Using screen printing to create your custom t-shirts and other apparel can be an affordable and effective way to create branded clothing and marketing materials for your business, club, or event.
However, the process isn’t as simple as sending your logo design to a local printer and picking up the finished products from the shop in a few days. To ensure you’re hiring the right screen printing shop for your job, ask these ten questions before signing on the dotted line.
1) Do you provide estimates?
Yes, some screen printing shops offer free estimates. However, because there are many variables that can affect pricing (materials used, location of shop, business type), you should make sure an estimate is personalized and accurately accounts for your individual needs. It’s always good practice to ask for at least two or three quotes when planning your budget.
You can start by searching Google for screen printing near me and choosing a few shops that seem likely matches for your needs and requirements. Then, give them a call and ask about their printing process and how much it costs to print custom t-shirts. From there, you can narrow down a few finalists who look like they might be a good fit for your project.
Next you’ll want get several estimates before making your final decision! Some questions you should try asking during each phone call include: What kind of experience do you have printing custom t-shirts? Can I see some examples of work you’ve done in my industry?
2) How long have you been in business?
If you’re hiring a screen printing shop, you’ll want to make sure it has experience and an established track record. By asking how long they’ve been in business, you can get some idea of their history and longevity. You don’t want to get involved with someone who is just starting out or has been in business for only a few months!
How many employees do you have? Depending on what type of job your screen printer has given you, you may be better off working with a smaller shop that specializes in one aspect (such as screen printing, direct-to-garment printing, or sublimation).
A larger business could end up assigning your order to an employee who doesn’t have experience with your specific needs or project.
Another good question to ask: How big is your staff?
3) What equipment do you use?
Obviously, you want your designs to be created on high-quality printing equipment. You also want them printed on high-quality garments.
If your screen printer doesn’t or can’t answer these questions in detail, they might not be using high-quality equipment, screen printing materials, or premium quality apparel.
Here are some specific questions you should ask:
- Do you use mesh counts of 110/156?
- What kind of ink do you use?
- How much ink coverage do your prints have?
- What type of plastisol is used?
- Can I see examples of your past work with my brand colors and design elements?
- How long has my t shirt style been around?
These details can help you ensure that your final product will look as professional as possible and make sure your order comes out great!
4) Do you have any samples I can look at?
Samples give you an idea of what your design will look like in real life. If possible, look at their samples in person before you hire them—it’s important that they match your vision and expectations. If they don’t have samples, check out their portfolio online.
Talk with other people who have worked with screen printers; ask about their experience working with the shop. You can also read reviews from other customers to see how others feel about it. Your search should lead you to three or four shops that seem promising; then it’s time for some due diligence.
Ask them if you get to pick my own colors? Colors are often one of your biggest design considerations when choosing screen printing. The shop may be able to provide color inspiration based on past projects (and include photos), but if you know exactly what color you want and need advice on whether they offer that exact shade, ask! Be aware though, shops may charge extra fees if certain special colors are needed.
5) Can I get swatches in advance?
If you’re ordering custom apparel and merchandise, you want to be sure that what you see is what you get. If possible, ask your screen printing shop for swatches in advance of placing your order so that you can get an idea of their printing quality. When possible, it’s also a good idea to ask them if they print on different materials; some shops may only offer one or two options while others can produce on all kinds of fabrics.
6) How quickly can I get my order?
It’s important to ask how quickly you can get your order. It might seem obvious, but faster is better. However, be sure to ask if there will be extra costs associated with getting your order processed and shipped more quickly than usual. If so, it might not be worth paying extra money just for expedited service.
In other words, maybe it makes sense to pay a little more per item—but only if overnight delivery guarantees that your product gets from point A to point B in time for events occurring during business hours on October 31st and November 1st when costumes are most likely in demand by teens.
You don’t want to lose money because orders got stuck in transit on their way to retail shops due to inclement weather—and neither do online shoppers who are expecting their purchase within 24 hours after placing an order online. Make sure vendors promise quick turnaround times without charging excessive fees.
7) What’s your turnaround time?
One of the most important questions you can ask your prospective screen printer is what their turnaround time will be. If you’re ordering custom t-shirts, hoodies, or other apparel for an event in a week, it’s not very useful to find out that your screen printer takes six weeks.
If they are so booked up they won’t even consider taking on another job, it doesn’t matter how great their work is. And if they know they have enough work to keep them busy for six months? Well… either way you don’t want them if you’re in a pinch and need something fast.
8) Is there a minimum order quantity?
The best thing to do is ask if there’s a minimum order quantity. The reason is because you don’t want to spend your time working with a shop that can’t handle your small order. On top of that, most shops won’t give you much of a discount on one shirt, so it would make sense not to work with them in general.
What kind of quality will I get? A good screen printing shop should be able to walk you through their process, from start-to-finish and explain what materials they use. The last thing you want is for your custom t-shirts or other branded apparel for your business or event come out looking like crap! How does pricing work?: What are all my options?
9) Where are you located (if local)?
First, ask if they’re located near you. If not, what are your options for freight shipping? Will it be sent through an overnight delivery service or will it be regular ground shipping? What days can you expect your shipment on?
If possible, try and work around their schedule as much as possible (you don’t want to have your orders sitting in some warehouse for a day before being shipped). Also, check with your preferred carrier. In many cases, we found that cheaper is not always better when it comes to shipping. Just because something costs less doesn’t mean it gets there faster! We learned that the hard way.
So make sure you compare apples-to-apples: look at price per unit of weight vs transit time; comparing cost/weight/transit time may be more beneficial than just looking at price alone!
10) Can I contact past customers?
Customers are your best resource for getting information about whether or not a company does quality work. Asking current customers will help you make sure that you’re picking someone who can be trusted with your t-shirt design and print order.
Use these questions to find out how professional and helpful past customers found their experience in working with your shop of choice. You can ask them if they feel like they got good value for money, or if there’s anything that could have been done better. Additionally, you should also ask if they would recommend using them again in future!
Screen printing is a great way to get your business noticed by creating custom, memorable t-shirts and hoodies. When you’re shopping around for screen printers, be sure to ask these questions so you can find one that checks all of your boxes.
Even if they don’t have all 10 answers prepared, they should know how and where they would source that information if necessary. You should have no problem finding an affordable shop with excellent customer service.
Have you used any of these techniques in the past? Drop a comment below to let us know what worked for you