Get Ready for Fall with Fashionable Tote Bags!

Fall is coming, which means the season of fashion is upon us! Garments containing witty phrases and minimalistic designs are on the rise, making it easier than ever to create custom products that mimic the high-end looks available in big-name department stores. This quip-y trend extends across the wardrobe spectrum, from accessories to T-shirts to tote bags.

The use of tote bags is – pardon the pun – a mixed bag. Everyone in the world needs a way to transport their personal belongings from point A to point B, which makes offering customizable tote bags a lucrative business venture. Read on to see some examples of how you can create fashion-forward tote bags using heat transfer vinyl.

MAKE IT PERSONAL

Not all tote bag designs are created equal – depending on the personality type and individual style of the wearer, desired tote designs will vary from person to person.

Looking to create pre-printed totes to sell on Etsy? Identify different slogans and trends that may appeal to a variety of demographics. Remember to stay on top of holidays, current events and pop culture to ensure you are releasing on-trend products that will sell.

Prefer to stick to custom orders or personalized gifts? Find out more about who will be using the tote – what will the bag be used for? What does the recipient like to do in their free time? Apply these personal details to the design for a completely original item and super satisfied customer.

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CALLING ALL CRAFTERS

Fall is the perfect time to cozy up next to some pumpkin-scented candles and craft until the cows come home. Keep art supplies, small canvases and sketchbooks all in one place – customize a large tote with a creative art slogan to help stay organized AND inspired!

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TEACHERS LOVE ORGANIZATION – AND TOTES TOO!

School is back in session – make sure your mind-molding clients are headed to work in style with everything they need for the day! Create tote designs centered around a scholastic theme, or add personalized aspects like the teacher’s name to ensure their personal items never end up in the lost and found.

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Want more tote bag inspiration? Follow our Totes Awes board on Pinterest and stay on top of what’s trending!

HEAT PRESSING TIPS & TRICKS

Need extra heat transfer vinyl advice? Here are some extra tips to keep in mind when pressing your products:

•   Use a pressing pillow. Some items (such as infant bodysuits, shirts with pockets, garments with thick seams – even totes!) can be more difficult to press, as pressing flaws are more prone to occur on items with bulky seams or uneven surfaces. To ensure your vinyl is adhering evenly, insert a pressing pillow inside of the item before clamping your heat press. This method will help to ensure no lifting occurs and the heat transfer vinyl lays flat on the item.

•   Create a pressing cheat sheet detailing temps, times and pressure based on product type. Keep your cheat sheet near your heat press and you’ll never forget the proper times and temperatures required for pressing different types of vinyl + items. Coastal tests every product on our website – if you are looking for specific heat pressing instructions based on your equipment model or product type, you can find pressing details listed on the “More Information” tab below every product description.

•   Stay stocked with the right tools and supplies. Keep plenty of weeding tools handy near your work area (we all know how easily they can go missing!). No weeding tool on hand? Use an Exact-o knife instead – it will get the job done in the same time (but watch your fingers!).

•   Create saved presets in your cutter. This will save time when cutting and you’ll avoid having to do test cuts on different materials more than once.

Want more information on heat transfer vinyl pressing? Need advice on best practices? Give our customer service department a call at (800) 562-7760 and one of our team members will be more than happy to walk you through the process! For more info regarding tote bag and heat transfer vinyl product options, visit www.coastalbusiness.com.

Customer Service – How to do it right!

Bad Customer ServiceIt would be great if providing good customer service was something that came naturally, but the truth is, it takes training and personal motivation to meet the customer’s needs. A company should make customer service a priority since over 65% of a typical company’s business comes from existing customers, noting it can cost about five times more to get new customers than it does to market to existing ones. So let’s explore ways to improve on customer service and how the Internet and social media impact your success.

Customer service to me means a deep rooted desire to do the right thing. All too often people just roll over and take bad business for the sake of customer service forgetting it is really about working together with your customers to be partners in their business. Being open and transparent with all of your stakeholders and following the golden rule.

Businesses should continually improve their customer service, noting customer’s needs may change the longer the relationship continues. Again, having a deep rooted desire to do what is right and making sure the people who are interacting with your customers have that same passion. Start by writing down your passions on paper, create your motto and actually live by it. It is not good enough to just have this motto on your business card, rather you need to continually make your business decisions based on this mindset to ensure long term customers.

Frequently reviewing your customer service practices so they can be modified to stay current. Most importantly, leave your ego at the door! I have seen way too many small businesses get involved in emotional ego driven spats with customers or even made decisions about operating their company based on emotions. For example, small businesses in our industry get upset with difficult customers instead of looking at their decision to price a job too low, not giving a full explanation of a project or having them sign off on a proof before production. Simple things that could have been completed to prevent a conflict with a customer. Personally, I cannot make my problems my customers’ problems. They are coming to us for a product/service to solve their problem/need, not to create more issues. This means, before you explain why you cannot do something for them, ask yourself, why do they care? Can you fix your problem without even letting them know? Overall, just taking the time to think through some procedures and provide training to those who will be representing your company will take you on the path of great customer service.

With the Internet, social media and websites like Angie’s List and Yelp, the customer has several sources to express their level of satisfaction with the service provided by your company. These tools have now made providing excellent customer service a necessity as anything less may lead to a bad review that can be difficult to recover from as a business. On the positive side, these tools help companies learn what customers need and want for services. Further, businesses can respond quickly to any issues if these websites are monitored closely and will improve the relationship.

How to NOT do Customer Service

I continue to read about companies large and small who are struggling in this rough economy. Even some of the titans of the American economy like Sears are struggling (See this recent article by Tiffany Hsu in the LA Times about Sears being dropped from the S&P 500). I know our economy is down, but many companies are actually thriving so what sets them apart. At Coastal Business Supplies, Inc. we have refocused our efforts to make sure that we never lose sight of our company motto “To the extent we serve… We succeed!” We have focused on customer service and truly caring for our customers. So when I recently had an issue with a purchase from Sears.com, I was shocked at the level of service (or lack thereof) that I received. I thought to myself, “no wonder Sears is struggling”. I used to view Sear as my go to place for all sorts of items, but now I have decided to never shop there again. I wonder how many other people have decided that and then I wonder if that is truly the reason that they are struggling. So let me chronicle a couple of key points of what not to do and then also give you some of my thoughts on what to do: Continue reading “How to NOT do Customer Service”