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Top 3 Money Makers For Your Vinyl Cutter Business

1. T-Shirts

As you may have guessed, t-shirts are the number one money maker for vinyl cutter businesses. Most screen print shops have minimum order quantities of around two dozen pieces per design. So heat transfer vinyl (HTV) has a huge advantage of allowing you to produce low quantity and even one-off jobs for your clients. Low quantity jobs with 1 color, 1 location per tee are the bread and butter for many businesses with a vinyl cutter and heat press. T-shirts like this are top money-makers because there is a lot of room for margin. Take a look at the Market Rate vs. Your Cost To Produce:

Black Gildan T-Shirt w/White Graphic (10”x8”) - 1 piece
Market Rate: $26.95 - free shipping, delivered within 10 business days (customink.com)
Your Cost to Produce: $15.05 - Shirt from Michael’s, Siser EasyWeed from single sheet, 20min labor
Alternate Cost to Produce: $11.27 - Shirt from S&S Activewear (wholesale), Siser EasyWeed from 5yd roll, 20min labor

The Market Rate is a price that is generally accepted by the public. We used a popular website as our example of the market rate. You’ll notice that the cost to produce varies by almost $4. The more expensive example is for sourcing materials retail; the less expensive example is for sourcing materials wholesale. Our Cost to Produce (CTP) also includes labor, to guarantee you are compensated for your time at the bare minimum. We calculated labor in this example at $20/hour. We encourage you to value yourself as a skilled worker. Calculating your labor at $30-$35/hour is not unreasonable by any means.

Your Cost to Produce is the absolute minimum you should ever discount your job. The space between your CTP and the Market Rate is how much room you have available for your markup. So after you’ve paid yourself the bare minimum for your time, you can add an additional markup to your product to cover overhead and other expenses.

2. Window Decal

If the past two years have taught us anything, it’s that things can change overnight - especially for businesses. Window decals to display business hours and information are more popular than ever, since they’re extremely durable, but can be removed and replaced if necessary. The great thing about having a vinyl cutter in your business is that it can do double-duty. Not only can it cut HTV for your t-shirts and garments, but it can also cut adhesive sticker vinyl for window decals and other applications.

In the age of the internet, it seems that everyone is competing against the “big dogs”. It’s important to remember that you are not competing on price alone. We have a saying around here, “If you can’t be cheaper, be nicer and faster.” In this example, you’ll notice that your Cost to Produce is not too far from the market rate. But pay attention to the turnaround time for our example. This presents a local business with an opportunity to compete on speed - a race you should be winning every time.

White Window Decal (18”x24”) - 1 piece
Market Rate: $32 + $8.99 shipping - delivered within 8 business days (vistaprint.com)
Your Cost to Produce: $20.88 - Siser EasyPSV, Siser Application Tape, 30min Labor

Window Decals also present a unique upsell opportunity to all of your local customers: Professional Installation. This is something the big internet print shops cannot offer in any way, so this is your place to shine. Once you’re confident in your window decal installation skills, feel free to add this service at an up-charge. You don’t want to leave this money on the table.

3. Jersey Numbering

Though this might seem similar to our #1 pick (t-shirts), it’s actually a different product and customer base. Each jersey has a unique name and number on the back, so this can be very time consuming to set up and execute for a screen shop. However, this is perfect for a vinyl cutter, since it cuts each graphic separately anyway. As you’ll see in our example, the turnaround time from the big internet print shop is three weeks. This timeframe is pretty standard for numbering jerseys, so most of your sports team clients will be prepared for this. If you can cut that down by a week, you’ll win on that front as well.

Badger Sports Jersey w/White Team Name on Front and Name/Number on Rear - 12 pieces
Market Rate: $30.89/each - Free shipping, delivered within 15 business days (logosoftwear.com)
Your Cost to Produce: $24.31/each - Badger 2144 Jersey (wholesale), Siser EasyWeed from 5yd Roll, 30min labor

Your biggest battle is going to be making sure the jerseys are in stock, in all needed sizes, in the right color, ideally all from the same supplier. The closer you get to the season, the lower stock levels get for popular products & colors, so keep that in mind. It’s advantageous to have accounts with multiple garment wholesalers. Confirm stock levels & pricing before you submit the quote to your customer, then check again before confirming the order. While you’re waiting for the jerseys to be delivered, get started on cutting the HTV graphics. A 12-piece order can be heat pressed in about 1-2 hours if everything has been prepped in advance.

Sports teams also offer great opportunities for upsells. Does the coach need a jacket? Does the team want practice tees? If you have the HPN Signature Series 15”x15” Swing Away & Shoe Platen, you can even offer to customize the side of their cleats or sneakers!

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