When Jason Parke bought The Greek Corner Screen Printing and Embroidery in 2009, his first big order was printing 1,300 shirts for Springfield Public School’s graduation. “Everything that could go wrong went wrong,” Parke says. One of the machines broke, a printer was out sick, a storm knocked out power and a dryer caught fire. Amazingly, Parke met the deadline, and things calmed down, with one exception: Business always slowed to a trickle during the winter.
The Big Idea
“My granddad always said you have to work twice as hard to do half as good during the winter,” Parke says. To fill the winter lull, Parke increased Greek Corner’s pool of contract orders—clients who place large orders throughout the year. Last year, contract orders made up about 20 percent of Greek Corner’s sales. This year, that number is up to 25 percent.
The Learning Curve
It was a somewhat unnatural move for this reserved introvert. “Networking has always been a little harder for me,” he says. Along with cold-calling potential clients, Parke used existing relationships and connections to win over new customers who could benefit from contract orders. “Persistence is key,” he says. “When a potential client turns you down, you just refocus that energy on someone else and try to win that business. You have to move on and not take it personal.”
“I’m not going to say having contract customers fills the winter, but it really helps,” Parke says. “A big part of success is building relationships with our clients.” For Parke, that means not stealing customers, meeting order deadlines and accommodating clients who come in with special requests. “Customers will never know we printed those shirts,” Parke says. “But our job is to make our clients looks good.”