POSTED ON 3/31/2021 – “When should my company make capital investments?” “What solution can I integrate that will make the biggest impact on my bottom line?” “How do I know when to go on the offense and when to hold back?” These are the tough business strategy questions that shop owners and leaders have to ask every day. And there are few better times to pause and take stock of how your business is doing than now, as the first quarter of 2021 draws to a close.
If the beginning of the year is the perfect time to set goals, the end of Q1 is the ideal time to check in on the progress you’re making toward them – and find ways to get back on schedule when you’re falling short. In manufacturing, we’re often focused on the smallest details, but in business, it pays to think big. Here are seven of the key questions you should be asking yourself now to understand where you are, where you need to go and what you can achieve if you stay committed to sustainable growth and manufacturing excellence.
1. Would I buy this company?
Business leaders are used to being their company’s biggest cheerleaders. But when you’re examining the health of your business, it’s important to approach it with an outsider’s perspective – not a cheerleader, but a potential buyer. Someone who wanted to buy your company wouldn’t just metaphorically kick the tires before signing a check. Instead, they’d perform a thorough audit, looking at everything that impacts the company’s bottom line with a critical eye. Even if you have no intention of ever selling your business, this way of thinking is a great way to identify areas for improvement.
2. Are you accessible to your customers?
Today, both B2B and B2C customers have come to expect a frictionless online ordering experience, even in complex industries such as manufacturing. Examine the entire journey the customer takes with your company, from the initial customer contact to final part delivery, to identify – and eliminate – any difficulties your customers face in working with you. Most of all, make sure your customers can find you in the first place. It won’t matter if you have an online storefront that sends jobs straight to top-tier INTEGREX i-H machines if none of your potential customers know about your business or its manufacturing capabilities.
3. Do you get it right the first time, every time?
No matter the industry and no matter the shop size, every manufacturing professional understands that operational excellence is critical to staying competitive. This is especially true for industries where high-mix/low-volume environments are becoming more common – and there’s no room for error when producing one-off or two-off parts on demand. Any gap in your quality control processes should be one of the first targets of any improvement effort.