location. But now that we’re on MAIN STREET, it’s a whole different world! We’re right in the thick of things. Never a dull moment.
So how DID we move it all? We get asked that question a lot. So here it is, in a nutshell:
We hired the big guns for the heavy stuff: A construction crane. The professionals at Bruce Industrial have never let us down. They moved over 10,000 lbs of our equipment using a crane and riggers in just one (very long) day. These guys know what they’re doing. They spent a whole day lifting equipment from the second story of our old place, putting it on a flat bed truck, and unloading it very carefully using pulleys, pallet jacks and raw muscle right into our new facility. It was an amazing thing to watch. Add to that professionals from the equipment company who disassembled and re-assembled the big machines, the crew that unhooked and reconnected all the compressor equipment, and the electricians who put in over 100 hours of work to get us up and running, plumbers, carpenters, City inspectors, volunteers and the owners husband…..it was a big deal for little old us. And shazam, we were printing orders in just a few days.
For the “medium” equipment, display cabinets and offices, Hopkins and Sons moving company did a bang up job. Two moving vans and one day later, things started taking shape in our new digs.
For the rest of it….well, we learned the hard way that it takes a lot longer to move a thousand cartons, dozens of 80 lb slat boards and file boxes galore than you think it will. Our staff dug in, worked crazy sweaty 15 hour days, painted and shchlepped, fluffed and primpted, and within a week or so, we were open for business! OUR STAFF IS AMAZING. No other word for it. Hands down, the best EVER.
Turns out, when you move from a 6800 square foot facility to a 5200 square foot facility, there’s a lot to cull through, donate, repurpose and squish. But we managed. We no longer have an upstairs, but we DO have all of our screen printing equipment, embroidery machines, and graphics departments right here on one floor in our new location.
Now…we’re still fluffing, primping and unpacking a few things, but we’re getting settled and it feels like home.
So…. Come on by for a visit. Ask for a tour of our production facility. It just takes a minute, but it’s pretty cool, so we’re told. You can see where we create Greek shirts, screened tees, embroidered logos and lots more. You can find is across the street from the National 5 & 10, not far from Grotto’s, right near California Tortilla. Address: 61 East Main St. Park behind in the Galleria lot. And definitely email if you have any questions. Always glad to help! firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy Labor Day! Hope you all are celebrating with family and friends! This weekend is our reality check that summer is over (time to put those white pants and shorts away til next year). And of course, it’s time to get into the swing of things for fall and for some unsolicited suggestions from a sorority alumna…who has learned the hard way!
1. Start thinking about Homecoming shirts WAY before the week of Homecoming… ie. Start NOW!
2. Start planning for your future little(s) in advance! Buy a little bit at a time! Spreading the creativity and expense over 10 months isn’t nearly as stressful as doing it all in one week!
3. If your recruitment is this spring… start planning bid day shirts and gifts in September, October and November of this year! When things get crazy, you’ll have it done and can focus on more immediate concerns.
4. Philanthropies are more than just raising money… they are about raising awareness! Talk about your cause often, and why it is important to you! Share with friends, wear your event tees, live the ideals.
5. Start thinking about formal favors now… you get the best variety and pricing when you order early!
6. If you need help with any of this, never hesitate to call someone who has done it before. (advisers, sisters and of course, us!)
Have a great Labor Day Weekend!
Trends and traditions
Trends and Traditions
We get really excited around here when it comes to trends. You probably know this if you follow us on Facebook or Twitter http://www.uniqueonline.com https://twitter.com/UniqueDelaware . But this year, as we celebrate our 25th Anniversary at Unique Impressions, and we think about all the great trends that have come and gone…and come back again…we can’t help but think about all the Greek traditions that have endured the test of time. Everything from rituals and mottos, colors and crests, badges and gems, flowers and symbols, have remained pretty much the same since their inception. It’s really amazing to think that the very things we essentially take for granted as members–recruitment etiquette, initiation rites, scholastic ideals–have been around since the formation of the United States. What?!
When this dawned on us, we dug a little deeper to try to wrap our minds around all the major changes that our country has been through as our Greek system developed. Did you know that the first Greek letter organization was founded in 1776, the year the U.S. declared independence? Greek letter “societies” started to multiply while we had only 13 states….and the vast majority of Fraternities in existence today were founded at a time when our country was only half the size it is today. (There was not even a State of Florida, Michigan, Texas or California!) They survived the American Revolution, the Civil War, the Assassinations of Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy…and our “great-great-great-great-great-great……. grand-bigs” watched as we landed a man on the moon for the first time. And so much more.
So how is it that the members of organizations steeped in centuries old traditions, are always on the cutting edge of trends? Because from the inception of fraternal societies, the founders and members have been campus leaders. They’ve been individuals willing to distinguish themselves from the crowd, and to join something whose sum is greater than its parts. Individuals who are eager to celebrate their own uniqueness while giving back to others. To walk a path a bit less traveled. And to have fun doing it! And that, we’re certain, will never go out of style.
Cool Giveaways for Chilly Times
This article may seem inappropriate considering it’s 65°F today. But let’s face it – it’s nearly December. The snow, ice, and cold winds will arrive soon. Now is the time to consider promotional giveaways for your prospects, customers, and employees that will help them through winter conditions.
Here are our top picks:
(1) Lip balms and hand moisturizers. Help soothe dry skin with these economical and practical gifts. Most lip balms include full color in the pricing, allowing you to use enhanced graphics at minimal cost.
(2) Hot tea, hot chocolate, and coffee packets. Consider pairing them with a customized mug or thermos.
(3) Anything chocolate. If you’ve ever wanted to hand out chocolate in customized wrappers, you should do it in cold weather, when the chocolate won’t melt. For something different, try chocolate-dipped fortune cookies with customized fortunes.
(4) Ice scrapers. You can get mini, credit-card-sized scrapers up to jumbo scrapers with a built-in brush. We also like the ice scrapers that have a mitten attached.
(5) Knitted caps and scarves. These items can be embellished with customized embroidery. Caps and scarves are best suited for employees, who are most likely to wear your brand.
We are happy to brainstorm with you to find the perfect items for your budget!
Not All Pens Are Created Equal
It’s no surprise that pens are the most popular promotional product on the market. How do you get your company’s pens to stand out from the crowd?
- Remember: A cheap pen (unless it’s a quality pen on sale) often performs like a cheap pen. It will get pushed to the back of the drawer, or worse, thrown in the trash. You’ll get the most value from a moderately priced pen that writes evenly and lasts a long time.
- Choose pens that feel comfortable in the hand. Ask for a sample before purchasing.
- Try unique designs, bright colors, and fun features. Recently, we handed out feather-haired bobble-head pens, which certainly stand out from other pens on our customers’ desks.
- Select pens with a large imprint space to best promote your logo and message. With some pens, you can put additional text on the clip.
- For extra imprint space, consider retractable ballpoint message pens. Messages rotate with each click.
- Check out ultra-practical pens, such as those that also feature a highlighter and sticky flags.
We look forward to helping you with your next pen purchase!