If there is one thing that is a common refrain in shops all across the land that would be they all want to run better. Including yours.
These days, there is a large amount of easy to use tech solutions that you can choose from to solve challenges in your shop. Some of these can save you a mountain of time. A few are just plain cool.
Check these out. They aren’t in any particular order.
SpyFu allows you to expose online search keywords that matter. Not just to you, but your competition too. Ever wonder how that one company got so big with their online sales? Use this tool to data mine the search keywords they are using.
Search for any domain and see every place they’ve shown up on Google: every keyword they’ve bought on Adwords, every organic rank, and every ad variation in the last 11 years. That’s right. You can get your inner James Bond rocking with this tool.
Do you use Gmail? Then Streak might be the CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) tool for you. What’s great about Streak is that you can use the Gmail account you already have and organize it in a way that makes sense to understand your sales pipeline.
What is important to you? How many sales leads do you have? Maybe how many you have won? Streak segments these so you can get a clearer picture of what’s happening.
Have you ever sent an email to someone and wondered if they have read it yet? MailTrack is a simple tool that gives you that superpower.
Why is this important? Let’s say you sent a customer an art approval or an invoice. Did they get it? That deadline is coming up. With MailTrack and you can see if they have received it and have read the message.
Another Gmail app is Boomerang. This comes packed with some handy features if you need some help following up. For example, let’s say there is an important sales opportunity you have been working on and need some information from a vendor for the quote. You’ve emailed them the question. With Boomerang, you can get that message returned to you at a time you specify for you to follow up.
Slack is a great tool for keeping in touch with people in your organization with quick messaging. You can set up groups, or send messages to individuals. It’s a fun and engaging method of shooting out important information to your team.
For example, maybe your salesperson needs to ask a quick question about a job that is going up next in production. He can fire off a Slack message to your production team. It helps people stay connected and helps build a fun, teamwork inspired culture.
Google has ramped up their ability to help and is giving Siri a run for her money. The more you use it, the more it can help…and even predict what you might need. It’s freaky.
Turn on the settings and start asking it questions. You’ll find that it quickly understands what you need and delivers. Information age times ten.
But let’s say you do your own graphics, and want to just have someone separate them for you? No problemo with Separo.
This great tool allows you to separate the hardest full-color jobs into spot colors with an easy to use interface. What I like is the slider bar that shows you the comparison between the original art and their seps. No more posting on an industry forum or Facebook group with a “Hey can anyone separate this for me?” request. They have a 30-day free trial too.
AI Color Wheel
Want to see some funky art inspiration? Take any grayscale image and shoot it through the AI Color Wheel app and it will render it back to you in full color. With different twists.
Maybe it’s a logo, or a photo of a gorilla…it won’t matter. The tool will colorize the grayscale image based on some parameters that you set up. Hours of fun!
Maybe your client has been using that same tired logo for years. Use Logo Rank to objectively discern exactly what’s wrong with it.
It’s from the same folks that brought you the AI Color Wheel above. Try it with your logo!
Do you regularly post on Instagram? Maybe you are like me and wish you could include a link in your post so people would click on it and go to wherever you want them to. Well, now you can.
LinkTree allows you to replace the link in your bio with their app. You designate all the links you want in one spot, and your customers can pick the one they want to visit. If you want to see how it works, click on mine here. It’s free.
How fast is your webpage? Do you know that your webpage load speed is one of the criteria that affect your SEO ranking? Yep. Pages that load over 2 seconds are penalized.
Learn how your page ranks with GTmetrix. Just enter your webpage URL and be prepared to learn how much work you need to do. The great thing about this service is that it tells you what you need to fix.
Ok, I had to include this one. Are you leveling your platens on a press and have to use a lot of gear? Just download this app the Bubble Level from Google Play and use your phone.
Just curious are you measuring the relative humidity level in your screen room? This is one of those low-tech items that is probably mandatory for every screen-printing shop. Why?
You need to keep your humidity level in the screen room around 30%. Using a hygrometer and a dehumidifier helps you control this important step. After you have coated your screens, your humidity level can spike while they are drying. Make sure you have a good environment for this critical step in your process.
If you print a lot of polyester garments you might be concerned with dye migration. This can have a big jump start on press when your platens heat up. Some shops have started using wireless digital BBQ thermometers to monitor the temperature of the aluminum platens, or even a digital heat gun to quickly check if they are wood. Keeping things under 130 degrees or so is a good thing.
That wraps up this short tech article. Hopefully one or two of these ideas can help your shop with a challenge. Is there something out there that I missed? Add it to the comments section!
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“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we are curious and curiosity leads us down new paths.” – Walt Disney
“A person that never made a mistake never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein
“Still round the corner, there may wait, a new road or a secret gate.” – J.R.R. Tolkien
Production Manager Tool
From day one, we’ve been devoted to making InkSoft the most useful tool for printing and customization professionals across the industry. While thousands of users are growing their businesses with InkSoft Stores and the Design Studio, we know we still have a lot of work to do to help print shops run more efficiently.
The next big step is a production management tool. We want to bring InkSoft full circle by providing a powerful way for you to streamline production and communication, ultimately boosting profitability and reducing costly mistakes. Not to mention, solving the challenges outlined in this article.