We’ve all experienced this: it’s last minute, and you needed to have all of your uniforms with customization and cheer items‚ like, yesterday. So, you call up your favorite cheer company to place an order‚ only to find out that you won’t receive your items in time. With a processing time of 24-48 hours, production time for your tackle twill taking at least 3-4 weeks after approval, and the additional 4-7 business days for ground shipping, you’re left there wondering, “what went wrong? What could I have done better to avoid this? ” It turns out there are both good and bad times to placing an order, and your favorite cheer company knows this. In fact, they are hoping that you plan ahead and order early. Cheer companies know how people shop and spend, so why not plan to be successful yourself? Picking the right time to place your order, preparing yourself before you order, and keeping yourself focused while you do it are all keys to avoiding backorders, out-of-stock items, overspending, forgotten items, and not receiving your items on time. Springtime is usually the best time to start researching and planning ahead. With new catalogs shipping out with all the latest cheer gear for that season, having an idea of what you will be ordering is key. Make sure you are aware of the processing time for orders and certain items. Also, be aware of production time for custom items. For instance, sublimation items typically take a minimum of 4-6 weeks for production time, and that’s after order and art proof approval. So, from the time that you place your order to the moment you receive your items, you’re realistically looking at 7-8 weeks. That includes placing your order, order approval, art proof approval, and the shipping timeframe. Which means waiting until the last minute to place your order is a definite no-no! Ideally, ordering between March and May would be the best time to place your order. The benefits of placing your order that early not only include receiving your items on time, but you also get first-pick of all the new gear for that season. Another benefit to ordering early is that you get to take advantages of special deals and promotions. In our spring 2016 catalog, for example, we offer an intro special for our new Double Knit Sublimation. The intro special includes the shell top, skirt, and performance bodyliner for up to $50.00 off! With a deal like that, who wouldn’t want to take advantage of the savings? Also, keep in mind that placing your order between July and September may not be the best decision. Those months are usually the busiest for retailers. During the height of the busy season, you run the risk of backorders, items not being in stock, delayed processing times, and a lot of the inventory being picked over (especially closeout items). Ordering later in the season also doesn’t leave much time for returns, exchanges, forgotten items, and discrepancies in your order. What needs to be considered, especially, are the returns and exchanges that may need to take place. The return and exchange process can take up to 2 weeks. That’s the time it takes for you to receive your order, send the exchanged/returned items back, and still allowing time to receive your new items. All-in-all, setting a game plan and ordering early is the best way to go about placing your order. Not only does it allow time for returns and exchanges, but it factors in the time it takes for approval, processing time, production, and shipping. Planning ahead and ordering as early as possible ensures that your ordering experience runs smoothly, but still leaves time for all mistakes, hiccups, add-on cheerleaders, and forgotten or last minute items. Keep in mind that cheer companies are here to help you in every step of the way, and are always there for guidance, too! What has been your experience ordering at different times of the year? What month do you normally place your order for next season? Let us know your tips in the comments below!