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OT--So I'm setting here with my marketing hat on---

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  • OT--So I'm setting here with my marketing hat on---

    I design machinery for a living.---Been doing it for (Gasp) 45 years this July!!!
    The last 10 years I have ran my own little one man company, and its been fun.--Last year was the worst in living memory, but thanks to a working wife and the fact that all my kids have moved out, I survived it. Then at about a week before Christmas, work started coming in. I've been busier than a one armed paper hanger up untill last Friday, and then everything stopped with a thump. So, I'm setting here with the on-line version of Scotts Directory, searching out all the companies in Ontario who could possibly use my services, and sending out faxes to them promoting my company. Why faxes in this modern, internet world?---Because earlier this week I sent out over 100 emails to various companies, and over 70 of them bounced back, indicating that the companies were no longer in business!!! At least if a fax goes though, it gives some indication that the company recieving it is still there.
    Brian Rupnow

  • #2
    Im self employed too, you never know when its going to be busy or slow. There is no happy medium anymore!!!!

    Last winter when it got slow I went out and introduced myself (face to face) and picked up more accounts. That seemed to work the best....
    Feel free to put me on ignore....

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    • #3
      I work for a heavy industrial machinery builder. We have a good number of RFQ coming in the lasf few months, but so far none have turned into orders. We're "living" off spare parts orders right now.

      DO you offer spare parts for the equipment you've built in the past? It can be a good source of revenue in times when no one is buying new machines

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      • #4
        Originally posted by RobbieKnobbie
        I work for a heavy industrial machinery builder. We have a good number of RFQ coming in the lasf few months, but so far none have turned into orders. We're "living" off spare parts orders right now.

        DO you offer spare parts for the equipment you've built in the past? It can be a good source of revenue in times when no one is buying new machines
        Robbie--The key word in my post is "Design". I don't build anything. I have a number of machine shops who build to my designs, but my money is not involved. My total investment in my company is a $5000 computer setup. a $6000 software package, and 45 years of accumulated experience designing machinery. The way it works is--If someone wants a machine designed, they come to me for that part of the job. I work "with them" to hash out the exact machine they want, and when the concept is fully determined, I go ahead with all the mechanical details, and search out a source for all of the ppurchased components i.e. hydraulics, pneumatics, drives, gear reducers, etcetera. When all the drawings are finished, I wll go out to 3 different machine shops and provide them with "bid packages". I select the shop who gives the best terms for "price and delivery" and submit that bid to my customer. Then HE writes the purchase order for the machine to be built, directly to the company I have chosen for him. I charge a fee to do the project management as the machine is built. However, my money never gets involved in the actual purchasing or payment of the machine.
        Brian Rupnow

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        • #5
          That's probably the best approach you can use in todays world.
          It's only ink and paper

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          • #6
            OK, that's a very different business model than I'm used to, but it sounds like its served you well for a long time.

            Do your previous customers own the prints you made? Do they source the spares directly from the machine shop who built the equipment?

            I'm guessing from your previous post that they do, but hey, it's worth asking.

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            • #7
              Zamboni's anyone???

              Canadian resourcing for the ongoing Olympics brings up a downside of manufacturing: Build a working, high quality machine or cut the design/manufacturing costs. Which comes first???

              The new ice conditioning machines in use at the Vancouver rink failed and an old style Zamboni was trucked in from an outside rink; needed to get the show back on the road.

              Zamboni was underbid, after quoting over 400G to supply three of their machines. Politics?? And the beat goes on---------

              --G

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              • #8
                Originally posted by brian Rupnow
                So, I'm setting here with the on-line version of Scotts Directory, s......... I sent out over 100 emails to various companies, and over 70 of them bounced back, indicating that the companies were no longer in business!!! At least if a fax goes though, it gives some indication that the company recieving it is still there.
                70% failure rate on emails, I'd be on the phone to Scotts....they're charging for this info, right? Other than that, I'm interest in how have you found Scotts...do they seem to have all companies, what's the cost like, etc.

                I've done a lot of target direct market like this and imo there's a couple of keys. One shot doesn't accomplish much, you've got to pick and target group and figure out 8 ways to contact them a year; couple of phone calls, couple of articles you thought they'd be interested in, sending a brochure etc etc. It's mostly BS but it keeps you top of mind and eventually when you call its not so much a cold call as they are getting familair with your name.

                next, unless its really targeted, email doesn't do much...busy people get 100's a day and just tune out whatever isn't a priority. fax and emailing also carries with it a perception of rudeness for many; its considered a bit invasive by many recipients. Better is old fashion mail, not junk mail but personalized letter with a business card and then a followup phone call.
                .

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                • #9
                  I'm doing better than most since the firearms industry is somewhat recession-proof.

                  But, lots of businesses are hurting and I don't see it getting better anytime soon. The fundamental problems have not been addressed.

                  Anyway, since the OP has 45 years experience, sounds like retirement is an option. You may not WANT to retire, but if you have that option, take it and run with it. There's young design engineers out there who need the work worse than you do.

                  Perhaps work part time just to keep from getting bored, or do a little volunteer work, but otherwise, enjoy retirement. Don't beat yourself up because of global economic problems beyond your control.

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                  • #10
                    McGyver--Sorry about the confusion. The failed email addresses came off an old Scotts list I had used on a similar marketing campaign about 3 years ago. I was so peed off when I seen that 70% failure rate that I downloaded the NEW CURRENT Scotts directory to get my fax numbers from. The problem with sending emails, is that every company (with good reason) is terrified of getting an attachment with a virus in it, so you can't even put a link to your website in it---they are afraid to clicl on the link. There isn't as much paranoia about faxes. Robbie---The customer always gets a computer disc with all the engineering drawings and correspondense and any quotes or other relevant information on it at the end of the job. I burn a seperate "back up" disc with the same info on it and it goes into my "archive" files. If the machine I design is of a "proprietary" nature, I sign a non-disclosure agreement for my customer, which prohibits me from ever disclosing anything about the machine to anyone else. If the customer wants to patent the machine I design, (I work with a number of inventors) then I sign an agreement relinquishing any "intellectual property" rights.
                    Brian Rupnow

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                    • #11
                      We have knocked our fax line into touch, fed up of getting drawings we can't read or having to query them.

                      Clincher was a dimension we couldn't read 3 or 8 ? queried it, told 3, made the parts and they were wrong, should have been 8 but they denied all knowledge of the call, so rework was on us to keep the main contractor happy.

                      So now no faxes, email the drawing as a DXF and it goes in the machine, if it's wrong it's their problem now. A few firms we have explained this to have agreed they have also had problems and been happy to send DXF's but also sounded interested why we packed in using faxes.

                      Sent 2 DXF's to the laser cutters this dinner and should have the bits tomorrow via carrier.

                      .
                      .

                      Sir John , Earl of Bligeport & Sudspumpwater. MBE [ Motor Bike Engineer ] Nottingham England.



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                      • #12
                        Brian
                        It must be slow in your area
                        I bet I got over 100 auction news letters this past year with machine shops closing or downsizing all over Ontario and Quebec.
                        Equipment should be cheap.
                        Got two today from Quebec, both with all high end CNC stuff with nothing older then 2003, except for the Sofia Lathe
                        please visit my webpage:
                        http://motorworks88.webs.com/

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                        • #13
                          Motorworks--You know how it goes--"The bigger they are, the harder they fall!!!" Ontario and Quebec have always had the most industry in Canada, and when things go sour, they have the most shops to fail. I think things have bottomed out, but there are still a lot of shops that have gone so far into the red in the last 18 months that they are beyond recovery now.
                          Brian Rupnow

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                          • #14
                            Unsolicited emails and faxes would have a very high failure rate, and advertisement faxes never get past the admins in our office. And if they did get past them, I would throw them out without even looking at it since I do not do business with companies that waste our resources for their marketing.

                            Your best bet is doing what works for the sucessful companies, calling or better yet visiting each one. If you don't already, have a professional looking website. I always look at the website after the salesman leaves to see what the company looks like, if the website looks cheap, they will probably not get my business, and if they do not have a website, then that tells me they are living in the past.

                            If you can't visit your potential customers, I would mail a brochure and business card and then follow up with a phone call.

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                            • #15
                              Keep this in mind guys if you don't know it already.

                              A friend of mine owns a large steel fabricating company north of Buffalo. He tells me the fabrication business has really dried up. BUT, he says his guys are working ridicules overtime on REPAIRS of older equipment. He told me that the big companies have mostly stopped building new stuff in favor of just keeping their existing gear working.

                              If I were in the design business my message would include what I just said as well as a "how can I help you redesign your existing equipment to be more reliable, simpler to repair and easier to operate.

                              I don't think you'll be designing much new equipment in this economic climate and I don't see it getting better anytime soon. Best start shifting gears for a new tact. If the economy turned around on a dime tomorrow the companies that can afford this kind of work will likely be very gun shy to break out the big expenditures.
                              - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
                              Thank you to our families of soldiers, many of whom have given so much more then the rest of us for the Freedom we enjoy.

                              It is true, there is nothing free about freedom, don't be so quick to give it away.

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