We’ve all benefited by happenstance and strokes of good luck. The shop profiled in this story
was fortunate enough to establish a mutually advantageous relationship with one of its biggest customers at just the right time. Rather than renewing its lease at its existing location, the shop moved its operation into the customer’s facility. One way the shop benefited was closer proximity to manufacturing activity. In turn, the customer no longer had to ship its heavy workpiece blanks some 60 miles to be machined. Both now realizie greater sales, too.
Although luck is inherently random, there are ways to better position your shop for serendipity. Networking, both interpersonally and electronically, greatly increases the chances that you’ll meet the right professional at the right time. Consider these worthwhile networking tools:
• Trade organizations—Industry groups such as NTMA, PMPA, AMBA and NAM offer a way to network locally, regionally and nationally with other shops and potential customers. They also serve as conduits to enable members to share best practices and solve common problems.
• Trade shows and open houses—Events such as IMTS not only present new equipment and technology, but also give you the chance to make new business contacts. In fact, a recent post-show survey reveals that 62 percent of IMTS attendees made new contacts during the show. Similar benefits can be realized at smaller-scale equipment manufacturer open houses.
• Shop open houses—Leading shops use customer tours as a marketing tool to showcase their in-house capabilities as well as the pride they have in their employees and overall operation. There’s clear value in showing customers the advanced equipment and processes you have to produce parts accurately and effectively.
• Customer communication—Frequent communication with current customers is perhaps the best way to keep your shop at top of their minds in the event they need additional machining help. Staying in touch also gives you the opportunity to tell customers about new capabilities you have added, which could lead to more work.
• Social media and online presence—Websites and blogs enable you to establish a necessary online presence. On the other hand, the various social media outlets enable you to interact with the manufacturing community in a more conversational way.
Networking can be challenging simply because basic shop responsibilities absorb so much of your day. But being proactive at putting yourself out there can lead to chance connections that can make it all worthwhile.
Moving in with a Customer
Shop owner Chris Nachtmann has established a close relationship with one of his biggest customers. In fact, he moved his operation inside that customer’s facility a couple years ago. Now, he’s making greater strides to invest in and grow his business.