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    Default Do your customers tell you what work you can do?

    I have a potential new customer who wants me to quote some work. They requested a facilities list so that they can decide which parts I can make.

    I have not experienced this before?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fal Grunt View Post
    I have a potential new customer who wants me to quote some work. They requested a facilities list so that they can decide which parts I can make.

    I have not experienced this before?
    A facilities list is not unheard of

    Understand the dance you are doing and who you are dancing with

    IF you cannot have a 'whaddaya need' convo with the purchasing agent, consider whether you want to do their work

    But sometimes officious jerks can send you a bunch of money

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    Invite them to visit your shop to see what your capabilities are. Then you can have the conversation of exactly what they're looking for.

    They may have a spec in mind that you don't meet on paper, but could if you understood what they needed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fal Grunt View Post
    I have a potential new customer who wants me to quote some work. They requested a facilities list so that they can decide which parts I can make.

    I have not experienced this before?
    If they are big enough they do. At one point I got a bit of an in with Ford but the facilities list killed that fantasy fast

    Just as well, all things considered ....

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    No not specifically. I HAVE had customers that wanted to send me more work but wasn't sure I could handle it.

    I asked the customer if THEIR customers held work back, or do they just deal with it?
    I doubled my sales with them the following year.

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    Sometimes a "google street view" can kill interest. As one other suggested conversation with potential client may move things along.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fal Grunt View Post
    I have a potential new customer who wants me to quote some work. They requested a facilities list so that they can decide which parts I can make.

    I have not experienced this before?
    That's funny because I just had a similar conversation with the new production floor manager from Spencer Forge.

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    We've supplied the list but also let them know we can handle items that don't necessarily fit into that envelope. For example, our biggest X in the VMC is 50" but we've done 8ft long parts with features the full length. That also lets them know you think outside the box.

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    From the purchasing side, I've done it a lot. Usually I don't have to request it, it's on the shop's website.

    I don't want to waste my time sending you prints for parts that aren't right for you. If your list shows you only have a 60" VTL, I'm not going to send you an RFQ for a 96" OD part. Similarly, if your list is a bunch of VTLs, HBMs, and a bridgeport, I'm sending you RFQs for big stuff, not the 1" cube of aluminum with a bunch of surfacing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gustafson View Post
    A facilities list is not unheard of

    Understand the dance you are doing and who you are dancing with

    IF you cannot have a 'whaddaya need' convo with the purchasing agent, consider whether you want to do their work

    But sometimes officious jerks can send you a bunch of money
    The list is not unusual, but I have never had a customer decide for me what work I am capable.

    On another note, the "convo" thing seems to be a foreign concept today. I have another customer that I have repeatedly tried to help with issues. But they do not want to have a "convo". Last I heard they are going to buy a $500k Grob to do work that I can do on a manual milling machine.

    This ties into my concern. Most machinists today are more and more button pushers, and don't get me wrong, make some impressive stuff. But if you don't have a twin spindle y axis live tooled lathe you CANT make that part. Well... I got news for ya....

    Quote Originally Posted by bloomautomatic View Post
    Invite them to visit your shop to see what your capabilities are. Then you can have the conversation of exactly what they're looking for.

    They may have a spec in mind that you don't meet on paper, but could if you understood what they needed.
    I completely agree...

    Problem is, if you head a little over an hour north you fall into Lake Erie... from them, if you head an hour south, your swimming to Cuba.

    Quote Originally Posted by Booze Daily View Post
    No not specifically. I HAVE had customers that wanted to send me more work but wasn't sure I could handle it.

    I asked the customer if THEIR customers held work back, or do they just deal with it?
    I doubled my sales with them the following year.
    Ran into that problem last year with a customer of mine that I was hoping to grow into a big customer. Company said I wouldn't be able to make enough parts. So they paid another company nearly triple to get them done in less than a month. I was just at their facility last week and those parts are still sitting on the rack. I could have made 1 a week and supplied their needs....

    Quote Originally Posted by standardparts View Post
    Sometimes a "google street view" can kill interest. As one other suggested conversation with potential client may move things along.
    Oh that would definitely kill interest

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Miranda View Post
    That's funny because I just had a similar conversation with the new production floor manager from Spencer Forge.
    WAIT!!! you TALKED to Spencer Forge!?!? That is a feat in and of itself! You must be a very special person! I called four times and left four voicemails in four different mail boxes. A customer of mine tried for an ENTIRE YEAR to get ahold of a person there.

    Since they are local we wanted to see if they could supply a forged part. We gave up.

    Quote Originally Posted by AARONT View Post
    We've supplied the list but also let them know we can handle items that don't necessarily fit into that envelope. For example, our biggest X in the VMC is 50" but we've done 8ft long parts with features the full length. That also lets them know you think outside the box.
    The thinking outside the box is what concerns me. Humbly, I use my machines to their full capabilities. I have literally handed parts to people with decades more experience than me and had them tell me you can't make that part manually, or you can't make it on a 3 axis.

    Quote Originally Posted by DanielG View Post
    From the purchasing side, I've done it a lot. Usually I don't have to request it, it's on the shop's website.

    I don't want to waste my time sending you prints for parts that aren't right for you. If your list shows you only have a 60" VTL, I'm not going to send you an RFQ for a 96" OD part. Similarly, if your list is a bunch of VTLs, HBMs, and a bridgeport, I'm sending you RFQs for big stuff, not the 1" cube of aluminum with a bunch of surfacing.
    Totally get what you are saying, and in that context I agree. However in this context, the company makes a product, a product I am intimately familiar with, and 90% of the parts will fit in the palm of your hand. One part is longer, and is extremely specialized, and I don't want to make it due to a number of other issues totally unrelated to machining.

    So maybe not as weird as I thought, and in some context makes sense.

    I have never had someone word it that way, and it caught me off guard. After lunch and a short nap I feel better about it.

    Thanks guys.

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    I had a customer that did this but for the opposite reasons as what's been mentioned above. He was in outsourcing at weatherford but had spent the previous 20 working his way up as a machinist to a foreman and took the outsourcing job as a way to get a desk job.
    He would tour shops and determine what to send and to who based on what equipment people had because he knew his parts, how to make them but most importantly he knew his company.
    He told me to never take work I couldn't make money on hoping for better work down the road. Outsourced parts had to be made for the same as in house cost.
    Lots of time people would low ball quotes to get work and get pissed later when the work went elsewhere when they tried to sneak up the price. Or tried to use low ball prices to get to the "good work".
    His policy was to make sure his parts fit his vendors and their equipment so they could stay happy with the relatively thin margins.
    That's all gone now though, the weatherford plant that was in town was their largest manufacturing plant in the world, now it's a distribution hub for the local grocery chain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by standardparts View Post
    Sometimes a "google street view" can kill interest.
    Quote Originally Posted by Fal Grunt View Post
    Oh that would definitely kill interest
    I suffer this same circumstance!

    If/when I actually make my website, you will not find my address on it anywhere.
    Maybe "Gilbert, AZ". The actual street address? No way!

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    I am old and a sob, they can take walk, had a cust last week tried the same bs, this week I have the job on my terms/price (guess they could not a 2nd shop)...Phil

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    Yes for sure, Often looking for one machine or another for various reasons or logic
    I do not fault them but may put some reasons why I can do things others can't or can do just as well with less.
    This most often is a loosing battle.

    A customer may want a full five when a 3+2 is all needed and maybe the better option.
    Convincing them otherwise....... How are your sales skills?
    Bob

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    Quote Originally Posted by wheelieking71 View Post
    If/when I actually make my website, you will not find my address on it anywhere.
    Maybe "Gilbert, AZ". The actual street address? No way!
    Put at least the city/state, otherwise everyone will assume you're in China.

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    25-30 years ago Litton Industries sent a guy by to check out our shop, he stopped by out of the blue and was only there for 1/4 hour.
    About a week later we had a PO for something I never quoted but it looked OK, we were hungry, so we started building them, a week or so later that guy stopped back by and we had most of the parts built. He said he mixed up his notes and had meant to send the parts to another shop 10 miles away as he thought in his words " our shop looked more like a wrecking yard for machine tools than a machine shop" We made a lot of parts for them before we decided the pile of paper was getting bigger than the pile of parts and quit.

    I think it ws Mark Twain that said "any tool is the right tool if thats the tool that you have"

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    Over 10 years ago I bid a job that looked like a big chainlink side, this was a swing hinge for a interstate bridge. There was 40 or so to make, (2 inch special alloy plate 12x36 ) these links had to be machined all ways so there were no defects that could start a crack. Well after 2 days the DOT sent a inspector down to view the job...This guy was a real pia, in the way, had all sorts of bad ideas on how we should be doing the job. After 1 hour I asked him to leave, He got all pissy and wanted to shut the job down, I told him that the on site inspection was not covered in the contract only a completed part was to be inspection ed with curts for the steel. After a week delay we were told to build the parts and the inspector was gone, although I had to build god like parts to make the new inspector happy (no problem). Never let a cust push you around it only a take/ take for them...Phil

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    I have pondered the “machine list” before since many shop websites have it, and although I have good capabilities, it’s mostly older unimpressive CNC’s on paper.
    I don’t know that your list has to be super specific. Bullet items such as “(3X) VMC 3 axis CNC 24x48x26 travel” should suffice.
    Some places get really specific because their list is impressive and expensive, but I don’t see where you would need model, year, etc.

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    I don't see a potential customer asking about your capabilities is unusual or unreasonable. I farmed out high volume work because we mostly did low volume prototypes and didn't have fast machines. I always wanted to know for sure the shops had employees and machinery accurate and fast enough to get the work done correctly on schedule.

    It makes sense for customers to verify a shop's abilities. "Don't worry we can handle the work" was never good enough for me, besides the machinery list I also wanted references.

    My experience working with other shops showed me a good many are f..king jerk-offs more concerned with meeting their hourly rate than producing good parts.

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    I like seeing a list. It's saved me a few times, and burned me a few times when I've decided to give someone a chance anyways. As a recent example I had a shop that's done a lot of good mill work for us. I needed a tight tolerance turned part. Could be done on a lathe, probably a lot easier on a rotary grinder, but faster if you can do it on the lathe. Made parts like this myself, so I know it can be done.
    Smart move would have been to send it to a shop that had a rotary grinder somewhere else in the building, but these guys have been good in the past, and they say they have a rotary fixture for their surface grinder. Change the alloy (their request), loosen the tolerances just a tiny bit so they're sure they'll hit it opposed to being barely there.
    Get the "We're having a hard time" call a couple weeks later. Want to know if we really meant the tolerances we put on it. Yes, I do, that's why we had this conversation. "Why don't you guys grind it if it's causing all this heartburn?" Now I get to hear all the reasons why this part won't fit nicely in their rotary fixture. If I'd picked a shop with a rotary grinder, even if they didn't plan to use it, I wouldn't be in this position.

    Quote Originally Posted by EmanuelGoldstein View Post
    If they are big enough they do. At one point I got a bit of an in with Ford but the facilities list killed that fantasy fast

    Just as well, all things considered ....
    You came out ahead.

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