Many modern machine shop owners are feeling the allure of returning to pre-COVID normalcy at the moment—and it’s easy to understand why. After a year and a half of looking over your shoulder at all times, it feels good to be able to look down at the ground in front of you once again.
Now that work is picking back up, you may find yourself getting sucked back into the daily minutiae of running a small contract manufacturing company.
But if there’s one important takeaway to hold onto from this difficult time, it’s the value of working ON your shop instead of IN your shop.
Staying afloat during the height of the pandemic required shop owners to display high-level agility, foresight, and strategic thinking. Incidentally, those qualities are the very same ones that will help shops thrive going forward.
So how can you harness what you’ve learned and shift your focus so that you’re looking ahead instead of right down in front of you?
Breaking the Familiar Machine Shop Cycle
Before the pandemic, there existed a vicious cycle at machine shops. Stop us if this sounds familiar. . .
When you needed work for your shop, you’d work on your business to get new customers, and then once you had new customers, you’d return to working in your business—and this cycle would perpetuate.
It was all too easy to get comfortable once there was ample work coming in. But then the pandemic came along and disrupted the cycle entirely.
It forced shop owners to continuously evaluate opportunities and to adapt to a tenuous business climate. If your shop survived the pandemic, it’s because you focused more attention on the strategic and operational parts of your business than the day-to-day tasks.
Although it may feel like you can breathe easy once again and return to the status quo, that’s simply not the case. The reality is that it’s impossible to tell what kind of business landscape is just over the horizon—so it’s best to remain ready for anything.
The Ever-Changing Contract Manufacturing Landscape
Future uncertainties aside, our industry continues to face residual challenges from the pandemic right now. There is no sign that these challenges will let up any time soon, somodern machine shops must focus on adapting their businesses to meet them head on.
Shop owners must look inward and ask themselves difficult questions like. . .
- What will we do if ongoing restrictions prevent us from seeing customers face to face?
- How can we attract good workers during a labor shortage?
- What differentiates us from a sea of competitors?
- How will we mitigate ongoing raw material and supply chain issues?
Because the truth is that somebody needs to be asking these questions—and if you let the pull of short-term work distract you from the opportunity for consistent long-term work, this short-sightedness can deliver a critical blow to your business.
The Key to a Successful Future in Contract Manufacturing
The most successful modern machine shops have someone asking themselves, “What’s next?” at all times. Small contract manufacturing companies especially need a leader who will take the reins and guide them toward growth and prosperity.
We can all agree that the challenges shops face today are more disruptive than ever. But the world certainly isn’t getting any easier on us, and the pandemic won’t be the last unprecedented event that threatens the very fabric of our industry.
But instead of despairing, let’s instead learn and move forward. You showed phenomenal leadership throughout the pandemic—don’t leave it behind. Carry those lessons with you as an insurance policy against future crises.
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