Finding a Contract Embroidery Provider

One of the most frequent questions I receive at Qdigitzing is, “Do you also provide embroidery services?”  Unfortunately the answer to this question is, “no” but I can refer anyone who asks to several companies I personally know who would do a good job for you.

However, I would not expect you to just take my word for it so listed here are several questions you should ask and carefully consider the answers before you make a decision on who you will trust your work to.

 1. How many and what kind of embroidery machines (heads) does the vendor have? 

The answer to this question will provide insight to the capacity of the facility.  Ask your embroidery provider what their daily capacity is based on their equipment lineup and average stitch count.  A good vendor will know the answer to this question.  If your embroidery supplier cannot answer this question effortlessly you need to prepare yourself for late deliveries.

2. Is the vendor local to you? 

If the answer is “no” this should not be a show stopper for you.  However, if they are ask the vendor for a tour of their facility.  Most owners are proud to show off their equipment and the effciency of their operation.  If a vendor is reluctant to show you their production this might be a red flag.  My experience has shown me that a neat and organized shop will generally be more reliable at meeting deadlines with quality work.

3.  Get Referrals! 

More than anything else your vendor should be willing and able to provide referrals for their work.  However, a vendor is not likely to knowingly provide you with a bad reference.  To combat this you should go to a meeting of professionals (like a Chamber of Commerce meeting) and ask other professionals who they use.  Compare their responses to the provided referrals and you will get a good idea for what to expect.

4.  What is the Damaged Product Policy? 

In the real world of embroidery product will get damaged in production.  It happens to all embroidery shops regardless of how good they are.  You should be aware of this and you need to ask what the Damage Policy is.  Most contract embroidery shops will have a 1% to 2% damage policy.  That means if a product is ruined on the machine you will be responsible for 1 or 2 pieces out of every 100.  Damage over that number would be the vendors responsibilty.  Hats are far more difficult to embroider than “flats” and some companies might have a Damage Policy as high as 3% to 5% for hats.  You need to have a candid conversation about this with your vendor.  Damage policies are meant to cover issues that are virtually impossible to control, not incompetance.  It is your responisbility to understand what is covered by a Damage Policy.

There are many other questions you may want to ask an embroidery provider before you decide to trust them with your work.  On the most basic level your vendor is applying for a job.  And each time you bring them work they are renewing that relationship.  As with any relationship the key to success is open, two way communication and realistic expectations of what each party will get out of the relationship.  You will probably notice I have made no mention of price in this blog  because I feel price is irrelvant to this conversation.  If I cannot get satisfactory answers to the four basic questions above I would not use a vendor no matter what their price is and neither should you.

As we enter what is the busiest time of year for many of you it is important to have reliable vendors.  The most important thing you can do is go in to the experience with your eyes and ears wide open.  Observe the surroundings (look for piles of ruined product) listen for claims that seem unreasonable.  Like the shop with 6 heads who say they can turn five thousand shirts with a 12,000 stitch logo in a week.  They can’t unless they are outsourcing the work.

This is an area I have a great deal of experience.  If any of you out there have specific comments or questions please feel free to drop me a note here or email me at
Thank you very much and everyone at Qdigitizing wishes you a warm and happy holday season.

Steve Freeman
Managing Partner