6 Things You Must Know To Get Paid Well for Embroidery Monograms
Monograms are one of the basic embroidery jobs that most people understand without much explanation. The general public can visualize a men’s dress shirt with three small letters embroidered on the cuff or a set of towels with an embroidered monogram on them, for example. The trick to getting paid well for creating embroidery monograms is to streamline the interaction with your customer and to recognize all the steps that go into creating them. You need to know the following details in order to create the monogram.
6 Things You Must Know To Get Paid Well for Creating Embroidery Monograms
1. What is the monogram going to be sewn on?
Is the customer buying the product or garment from you, or are they bringing in something that they have? Ideally, you will provide the product, as you then have the opportunity to earn profit on the product as well as on the work you do to create the monogram. Some embroidery businesses charge a “minimum hooping fee” for customer-supplied items, which helps keep the profit levels reasonable for these jobs. I’ve seen minimum hooping fees as low as $8 and as high as $20.
2. What font does your customer want?
Most embroidery software programs have at least a few basic monogram fonts as part of their native alphabets, a script and a block at least. If you want to offer more fonts, there are lots of fancy monogram font designs available. Some of them are a bit more complicated to work with, as you have to size and place each letter as part of the design, rather than just enter the combination of letters using the keyboard.
3. What letters will be in the monogram?
Monograms can be a single letter, two letters or three letters traditionally. You need to define which letter(s), the order in which they appear and which one(s) are to be larger than the others, depending on the font and monogram style.
4. How large should the monogram be?
Customers tend to think BIG when it comes to the size they want a design. One of the best ways to manage this part of the conversation is to have samples that show monograms sewn out in a few different sizes. I created some embroidered samples on men’s cuffs, which I had removed from some old dress shirts, ranging in sizes from just over ¼” to nearly 1” in height. (Yes, the 1” ones look ridiculous!). I also made a sample sewout with a series of monograms that would appear on a set of towels, hand, wash and bath sizes. For this sample, I embroidered 2 examples, one side with a single letter, and then other side with three letters, so the customers could see them to make their choice. The customer can then easily decide what they want, after seeing these examples.
5. Where does the customer want the monogram to be placed?
Depending on the item, there are many potential locations for a monogram. The traditional “rules” have relaxed and anything goes nowadays. Be sure the customer is very specific about where they want the monogram.
6. What color does the customer want?
Handing your thread color chart to your customer is NOT an option, unless you want to spend 30 minutes helping them decide between which color of blue. It is overwhelming to them. The key here is to have the customer give you a color – blue, pink, green, purple, whatever. If they give you any color other than black or white, grab a light, medium and dark thread cone or spool in the color they named. Have them pick from JUST those three threads. They can make their decision quickly with confidence from a choice of three.
As you can clearly see, taking an order for an embroidery monogram is a more involved process than anyone would imagine. Can you get all the information you need from your customer in less than five minutes? Rarely! On average, taking an order for a monogram in person takes between seven and twelve minutes, depending on how many questions the customer asks throughout the process.
The materials (thread, backing, topping) to create the embroidered monogram represent the lowest cost of the order. Your time is the most expensive portion – your time to talk with the customer to clarify their wants, your time to create the embroidery file and then your time to sew out the order. And let’s face it, unless you are creating a monogram from a template that you know and trust, the odds are pretty good that you are going to runa sewout before you run the actual product.
How do you get paid well for monograms? Recognize the actual amount of time that is involved to create one and charge appropriately! It is realistic to anticipate that creating a monogram will take at least 30 minutes, including the time you spend with the customer, the time to program it, load the machine with the correct thread colors, hoop the item, run a sewout, run the product, trim it and finish or fold it for customer pickup and create their invoice.
If you want to earn $30 an hour, your bare minimum price should start at $15 for a monogram, not including the product. If you charge $5 for a monogram, you will earn not much more than minimum wage for all your time, expertise and efforts!
Now you may be thinking, “My customers will never pay that!” In that case, I have two questions for you:
1. How do you know?
2. Are you willing to work for minimum wage?
Even at $10-12 for a monogram, you are earning a wage that is more in line with your investment in the equipment, software and supplies.
Are you getting paid well for creating embroidery monograms? Now is an excellent time to evaluate how much you charge for creating monograms and maybe bump your pricing a bit to put your profit more in line with the time you invest in creating each embroidery monogram.
If you would like more help with how to price your embroidery work, email me at Jennifer@nnep.com or ask me a question in the comments box below.
Thank you, Jennifer
Excellent advise and comments.... Questions that I have had for years were answered in these 6 points and comments. I had never thought to tell the customers that they bring their items - they do so at their own risk! I have just sweated until the item is done... LOL. I have also given "gift certificates" for ruined items.
Thanks for your help!
Happy New Year Everyone!
In an effort to increase profits in 2017, and in light of the article Jennifer just sent, I wanted to check with the group on a couple of pricing issues:
1. Do you embroider logos on garments people supply to you? If so, how do you adjust your pricing to account for the loss in profit on the garment itself?
2. Do you embroider monograms on items people supply to you? If so, what is the average price you charge for this service?
I hate to turn these types of jobs away, because I truly believe that small projects can turn into bigger ones - but at the end of the day, we are in business to be profitable.
Thanks in advance for your feedback!!
Great post. So helpful.
Hi there. We are apparel decorators and promotional product specialists. Our bread and butter has always come from the apparel sales & decorating. We provide embroidery, screen printing, vinyl cutting etc.
We have all the major national warehouses as resources for our apparel and accessories.
We have been in business for 10 years now. In the beginning, we wanted every job we could get our hands on. Unfortunately we have trained our existing customers that we'll do anything for $5.00! Not really - but almost.
Customers come in bragging about the great $5.00 find of the garage sale blanket or the Christmas stocking or the fantastic sale at Kohl's. Then they balk when we needed to raise our price for embroidery on outside apparel/inventory.
How do we educate our customers? How do we "start over" and train them that the simplest embroidery can take hours to set-up, stitch out, proof to customer and then figure out how to work on an item that we don't provide - that wasn't designed and manufactured to take decorating - and if something goes wrong, which it does sometimes, we cannot reasonably replace or in many cases replace at all.
Julie - Educating customers is the name of the game. The general public has no idea how much time, effort and expertise goes into creating the embroidery, nor do they really care. One way to start to change their perception is to change the way we talk about our work. Saying things like, "I will be glad to create that custom order for you" instead of "Sure, I can have it done Wednesday" creates a different appreciation. Sometimes something that simple can change the nature of their expectations and the conversation. We offer one on one consulting to NNEP members as part of the membership, and this is one area that we work in every single week with our members, because our industry long ago created and since then maintained an attitude about our work that plays down the service we offer and the work we do. If you would like to chat about it, give us a call at 800 - 866 - 7396.
If I sell the garments can replace it at a reasonable price. If the customer povides the garment I tell them they do it at their own risk. I can correct a lot of stitching errors but I can't do it 100%, 100% of the time.