Do you love working with machines? Have you ever envisioned running your own machine shop?
If the answer to both of these questions is yes, there are ways you can turn that dream into reality. If opening a place that offers both machine shop and engineering services, here are some helpful tips to make that happen:
- Have a plan: Whether you’re offering machine shop and engineering services, food, clothing or any type of product or service, you’ll need to have a business plan. If you’re going to be the person overseeing everything, then you need to think about all aspects of the business world and your company’s place in it. A good plan can make or break your company and it will help keep you focused.
As you create a business plan for your machine shop, keep some of these questions in mind:
- What does your customer base look like?
- How are you going to fund your business?
- What kind of services do you expect your shop to offer?
- How are you going to market your business?
- How many employees will you need and how soon do you need them?
- Take baby steps: You may dream of opening a national machining company or maybe even a chain of stores. But let’s be honest, that isn’t going to happen overnight. Chances are you’ll start out as a small operation with just a few employees. The same goes for equipment. Depending on your cash flow, you may not be able to offer things like power tool repair service right away. But as time goes on and your business grows, you’ll be able to buy more equipment and offer more services to your customers.
- Make it about the customer: If you’re opening your business in a crowded market, finding a way to stand out and be different will help attract more customers. One of the best ways to attract customers and keep them is to put an emphasis on good customer service. If you can provide personalized service, keep promises and do your job with professionalism, customers will be impressed and should be a reliable source of repeat business.
- Know what the customer wants: Going back to one of the points made above, it’s important to know who your ideal customer is and know how to cater to them. Most machine shops tend to work in specialized industries or in a specific region. Regardless of where your machine shop is, you want to think your customer does. What do they want? What kind of problems do they have? How can your business help solve them? If you can answer those questions and offer reliable services, customers will keep coming back.
In addition to knowing the customer base, you also want to keep on things your competition might be doing. Are they offering machine shop and engineering services? Are they offering specialty services that attract a certain type of client? You don’t want to try to match the competition note for note (and chances are you won’t be able to right away anyway), but it’s good to know what others are doing and learn from them.
- Keep the money flowing: if you open up a place to offer machine shop and engineering services, you’re going to need money. But once you’re open, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got a steady cash flow going to pay employees, pay your bills and pay for equipment costs among other things. For machine shops, accounts receivable factoring, a payment where a factoring company will pay on open invoices, can be a way to go.
If you’re going to open a machine shop, following the five steps listed above will help keep you focused on your goal. Once your business expands, you can invest in more equipment for machining. When it comes to equipment, it’s important to keep machining tools dry and to properly clean them on a regular basis. Failure to do so can lead to costly machine tool repair you might not be able to afford as you start your business.