The Mold Shop Puzzle
Moldmakers who have embraced the need to become more competitive and who have researched all the avenues to remain competitive are reluctant to share this trade secret, so the following case study of a mold manufacturer applying competitive strategies refrains from using the company name. They are willing to give us a peak inside their operations to share their challenges and solutions in an effort to help educate others on a simple, straightforward method for improving business, but they do not want to reveal who they are, as to prevent others from learning how they are beating the competition.
XYZ Company found itself in a messy situation at the beginning of 2008. They were not landing projects and the projects they did get had very little margin. The company has been in business for more than 30 years and had prided itself in its high quality standards and the ability to avoid layoffs. Then suddenly faced with little or no work, management had to do the unthinkable—cut its staff, yet maintain its quality work.
By the middle of 2008 it became apparent that the storm they were in would not just pass as other recessions had in the past, and they were faced with another reality: change or go out of business. Since they knew they produced the highest quality molds and had always been responsive to customer needs, on the surface it was difficult for them to identify the reasons for their lack of business and the jobs going to their competition. Then in June of 2008 the owner finally started really looking into Why they were losing projects.
XYZ always quoted everything that came in the door, but sadly nothing was coming in to quote. So for the first time in company history the owner made several trips to their best customers. What he discovered changed the way he did business.
Most of his customers never understood his pricing structure, and never recognized the little things (value add) they did when designing and building their molds, which resulted in higher quality tools compared to the competition. This was a communication and marketing challenge.
The owner recognized that it would be too much of an effort to launch a marketing campaign—which would explain who the company was, their mission, value-added services, specialties and operations—to everyone on his customer list, so he narrowed down the list and targeted those companies with the campaign.
Customer visits continued during which he learned that other shops did not bother to find out what the needs of the customer actually were or follow up to see if their needs were actually being met. This was an area to concentrate and capitalize on! So, with a few simple changes and some additional travel to customers emphasizing the unique way XYZ did business, along with asking for follow-up meetings after a mold was delivered, XYZ Company set itself apart from the competition.
XYZ Company now has a 10-month backlog with everyone back to work, and they are trying to hire more moldmakers. They ensure that any company doing business with them understands what makes them unique and different from every other shop out there, and how those differences can help the customers make more money.
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