Do you want to grow your manufacturing company while maintaining flexibility and efficiency? Is hiring new employees costly and time-consuming?
With modern online tools in the cloud you can automate your sales and back-office operations so you can focus on growing your business. You can increase your sales while keeping costs low. In this article we address some of the common growing pains of manufacturing companies, and what you can do to grow smarter and more efficiently.
Common issues for manufacturers that want to grow their businesses
We’ve observed an increase in demand for customized goods. Customization is becoming a key strategy to fend off the competitive forces from low-cost regions. Customization, as the word suggests, implies tailoring products and services to each customer’s needs and demands. It involves sales, quotations, drawings and eventually production – essentially the entire value chain needs to be flexible to make customization work. If you succeed in this area you can increase sales and protect your business from competition. We have been on this journey with our clients for quite some time. We have identified some common pain points that many of them face.
Training new employees is time-consuming
Knowing your product is essential to ensure quality and safety. Many of our clients have staff that have worked in the industry for years and years. They know the products by heart and have gone through the process of sales many times. But what happens when you need more staff, or when a long-term employee decides to leave? One of the bottlenecks is that the knowledge and know-how is very internalized, and thus training and making new employees efficient at their tasks is hard. Transfering principles, rules and heuristics and making this formal is not easy to pull off. When can you expect a new employee to have reached the desired level of autonomy?
With growing sales come growing costs
Another facet is that a growing organization both adds costs and bulk. More people implies more managing and resources, thus increasing the overhead costs. Many manufacturers work with lean manufacturing principles. We argue that lean principles in the rest of the company are overlooked. This leads to a bulkier organization that can lose agility. When selling customized products the hours easily add up as drawings for quotation and manufacturing need to align with the product in question. During peak seasons, sometimes the documentation for the customer is overlooked due to lack of time. Is hiring more people the answer to meet the customers’ needs?
Work smarter with automation
One possible solution is letting software do the heavy lifting, and letting the employees that you already have focus more on relationships with customers and solving the customers’ problems.
- Let the customer do the work by using a configurator in your customer portal or e-commerce
- Automate calculation price, drawings and other documentation for the quotation process
- Automate all documention to make the order production-ready
This can enable the company to exceed the customers’ expectations and to increase market share, all while keeping the organization lean and letting employees focus on nurturing the relationship with customers or developing new products. Modern online tools are constantly evolving and more companies are using them.