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  1. #21
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    I’d like to stab at #11. I think about this one a lot but it could be complete BS. I guess there are plenty of exceptions but maybe it’s still a good rule of thumb. Idk, it’s something I’m trying out but don’t want to lead anyone astray.

    #11) know what your customers look like, and how to find more of them. They should not be smaller than you, and generally only one order of magnitude larger. The big companies will bury you in work too quickly and require overhead, QC, and managing you can’t afford. The customers who are smaller or on your size won’t have the volume to be steady.
    Unless you make a product, then it prob doesn't matter.

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by vmipacman View Post
    #11) know what your customers look like, and how to find more of them. They should not be smaller than you, and generally only one order of magnitude larger. The big companies will bury you in work too quickly and require overhead, QC, and managing you can’t afford. The customers who are smaller or on your size won’t have the volume to be steady.
    Unless you make a product, then it prob doesn't matter.
    In my experience, there is a lot of merit to this!

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  4. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by vmipacman View Post
    I’d like to stab at #11. I think about this one a lot but it could be complete BS. I guess there are plenty of exceptions but maybe it’s still a good rule of thumb. Idk, it’s something I’m trying out but don’t want to lead anyone astray.

    #11) know what your customers look like, and how to find more of them. They should not be smaller than you, and generally only one order of magnitude larger. The big companies will bury you in work too quickly and require overhead, QC, and managing you can’t afford. The customers who are smaller or on your size won’t have the volume to be steady.
    Unless you make a product, then it prob doesn't matter.
    It applies to a product standpoint as well.

    I find selling isn't too hard. It's the handholding and babysitting that comes when you sell to the wrong customer.

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  6. #24
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    Treat your business location like real estate where the three most important things are location, location, location. In other words, if there isn't lots of work potential don't establish there.

    Don't bother with RFQ's from unknown sources, they're usually only shopping for low prices.

    Don't do the 24/7 nonsense with no paycheck for the first year or so. If you're in that situation something is probably terribly wrong with your planning.

    Take a vacation, at least a week or more a year. My wife always insisted on this, but I'd say I was too busy. She'd say okay, we'll wave as the plane passes over the shop. If not a real vacation plan a trip around a tool show, I'd take the family to LA for WESTEC, a day or two for me at the show the rest of the week an LA vacation (a good portion of the trip is tax deductible).

    Pay into retirement funds, make that a high priority.

    Maybe most important, treat your customers well. Most will respond in kind.

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  8. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garwood View Post
    It applies to a product standpoint as well.

    I find selling isn't too hard. It's the handholding and babysitting that comes when you sell to the wrong customer.
    Pick your customers, or they will pick you. And that's not a choice you want to leave up to them.

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  10. #26
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    some great stuff here..
    i'll add:
    any customer that gives you the old "give me a good deal now because i have tons of work to come/i'll tell all my friends" is completely full of shit.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by vanguard machine View Post
    some great stuff here..
    i'll add:
    any customer that gives you the old "give me a good deal now because i have tons of work to come/i'll tell all my friends" is completely full of shit.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    It seems people just starting out constantly fall for that, even though a little Googling should tell them not to.

  12. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by vanguard machine View Post
    some great stuff here..
    i'll add:
    any customer that gives you the old "give me a good deal now because i have tons of work to come/i'll tell all my friends" is completely full of shit.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

    A plumber friend gets builders who say "If you discount this 10% I'll have you do the next 10 houses I build". He tells them "If you have me plumb 10 houses I'll do one more for free".

  13. #29
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    1: Establishing a shop minimum is not a bad idea. An hour per job would be a good baseline, a $100 minimum is probably better.

    I don't care if a 1 or 2 off part takes 2 minutes to make, once you figure in the time to make up a quote, order/find material, program the part, make up a shipper, enter the job in whatever tracking system you use, and invoice - you will be an hour or two into that "15 minute" job. That is a mistake I find myself making often, I always think "the cycle time on that part only took 5 minutes, I cant charge 60 for it...". Just make it clear that you have an hour/$XX minimum charge.


    2: Unless you know its going to be a repeat job, Avoid CNC work if cad data isn't available. It takes a lot of time and effort to convert prints into cad data for use with cnc machines, it also increases the likelihood of making a mistake.

    3: Unattended work is the best kind of work. I would rather have my machine run on its own for long periods making 30-40 an hour than have it require babysitting at 100 an hour.

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    For the last 30 years I have been saying that when I get caught up I will go fishing, now I think I will go fishing and work with whatever time is left, we only need a few fish a week but somehow that is sounding more important.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Big B View Post
    7. Treat your employees well and they should treat you well. If they don't you know what that means.
    Shitcan the bad- marginal employees immediately. They will only cause you trouble, heartache, and abbreviate the mean time between burnout.

  16. #32
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    Be specific on your quotes of what is included . Working from sketches is OK , but state tolerances and surface finishes on the quote. Get it IN WRITING, the one who verbally OKs something can get fired, transferred, hit by a bus, or conveniently forget.
    Customers who understand and appreciate what you do are more loyal than those who shop for price only.
    It's easier to retain a worthwhile existing customer than find a new one. Learn to bend when you need to on price, but never bend on quality or integrity.

    Salesmen EXAGGERATE (i didn't say lie) , if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

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  18. #33
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    Buy based on support.

    You may be able to fix every mechanical or electrical problem a machine may have, but the software is locked down and if there is a problem you are screwed.

    We've had two machines so far with the wrong software version. One straight from the factory lacking an update required for angle measurement, and one following an OEM recommission where they got the software wrong while reloading it and the machine was down for two months straight until we hired a third party guy to fix it.

    Second hand IR compressor (never even had power to it) had numerous plumbing and electrical issues that IR will not warrant. IR does not provide manuals and they only refer you to your nearest dealer, which is useless. HK messed up our laser recommission and won't even talk to us anymore. Those two companies are on our shitlist.





    Biggest thing I've learned is never to do $50 jobs on $1000 parts. You're out too much on one mistake to ever recover it with similar jobs.

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  20. #34
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    Manage your growth and manage your costs.

    Growth. I've seen way too many guys pick up a lucrative contract and go out and buy a bunch of new machines or invest in swanky facilities. They are usually the same guys calling asking if I know anyone who will buy some of their leased equipment so they can keep the wolves from the door. It is really easy to get credit for whatever you want and alot harder to make the payment sometimes. It's really nice being months ahead on income vs expenses and knowing you can weather a storm here and there.

    Costs. You will never figure out what you are actually spending on everything. How do you calculate the portion of the electric bill is attributed to a specific job or machine? How are you going to figure out coolant costs, probe batteries, paper towels for the bathroom? You can't. So you better make sure you're charging enough to cover all that stuff, even though you think you have it all figured out... because you don't... none of us do.

    Along with that, be VERY wary of low-margin/high-volume work. It is so, so easy to lose your shirt when little parasitic costs eat all your profit. I've seen plenty of guys going broke as they are making millions.

    You aren't going to be alive all that long. If everything ended tomorrow, would you be happy with how things went? If not, then start making changes now. Don't wait for "the future" to bring you success or happiness. Today is more valuable than tomorrow... because tomorrow you will be older, have more aches and pains, and have less time left. If you want to change something, do it today.

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  22. #35
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    It would be nice to have an exit plan, I had thought in the early years that one day there would be a half a dozen good people on staff and that I would make one or all a good deal on the place, machines, products, building and all. As with a lot of old machinists the choice is selling it off slow, an auction in the end, leave it all to the dog pound to sell off fot a tiny percentage of what it is worth running, however it is only running with a certain set of skills running it and they are harder to find every day.

  23. #36
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    12. Exclusively use Orange Vi...

    Ha, kidding, a bit egregious...

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  25. #37
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    I try to deliver my stuff when possible, it puts a face on me to the customer and I get to know who I am working with. I also like to stop by an check in on some that have become friends if I am in the area. I have always enjoyed getting a glimpse of other shops. If I didn't get to visit/deliver the only way I'd ever see other shops would be on here or youtube.

    Something I have been working towards is taken from the E Myth book. My translation of one point is to build your business like you intend to sell it. That trickles down to all aspects of how you organize, sell, work, package etc. If you make your business so that you can throw the keys to the shop and passwords to someone with very little training then that makes daily life so much easier on you whether you intend to sell it or not. Make it desirable for someone else to work at and you will likely make it more desirable for you to work at too.

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  27. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Orange Vise View Post
    12. Exclusively use Orange Vi...

    Ha, kidding, a bit egregious...
    Oh yea sure, and I guess we should buy it through MariTool as well huh?

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  29. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBigLebowski View Post
    1:
    3: Unattended work is the best kind of work. I would rather have my machine run on its own for long periods making 30-40 an hour than have it require babysitting at 100 an hour.

    You made lots of GREAT points...this one is excellent too, but I'd adjust to having several machines running unattended at 40, 50 or $60/hr "while" I babysit a $100/hr job.

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    There is no such thing as a bad job, however there are a lot of bad ways of doing it.

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