Local Screen Printers’ Dreams and Budgets Shattered by “cheap” Sub Standard Equipment.
An alarming number of start-up screen printers are being financially ruined by internet purchases of sub standard equipment.
Having only limited finances to start with, most setups run the gamble of getting their machinery purchases right the first time.
The first place most people turn to when researching a start-up project is the internet, and unfortunately there is an increasing amount of marketers on the internet who sell their wares very sharply and very convincingly, but as many local screen printers are finding, “cheap” can mean very expensive when the goods arrive and don’t do what they were supposed to.
Let’s look at the traps you need to be aware of and how to sift the pages of information available on the net to make an informed decision that will result in a successful setup.
The Price Mindset – shopping on price is a consumer mindset – if you are starting a business you are not a consumer you are a Producer, you are an entrepreneur and you must think like an entrepreneur.
As an entrepreneur you look at the whole process of producing a quality product reliably and consistently day in day out, month in month out, year after year. This is what builds profit, this is what fuels business growth and a loyal following.
Given you have this success mindset you will consider the complete mix of the following costs when considering investing in equipment for your enterprise:
1. Initial purchase cost of the equipment,
2. Operating Costs in terms of Power / Air Usage.
3. Staffing the machine – is it a commonly used machine in the industry, or will you have to train a staff member from scratch and what will be the cost if he leaves?
4. Monthly maintenance cost during Warranty Period,
5. Post Warranty Maintenance,
6. Average yearly Repair Cost,
7. Yearly replacement allowance,
8. Yearly Down-time for Repairs and Maintenance,
9. The Cost of contracting support from the Manufacturer in the case of a serious malfunction. Are there local service personnel that understand your machine and do they have parts in stock locally.
10. The Future Resale Value and the Resale Demand for the Equipment you are considering.
Unfortunately if you approach the purchase of machinery in the mindset of a consumer you won’t get past number 2, if you go past number 1.
The Secret to your success is in the asking, not necessarily in determining an accurate dollar value for costs numbered 3 to 10 above.
Simply asking the questions, will cause you to find out more about the equipment and the story behind the manufacturer of that equipment and the company supplying and supporting that equipment.
Let me give you an actual case study of a situation that is playing out for a client of mine as I write this – a nightmare story which illustrates many of the pitfalls we warn against every week. This is a valuable lesson in what not to do.
This client recently purchased an existing business with existing machinery. The previous owner had purchased an imported automatic t-shirt printer from China on the recommendation from a service person wanting to import this brand into the country in competition to the world class home grown TAS machine.
The machine was purchased with a dryer and the deal was reportedly about $40 000 “cheaper” than the locally made product. Given the service person gave assurances that he would support the machine, it seemed like the decision to purchase was a good one, however as discussed above many other cost considerations were not addressed.
The critical questions that needed to be asked were: who designed this machine, how many have been made, how long have these machines run, trouble free in a production situation.
As it turned out, the machine was a copy of a quality Austrian machine, so that may sound good, but think about it . . .
If, for example, one of your clients decided he could copy what you do – print quality prints on t-shirts – he might follow everything you do exactly, and the result might be close to your result if he is lucky, but he doesn’t know the things you know, the little tricks to make it that 10% better, or how to overcome those occasional problems, or how to tweek the stencil to make it give you the effect you want. That’s why you are a quality t-shirt printer and you have experience that can’t be learned overnight.
The same goes for copying machines except there are more chances of things not working out right, as sophisticated computer controlled operations are involved.
With this particular machine things went well for a time, and occasionally the service person had to consult with the technician in China to work out an issue.
However the technician left the industry and took the knowledge with him – big problem, because the machine is a copy and as it turns out, the only one of its kind. So unlike the local machine, there are no service agents who know the machine and no PLC documentation with the machine.
In fact the Chinese manufacturer doesn’t know much about this machine either, but after some difficult communication it turns out that there is still a technician in their employ that worked on the machine.
The manufacturing company is now no longer making machines like this and therefore has very little real interest in fixing the problem – but it is decided to fly a couple of technicians in to assess the problems.
It takes more than a couple of weeks to get letters to the manufacturer and travel visas authorised by the Chinese government before the technicians can arrive. The reported cost to have these technicians visit is $10 000 and still the problems are not fixed. Another set of visas is being organised for a return visit.
The real cost however is in having staff and the machine idle for over 2 months, with the loss of production as great as 2500 garments per day. As you can see, even if we calculated a lost profit of only $1 per shirt, this amounts in one month to more than the $40 000 initially “saved” in the original purchase price.
And then there is reputation, stress, and frustration etc etc.
This is not a lone event, I see this more and more lately, with supposedly “cheaper” products being purchased solely on the price tag.
So the Big Lesson here is, if you don’t take all cost factors into account you can pay far too much for a product that appears cheaper.
So make sure you don’t get lured in by a “Cheap” price tag, it will be cheap for a reason, and you will eventually pay the full price and most likely a lot more.
The Good News however is that . . .
there are ways of saving money when setting up or staying within a budget.
So talk to the experts at Leapfrog Machinery and they will show you how to buy the right new equipment, or whether it’s best if they source good 2nd hand or reconditioned equipment for you.
Above all, even if they sell you nothing they are committed to seeing you get it right the first time and avoid the pitfalls. Call to ask their advice.
At Leapfrog Machinery, “They Treat You as They Like to be Treated”