As business owners many of us tend to follow the leader and do what everyone else does to promote our business, buying the giveaway ink pens and buying local advertising. But…if that is what everyone else does how are you going to get any different results than everyone else in town?
Sometimes you need to think outside of the box and do a little shameless self-promotion to separate your shop from those down the street, across town or over in the next county – maybe even further away. What if you were to have an open house? It would be a good excuse to clean the shop and you could feature a specific machining process while your customers get to tour your shop and see where the actual machine work is done.
You could invite current customers and those potential customers who you would like to do business with.
Two things will happen. One is that you will set the “standard” for how a particular machining process is done. All others will be judged and compared to your hands-on demonstration. Your customers may not understand the entire process you are demonstrating, but they will witness first-hand, the steps you took, the materials you used, the setup and… they now know (because you took the time to explain) where the shortcuts can occur that will result is a less-than quality job.
In summary, they now know the difference between quality machine work (yours) and average machine work (everyone else). They have witnessed the complete machining process from beginning to end, in your shop.
Think about this from the customer’s perspective. He or she got a personal invite from you to see your shop in action, to witness an actual machining process firsthand, (most likely one they are buying) demonstrated by one of your employees in the same shop that is doing their work, while they watch with someone there to explain each step of the process, and to answer any questions.
The second benefit of this open house is that your customer now has a personal relationship with you and your employees. He no longer sees your shop as just another business down the street. He knows you and your employees by name and the quality of work that you do.
He got an education and can now identify a quality, machined part and knows the difference in quality from an average machine job. He got to witness the work being done in your shop so now the confidence he has in your shop and your employees, has increased ten fold. He will not forget that he got that education from you!
Do you think he will tell his friends about the open house and what he learned? You bet he will, and word of mouth advertising is still the best there is.
And what about the benefit to your employees? They get a chance to show off their skills to your customer and to prove they are the best at what they do. And they now know that customer as a person, not just a number on a job ticket.
How often does an employee get to show off his skills to a customer? That opportunity will also build employee morale, because your employee now has “ownership” in his job. He can take charge and demonstrate how the machine work should be done. He will be in charge during the demonstration.
You could even have the employees invite their families to the open house so their spouses and kids can see what they do every day at work. It’s a great opportunity for the employees and your customer, who will see that employee as a father with a family and not just some guy in the shop who signed the job ticket whom he has never met.
Again all of this is a perception thing. The open house will help you to build a personal relationship with your customers, establish your credibility and separate your shop from the competition.
In the end…your customer knows you and your employees better, and your customer has learned (thanks to you) how to identify and buy quality machine work. Your customer also knows that his machine work is being done by the best machine shop in town. How does he know that…? He witnessed it first-hand.