What's new
What's new

Dealing with customers

rbmgf7

Aluminum
Joined
Oct 18, 2017
I'm a tiney-teeny garage operation. I like to think I've done well with handling the variety of customer attitudes so far.

I'm dealing with a previous Gov't customer where I fabricated them some parts. Now they're coming to me with a super simple part (hydraulic fitting) and asked if I could machine it.

Sure whatever but the cost will likely be insane per part if I machine them. Instead, I spend about half a day making calls as well as having a shop gauge the fitting so I have the proper dimensions and threads to ask for. I eventually find a supplier and I inform the customer that there is someone out there that has them.

The customer originally wanted 6 but I told them to do 10. The total is barely over $150 for 10. I have to recover the gauge costs and my time (I'm a fabricator, not a supplier). I barely mark-up the part. I give the customer my cost and I can tell they're heated. He keeps saying "it's a $0.50 part!" This is coming from a guy that originally wanted me to machine them.

Well, two weeks go by and I guess my customer is under pressure now to buy them. Instead, he asks for the part description and MY supplier contact to order them. WTH?!

I'm a terrible people-person so how should I handle this?
 

Milland

Diamond
Joined
Jul 6, 2006
Location
Hillsboro, New Hampshire
You did a pretty good job of explaining your costs, try it on the customer.

Some you want to hold onto, some you want to see leave. It's your call as to whether this one is worth holding onto.
 

Booze Daily

Titanium
Joined
Sep 18, 2015
Location
Ohio
I'd tell him they other company is not YOUR supplier, that you googled and found the fittings online.
He should do the same.

When I'm faced with a difficult customer I always try to nicely put the ball back in their court.
 

rbmgf7

Aluminum
Joined
Oct 18, 2017
I just discovered the Nickle and Dime Thread. Essentially what I'm dealing with here. I'll browse there as well...
 

Bobw

Diamond
Joined
Feb 8, 2005
Location
Hatch, NM Chile capital of the WORLD
He wants the part description? The part description is all the measurements that
YOU made on YOUR TIME. That's worth a minimum of $100 all day every day.

For a good customer, I'd eat it and consider it a cost of doing business that will
be made up for later(or previously). But the second somebody says "that's a 50 cent part",
or "this should be easy"... The price goes up.
 

rbmgf7

Aluminum
Joined
Oct 18, 2017
Nevermind. I fired off an email and just got a response. I'm dealing with a moron.

There's too much context but in two weeks, in a short email chain, this guy has managed to double-back and contradict himself.

This is the problem with government employees. They work in an industry that doesn't make money and they don't understand the value of time so their concept of how people like us make money is skewed.
 

john.k

Diamond
Joined
Dec 21, 2012
Location
Brisbane Qld Australia
Reminds me of prices Mc Donnell Douglass used to charge for F111 miscellaneous ground support parts.......common stuff from the hardware store with five extra zero s in the price.
 

car2

Stainless
Joined
Sep 19, 2009
Location
Apex, NC
I'd tell him they other company is not YOUR supplier, that you googled and found the fittings online.
He should do the same.

When I'm faced with a difficult customer I always try to nicely put the ball back in their court.

Several times a year, I'd do finniky little high-tolerance turned prototype parts for a local mid-sized company (more just as a challenge and skill exercise, although I charged them accordinly). They would also bring "emergency" odds and ends, test fixtures and things to fix or adjust.

About a year and a half ago, the engineers started getting one of those China sweatshop brokers to do all of the generic stuff, and would ask me to quote on things (the China-connection did not want to do the low-volume persnickety high-tolerance proto parts). Thru inside connections, the quotes they were getting in China were literally about material-costs here. I politely told the engineers, and purchasing people to not ask me to quote anything being quoted in China, that it was a waste of both our time. When they came around with the next high-tolerance proto emergency, I politely told them I was too busy, and that perhaps they could get that done in China.
 

idacal

Hot Rolled
Joined
Aug 9, 2011
Location
new plymouth id
if your on a cell phone you can also put them on a blocked call list but that's burning the bridges behind you. but what boozedaily said is probably the nicest way to deal with it. in the future knowing that that type stuff is usually made somewhere, make it clear to the customer either they can do the research, or you can but its at shop rate, and probably going to take a few hours, and the time is billed wether they buy or not. that usually backs them off.
 

Spruewell

Hot Rolled
Joined
Sep 8, 2015
Location
Northern California
Well if he knows where he can get them for $.50/pc., then why is he wasting your time and his. You can’t hardly afford to look at them for only 6 parts. Just explain to him that you have a minimum charge for that type of work.
 

johfoster

Cast Iron
Joined
Dec 15, 2016
(I'm a fabricator, not a supplier).

This is all you need to remember next time. If someone wants something made that is an available part then tell them that, but if they are not going to search for it themselves then why should you? Then you expect them to be reasonable people about paying for time like they should, but like you said you are a fabricator and not a supplier which is exactly as they will see it too. "Why should I pay you if you haven't fabricated anything...you are a fabricator?"

I would just send them your invoice for the parts (which includes your fees), and that would be all. There is no point in trying to explain to someone like that any of the logic of you getting paid. They need the parts, you send an invoice, they either pay or they don't?
 

Modelman

Titanium
Joined
Sep 12, 2007
Location
Northern Illinois
One thing hasn't been mentioned which I just ran into recently; if it's a government agency they may have a "buy American" clause they are dealing with. If it's a common fitting they may not be able to find them manufactured domestically. Most these rules have an exception clause for things we just don't make anymore, but then they need to document that having it made here will be so many percent more than the import.
Dennis
 

john.k

Diamond
Joined
Dec 21, 2012
Location
Brisbane Qld Australia
Far as Im concerned ,I'm with the government is the magic word.......make contact with govt insiders ....work up to the right people....the decision makers ,the order writers,....forget the 50c annoyance,and youll soon be advising them what to do ,and getting a generous cut as a middleman supplying stuff they can be bothered looking for themselves.
 

jccaclimber

Hot Rolled
Joined
Nov 22, 2015
Location
San Francisco
Several times a year, I'd do finniky little high-tolerance turned prototype parts for a local mid-sized company (more just as a challenge and skill exercise, although I charged them accordinly). They would also bring "emergency" odds and ends, test fixtures and things to fix or adjust.

About a year and a half ago, the engineers started getting one of those China sweatshop brokers to do all of the generic stuff, and would ask me to quote on things (the China-connection did not want to do the low-volume persnickety high-tolerance proto parts). Thru inside connections, the quotes they were getting in China were literally about material-costs here. I politely told the engineers, and purchasing people to not ask me to quote anything being quoted in China, that it was a waste of both our time. When they came around with the next high-tolerance proto emergency, I politely told them I was too busy, and that perhaps they could get that done in China.

I get refusing to waste time quoting something that's not going to go to you. For the next $$$ job though why not just charge them the real cost of the $$$ part?

I don't buy 80/20 brackets from tool and die shops*, and I don't buy $$$ custom parts from McMaster Carr. Neither seems to get offended.

*Unless I need it modified ($$) or right now ($$$$) in which case I don't want someone "doing me a favor" on cost. I want my engineer to see the full cost of their lack of advance planning, not some number averaged with the gravy from other work that makes them think it's ok to do this again in the future.
 

jscpm

Stainless
Joined
May 4, 2010
Location
Cambridge, MA
Just give him the vendor info. You are not a var/reseller/rep, so you are not supposed to be making money from referrals anyway. One of the golden rules of good business is: only charge people for exercising your profession. If you do some little piece of work that is not your regular business, then it is a favor.
 

CarbideBob

Diamond
Joined
Jan 14, 2007
Location
Flushing/Flint, Michigan
Just give him the vendor info. You are not a var/reseller/rep, so you are not supposed to be making money from referrals anyway. One of the golden rules of good business is: only charge people for exercising your profession. If you do some little piece of work that is not your regular business, then it is a favor.

If you have to process the order for a standard part available some money has to be added on. Nothing is free.
Maybe it is easier to buy from you. This is called being a distributor.
There is the hope of future friendship and orders if you point the buyer to the direct source at your buy pricing.
I have this on some parts that once I did some ops but now is buying stock. On the next RFQ I will point him to direct buy as an option.
Bob
 








 
Top