Can Chasing Small Customers Lead to Big Profits?

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Project Infomation

Mr. Robbins, a former full-time musician who still plays in a band, was nostalgic for the multicolor tour shirts of his youth, which he described as “works of art.” He said he was appalled by the one-color shirts sold at today’s shows. He was also disappointed by the quality of shirts created by some of Austin’s many screen printers and said he could do better.
Darren Robbins and a partner founded Big D Custom Screen Printing in 2007. In its first year, the company, which is based in Austin, Tex., and specializes in printing T-shirts, recorded sales of $325,000 and a small loss.
  • Client : Insight Studio
  • Date : 20 Feb, 2018
  • Skills : Project Planning

Challenge & Solution

THE CHALLENGE To become profitable, Big D must determine whether to cater to customers with large printing orders or small. With that goal, Mr. Robbins and his partner, who worked for Capitol Records, invested a total of $225,000 to open Big D. The division of labor was clear. “I was a natural-born customer-service geek, and he was a natural-born salesman,” said Mr. Robbins, who resolved to take care of the customers his partner brought in. “We wanted to be one of the big boys.”
Land accounts from major banks
At first, Mr. Robbins and his partner agreed on strategy. With their industry contacts, they said they believed they could land accounts from major bands. Focusing on high-volume orders made sense to them in part because Big D’s suppliers offered a price break on large quantity T-shirt orders.
Chasing down high-volume clients
But the partners did not realize that most bands were locked in to long-term contracts for their tour shirts. Given that, Mr. Robbins started to wonder about the strategy of chasing down high-volume clients, particularly when he had so many smaller prospects knocking on his door.
Conduct office presentations
But, he said, his partner saw no point in accepting orders for one or two shirts. His partner continued to believe big orders were crucial to profitability and that he could best win those accounts by conducting in-office presentations for corporate prospects across the country.

Our Process

After a year in business, Mr. Robbins threw an anniversary party in April 2008 to thank his employees for their dedication. His partner, however, opposed the modest celebration because its cost meant the difference between breaking even and showing a loss on Big D’s first-year sales. This disagreement highlighted the increasing tension between the partners’ growth philosophies.
Improve sales & operations & production planning
Determine the right inventory level
Optimize the supply chain for perfect order planning
Improve sales & operations & production planning

Result Driven

Determined to accept smaller orders, Mr. Robbins bought out his partner around the time of the party. The split was amicable, Mr. Robbins said, with his former partner breaking even on the sale and returning to the music business. And then the economy crashed. “Almost overnight, companies tightened their belts,” Mr. Robbins said. (Credit:
Reduced lead time by 43%
Decreased variability by 50%
Lowered the risk of back-order by 95%
Increased stock for finished goods by 10%
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