Are you ready to dig in for a new sports season?

Bottom Line Up Front: With summer in full swing, it’s hard to think that the fall school sports season is just around the corner. That means it’ll be time to start prepping designs and printing merch for your local schools sooner than you realize.

A quick refresher

Students start heading back to school in the fall, but if you want to capitalize on this lucrative time of year as a print shop, it requires preparation months in advance and making sure you can offer the right products. Even with the ups and downs of recent years with lockdowns and restrictions, team sports are still a major revenue generator for schools and for print shops. The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) estimates that more than 7 million students participated in team sports during the 2021-2022 school year.

Here are some of the most popular printed goods that school teams, administrators, and clubs want for the back-to-school season:

Printed Jerseys: Nearly every team sport your local school hosts needs custom jerseys for student-athletes. Getting designs locked in early in the year means you’ll be able to tap into repeat business for other sports seasons after the back-to-school rush has subsided.

Custom T-Shirts: In addition to shirts for the team, having a handful of different options for everyone on the sidelines is a great idea too. Whether it’s mom, dad, or just a few friends who want to cheer their athlete friends on, printed T-shirts are a great way to pump up school spirit. Plus, they can have more variety than the jerseys with custom school slogans or quotes.

T-shirts are also the perfect swag for many other school-related events. Whether it’s a fundraiser, club, dance or other school-related function, they serve as an easy way for your customers to raise money.

Headwear: If you’re in a region where the weather cools down in the fall, seasonal headwear, like custom-printed beanies with the school’s team logo, are also a great addition. Any variety of ball cap, dad hat, or panel hat can work regardless of the geographic region too.

Socks: Socks decorated with school logos and mascots are an easy add-on to apparel orders. If your shop already prints shirts and hats, adding this item to your lineup is usually a seamless process.

Get started early

Timing is everything, so the sooner you connect with your school customers, the better positioned you’ll be to capitalize on the season.

You can get the jump on back-to-school with a few simple steps:

  • Send quotes and approvals to school sports clients online with InkSoft faster.
  • Set up school teams and booster clubs with custom stores to order their merch online.
  • Send an email to your school apparel clients to let them know they need to set up orders early so you can get ahead of any unforeseen delays. Supply chain ripples aren’t as extreme as they were two years ago, but they’re still something you should be prepared for.

Make it happen

Lastly, sure you let customers know some things are out of your control. While the supply chain woes of the last few years have improved, there’s always the chance of a wrinkle somewhere in the process of ordering supplies.

Suppose there’s a delay in getting blank jerseys from the manufacturer. Or a popular type of ink color sells out that you need for your local school’s mascot. If it’s something that’s out of your hands, the sooner you can let your customers know, the easier it’ll be to find a workaround, whether that’s an alternate color, product, or an adjusted date of when you’ll deliver the finished goods.

Need more advice on selling to customers? Check out our blog for more helpful tips.

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