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Finding Customers

DBcooper

Plastic
Joined
Jul 7, 2017
Location
Kaufman
Hey all.

ive got a small part time shop near Dallas-Ft Worth. i work full time in a machine shop but i want to grow my customer base at my home shop and eventually turn it full time once i can invest in the machines and shop space to do so. I own the machines in my shop free and clear, so i have an extremely low operating cost and overhead, while not having the newest and fastest machines, i think that my low operating cost would allow me to be competitive price wise. i would say im just as comfortable doing prototype/one off parts as i am doing a production run of 1000

my question is, how do i get customers to give me the time of day? what should i tell a purchasing rep that would get my foot in the door?

any advice would be appreciated!
 

cnctoolcat

Titanium
Joined
Sep 18, 2006
Location
Abingdon, VA
Lots of threads on here about finding work.

A guy like you in his garage should visit all the machine shops in the region. Everybody is busy these days, I guarantee you will come back with work.

Busy shops seem to always have overflow little jobs they have a hard time squeezing in.

ToolCat
 

CarbideBob

Diamond
Joined
Jan 14, 2007
Location
Flushing/Flint, Michigan
Speed to parts done is maybe a key to opening doors.
Talking with a guy who sort of put Dad's shop on the map.
"The one thing I knew was that your dad would have some sort of solution tomorrow and more than likely parts".
Bat that monkey off of another's back.
People will talk machines, capability, certs, low price and blah.
It is all about solving customer problems.
 

jccaclimber

Hot Rolled
Joined
Nov 22, 2015
Location
San Francisco
All this talk about timing is key. Meeting your timelines is key too.
I have a shop I used to work with in the Detroit area. Good quality work, fair handling of issues regardless of who is at fault. Easy to work with and reasonable pricing. He’s even gotten me out of a jamb a few times back when I worked in that part of the country…I don’t think I’ve sent him any work in the last 4 years.

We’ve stayed in touch, but he always quotes 4 to 6 weeks out. I know there’s a 70% chance that he’s going to miss his timing by another 1-2 weeks and it’s going to take another 2 days to overnight me the parts. I’m thrilled that his shop is successful enough to be always booked 2 months out, but it also means that I need to go elsewhere.

The places I tend to use run 1-3 weeks, and if I need a miracle it’s next day (for a sizable jump the line fee of course). They also meet their timing while still being easy to work with, quality parts, etc.
 

mc3608

Aluminum
Joined
Feb 14, 2018
What do you have for machines and capabilities? Tolerances you can hold in mild steel?
 

DBcooper

Plastic
Joined
Jul 7, 2017
Location
Kaufman
What do you have for machines and capabilities? Tolerances you can hold in mild steel?

Just finished up a production run in D2 with +/-.001" tolerance and did well as long as I stayed on top of tool wear. I've got a 3 axis mill (30x18x22) and a 14x40 lathe. It's not much but it's a start
 

BT Fabrication

Hot Rolled
Joined
Nov 3, 2019
need to build up a reputation by having your name out there first showing what you can do. then getting your name out there again.
 

Doug

Diamond
Joined
Dec 16, 2002
Location
Pacific NW
Use the search function, This comes up a couple times a month. The consensus is find a different trade

If you're in this business for any period of time you meet others in the machining business. The ones that stick out in my mind are those with their constant complaining; low income, long hours, not being able to find work, anger at their customers, not being able to keep the few customers they get, among other things.

The ones I came to know the most about should never have gotten into any self employment situation, machining or other wise. Machining is like so many other businesses, easy to get into, not so easy to be successful.
 

Jashley73

Titanium
Joined
Jan 24, 2013
Location
Louisville, KY
so i have an extremely low operating cost and overhead, while not having the newest and fastest machines, i think that my low operating cost would allow me to be competitive price wise.

DO NOT TELL THEM that you intend to be price-competitive. That is pole-position for the race to the bottom.

This will set you up for many RFQ's from cheapskate buyers who will waste your time in an effort to make a name for themselves.

You want the guy who's been around the block, and knows that good/fast work commands and is worth the premium. This might mean you need to start pursuing the engineers & project managers, rather than the purchasing goobers.



Plus, if you build your business model on being the low-cost supplier, how will you be able to 1- afford new/better/faster machines, and also 2- pay yourself an above-average living wage? If #2 isn't possible in the not-so-long-term, then why bother with this venture in the first place?




i would say im just as comfortable doing prototype/one off parts as i am doing a production run of 1000

Now this is important. You have some versatility. That's good.

Get efficient so that you can provide quick turnaround times.

Then charge as much as you can get away with.



Being the low-cost guy is going to lead-to high stress, low-reward. Unless you're also the best at what you do, which means you'll have to be extremely efficient to the be best, cheapest, and also profitable...
 

dkmc

Diamond
Another mistake I've actually seen played out more than once.......
Guy's doing work on manual machines, or maybe even a rudimentary CNC knee mill. Then he takes the plunge, buys a full on VMC or lathe, and calls all his customers and announces the great news. He tells them his new machine is so much faster now. So naturally, they demand a price REDUCTION, and they're pretty sure they'll get it......seeing how he has payments to make now.
Keep new machinery and faster methods to yourself.
 

jccaclimber

Hot Rolled
Joined
Nov 22, 2015
Location
San Francisco
Another mistake I've actually seen played out more than once.......
Guy's doing work on manual machines, or maybe even a rudimentary CNC knee mill. Then he takes the plunge, buys a full on VMC or lathe, and calls all his customers and announces the great news. He tells them his new machine is so much faster now. So naturally, they demand a price REDUCTION, and they're pretty sure they'll get it......seeing how he has payments to make now.
Keep new machinery and faster methods to yourself.

Yep. Tell the customer about it if it’s going to solve a new problem of theirs, and clearly frame it that way. Don’t tell them if you’re the only beneficiary.

“Hey, I got this new 5 axis machine. It’s more programming and fixturing for me, but it’ll help with the problem you’ve been having on part X.” Not the same as “Hey, I got this new 5 axis machine that has less handling time and so it makes parts in half the time.” One of these sounds like you doing them a cost neutral favor. The other sounds like an opportunity for them to ask for a cost reduction as you overhead goes up.
 

CITIZEN F16

Titanium
Joined
May 2, 2021
DO NOT TELL THEM that you intend to be price-competitive. That is pole-position for the race to the bottom.

This will set you up for many RFQ's from cheapskate buyers who will waste your time in an effort to make a name for themselves.

Exactly, charge what the market will bear regardless of your overhead. Put the extra money in your pocket, not the customer's. I never understood people hung up on a fixed shop rate. You could be missing out on easy lights out jobs, or leaving money on the table, charging too little when your machinery and skills are the perfect fit for a job.
 








 
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