There are many great aspects to being a small shop. One is that it’s easier to manage and control your shop’s processes when you only have a handful of employees, work stations, and products. Another is the shop atmosphere and culture. Often, smaller shops have more relaxed and casual environments than larger shops, which may have strict rules in place. When you own or run a small shop, you’re free to do it your way. And you’re free to make your own decision on selection of small shop software.

small shop software compete big boysHowever, small shops also face unique challenges. One of the biggest is competing for business with larger shops. Often, larger shops may have resources and capabilities that aren’t available to a small shop. They may be able to turn jobs around on a tighter schedule. They may be able to offer lower prices because they have high volume. They may have better quality and scheduling assurance systems in place.

If you’re a small shop who frequently runs up against larger shops in competition for business, you may feel like it’s a no-win situation. The good news is there are steps you can take to increase your competitiveness.

Many of those steps can be achieved through the use of machine shop software like E2, which works as both large and small shop software. Below are a few ways in which shop software can help you be more competitive, and take business from larger shops:

More accurate pricing.

One of the biggest challenges in any competitive situation is providing the right bid or pricing on a potential project. It can be even more challenging when your competitor is a big shop. If they have more volume, more sophisticated equipment, or greater efficiency, they may be able to offer a lower price.

The truth, though, is that you may not know exactly how competitive you can be with pricing. Many small shops rely on estimations and even guesswork to calculate their pricing. As a result, they don’t know if their quotes are too high or too low.

Small shop software like E2 can help you track and analyze every cost in real time. With a few clicks, you can see the precise costs for materials, labor, equipment usage, and more in every job. You can then build in your margin and quote your most competitive price.

You may be quoting higher prices than you should because you don’t fully understand your costs and inputs. Small shop software can change that and make you more competitive in the quoting phase.

Not only is accurate quoting a must but getting that quote to your potential customer timely can win or lose the job. An effective job shop software solution like E2 can provide accurate quotes quickly.

On-time scheduling and delivery.

For many customers, on-time delivery isn’t just a nice feature. It’s a mandatory requirement. They have obligations to their customers or their projects may be on a tight timeline. They often can’t risk having parts delivered behind schedule.

In fact, some customers may want to know more about your process and your scheduling in advance so they feel confident awarding the business to you. A larger shop may be ISO certified and may have formal documentation that details their process and their on-time delivery rates. They may be able to show workflows, detailed schedules, and other collateral that provide reassurance. They may even be able to give their customers real-time updates on the job’s progress.

If you’re a small shop, you may not have the capabilities to offer that kind of insight into your process and schedule. As a result, you might lose business because the customer isn’t 100 percent confident that you will deliver on-time. Even worse, if you’ve had deliverability problems in the past, you could lose current customer to a larger shop.

Small shop software gives you the tools and documentation to take control of your scheduling and meet even the tightest customer deadlines. You can use the scheduling whiteboard to make on-the-fly changes and redirect resources or equipment. You can project bottlenecks and take action before they happen. You can even use a “what-if simulator” to create contingencies in case a machine breaks down, an employee no-shows, or a customer places a rush order.

Better yet, you can print out workflows and documentation to show your current customers and prospects. That gives them reassurance that your shop is a finely-tuned machine and that you can meet their deadlines.

Improved customer service with small shop software.

Customer service is important in every industry and sector and manufacturing is no exception. Your customers want to feel like you value their business and that they are a priority for you. If they aren’t feeling the love, they may look elsewhere for their parts or products.

During the sales process, prospective customers get a sneak preview into your service and responsiveness. If you’re slow to respond to their questions or don’t have answers to their questions, they may see that as an indication of the type of service they’ll receive once they’re customers.

Unfortunately, it can often be difficult to compete with large shops in this area. They may have an entire department dedicated to customer service. You may have one or two people in the office who are also juggling multiple other responsibilities.

Small shop shop software takes administrative tasks off your plate. It eliminates redundant work, like inputting data or creating paper documentation or even searching through filing cabinets to find old information. That frees up you and your team to communicate with your customers and provide the kind of service they expect.

In E2, for example, job data is automatically prefilled in every step of the process, from quoting all the way to shipping. There’s no need for double-entries and all information is available with a few clicks of the mouse. You can quickly find job status updates, past orders, shipping information, estimates, workflows, and more to provide your customers full transparency.

Many E2 users have used the software to guide formal weekly or monthly check-in meetings with their customers and review job data. That regular contact has helped to preserve the relationship and even win new business.

Maybe you’re a small shop who wants to grow. Or perhaps you run a small shop and you want to keep it that way. Either way, there’s no reason why your shop’s size has to limit your ability to compete with large shops.

Let’s talk soon about how you can use E2 to be more competitive and to win more business. We work with shops of all sizes, even those with only a few employees. Our software consultants welcome the opportunity to speak with you.

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