Finding machine shop work
I have a small machine just myself and have a few customer that have been keeping me somewhat busy. I would like to look for some more steady work but not sure what the best route is to take? What have you found the most effective way making phone calls, mailing out post cards and letters, going door to door geting a sales rep?
Yes, all of those, except the sales rep. Good customers are your best sales rep, piss one of them off and you will find new work hard to get as they will go to no ends to tell everyone they know how much you suck.
Such is life.
One warning, be leery of extending credit in this economy. You do not want to be stealing someone's dead beats away from them. I know a guy who uses credit from unsecured creditors like us to live way beyond his means. The bulk of his business is reselling
mass produced automobile components, as a typical example when one distributor of ac compressors finally cuts off his credit he will ask to be put on C.O.D. and claim to be willing
to slowly pay down his old debt. That just buys him time to get credit from someone else.
The old debt never gets paid, anyone threatening him with legal action just gets the old line "If you win a judgement against me I will go bankrupt and you will get nothing" then he sends them a token payment to create a smidge of good will. He will provide credit references but only the few he is current with. If you knocked on his door selling AC units tomorrow you would be welcomed with open arms! He is cunning at this game and slowly
orders more and pays slower and slower, the vendor is like the frog in the pot, if you heat him up slowly you can boil him to death with out him trying to jump out, but don't try to toss
him in when the water is already hot. Sorry about being so negative but I have a few dead beats on the books and they are on my mind today. Speaking of dead beats I bet GM is looking for new vendors.
I just received a letter from one of my customers. The letter is to notify all vendors that new terms are net 90 days. I almost don't want to do any more work for them. (It's a huge company, not some fly by night jokers.)
Originally Posted by Dualkit
Originally Posted by dkmc
Yes this usually works. Just give a 1% discount and get net 30 terms. And they don't even care/know that you raised your price 2% to cover yourself.
I guess the punch line is, the buying dept. is so disconnected they don't seem to know what they paid the last time..... I waited a couple months and did just as you said......went up 5% and no one seemed to notice.....or care.
Finding machine shop work
First off, I would telephone first so you won't waste a trip as some buyers only see vendors on certain days. Call the purchasing dept & find out who to see & when. From my own past experience, I would stay away from small gov't contractors as many of them are near the red & will keep you forever waiting for payment. I've found the food processing industry the best as the tolerances were not extremely close & they usually had requirements for long runs. Try them & other consumer related industries. Good luck
A good way to find customers is to talk with a shop foreman of a busy company. They always have little jobs that they'd like done, but the purchasing dept very seldom knows about these. In the past I got some very good customers through this "back door" approach. Don't expect anything great at first, you may only get nuisance stuff they don't want to do. Once you prove yourself, it can grow into bigger/better type work.
I don't recall ever getting any work by going through purchasing departments. My opinion is you'll only succeed with them if you have some very specialized capabilities that aren't readily available in your area.
Don't overlook fabrication shops. Most need machining at some point. I scored one of my best customers when I had them do a small bending job, that got my foot in the door to talk with the shop foreman.
BTW, (I'm almost totally retired now) last Saturday I took a short cut through an industrial park where one of my good customers is. Surprise, the bay doors were open and the punch presses were chunking away. I stopped to talk, and ask why Saturday work? Turins out they're swamped with work and can't even find enough workers. They make pipe hangers and related products for the ship building industry.
Aren't big companies great? They think they are doing you a favor by doing business with you.
Originally Posted by David Carlisi
Act insulted when you take notice that they are paying slower and slower, while wanting to dictate terms on everything. I have come to enjoy the "fly by nighters" that e-mail rough sketches, and want to send payment before you start work, hoping that will get them to the head of the line.
I know a local guy has about a 10 man shop bought 5 new machines and rented a building and hasn't made a machine payment on time in the 2 years he has been in business some machines he is behind 6 months on and always is looking for new material and tool suppliers lost his MSC acount and many others but people always seem to give him more credit. I don't know how he does it. Had him do a job for me quoted me 3 hours and billed me for 4 1/2 and he thinks his business pratices are normal.
I think I used to work for his evil twin. He would bid your job at $1. Never let anybody know that the job needed to be done, then after you called and called and called for months and months on end, chew the guys out in the shop because the job isn't done yet, even though its been 6 months and material hasn't been ordered yet. 3 months later finally order the material while chewing the guys out in the shop everyday for not doing the job, and oh yeah, the material was $15 for your $1 job. Then finally 9 months later, when I actually get to run the job, get yelled at for running a job that isn't making any money.
Originally Posted by kerrprecision
I have no idea how this guy stayed in business as long as he has. Last little juicy rumor I heard, a few months ago, the bankers were coming around to check out the #s and the whole operation, so the owner had the book keeper take off early and lock everything up so they couldn't see the #s and while the bank folks were there, the repo truck pulled up. Ahhh, I miss that place like a giant infected hemmorhoid.
Back to the question. Kerrprecision what kind of customers do you have now?? Are they the kind of people that know other people? The kind of people you want to get to know? If they are, just do good work and on time, pull off the impossible once in a while just to show how superhuman you are, charge fair to high prices, DO NOT give it away, your reputation will grow and so will your customer base.
As to actually getting new customers that have no idea who you are, I have no idea or suggestion that hasn't already been suggested.
I have a large machine shop that subs work to me i have worked for them a long time and they pay great and on time most of the time they even supply material but now they are really slow and don't hardly have enough work to keep them busy. I have one other industrial company thet is pretty good then the rest are custom guys that don't want to pay the prices you need to make a decent dollar.
My suggestion is to either hire a salesperson or do this work yourself. A general rule of thumb is you may have to stop at a place 3, 4 or 5 times before they give you the time of day.
If I see a salesperson who is always stopping by and putting in effort to get my business I will give them the chance.
If you can't hire somebody then do it yourself. Deliver parts and always ask if there is other work you could be doing.
Just putting flyers in the mail is a waste of time, you never know if the right people will see them.
But you do want to have some info with you. Even a 1 page flyer listing your machines, pictures and type of work is good. Notepads is a great idea, they are always in front of people and so they see your name every day.
The best way to find work is to network with people that can help you make a connection.
For example, my brother is an Electrical Engineer. Often he runs into people looking to get machine work done so he trys to connect me with them.
Friends and relatives can sometimes help make business connections.
You don't really need to "hire" a salesperson. Offer 10% of whatever work that they bring in the door. (This has worked quite well for me.) Try to find a salesperson that is hungry, and a hard worker, willing to cold call and drive around town serving customers.
Originally Posted by cash
Friends, relatives, and neighbors, I might add. My next door neighbor has a connection with a purchasing agent in the telecom industry. I found this out on Saturday when I took the time to talk to him about his work. (He's a commercial real estate agent). Talk to people that you come in contact with. Ask them what they do, tell them what you do. You might be surprised.
Originally Posted by JimGlass
If you ahve a website check out google adsense. Also check out the thread Iw rote about optimizing so you get natural ranking.
Think net 90 is bad? I am pretty certain that a few appliance manufacturers when to net 180. A company I used to work for would sell their balance to a company that would buy at a discount and sit on it and wait to be paid by the appliance company. The name of this method is escaping me. It is hard to go from say a net 30 to a net 90. that is a 60 day payment break for the customer and then a 60 day stop in cash flow for the supplier. This business world is getting more and more creative to make ends meet.
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