What's new
What's new

Too much demand!

mhajicek

Titanium
Joined
May 11, 2017
Location
Minneapolis, MN, USA
What do you do to keep your clients happy when momentary demand outpaces your supply, and other shops can't meet the needed lead time and quality for subbing out to? I have two months of work to do in the next month.
 

Garwood

Diamond
Joined
Oct 10, 2009
Location
Oregon
Decline the work you can't do? Quote the job for a delivery time you can meet and leave it at that?

Or you can try to scale up your business to meet the demand, but that sounds pretty unlikely if you are slammed.
 

barbter2

Aluminum
Joined
Nov 25, 2019
Location
On Tour....
All you can do is 2 things.
#1 tell your wife you have to blitz the hours - full steam with as many hrs as possible for at least the next 6 weeks. Because no one can help you. All you can do is roll your sleeves and crack on.
#2 then....assess what you can and cannot do, and phone your prime Customers and explain the situation and ask them to please prioritise on what they want first, and what can slip and by how long.
Reality, is far better for them than unexpected missed dates.

IME they will appreciate this far more than slipped delivery, as quite often have float in their dates.
But although this is a great position for you to be in, don't make a habit of getting into this situation.....!
 
Last edited:

Orange Vise

Stainless
Joined
Feb 10, 2012
Location
California
No guarantee your customers will accept anything less than what they've already asked for, but if you can somehow convince them to push back the delivery dates, you'll save yourself a whole lot of headache in a single conversation. Here on PM we tend to focus on technical solutions and almost never on soft skills. Excellent salesmanship goes a long way.

As for the technical solution to the problem, one month is unfortunately not long enough to implement any sort of automation system or even find adequate help, so it's most likely going to mean brute force, i.e. busting ass 24/7.
 
Last edited:

SND

Diamond
Joined
Jan 12, 2003
Location
Canada
After the last 2 years they should know by now to not be ordering stuff at the last minute.

I put in the hours that I can(often too many). Let them know early on that stuff its gonna be late and if they want to find someone else you understand. Odds are they won't. Running with 3-6+ month lead times ain't bad.
If there's parts on the order that are needed before than the rest I run those first, other stuff when I "circle back to it", or I split orders so there's enough to keep assembly/sales going on their end.
I try not to stress much about it anymore, I've realized there's nothing I can do that will change certain things that are out of my control, if its late its late, hell I think i've missed about 90% of the dates on PO's the last few year and you know what? it doesn't matter one bit.
I'm not the one that printed Trillions of new currency units and cheap debt or locked down everyone and screwed up everything.
I'm also not interested to invest into a bunch more equipment for demand that will likely drop off a cliff sooner than later. Put money in the bank and milk it for all you can while you can.
 

yoke

Hot Rolled
Joined
Sep 26, 2013
Location
PA
I would be calling customers to see if partial deliveries would be sufficient.

I can't tell you how many times I was assured the parts were going to be used immediately just to have them sit around for weeks before they get picked up. If you could sniff out a few project that are like that you can buy some time.

Buy a cot and sleep next to the machine if all else fails.
 

Ox

Diamond
Joined
Aug 27, 2002
Location
West Unity, Ohio
I would be calling customers to see if partial deliveries would be sufficient.

I can't tell you how many times I was assured the parts were going to be used immediately just to have them sit around for weeks before they get picked up. If you could sniff out a few project that are like that you can buy some time.

Buy a cot and sleep next to the machine if all else fails.
I have set up a cot in the shop more than once over the years, and I even lived on-sight! But I needed to be within ear-shot to know that things are still in process and not alarmed out.


-----------------

Think Snow Eh!
Ox
 

kustomizer

Titanium
Joined
Aug 17, 2007
Location
North Fork Idaho
We used to do a lot of the long day/everyday stuff, be careful as the long hours can bring mistakes that are costly in more way than one. After some weeks you can slow to the point where the extra days and hours don't net much over the norm, just somethings to remember, good luck!
 

david n

Diamond
Joined
Apr 13, 2007
Location
Pillager, MN
My customers know what to expect from me in the areas of customer service, quality, price, and delivery...............the delivery part right now is what is most discussed. I just tell them this is my lead time, take it or leave it. They know if they go elsewhere in this manufacturing climate, it would be a gamble. Everyone around here is swamped and short on labor. That means even longer leads and prolly more expensive parts as shops seem to be quoting high to justify the extra work. And the shops that are hungry are hungry for a reason: they suck.
 

camscan

Titanium
Joined
Sep 5, 2011
Location
Norfolk
The customers who paid the quickest ALWAYS went to the front of the queue. Amazing how slower paying customers reacted when I explained this to them. Some customers I would put the hours in and some I went home for a leisurely evening.
 

implmex

Titanium
Joined
Jun 23, 2002
Location
Vancouver BC Canada
Hi mhajicek:
I'm gratified to see you're successful enough in such a short time that you have this kind of problem to deal with rather than big machine payments and no work.
That sucks far worse than this sucks, as I'm sure we all know.
So Kudos to you for achieving what you have achieved in such a short time!

But you now have a problem you have to figure out how to solve.
I'm in the camp with those who say grab the tiger by the balls and have a strategy session with the customers I care about.
Find out what their time drivers are and find a way to work with them to prioritize their project items.
They will respect you much more than if you promise something you can't deliver.

It is really surprising how many times I have gathered the courage to ask a pushing customer the question "What happens if you miss your deadline?" only to find the answer to be nothing more than an inconvenience to them rather than a cataclysmic event.
It took me a while to learn that mindset, but I'm respected much more as a worthwhile team member than I used to be before I learned to stick my neck out and ask the question and strategize a solution with them, right at the beginning.

Remember never ever ever let their problem become your problem...you are supposed to be helping them find a solution using your skills, expertise, equipment, and time...you are not a sacrificial lamb to their ambitions, or their wishes, or their fantasies.

A way forward will present itself, provided every stakeholder is doing their best to work out a solution.
It might not be the solution everyone is totally enthusiastic about, but it's way way better than a project that devolves to a total shitshow.

BTW...another thing I've learned...never be shy about letting them know how you've bailed their asses out...you don't have to be a dick about it and rub their noses in it, but they do need to understand that you've reached out and pulled a rabbit out for their benefit.

That attitude has worked for me for decades.

Cheers

Marcus
www.implant-mechanix.com
www.vancouverwireedm.com
 
Last edited:

Ox

Diamond
Joined
Aug 27, 2002
Location
West Unity, Ohio
Hi mhajicek:
I'm gratified to see you're successful enough in such a short time that you have this kind of problem to deal with rather than big machine payments and no work.
That sucks far worse than this sucks, as I'm sure we all know.
So Kudos to you for achieving what you have achieved in such a short time!

But you now have a problem you have to figure out how to solve.
I'm in the camp with those who say grab the tiger by the balls and have a strategy session with the customers I care about.

Find out what their time drivers are and find a way to work with them to prioritize their project items.
They will respect you much more than if you promise something you can't deliver.

It is really surprising how many times I have gathered the balls to ask a pushing customer the question "What happens if you miss your deadline?" only to find the answer to be nothing more than an inconvenience to them rather than a cataclysmic event.
It took me a while to learn that mindset, but I'm respected much more as a worthwhile team member than I used to be before I learned to stick my neck out and ask the question and strategize a solution with them, right at the beginning.

Remember never ever ever let their problem become your problem...you are supposed to be helping them find a solution using your skills, expertise, equipment, and time...you are not a sacrificial lamb to their ambitions, or their wishes, or their fantasies.

A way forward will present itself, provided every stakeholder is doing their best to work out a solution.
It might not be the solution everyone is totally enthusiastic about, but it's way way better than a project that devolves to a total shitshow.

BTW...another thing I've learned...never be shy about letting them know how you've bailed their asses out...you don't have to be a dick about it and rub their noses in it, but they do need to understand that you've reached out and pulled a rabbit out for their benefit.

That attitude has worked for me for decades.

Cheers

Marcus
www.implant-mechanix.com
www.vancouverwireedm.com


I have not followed this fella, so, if he is a newbie - then I disagree with your thought process there a bit.
If you have been servicing these folks for some years prior, and then you asked these questions like this, you have earned some respect from the work that you have done, and you are allowed to poke your nose a bit deeper. A new supplier asking these kind of questions seem to be over-reaching to me.

Saying that you are trying to keep all customers rolling through these trialing times works for me. And stating that we may or may not make your date, or that we may need to move things out, or break up an order (likely to MY loss of extra set-up time, not the customers added costs!) .

These folks understand the market. You or me are NOT the only place that is having issues with lack of help, lack of materials, or slow outsourced work. (plate, H/T, broaching, etc..) They will understand, and in my experience seem to understand that we have other customers that we need to keep rolling as well, and seem to respect that.


BTW...another thing I've learned...never be shy about letting them know how you've bailed their asses out...you don't have to be a dick about it and rub their noses in it, but they do need to understand that you've reached out and pulled a rabbit out for their benefit.

That attitude has worked for me for decades.


I wouldn't be playing the arrogance card straight away either. Especially not as a newbie. It's better to bitch about the customer to your peers than to throw that stuff back into the face of a customer that is otherwise in good standing.

Only pull that card out when you are teetering on the edge of tossing them to the curb.

We are not the only supplier that ever bailed a customer out of a jackpot.
We won't be the last.


-----------------

Think Snow Eh!
Ox
 
Last edited:

implmex

Titanium
Joined
Jun 23, 2002
Location
Vancouver BC Canada
Hi Ox:
Interesting point of view...obviously somewhat different from mine.
The field I work in is mostly product development, and my customers come to me to get their projects sorted out as much as they do to get machined pieces from me.

I don't know enough about the OP to comment on how his business model works...I know he has a Haas CM-1 in his garage, recently bought and did quality time in the medical device domain as an employee before that.
So far as I know, his forte, like mine is miniature and micro miniature machining, mostly on complex parts.

But I've come to realize that the kind of customers I attract, are really happy to have me working so intimately with them.
A part of that is that I have to know what's going on, including where they are with their projects and what they are up against.
So I ask, and so far, no one worthwhile has gotten offended.

This is very different from the relationship I have with the customers who just want me to make a thousand parts to print...so I get where you're coming from if that's the kind of customers and relationships you're talking about.

Sooner or later these customers all go to better equipped shops and I'm happy to let them go.
I even keep a list of guys to recommend and everyone stays happy.
Even though many would be horrified that I'm letting opportunities go, I've had zero trouble keeping as busy as I want to be, despite my "bad business skills".

You may well have totally different customers with totally different needs compared to mine.
If that is so, you may well be right...it would be an affront to them to ask such impertinent questions, as "how important is your deadline...REALLY?"

So I do get where you're coming from...our OP will have to ask and answer the question "are my customers like Marcus's customers or are they like Ox's customers"
I will happily leave that up to him.


Cheers

Marcus
www.implant-mechanix.com
www.vancouverwireedm.com
 

mhajicek

Titanium
Joined
May 11, 2017
Location
Minneapolis, MN, USA
Thanks for all the advice. My biggest client is someone I worked with at my previous job, so we know each other well, and we talk frequently about his projects.

Yes, my parts are small, and in small quantities, so breaking lots up isn't going to help. I've laid out a schedule for the next couple weeks, and if things go well I can keep up. I just have to get over the current hurdle of trying to finish a mold with .010" extended reach ball endmills that keep breaking, and then it's on to some repeat parts, then some easy plastic parts.
 
Last edited:

barbter2

Aluminum
Joined
Nov 25, 2019
Location
On Tour....
I have not followed this fella, so, if he is a newbie - then I disagree with your thought process there a bit.
If you have been servicing these folks for some years prior, and then you asked these questions like this, you have earned some respect from the work that you have done, and you are allowed to poke your nose a bit deeper. A new supplier asking these kind of questions seem to be over-reaching to me.



Think Snow Eh!
Ox
Ox....All situations are different of course.
Having worked at a previous place as Eng Mgr for 5 years, I was obviously privy to a lot of customer conversations.
We (the owners Son) once took a lot of new work from 4 new customers at the same time.
I told the owners Son we can only meet the 3 new packages, together with the existing work the shop had.
Owners Son not at all interested in talking dates - "I'll worry about that when the time comes".
Well the time did come - I was in his office when he took the call from customer 4 asking "why my parts weren't delivered yesterday", to which he (owners Son) BSe'd saying we've just started them etc and the Purchasing guy screamed down the phone throwing the fucks into him - "you're a new supplier - I gave you a fucking chance - you've now made me look fucking stupid" etc etc.

IMHO, at all times, honest communication is the key....
 

kustomizer

Titanium
Joined
Aug 17, 2007
Location
North Fork Idaho
Customers and suppliers are 98% of the trouble with this biz, I kinda like the work and I really like the fact that I can live anywhere a UPS truck and postman frequent.
 

pgmrmike

Cast Iron
Joined
Jun 24, 2010
Location
Plantersville, TX
This is a constant problem here. It is the nature of doing oilfield work. But has been getting worse, especially when material is getting harder and harder to find. I have mentioned this to my main customers in hopes of a little more lead time. Its not unusual for us to get just a few days for some jobs ( well, occasionally some are over night ) but when we do get a month lead time we lose a week waiting on material then have 3 weeks to run it. My biggest customer recently changed to having us handle the coating ( outside process ) also. I told them "sure, no problem". Then get the PO with the same lead time....so now we lose a week at the coaters with no additional lead time haha! Now most jobs due in a month we have 2 weeks to run with the remainder of the time at vendors.

Obviously this makes things pretty hard to manage with just 4 guys plus me. Nature of the business, I guess
 

jatt

Aluminum
Joined
Dec 14, 2009
Location
Australia
Some good ideas already put up.

"Even though many would be horrified that I'm letting opportunities go, I've had zero trouble keeping as busy as I want to be, despite my "bad business skills". Hmm sounds familiar!

Currently even going as far as letting calls go if they dont come on the speed dial, or leave a message. Most unannounced walk-ins are being politely sent away. The regulars usually let me know prior to arriving - they know I am "out and about" a lot.

Fortunate in that a lot of my regulars want pretty much the same stuff each order, so can prep a bit of inventory prior during creation of prev order. At the very least try n have some stuff cutout and partially made ready to continue on. Sure as shit if I dont.....

Back when I had staff, found that some preferred to doing different hours than the "norm" (schoolkids etc...), so in times of absolute craziness would negot with them to get it done. They knew that I knew how long things generally take to do, and no issue with machines that can mangle one, so as long as they towed the line......
 
Last edited:








 
Top