Educate Your Customers on Planning a Seamless Apparel Program Rollout
In a recent meeting with Executive Apparel Account Reps it became apparent that some distributors and many buyers lack a clear understanding of the custom apparel production process. Our team put a planning outline together to demystify the production process and eliminate unnecessary stress for everyone. Using the tips that follow distributors and their customers can make educated choices and avoid mistakes that can cost extra money and valuable time.
Develop a Deadline with a Reasonable Timeline
Determine the number of rollouts and create a detailed list of tasks to complete beforehand. Add an estimated time to each task on the list. For multiple rollouts to different locations we recommend staggering them over a few days or weeks to stay on target. This will help you make a rough draft of the full schedule.
Collect Demographic Information
Try to get the most accurate idea of gender and size ratios per garment and how many garments each person will receive. This will help us order correct yardage of fabric and trims and eliminate the need to duplicate production for short counts. It will save time and ensure that the supplier can hit the deadlines.
Collect Geographic Information
Is the program an international, nationwide or regional program? You must consider how many programs in each region and how many end-users in each rollout. Another consideration is climate and whether the uniform will be worn indoors or outside. If the end-users will wear their uniform both inside and outside the design may require additional garments in some regions. Including these considerations in your plan will help you avoid costly and time-consuming mistakes in the early design/sourcing phase that could add weeks or even months to the final rollout.
Plan for Timed Rollouts
Work with your buyer to determine the rollout priority by their criteria. It may be prioritized by location, size of facility or another priority like Flagship locations first followed by highest sales revenue. Set staggered dates with enough time between to receive, pack and ship without an overlap. This will avoid mix-ups at the supplier’s facility. If possible, pad the schedule a little for problem solving after shipping for fast resolution in event of a mistake. Many companies put a special team in place specifically for handling problems quickly.
List All Contacts for Each Task
There is nothing more frustrating than being unable to reach the person that you need an answer from when a deadline is looming. A good strategy for avoiding this problem is to create an accurate main contact list—then add a “second-in-charge” list. Once you have identified all contacts, make sure to confirm all their communication data—full name and pronunciation, office phone, cellphone, email, etc.—and test it before you disseminate the final list to all involved. Remember to include time zone information so you can be respectful and contact people during their work hours. It also helps to ask your contacts what their preferred mode of communication is and it will get you faster answers most of the time.
Develop a Logistics Plan
Choose shipping contractors and negotiate pricing. Gather all shipping addresses with full contact information for each location and then prioritize shipments based on the schedule. Deliver a super-clean list of addresses to your shipper. Set confirmation call alerts for one week before the rollout to make sure all is on track. Monitor shipments with tracking numbers and share them with the buyer’s receiving departments.
Meticulous planning combined with realistic expectations based on accurate knowledge of the process will ultimately deliver an A+ customer experience. Delivering A+ Customer experiences gains repeat business! Read more about Production Management for your custom apparel program.