Seven Steps to Achieving Smart Growth

Growing your business means different things to different people, and it’s all about your goals. You may just be looking to increase orders to reach maximum capacity for your equipment on hand, or you may have a five-year plan to double your business and expand your facility. Whatever your growth goals are, the key to success is to “grow smart.” Here are seven simple ways to do that.

1) Know your margins.

It may sound obvious – but I’ve talked to hundreds of job shop owners over the years, and a surprising number can’t answer the question, “Which jobs do you make the most profit on?” Know your high and low (or no) margin jobs, and communicate the expertise and equipment that will maximize your returns. That means zeroing in on what materials you want to work in, what quantities and delivery schedules you’re best equipped for, and so on.

2) Know who you want to sell to.

It’s OK to have one dream customer you’d love to land, but you may have a long wait until they’re in need of a new supplier. In the meantime, it’s a good strategy to instead determine the types of companies you’d like to do business with. Focus on the optimal industries, company size, location, and other factors that work best for you.

3) Make sure the right jobs can find you.

With all the potential customers out there, it’s impossible for you to track down the one perfect match at the one perfect time, when they’re searching for a new supplier. Instead, create an ongoing presence for the early stages of the buying cycle so that prospects will find you when they're ready - places like product/industry news and information outlets, supplier discovery platforms, and social media.

4) Provide the information that makes buyers call.

Buyers are looking for a unique quality beyond just “what you do.” You may be, say, a metal stamper, but what else are you? Everyone’s got a different specialty, and yours is your selling point for some buyer out there. Think about what yours is, and make sure they know it when they find you.

5) Minimize wasted time.

Easier said than done, right? Well, buyers aren’t looking to waste their time any more than you are. If you make it very clear what kinds of projects you’ve done in the past, what your capabilities are, and what you’re willing to take on, you can cut down on the off-base queries and DOA RFQs that chip away at your productivity.

6) Strengthen your first contact. 

I’ll never forget a business we worked with where the receptionist sent a potential new customer to the sales team only to have the opportunity die when the call was never picked up.  We listened to the recording together and the owner's jaw hit the floor when he heard the name of the opportunity he just lost - a multibillion dollar international company opening new locations that needed his help.  Your first point of contact with a buyer can make or break a deal.  Be sure you have a system set up to treat each opportunity like gold - because it just might be.

7) Treat every RFQ as an opportunity.

Don’t just ignore those one or two-piece RFQs that you’re sick of. That weekend garage tinkerer could be Monday’s aerospace buyer looking to submit a bid that could change your business. Or it could just be someone with another need later on that’s a better fit. Respond to every single RFQ with a “Thank you” and a request to keep you in mind for any other projects in the future.

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