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To a job shop, bidding on an unusual job with a quote that is too high or too low is an occupational hazard. Bid too high and you won’t get the work. Bid too low and you will lose money. Perhaps the worst scenario is to submit a bid that you thought was too high, only to get the job anyway. When that happens, the shop owner is left with a sinking feeling that his seemingly high quote actually wasn’t anywhere near high enough.
The perils can be enough to drive a job shop to avoid weird jobs altogether. Of course, many job shops are too small or hungry to get away with this. G&G Precision says the fact that it’s obliged to take on some weird jobs now and again is perfectly OK. G&G, subject of a story in the February issue of our magazine, does not mind that it sometimes makes a small profit instead of a healthy one on some of the more unusual jobs the shop bids on, because the shop sees a variety of additional sources of value. The chance to build a relationship with the customer is an obvious one. However, G&G also wants to build something with employees by demonstrating the kind of work the employees will get to continue to work on if they remain with the shop and are able to thrive there.
Another shop I visited a while back referred to this as “cool factor.” Seeking out jobs with high cool factor—whether because of the challenge of the part or because of some level of coolness associated with the part’s end use—represented an important way to keep the attention and imagination of shop personnel engaged at a high level.
Certainly there is no point in underbidding for the sake of cool. However, the customer and contractor for a machined part actually are both customers. From the job shop’s perspective, there are multiple reasons to look at the parts that are out for bid as if the shop is “shopping” for the kind of work the shop would like to have in-house.