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I'll Wait Until You Are Not So Busy

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  • Abner
    replied
    Running a small business is easy just ask anyone who has never done it.

    Having too much business gives you an opportunity to make adjustments if you were just slow enough to have time to think it over!

    Our industry(nursery) is booming after having lost 1/2 of all nurseries in the the aftermath of the GFC of 2008. Many who survived were obviously hurt but never the less made it through. The recoil from 2008 was growing only those plants you knew you could sell and make money doing so. This is still the case and shortages are an ongoing current problem. I get inquiries from customers who were not with me during the bad years, they bought elsewhere and I am sold out for them.

    Hearing someone say they will be back when you are less busy is bound to make any owner flinch. We all want to please customers and have them happy when they go out the door. Unless you can easily expand, bigger or longer hours, then you need to decide because those decisions will be made in effect for you. As mentioned above not all customers are good ones, they may not be bad but rather not the best fit for you or your operation. Truly bad customers are best if they are your competition's problem. I dumped one who is now causing problems for someone I know, they do not change.

    Last week one of my customers mentioned a book he was reading called "The Pumkin Plan". Sounds like the writer is younger and has a generational style but the things he said he read in that book make me want to read it. It is a book written specifically for small business owners. I intend to get a copy and read it.
    All the best to you!

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  • flylo
    replied
    IMHO your "stock jobs are your bread & butter" so I'd keep 1 set of whatever it it made up so you don't upset them having to wait if this is regular repeat business or have them keep more in stock explaining how much more yo're backed up than you used to be & never want to let them down, which you don't.

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  • JRouche
    replied
    Originally posted by Bob La Londe View Post

    I'm just trying to figure out how to deal with it when somebody says, "I'll Wait Until You Are Not So Busy."
    I dont run a money making operation but learned from my good friend who had a job shop.

    When work walked through the door they always wanted it now. He would give them a legit time frame. Smaller than a home shop but that is to be expected.

    He would tell the walk-in if they wanted it expedited. It would add to the cost and if they said yes he would. Even if it meant taking himself off a lathe job to do a mill, hydraulic press, weld or whatever.

    He would not dismantle a job in progress though, that job takes precedence because its already waited its turn. JR

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  • J Tiers
    replied
    Originally posted by Mcgyver View Post
    no kidding. My business is fabrication and all of sudden there's a lot of mouths feed but its the same stress, got to make hay while the sun shines and at the same time sweat it on how to keep the place full in the months ahead. If you don't have a product its very difficult to ever decline work. To answer your question, like you are doing be honest and thank them for the their patience. Bigger picture, try and figure out how to balance the load by raising your price, working crazy hours (if its just a blip), expanding or getting rid of problem/unprofitable work. The best solution imo is have some products; develop capacity to handle peak job shop demand, and when in the trough make your product to inventory....of course easier said than done
    Very wise words.

    At the last place I worked, we were a job design shop.... of course they would come in as 2 or 3 at a time, and nothing between. Average workload was good, bu the peaks and valleys were purely hellish.

    Products are the way to go.... that keeps things going, and you are never at a loss for work. You might even get the time to improve the products..... We developed some custom VFD products for the military market, and went for COTS applications.

    It turned out that we ended up modifying ome for commercial applications, or other specialty MIL applications.... All good for a while, then the military stopped buying. You need SEVERAL customers for SEVERAL products.

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  • Mcgyver
    replied
    Originally posted by Bob La Londe View Post
    I'm just trying to figure out how to deal with it when somebody says, "I'll Wait Until You Are Not So Busy." If I am ever not so busy I'll either be out of business or I'll be dead. I don't want them to go away. If they all go away I might actually be "not so busy" in the future. That would be bad. Then I might be out of business. LOL.
    .
    no kidding. My business is fabrication and all of sudden there's a lot of mouths feed but its the same stress, got to make hay while the sun shines and at the same time sweat it on how to keep the place full in the months ahead. If you don't have a product its very difficult to ever decline work. To answer your question, like you are doing be honest and thank them for the their patience. Bigger picture, try and figure out how to balance the load by raising your price, working crazy hours (if its just a blip), expanding or getting rid of problem/unprofitable work. The best solution imo is have some products; develop capacity to handle peak job shop demand, and when in the trough make your product to inventory....of course easier said than done

    Leave a comment:


  • AD5MB
    replied
    I'm just trying to figure out how to deal with it when somebody says, "I'll Wait Until You Are Not So Busy."
    tell him when he finds someone who is not so busy to send you his link, so you can refer other customers in a hurry to the not so busy guy..

    Leave a comment:


  • danlb
    replied
    If business is that good, it might be worthwhile to hire a helper. Or set up a network with others in your field to spread the work around. Turning away work is not usually a problem, but a customer who is turned away several times is likely to be a lost customer.

    Leave a comment:


  • 10KPete
    replied
    I took a lesson from my CPA friend years ago. He made a point of doing a yearly review of his clients and 'firing' the worst 5-10% of them every year. The ones that were a problem to deal with.

    I started doing a similar review of customers with my shop and I'll tell you, life was so much nicer. Getting the 'pain in the ass' customers outta my hair was the best thing I ever did.

    Stay with the steady customers that pay on time, don't argue, and don't make unreasonable requests.

    It's worth it!!

    Pete

    Leave a comment:


  • Fasttrack
    replied
    I'll add some input from the other side of the aisle. In 2017, I sent out nearly $250k in custom parts to local machine shops. Lead times around here tend to be 4-16 weeks. I won't ever wait more than 8 weeks for a part. Suppose shop A comes back with a 12 week lead time. I would take the part to shop B that might have a 6 week lead time but cost more because - for me - schedule is often more important than the bottom dollar. BUT that doesn't mean I won't ever use shop A again. Next time I need a part made, I'll check with shop A.

    I've cultivated good relationships with the local shops and there are a small handful that are my preferred vendors for custom parts but I have a huge list to work through when my favorites are running behind. I think the key to being a successful shop is to be honest with the customer, exactly like you are doing. Make sure the customer understands that their job doesn't get scheduled until they pay and if they still say "I'll come back later", that probably means they are doing the same thing I am. They'll take that part to a different shop that can deliver sooner but will remember your name and your honesty and ask you to quote parts in the future when your lead time might be only 8 weeks or whatever.

    I've only had one vendor string me along and that was for custom cables. They are on my sh*t list and I'll never touch them again. I can understand when things go wrong (I've had machine shops call me up to explain that a machine went down or some other accident had delayed a part) but lying about lead time is a sure fire way to lose my business.
    Last edited by Fasttrack; 04-20-2018, 09:24 PM.

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  • RB211
    replied
    Not all customers are worth having.

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  • HWooldridge
    replied
    We just continue to kick the price up and the lead time out. If they want to pay 3-5x and wait 16 weeks, then I am obliged to meet that schedule - with late nights and weekends if necessary.

    Leave a comment:


  • Bob La Londe
    started a topic I'll Wait Until You Are Not So Busy

    I'll Wait Until You Are Not So Busy

    I know some of you have to be running a home shop full time business like I am. Most of last year and the year before I had a 6-8 week minimum start time on new jobs. I picked up a big job late last year that I didn't finish until March of this year. That put me out to nearly 16 weeks lead to start new jobs for a while. I do a period check on when jobs go on the board and when they get done. One job took five months. I have always had a policy of doing custom work in the order it is paid so Its going to happen. A big custom job will means all custom jobs paid after it will take longer to get done. I don't know how to do anything about that and I have no desire to ever have employees again. I really don't need help with job or time management... or rather don't want any. LOL.

    Right now I have about 10 weeks prepaid jobs on my jobs board, and I get the periodic stock part job. (Stock parts I will slip in because they do not require new design work. Just a few hours when a machine is not cutting something else.) I know most of the other guys who do the custom work I do have as long or longer lead time on new design or custom jobs. Atleast they say they do. LOL. Some of them have quit doing custom work entirely, they say because their stock parts businesses keeps their machines going continuously already.

    I'm just trying to figure out how to deal with it when somebody says, "I'll Wait Until You Are Not So Busy." If I am ever not so busy I'll either be out of business or I'll be dead. I don't want them to go away. If they all go away I might actually be "not so busy" in the future. That would be bad. Then I might be out of business. LOL.

    The thing is I am not going to lie to them. I know some shops will say, "oh, a couple weeks," and then string them along for months. I've experienced it myself. Its why I decided to learn how to weld aluminum instead of taking it to a welding shop. It wasn't the price or the quality of their work.
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