Happy New Year

EnMart will be closed on Monday, December 31 and Tuesday, January 1,  in honor of the New Year.   We wish all our friends and customers a happy,  prosperous and productive 2019.

We will re-open on Wednesday, January 2, 2019

EnMart’s Tips and Tricks for Success

Every company is different,  and each has its own way of doing things,  and its own little insider secrets.  Since the end of 2018 is close at hand,  I figured it might be a good time to share a few tips for getting the most from your relationship with EnMart,  so you can start 2019 off on the right note.

Tip #1:  Look for the discounts and the specials –  Iris UltraBrite Polyester Thread,  the king cones anyway,  definitely falls in this category.  Did you know if you purchase 12 or more in any combination of colors you will receive a dollar off per cone?  That takes the wholesale price of a dozen cones from $76.20 to $64.20.  There are also quantity discounts on certain items as well.   Make sure to check the “Qty Breaks” tab on the sublimation products and on blank patches.  Purchasing a few more items than planned could be very helpful to your budget.

Tip #2: Sell what others don’t sell – EnMart offers a few products that other suppliers don’t offer.   One such product is the Iris Thread mentioned previously.  Another product that is available only from EnMart is the Remembears.  Offering a product your competitors don’t offer gives you an advantage in your particular marketplace.  If you seize the opportunity early,  you can lock in and dominate the customer base for those products.

Tip #3: Order early –  We at EnMart pride ourselves on our speedy shipping and strive to get orders for goods that don’t need to be manufactured out the same day. If you want prompt shipping of your orders,  it’s best to place them as early in the day as you can.   Our official cut off time for same day orders is 2 p.m.  In practice we may stretch that a little,  but it’s still always best to order sooner rather than later.

Tip #4: Time Issue – Talk To Us – We know that sometimes orders get placed at the last minute, or a customer brings you a rush order and you need supplies now.  We’re familiar with the panic that can cause,  and we’re willing to help,  if you let us know.   If you have a time sensitive issue with an order,  put a note on the order when you place it,  or contact us to let us know about your needs.  We can’t promise to be able to meet every request,  but we certainly can’t meet any of the ones we don’t know anything about.

Tip #5 – Follow us on Social Media – Want to be the first to know about specials or sales?  Eager to hear about new products before your competitors?  EnMart generally spreads any news we have to share through our social media feeds or by e-mail.   Follow EnMart on Facebook or Twitter,  or visit our boards on Pinterest to stay up on what’s happening at EnMart.  You can also join our mailing list to be sure you receive our e-mails.

Merry Christmas!

 

EnMart will be closed on Monday, December 24 and Tuesday, December 25 in honor of Christmas.   We wish all our customers and friends the happiest of holidays and the merriest Christmas possible.

No Sale, Just Low Prices

If you’re anything like me,  you’ve probably gotten roughly one million Black Friday e-mails by now.   First it was teasers.  Then it was doorbusters.   Somehow Black Friday the day became Black Friday the week (or several weeks),  and it seems that everyone wants to offer you a deal or a special or a once in a lifetime can’t miss opportunity.

One of the things we get asked quite often is why EnMart doesn’t offer free shipping or do more sales.   There are a lot of reasons why we don’t,  but the most basic one is this – we don’t because everyone else does.   It’s not that we’re contrarian,  it’s more that our goal is to offer our products at prices that produce a profit for us while still being budget friendly for our customers.  Also,  when there’s a blizzard of offers already out there,  standing out from the crowd can be tough.

Still,  we get that free shipping and sales are expected and desired by a lot of our customers,  so I wanted to address in more detail the reasons why we don’t offer either of those things on a regular basis.  One reason we don’t tend to offer free shipping more often is the fact that,  in our experience,  when we have offered it,  orders have not increased.   If we offer a free shipping coupon for orders past a current price threshold,  customers often neglect to use it,  even if they meet the threshold.  Order size also doesn’t tend to increase when we offer free shipping.   Since the whole goal of offering something for free is to encourage more people to buy,  when that doesn’t appear to motivate the behavior we want,  we try something else.

EnMart also does a lot of work to keep shipping costs and product prices budget friendly for our customers.   We offer a variety of shipping options,  including allowing customers to ship via the U.S. Postal Service or on their own accounts.  Our shipping costs are also based on the shipping rates offered to our parent company.  Since that company ships a large number of packages daily,  EnMart customers benefit from rates that are lower than they might otherwise be.

As for sales,  we like sales as much as the next company,  and have tried,  over the years,  to come up with some fun sales that offered good deals.  Still, as with the free shipping scenario,  we find that sales don’t tend to increase the volume or size of orders we get.   They also don’t seem to be a prime motivator for those who are placing orders.  So,  we end up back at our basic premise,  that good service,  good products and budget friendly prices are a larger motivator for our customers.

Please keep in mind that we do offer sales and specials when the mood strikes us.   The best way to keep up to date on what sales and specials are available is to follow us on Twitter or Facebook,  or to sign up for our mailing list.   If we have a special offer running,  we will send out an e-mail and announce it on social media.

Also,  if you have any comments or suggestion for a sale you’d like to see us offer,  or a thought about our current policy,  we’d love to hear from you.   Feel free to comment on this blog post,  leave us a comment or a message on social media,  or contact us through any of the available methods.

Sales Tax Rules Change

To Our Customers:

Most of you, if you follow the news at all, have probably heard of the recent Supreme Court decision in the case of South Dakota vs. Wayfair.   This decision has altered the rules about when and why sales tax must be collected.

Currently, EnMart and Ensign Emblem collect sales tax in the states where we have a presence, MI, GA, IL, CA, NV and NJ, as was required by previous tax law.   With the advent of the new decision, we will also begin collecting sales tax on all orders that ship to AL, IN, KY, MO, WA and WI.     It is likely there will be additional states added to this list in the near future.

If you are currently in one of the states listed above, you can establish your tax-exempt status with EnMart/Ensign by completing the relevant state sales tax exemption form and submitting it to us.    This form should be completed in your legal business name.   We will begin charging sales tax in the additional six states listed above on October 1, 2018.    If we do not have a completed form on file by that date, your account will be charged sales tax until such time as the completed form is on file.

Please be aware that,  even though we are currently only adding six additional states,  most states will probably be requiring sales tax collection in the near future.   Even if you are not in one of the states in which we currently charge tax,  it still might be worthwhile to complete a sales tax exemption form for your state and send it to us.  All forms are kept on file,  and once an account is set to exempt status it will remain so.

For a current list of taxable states, links to their respective exemption forms, and for submission of your completed forms, please visit our Sales Tax Exemption Forms and Links page.

As always, our goal is to remain compliant with all applicable laws and regulations.

Thank you for your assistance and cooperation.

Finding the Right Machine for You – Part 2

Note:  From time to time we like to feature guest posts from people who really know their stuff.   This post is written by Katie Wubben from Trouble Me Knot Embroidery.  Many of you may know Katie from her fabulous seminars at the DAX Shows.  Katie also sells Melco embroidery machines,  and offers training on those machines, so she knows her stuff.  You should definitely contact her if you are looking to purchase an embroidery machine. 

Part 2 of this series deals with the features a machine may offer, and how to decide what you need. 

Every embroidery machine will stitch.  There are many factors that you need to analyze to determine which capabilities you require and which ones you can let go of in light of budget.   Ask what the top running speed of the machine is, then follow that by asking what speed you can expect to fun on average and on caps.  Just because a machine is capable of 1,000 stitches per minute does not mean you can get away with that speed all the time.   If the sales person does not give a variation of speed for certain items (or at least mention one item that requires a lower production speed) they likely are not being realistic.

Next,  you need to identify what the sew area is on the machine and what hoop styles can be used with it.   I personally feel magnetic hoops are the cream of the crop and are a must in any shop stitching on blankets,  jackets or other thick items.  They are also faster and easier to use than traditional hoops you need to set tension on.   Think about what type of fabrics and items you’ll be stitching.  A quilt show will want a larger sew area than a production business hoping to run thousands of left chest polos.   If ever you want to stitch on a jacket or blanket,  you’ll want a fairly large sew area to do so with ease.

How many thread colors can the machine hold at one time?  It doesn’t seem like you’d need many,  but does any mind having more than they need?  To help determine what you will need, take a look at some of the designs you hope to stitch for the market you’ll be serving.  Nature and wildlife designs have an incredible amount of colors to achieve shading.  By identifying your market and looking at designs,  you can easily get an idea of how many colors are involved.

Also keep in mind that just because a machine doesn’t have enough spaces doesn’t mean you can’t sew the design.  You can take the time to rethread during a design; but then you’re simply selling out your sanity unless you have far more time than I do.  If you plan to only stitch left chest logos all day long in the corporate world,  maybe you don’t need a machine with as many needles as the lab at the local hospital.  The ease with which you can change these colors out is an important thing to consider as well.  Some machines require a space behind them to get to while others have you climbing on a ladder to reach them.  Look at the thread path as well.  If the threads are not protected,  they may be more likely to become tangled and cause thread breaks.

Know how the design will be communicated with the machine.  Some machines require you to save the finished file on a flash drive and physically put that in the machine while others will communicate with  a free standing computer connected by a cable.  Keep in mind, every time you need to make a size adjustment or anything of that nature you will likely need to go back to your design software and then save it again to transfer it back to the machine.  Some machines have a stitch count limit per design as their memory cannot handle very high stitch counts.  To work around this,  you would save part of the design as one file and another part as the other.   This would take additional time and that comes additional stress as well.

Another question to ask is if the machine has a computer attached to it or if it will be connected by a cable.   There are pros and cons either way.  Having a computer on a machine comes with the risk of something going wrong with the screen or the hardware in the computer and a technician being required to fix it.  That comes with cost and down time.  Knowing what type of computer requirements are needed from a computer will help you make a good purchase so that the machine runs without glitches.  You will likely need a free standing computer either way to run your design software.

Keep in mind that knowing what type of software comes with the purchase is another critical factor.  Decide what you need, then make sure your purchase includes those things.  Even if you don’t want to do all of your own digitizing,  you may want to be capable of altering the density,  pull compensation and underlay values to stitch the same design very well on multiple garments.  Also understand that auto digitizing features may be o.k. in some cases,  but manual digitizing will, almost always,  yield better, more professional results.

Last, but not least,  make sure you understand the special features and capabilities each machine has to offer.  The ability to trace the design is helpful for placement.  Being able to adjust a pressure foot may yield better results on various fabric thicknesses.  A rounded needle plate will stitch on caps easier than a flat needle plate.   I love being able to advance my design to any point within the design,  which is a feature I would not have received with a used machine,  as it was only added recently.

In the end,  the important thing is to identify your situation.   What type of products do you plan to stitch?  What type of order quantities can you expect?   What type of designs will you use?   How much time to have to invest in learning the machine?  Once you’ve answered those questions,  the goal is a decision that leaves you pleased with the outcome rather than filled with regret.

Finding the Right Machine for You – Part 1

Note:  From time to time we like to feature guest posts from people who really know their stuff.   This post is written by Katie Wubben from Trouble Me Knot Embroidery.  Many of you may know Katie from her fabulous seminars at the DAX Shows.  Katie also sells Melco embroidery machines,  and offers training on those machines, so she knows her stuff. You should definitely contact her if you are looking to purchase an embroidery machine. 

Part 1 of this series deals with the intangibles,  price, training etc,  that need to be considered when buying a machine. 

It’s a challenging concept to navigate when deciding, when, what and how you will start or add embroidery to your business.  Let me share some tips and tricks to make sure you get the right machine to fit your needs, style, budget and business.

Money Talks…

We all want to shop by price.   But that’s is not the first place to start the process.  The old saying “you get what you pay for” comes with some truth in most cases.  If you don’t get what you need and have limitations that don’t fit your business,  you’ll find yourself quickly wanting to upgrade.  This would require adding a machine or going through the process of selling the first one to get a second.  Then you have the learning curve of both machines rather than one straight from the gate.

Training…

Whether you’ve been in the embroidery business for decades or are just entering,  knowing if and what training is included with the purchase of your machine is critical.  Will you be on your own to figure things out,  or will you have to travel somewhere to get the training you need not only to run the machines smoothly,  but also to maintain the machine?  Some brands come with on-site training where the trainer comes to you and sets up your machines and trains you on your turf.  Will you need to hire a technician annually to go through the machine or will you have the tools and resources to self-maintain the machine? Beyond the machine, will you learn hooping techniques along with when to use what supplies?

Tech Support/Technicians…

Things will go wrong with any brand of machine.  It’s a mechanical device that has lots of moving parts with a human in control.   Things will happen.  When they do,  having someone that you can understand walk you through the diagnosis along with fixing it is an amazing service!  Be sure you now if tech support will come at an additional cost along with where the tech support is based.  I personally enjoy USA based tech support.   Knowing where technicians are located and what the cost to you will be should need to hire one is a critical piece of knowledge.  Maintaining your embroidery machine is just as important as changing the oil on your vehicle.   I like being able to do this myself,  but some would rather hire it done no matter the cost.   Just think about your situation and make a decision you’re comfortable with.

New vs. Used Machine..

Buying a used machine has advantages,  but be aware of what to look for and consider before making a purchase.   Ask what the stitch count is on the machine and how often it has been maintained.   I personally the best time to buy a used machine is when you have one you’re happy with and you need to add a second.  This allows you to have the background and training to run it well to know it should sound and look like.   This can be handy to avoid taking on a machine that you would otherwise not recognize the issues with.  You also will likely not receive training or tech support with a used machine not to mention the latest and greatest software on the market.   When that’s the case,  one can usually purchase these services at an additional cost.   Sometimes a seller will promise training with a used machine.  In that situation,  I recommend making a partial payment up front, and then pay the machine off once the training has been fulfilled.  Be sure to compare the price of the used machine to the new one you would purchase along with its capabilities.

On Wednesday,  in Part 2 of this series,  we’ll talk about the features an embroidery machine offers and how to decide what you need.

Understanding Sales Tax

Sales tax,  particularly in the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in the case of South Dakota v. Wayfair Inc. can be a very confusing subject.   While it may be some time before that decision has an impact, understanding its potential effects could be useful for almost any business owner.  Until the full implications of the new ruling become apparent, a simple understanding of why sales tax is required and how it works can also be very helpful.

What is sales tax?

Sales tax is a retail point of purchase tax imposed by many states and cities and paid by a purchaser when a sale is made.  Some states and cities do not have a sales tax.  Most do.   Business owners,  by law,  are required to collect the sales tax and remit it to the proper organizations within the states and cities in which they are required to collect the tax.

How do you know if you’re required to collect sales tax in a particular state?

Currently, businesses are required to collect sales tax on all orders coming from states where they have a physical presence,  an office,  a factory etc.  For EnMart, for instance, that means we are currently required to charge sales tax in Michigan, Georgia, Nevada, California, Illinois and New Jersey.  With the advent of South Dakota v. Wayfair Inc. this requirement may change or expand.

What do you do with the tax once it’s collected?

Those requirements will vary by state.   Some states require submission of sales tax payments every month.   Others may require a quarterly submission.   Check with your state and local tax collection authorities to find the schedules and forms for the states in which you have to pay tax.

Is there any way to be made exempt from paying sales tax?

The methods of sales tax exemption will vary by state. Many states offer the option of a sales tax exemption form or certificate which must be completed by the purchaser and submitted to each company from which they purchase.  Companies must have the completed form for each customer who is not being charged sales tax on file in order for the exemption to be legal. Links to the sales tax exemption forms for the six states in which EnMart charges sales tax are on our Policies page.

What if I send resale certificate or other tax paperwork? 

In order to make a purchaser exempt,  the seller must have the completed sales tax exemption form designated by the collecting state on file.  In the event of an audit,  those specific forms would need to be produced,  so no other forms will do.

So,  once the completed form is on file,  I’m exempt?

Most e-commerce software programs now have an option to set customer account status to exempt them from sales tax.   So,  in general, yes,  once the completed form is on file,  your account should then be set to exempt status and no sales tax will be charged.

5 Tips for Better Communication With Customers

I tend to do a lot of my communicating via e-mail.  Yes,  part of that is because I’m not overly fond of talking on the phone,  but a bigger part of the reason why I resort to e-mail is because I want to have a record of what was said.  E-mail is something that can be referred back to later when I’m told,  once again,  that I never said what I actually did say.

If I had to make a guess,  I’d estimate that at least 75% of issues that occur with customers occur because someone in the conversation wasn’t listening.  Maybe the person who took the order was in a hurry.  Maybe the customer was in a bad mood and just wanted to place their order and be done with it.  Perhaps the customer wants what they want,  and what they don’t want is to take no for an answer.   There are a lot of reasons why communications can fail,  but part of your job as a decorator is to make sure they don’t.  Here are some tips to help you achieve that goal.

Tip #1: Listen – A recommendation to listen sounds basic,  and it is,  but it’s also something a lot of us don’t do well.   People tend to equate listening with being silent and not talking,  but that’s not always true.   Real listening means giving your attention to the person speaking, and not being distracted by your phone or the paperwork on your desk or the employee you can see goofing off in the next room.   Real listening requires focus,  which isn’t always an easy thing to accomplish.

Tip #2: Get It In Writing – Verbal communication is often vital in forming relationships,  but it can also be detrimental when it comes to a business collaboration.  When you’re discussing an order,  there’s often a lot of boxes that need to be checked to be sure both sides understand what’s expected. Putting things in writing,  either by using an order form, or by sending an e-mail summing up what was discussed,  helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding what was agreed.

Tip 3: Question – Often times customers won’t know exactly what they want and it will be your job to help them figure that out.   One of the best ways to do that is by asking questions.   Make sure your questions are specific and build on the answers you’ve gotten previously.   The goal behind your questions is to help your customer refine their request and hopefully eventually arrive at an understanding of what it is they want and what it is you can do for them.

Tip 4: Educate – While customers often don’t know exactly what they want,  they’re equally unlikely to understand exactly what it is you can do.   Part of your job is to teach them what is and isn’t possible when it comes to the decoration techniques you offer.   Some businesses do this by having a sample book or a sample wall.   Others will simply explain,  on a case by case basis,  why what the customer wants is or isn’t possible.  Some companies create Pinterest boards to showcase work they’ve done in the past and to help potential customers generate ideas.   The method used isn’t really important,  the goal is simply to help the customer understand what can and can’t be done.

Tip 5: Be Positive – We’ve all had the day when the phone has been ringing off the hook and everyone seems to be in a bad mood and we just want everyone to go away and leave us alone.  On a day like that,  it’s easy to answer the phone with a snarl,  or to be short with a customer who wants to discuss an order,  but that’s exactly what you need to avoid.  Work to keep every interaction you have with a customer positive,  be attentive and smile,  and give the impression you have all the time in the world for whatever customer interaction needs to occur.   At the bottom of it all,  customers are the people that keep all our businesses going, so they deserve our A game every time they interact with us.

Essential Stock for an Embroidery Shop

Every year,  when we do trade shows,  we always meet some newbies,  people who are just starting out and looking for advice. Often,  they’re swimming in a sea of possible equipment and supplies and mystified about what they need and what could be useful. For those starting out,  or for those who are looking to get their shop equipped with the basics,  we present this embroidery starter kit list.   This list details the items we think a well stocked shop should have.   For the purposes of this list,  I will provide the name of the product and a brief description of the reason we believe it’s an essential item.  The aim of the list is to help those who are stocking their shops get the basic items they need to do almost any embroidery job.

The List

Thread – We sell Iris UltraBrite Polyester Machine Embroidery Thread  and recommend stocking at least your core colors in large cones.   Your core colors are the colors you use regularly,  the ones you replace most often.  For most shops that’s generally between ten to twenty colors.

Stabilizer – Yes,  a shop can get by with just one type of backing,  a lot of shops do that successfully.   We recommend,  however,  taking advantage of the specialty backing options that are available.  Here’s what, in our opinion,  a well stocked shop should have when it comes to stabilizer.

  • Cutaway – A medium weight cutaway will get you through almost any situation when cutaway backing is required.   Medium weight,  when it comes to stabilizer is generally considered to be 2.5 ounces.
  • Tearaway – Two types of tearaway will generally appear in a well stocked shop.  One would be a light weight tearaway suitable for use with shirts.  The other would be heavy weight tearaway that can be used with hats.
  • Poly Mesh – Yes,  this is a lightweight cutaway,  but it’s designed to be used with lighter weight fabrics and to hold a lot of stitches.   It can greatly improve the appearance of embroidery on flimsier fabrics.
  • Adhesive Backing – A must for the times when you want to embroider items that are hard to hoop.  Can also be useful to hold stretchy or slippery fabrics in place.  Adhesive on one side topped with release paper.
  • Water Soluble – This is a topping,  but a must have if you’re embroidering anything with a pile like towels or fleece blankets.   Used to stop stitches from sinking into the fabric.

Bobbins – For commercial embroidery machines bobbins generally come in L or M sizes.  Paper sided and MagnaGlide magnetic bobbins are two popular types.  Some people prefer magnetic bobbins because they say they hold tension better.  When purchasing bobbins,  don’t forget you’ll also need bobbin cases.  Plain works with magnetic bobbins,  a no backlash spring bobbin case is often great with paper sided bobbins.

NeedlesNeedles come in sizes from 65/9 (smallest) to 90/14 (largest).  Many people use a medium size needle,  a 75/11, for most jobs.  Keep in mind that needles also come in sharp and ballpoint options.   Sharps are for thicker fabrics.  Ballpoints are great for fabrics which are more delicate and which have fibers that could tear easily.

Accessories – There are a ton of accessories out there that can be purchased,  but these are the ones that we think every shop should have.

  • Thread Clips – For clipping jump stitches and making things look nice
  • Seam Ripper – Yes,  at some point you will need one. For ripping out stitches gone wrong.
  • Cleaning/Lint Brush – You’re doing your daily machine maintenance, right?
  • Machine oil – Really,  you’re keeping the machine cleaned and lubricated, right?

The main thing to remember,  when stocking your shop,  is that there are a lot of options out there.  Trial and error might be required to find out what options work best for you.   Don’t be afraid to ask for samples or advice.  We’re always happy to help.