There are endless considerations that factor into running a modern machine shop. Whether you recently stepped into an ownership role or have been in the business for 30 years, there’s always something new to learn.
Luckily, we live in the age of information. Anyone can go online, type a question or keyword into Google, and be met with pages of answers. But what you find online won’t always be complete. The most successful machine shop owners leverage a combination of digital resources and learnings from their community to build their machine shop strategies.
Digital Resources for How to Run a Machine Shop
The internet is full of accurate, high-level knowledge about how to run a machine shop. Here are some examples of what you can access online:
- Frameworks and outlines. If you’re just starting in the industry, it’s best to begin with clear, general, and easy-to-follow instructions. You can find frameworks, outlines, and other helpful resources on blogs, message boards, and company websites.
- Processes, best practices, and standards. Information regarding standards and certifications, like AS9100 or CMMC, should come from credible online sources. Technical information about these topics is usually best found online and in writing to avoid confusion or miscommunication.
- Facts, statistics, and data. It’s crucial to find reputable sources for data, facts, and statistics to inform your modern machine shop strategy. At NTMA, we offer benchmarking reports to help our members make critical business decisions. You may also turn to reports from the Small Business Administration or the Department of Defense for reliable information.
- General or theoretical knowledge. There are some great manufacturing blogs that cover the high-level challenges and opportunities of running a machine shop. Blog posts provide a good starting point for deeper research.
While this type of information is critical to success, machine shop owners will also need the kind of connection with peers they simply can’t find online.
What Modern Machine Shop Owners Can Learn from Their Peers
Modern machine shop owners gain some of their most valuable insights from their colleagues in the industry. Information relayed firsthand between shop owners has a different quality than what you’ll find online (for starters, it’s a conversation instead of a research project).
Here’s what you can expect from your peers that you won’t get from Google searches:
Information adapted to your situation
Once you gather preliminary research, it’s time to adapt it to your situation. Your fellow modern machine shop owners likely had to do the same thing at one point. They can advise on what information is applicable and what isn’t. They can also go into greater detail about the processes, frameworks, or best practices you may have found online. We recommend speaking to a local shop owner who runs a business about the same size as yours because their advice will be the most relevant to you.
At NTMA, we believe in the value of peer-to-peer networks. Having a community that understands the challenges and wins of running a modern machine shop is priceless. Emotional support is just as vital as a sound business strategy.
There’s some information that people don’t want to share online. Shop owners may not put their most significant challenges and war stories out there for everyone to see, but they could be willing to share their experiences in a phone call or face-to-face conversation. These stories often teach poignant lessons. You’re more likely to hear them directly from your peers than on their blogs.
Referrals and recommendations
Personalized referrals and recommendations are incredibly valuable. You could pull up a list of local shipping and logistics companies online, but only a trusted colleague can make a recommendation based on their experiences and your needs.
Engaging in candid conversations with folks in the manufacturing industry is immensely beneficial. At NTMA, 84% of our members list networking as one of their top reasons for joining. We’re proud to provide members access to a network of like-minded professionals as well as reputable data and resources to run their shops successfully.
What are you waiting for? Join NTMA today.