Whether you’re changing a process in your shop or implementing new software, there are specific ways to address change in every kind of shop. For instance, just because some things work well for repetitive manufacturers, doesn’t mean they’ll work well for a job shop. You need strategies that work with your shop’s operations. Below are four things to consider to make your job shop better.
1. Understanding Your Shop’s Fluctuations
For most job shops, there isn’t a steady stream of work year-round. There are times it’s very busy and times that it’s slow. Some people can see this as a bad thing, but you can get this to work in your favor. One of the first things to look at is your shop’s job history and find when you have busy or slow times. If you know when the slow times are, you can prepare your shop for them by adjusting your billing rate. Use an ERP system to set billing rates to fit your needs when quoting customers.
2. Manage Your Shop’s Fluctuations
Once you know when your shop is likely to be busy or slow, you can work on managing that time. If your employees have some spare time, there are plenty of things you can have them do that will help your shop. They could do maintenance or fix machinery if they are qualified to do that. Scheduling planned maintenance during slow times is a great way to make sure your machines are running well all year. Another option is training. From machines and software to OSHA and certifications, there’s always something more your employees could learn about. It’s great to have them do this additional training during slow times so they don’t have to take time away from running jobs.
Once you get back into a busy time, you’ll be glad your employees trained. The more efficient and accurate they are, the more jobs you can run through during a busy time without needing rework. Being efficient throughout the shop will help even more. Using scheduling software can also help you increase your shop’s efficiency. With ERP software, you can be sure your shop isn’t overscheduled by accident, and you’ll know how long each job should take so you can better determine your workload. You won’t miss any deadlines and your customers will thank you.
3. Communicate with Your Customers
We’re all familiar with the phrase, “No news is good news,” but when it comes to your customers it’s often not true. Customers won’t always tell you when they have a problem. It’s important to check in with your customers and see if they’re having problems before those problems become too big for them to handle. Even if they don’t have any issues, they’ll be glad you asked and you’ll be on your way to building better customer relationships.
While you’re talking with your customers, you can also ask them what other needs they have. It’s possible there are other jobs that they don’t realize your shop could do for them. It’s also possible they’re trying to figure out how to create something your shop knows how to do, so you can work with them to figure out a solution. The more you can position your shop to be a partner to your customers rather than just a vendor, the more they’ll trust your shop and want to use you for other work.
4. Check Your Machines
It’s much more convenient to check over your machines when you don’t need all of them at once. It’s a great idea to thoroughly test your machines and make sure everything is running smoothly during your shop’s slower time. Using an ERP system to tell you when your machines need routine maintenance is a good tool to help remind you what needs to be done during these times.
While you’re checking over your machines, you can also check if there’s anything else they could do. Often, machines can do more than one type of job. You might not have needed other functions on your machine originally, but learning what else it can do could help your shop now. This is a great chance to experiment with your machines to see if they can help you in new ways during busy times.
As anyone who has worked in one knows, job shops are unique. So making them better means you need a plan that works with your shop and doesn’t try to make it run like a different kind of shop. The four points above are a good starting place to make your shop run more smoothly and efficiently.
Looking for other ways to improve your shop?