From Production to Profit: Proven Strategies for Small Manufacturers to Win Customers

How does a small manufacturing business grow? 

Through its customers. 

But when you’re a small manufacturer finding your way through the bustling corridors of the industry, it’s not a walk in the park. Much like an eager tourist in a foreign city without a working GPS, it’s exciting, overwhelming, and, let’s be honest—it’s pretty easy to lose your way. Let’s run down some of our customer acquisition strategies through each step in the supply chain in this small business manufacturing operations guide.

Download Infographic: Process Improvement in 8 Steps

Planning: Forecast, Set Goals, and Budget

  • Detailed Financial Forecast: Like a trusty weather report, a detailed financial forecast can help you navigate any upcoming financial storms. It’s about estimating future sales, costs, and profits to ensure you’re financially prepared for the journey ahead.
  • SMART Goals Setting: SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. It’s like a personal trainer for your business—pushing you towards realistic, achievable goals while keeping you accountable.
  • Getting Lean Manufacturing Consultant: Just as athletes have coaches, businesses have consultants. A lean manufacturing consultant can provide expert advice, guiding your small business manufacturing operations toward success.
Small business manufacturing operations guide

Sourcing: Building Supplier Relationships

  • Vet Thoroughly: Just as you’d do a background check on a new employee, always vet your suppliers thoroughly. Check their track record, financial stability, and customer reviews. Foreknowledge is your best weapon.
  • Nurture Relationships: Treat suppliers as partners. Regular communication, respect, and fairness can go a long way in building solid and reliable alliances.
  • Diversify Your Supplier Base: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify your supplier base to reduce dependency on a single supplier. It’s a smart move, just like diversifying your investment portfolio.

Production: Upgrading Your Transformation Process

  • Chase Strategy: This strategy, developed by JPMorgan Chase Banks through the SWOT Model, is all about staying in sync with consumer demands. It’s about making more products when the demand is high and less when the demand is low. It’s an excellent option for businesses with perishable or seasonal items.
  • Make-to-Stock: In this strategy, you manufacture items based on anticipated customer demand. You prepare products for future sales and keep them in warehouses until they’re purchased. 
  • Make-to-order: This is all about customization. You only start producing items after customers have placed an order. It’s a beneficial strategy for products that require a high level of personalization and for items that can be assembled quickly. Read the case study on this strategy used at Dell Corporation.

Delivery: Getting Products to Customers 

  • Efficient Packaging: The first impression matters. Efficient packaging protects your product during transit and provides a delightful unboxing experience for customers. Think of it as the wrapping paper for your customer’s gift. E-commerce giant, Amazon, sports efficient packaging with 100% recyclable materials and optimizes the size of the package to match the item to create less waste. At the same time, it ensures an easy unboxing experience for customers.
  • Reliable Shipping Partners: Your shipping partner is your ally in ensuring the timely and safe delivery of products. Choose partners with a proven track record and excellent customer service. It’s like choosing a relay race teammate.
  • Tracking and Updates: Provide customers with a way to track their orders. Regular updates about the transit process can alleviate customer anxiety and show that your business values transparency. It’s your way of saying, “We’re on it.”
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Returns: Handling Post-sale Issues

  • Clear Return Policy: Spell out your return policy in clear, easy-to-understand language. It’s like your rulebook, giving customers a clear understanding of what can be returned, how to do it, and within what timeframe.
  • Hassle-free Returns: Make the return process as easy as possible for customers. Consider providing free return shipping or a prepaid return label. Think of it as your peace offering to dissatisfied customers.
  • Prompt Refunds: Once a return is received, process refunds promptly. It’s like a rapid response team, helping to soothe any customer dissatisfaction.
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Implementing the Strategies

Having a strategy is one thing, but implementing it effectively is another. It’s essential to have a comprehensive implementation plan that details each step of the process, assigns responsibilities, and sets timelines. Regularly review your strategies with a consultant and adjust as necessary to meet your business goals.

Do it with GENEDGE

At GENEDGE, we specialize in providing growth strategies for manufacturing companies and guidance to small and midsize manufacturers. Lean manufacturing is not just about reducing waste or streamlining operations; it’s about creating a culture of continuous improvement, boosting productivity, improving product quality, and ultimately enhancing customer satisfaction. 

Interested in taking your manufacturing business to the next level? Contact GENEDGE today and explore how our specialized consultants can support your growth ambitions. Or, take the first step with an in-depth assessment of your business operations, supply chain, or energy management HERE.

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