What Makes For A Good Shop Web Site?

I am no Web site design guru. However, I do often surf the Web in search of progressive contract shops to feature in the magazine, and I know what I’d like to see on your shop’s site.

Columns From: 2/1/2008 Modern Machine Shop, ,

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Derek Korn

I am no Web site design guru. However, I do often surf the Web in search of progressive contract shops to feature in the magazine, and I know what I’d like to see on your shop’s site. I suspect that manufacturers looking for new shops with which to work are interested in seeing much of the same content.

Although nearly every shop site has the obligatory list of machine tools, that limited information really doesn’t reveal much about what your shop truly has to offer. As an Internet lurker with no prior knowledge about your shop, I’d hope to see more than that. Show me samples of tricky machining work you have performed. You might organize this part sampling by industry and/or workpiece material. We all have access to a digital camera; make it a habit of photographing complex workpieces before they go out the door. Depending on part size, a shot staged on your CMM or granite measuring table makes for a nice composition (and implies “quality”). Mind the camera’s flash on that shiny metal, though!

A brief description of how you overcame the challenges in machining those parts is helpful, too. Include mention of any design changes you suggested that made the machining easier and/or less costly.

Having a page that details how you came through for customers in other ways is also telling. Allow this section go beyond describing the tough parts you’ve machined or the exotic materials you’ve tackled. For example, explain a situation in which you were able to accommodate a customer’s hot, need-it-yesterday job. This demonstrates adroitness to potential customers currently experiencing trouble with on-time delivery. Perhaps you took on a prototype job for a customer even though there was no guarantee you’d see a production run of that part. That shows you’re willing to go the extra mile for your customers. These descriptions don’t have to be elaborate prose. Briefly tell your tales. Simply list the customer’s problem, the steps you took to help and (if possible) the customer’s reaction to your excellent service.

Make those browsing your site aware of your recent efforts to improve shop efficiency. Perhaps you’ve embarked upon a lean manufacturing journey, embraced Six Sigma, added automation, implemented shop management software, established new quality control measures or became certified in one of the latest industry standards. In addition, mention your ongoing training initiatives, especially if these are programs of your own design. This shows you’ve taken the initiative to grow your own skilled labor force, rather than waiting for someone else to do it.

Highlight your part-measurement capabilities. If you have a CMM, show it and describe it. Also, include a list of the non-chip-making operations that you have either in-house or via relationships with trusted area suppliers (assembly, anodizing, heat treating, laser welding and others). Customers prefer to cut just a single purchase order for its completed components.

Use photos to show how you keep your shop clean and organized. In addition, describe the strides you take to maintain your facility and equipment to ensure the operation runs effectively. If you maintain tight environmental control in your building, boast about that, too.

The aforementioned is just a sampling of what I think makes for a good shop site. That said, some shops continue to do well just by word of mouth, even though they have either a modest site or no site at all. So, even though I groove on detailed sites, I don’t make a hasty judgment about a shop solely based on site existence or quality. However, use of the Web as a new-business search tool is increasing, so I believe it’s becoming more important to create and maintain a quality shop site. A Web site is an excellent way to gain positive exposure to potential new customers, assuming your company’s abilities are presented in the right way.

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