Well, I’ve been a delinquent on here for a while now. It was getting to the point where I was feeling like I was repeating myself, and it was getting redundant. Didn’t I just say that?
Any way, I’ve recently had the opportunity to drop off some finished goods, and first off’s with customers, and the immediate gratitude is something that I find extremely rewarding.
It seems as though business is different now. We have many customers, that we wouldn’t recognize if we passed them on the street. They are email addresses and parts to me, and a cheque that shows up in the mail. They are great, but there is something missing when dealing with these customers. It’s the personal interaction. I do get to talk to these customers on the phone some times, but the face to interaction and body language is something that isn’t conveyed over the phone, or through an email.
We’ve made a point to visit as many of our customers as we are able to when we have finished parts for them. It’s a personal touch, that we feel makes the business relationship more tangible. If they have to choose a vendor based on price alone, when our competitors are in the same ballpark, I would assume a 50-50 chance of getting a job that we bid on. But if we were similar in price range, and we visit this client once a month, or more often compared to never being visited by our competition, who do you think will get that work? We will. It doesn’t take much to establish a decent working relationship. Generally the customer and ourselves enjoy making things, so there is that to break the ice, but really our number one goal is to provide our customers with a product that meets their requirements in a timely manner at a price that is fair to both parties.
Part of the conversation we have with the customer is regarding their requirements. Some times a customer does not know what the cost implications are of certain details. So we speak with them about their components so we can get a better feel for what it is they are looking for. Does it have to look pretty? Is it ultra precise? Or is it a quick part that has some structural integrity, that needs to be cost effective and looks aren’t important? All of these factors have an effect on the end cost of the component.
Another thing that we can sort out with a conversation with the customer is their delivery requirements. Is it mission critical that this part needs to be at their facility at this particular time? Is it something we can fit in when ever? This also has cost implications, if we have to work overtime to get the parts out to the customer when they need it.
This generally leads to a customer getting a price on their parts that is reasonable to them and fair to us.
Another way for us to make a customer feel more comfortable is to invite them over to our shop to have a visit. This let’s them see our Haas VF-3 CNC mill, and our Okuma ES-L8f CNC Lathe, and all of our complimentary machines. They get a chance to see the environment where their ideas are brought to life. For some customers this is a real novelty as they generally just put parts together and sometimes don’t ever get to witness the processes involved in the creation of their ideas.
We pride ourselves in helping our customers bring their ideas from concept to realization. It could be from a quick and dirty sketch on a napkin, or a supplied CAD model. We can take that information and put in into Fusion 360 from Autodesk, and output it for 3D Printing before committing the parts to metal for a quick check, or if they are comfortable with the design straight into metal or what ever material they wish.