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  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by HMFIC View Post
    Ok, first I’d like to say thanks for all the info.

    I’ve tried knocking on doors. Mist places have a security guard. When I stop there, they ask if I have an appointment. I don’t. So they say they can’t let me in without one.
    Try it again with a case of scotch in your hands.

  2. #22
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    I’ve tried knocking on doors. Mist places have a security guard. When I stop there, they ask if I have an appointment. I don’t. So they say they can’t let me in without one. Then I ask who I need to talk to and what’s their phone number so I can call and set up an appointment. They tell me that they can’t give out that info. Now what?
    For a small machine shop, I think you are knocking on the wrong kind of doors if you keep encountering security guards.

  3. #23
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    My experience has been best with the direct sales call. Doesn't matter if it is a gated/guarded company, although a little more work involved. It all starts with a name... could be from the chamber of commerce or a newspaper article or a trade group. All you need is one contact and usually they will assist in getting you to the right person.

    When I opened my doors-- it was the cold call that got the opportunity and in an environment of 4-5 week leadtime, we were able to ship in 2 weeks. It was easy-- we didn't have any business and was just excited to have an order. Eventually, we found a niche.

    You really have to get to know your customers and learn were they are not fully satisfied. People don't like change and people have to excerpt effort when making a change.

    I'd make fliers and actual parts of items I knew my prospect needed and ALWAYS was PERSISTENT in a non-irritating manner. Websites are nice, kind of like business cards-- but I attracted more retail inquires than OEM inquires from it. Same thing with trade magazine advertising.

    And remember-- you have to do homework before a cold call-- know what they do and how they are positioned in their market before you talk to anyone. This insight will make you stand out.

    And, there will be lots of initial rejection-- you must be able to handle that well. The majority of my initial rejections later turned to customers with persistence. There is always the exception-- maybe 1 per 100 wound go well at all. I was tossed out of a prospect's place by the Directer of Operations who took great offense to my rather candid approach on how my startup could make better parts than their existing supplier.

    And from time to time you will run into a prick regardless. One place we were supplying got a new purchasing manager. He was typically unpleasant. In one meeting he said he wanted his orders early and we'd be tossed if we could hit the due dates. I was on site working with an engineer on a project when he approached me on their line.... he said-- hey I thought I told you that I wanted my parts on time or early-- it's Thurs. and the parts were due yesterday and he went on a little tirade. I responded in a very respectful tone that yes you did so we delivered those parts on Monday. He just turned and walked away. There is a difference between playing hardball and being an ass. He was later promoted. An we no longer build parts for them-- and are okay with that.

  4. #24
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    Don't advertise. If you are a one man show, you don't have time to deal with customers off the street.

    Go to whatever local shops match the kind of work you do and ask them for the work they don't want to do themselves. Every shop where I am is 6-8 weeks out and is giving away work as fast as they can.

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  6. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by jscpm View Post
    Don't advertise. If you are a one man show, you don't have time to deal with customers off the street.

    Go to whatever local shops match the kind of work you do and ask them for the work they don't want to do themselves. Every shop where I am is 6-8 weeks out and is giving away work as fast as they can.
    6-8 weeks lead time is pretty short for anyone in my network. We are all backed up 3-6 months at the moment and every time we try to find a home for a job we are all told the same thing.....Backed up way too long and not enough time for engineers to get everything ready for production without neglecting current long term clients.

    The best way to get in touch with the right people are to go to a companies web site and find out contact info. Send emails every day (throw enough shit against the wall and some will stick). Set up meetings through email and then watch as you no longer get stopped at the door and have your calendar and business card thrown right in the trash.

    Design-2-Part - Manufacturing Trade Shows these trade shows are always a great place to network.

    Ive been in business almost 30 years and didnt have a sign on the building until a relative got a router to make signs and thought that we needed one so he made us one. We had to put it up as not to be a dick to a relative who just want to help.

    Just this month I was asked to repair a bearing for a hay elevator for a farm, fix a lawn mower, sharpen blades for an industrial wood chipper,etc. All these are simple jobs but they take me away from long term clients and cause me to lose my concentration and make mistakes on work I should be doing. I do not do any of these jobs and most of the time they understand. Do not fall into this trap.

    Most clients I have came with an introduction from someone. If I was in your situation I would go to all the local shops who would normally be your "competitor" and offer to take on the overflow work that they either pass on or sub out. This will get you some experience and will lead to referrals which you can use when you come across new clients.

    Most new clients I have, come from being at the right place at the right time. If they have a problem all of a sudden (vendor closes up shop, parts out of spec, machine goes down, etc) and your name is put into their head due to your being active at finding more work this could play out well for you. Just make sure you make perfect parts and deliver on time.

    Rinse and Repeat.

    -Dan

  7. #26
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    my long time experience and i have software that tracks where customers come from and dollars spent:

    yellow pages: close to nothing. ad cost equaled sales revenue at best (who uses a phone book anymore?)
    billboards: nothing (florida turnpike, I4)
    tv: nothing but "i saw your shop on tv"
    radio: nothing
    planes dragging signs over events: nothing
    shows: nothing
    fliers: nothing
    website: decent (+ google) #2
    referrals from other shops and word of mouth: #1

    whatever you do if you don't have tracking software use a legal pad and ask all new customers how they heard of you. write it down and add up the sales vs expense. it will be awakening

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  9. #27
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    I an pretty damn sure that the places with security guards are not choosing their suppliers from billboards and television ads.

    I'm a blacksmith and most of my business furniture for individuals or interior designers. Most of that comes from the internet. I have a few industrial clients and they also found me through the internet

    Shoe leather has always had to be preceded by a phone call. Just call the main contact number in the website or phone book and tell the person who answers the phone what you do. It's their job to put you in touch with the right person.

    Once you get the appointment, show up prepared: Some business cards, pictures of the shop and previous work, specific descriptions of capabilities and type of work sought. Dress like a professional, mind your manners, all that jazz.

    When I started my business and was cold calling the ideas that seemed to connect were "How can I help your business?" and "mutually profitable relationship". Unless you're selling directly to the consumer, your clients also need to turn a profit and they'll feel better if you show up front that you understand that. (I focused on businesses rather than individuals because I wanted repeat customers and I, too, wanted to avoid patio chairs and lawn mowers.)

    If you are a job shop and you're doing maintenance and repair then your customers' needs will be different, but you'll still need to demonstrate that you understand them. Machinists make stuff, business owners serve their clients. You need to demonstrate a firm grasp of the second part.

  10. #28
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    Since I don't know what kind of work you are looking for this may or may not be of help. My father worked in a sheet metal / fabrication shop for 50 years. One of my Dad's constant complaints was that the owner would take on jobs that were best suited for a machine shop or some of the components would need to be machined. The owner was too dense to ever get in a working relationship with a machine shop in order to do the work he agreed to.

    The shop my dad worked in did a lot of manufacturing for much of the heavy industry in the area. One such place was an explosives manufacturer and they definitely had guards.

    By getting in the door at a fab shop you may eventually be able to get into contact with folks that have guards at the door.

  11. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by cg285 View Post
    planes dragging signs over events: nothing
    I told you not to Hire Thermite....Kept flying over the beach....

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  13. #30
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    What is your "brand" as the cool kids say? I am not sure where in ark you are, but the East end is dry right now- repair work is what you are going to get. There are some fab shops, but as a whole the water was shut off about 2 1/2 months ago- which might be good for you- hungry shops bid outside their comfort zone. Steel service centers know everyone and what they are looking for, it is good to be buddies with one or two of those.


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