Adopting Speed in Your Manufacturing Business

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#USAMfgHour Twitter Chat Recap for April 23, 2020

Speed is a major advantage in business.  Faster customer acquisition, innovation, delivery, operations, inventory turns, cash receipt, all contribute to advantages. – @dpistulka

This week, Damon Pistulka (@dpistulka) guest hosted the #USAMfgHour Twitter chat and went over how manufacturers can adopt speed in their businesses.

The first question asked participants to identify measures of speed in their businesses.  Time-related measures were the most mentioned, including lead close times, order processing times, shipping times, and billing cycles.  Nick Rivers of @ObsidianMfg summed up the measurements well with, “How fast can a customer find us? How fast can we respond to an RFQ? How fast can we get them a product? How soon can we get Paid?”  Other measurements included numbers-based ones, such as lead acquisition and closing rates.  Since most manufacturers have significant amounts of cash tied up in their processes, Damon likes to cite order to payment days as a useful measure of speed.

Next, Damon asked which measures the participants routinely review and focus on to assess speed in their businesses.  Lead times were the biggest ones as they relate to many areas, including marketing, lead generation, social media, order processing, and payment.  Damon agreed these are all excellent measures and emphasized that manufacturing companies should focus on speed across the entire business, not just on manufacturing cycles.

The third question of the chat asked what two indicators of speed can help just about any manufacturing business.  @LiftWisco mentioned new, improved technology and streamlined processes.  Others mentioned how long stock is carried and lead generation and production time.  Damon agreed, saying that order to cash days and inventory turns are powerful metrics.  Reducing order to cash days by 50% or increasing inventory turns by 2x provides huge efficiency increase and cash requirement reduction.  

When participants were asked what they could accomplish if they improved their speed measures by 50%, they answered with things like more revenue to purchase equipment and hire staff, as well as increased pipeline capacity. Damon also emphasized positive outcomes of more cash in the bank, reduced space requirements, and better utilization of facilities and personnel.

Speed optimization can often mean millions of dollars worth of improvement in manufacturing businesses.  So how do you get started?  @NesbitMarketing said, “Tracking, tracking, tracking! You can only analyze the data that you have captured. You can only optimize the data that you have analyzed.”  

Damon suggested, in closing, that manufacturers figure out the money tied up in each measure for improvement and quantify time value to understand benefits (to make sure it is worth it before starting) and then map processes and time requirements for each step and work on them like any other manufacturing process.  While inventory turn improvements can require engineering changes, manufacturers should not underestimate the benefits of standardizing.

Be sure to visit Damon’s website to learn more tips on adopting speed in your business. Then join us next week as @DCSCInc hosts the #USAMfgHour chat on a very important topic for manufacturers: inventory and materials control.

The #USAMfgHour chat is founded by @CVTPlastics @DCSCInc @BIllGarlandSpkr @witzshared and @SERVICECASTER.  Be sure to follow the official account for chat highlights, recaps, and information at @USAMfgHourChat and visit us on other platforms to keep in touch between chats.

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Email Marketing for Manufacturers

#USAMfgHour Twitter Chat Recap for April 16, 2020

Email is solid outreach to existing customers and brand awareness for future customers. It’s a great tool for communicating. – @torres_inklings

This week, Bernie Fussenegger (@B2the7) guest hosted the #USAMfgHour Twitter chat and shared valuable tips about email marketing for manufacturers.

After introductions, Bernie asked what the benefits are of an email marketing program. @DCSCInc mentioned they use email marketing to promote product releases, informative webinars, and blogs with helpful tips. Others mentioned it is a great way to keep in touch with existing customers, help prospective customers get to know you, and keep a prospect engaged over long sales cycles. Bernie loved those answers and elaborated by stating that email marketing is an important digital component for brand awareness and brand loyalty and is still one of the most effective channels when it comes to ROI. It is great for building relationships with your prospects, leads, current customers and past customers who have raised their hand, given you data, and said they wanted to hear from you. Email marketing allows you to be more personalized, targeted, and segmented which allows you to send more relevant communications based on the data you have on your customers. Emails subscribers are generally going to be your more loyal customers – you have data on these customers which enable more relevant and personalized content.

Next, Bernie asked, “How does a manufacturer begin an email marketing program and how often should the company send emails?” Participants were varied on their answers, but all agreed that it should be frequently enough to stay relevant but not so frequently that your emails get deleted without being read. @GraphicProducts suggested that frequency depends on the goals of your campaign. Bernie agreed and further stated, you should do the following before starting an email program:

  • Determine what your goals and objectives are
  • Target audience
  • The content
  • What to measure (what does success mean?)
  • What are you doing with the data
  • How does email compliment other programs

Then, you should select a partner that meets your needs but also allows for cross channel marketing and the ability to expand and that companies should A/B test frequency for optimal results. [Some potential partners include MailChimp, Constant Contact, ConvertKit, AWeber, GetResponse, Drip, SendinBlue, as well as larger eCRM programs like SalesForce Marketing Cloud, YesMail, Cheeta Mail and Emarsys.]

In each campaign, you should have the following:

  • From Name
  • Clear subject lines
  • Relevant Pre-header
  • Personalize & relvant content
  • Clear call to action
  • Measurable KPIs
  • Test, Test and test some more (A/B testing)

At our chat halfway point, Bernie asked participants what three things they should be cautious of when sending emails. @NestbitMarketing said, “Send times are an important consideration, especially in the industrial sector. Employees in manufacturing may only check their email once or twice a day. Much past that, things get buried quickly.” Others cautioned to double-check spelling and grammar prior to sending out emails, be wary of too much sales and not enough helpful information, broken links, and data privacy compliance. @litmusapp helps with testing and provides an internal distribution list for a preview of all emails before they go out. Bernie said to be aware of the following when sending email:

  • Not a good welcome series
  • Too high frequency
  • One message for all – no segmentation
  • Don’t purchase lists/Don’t spam
  • No call to action
  • All selling and no relationship building
  • Not being relevant

What three things should you do when it comes to email marketing to maximize your ROI? Bernie suggested that participants should 1) Have a clear call to action; 2) Relevant/Personalized Content; and, 3) Segment & Target your audiences. @NJMEP added, “Understanding the audience will be essential. Creating multiple segmented lists; new leads, active customers, etc. will help the marketer craft messages that speak to a specific group. It will allow these individuals to create more impact messaging.” Overall, defining goals and KPIs, analyzing the data and segmenting audiences, and testing and optimizing are key to getting a high ROI.  

The next question asked how participants can take an email marketing initiative to the next level. Answers varied from “Just start!” to “Segmentation. Automation. And Triggers”. @andrewtstewart, a marketer who joined in the chat today, suggested working smarter not harder by asking yourself a few questions: 

– Am I leveraging all my tools? 

– Do I know who my audience is?

– Why do/don’t they engage? 

– What have I learned?

– Can I test something new?

Bernie’s next level ideas include: “Triggered and automated – Welcome series, Bday/anny, drip campaigns based on specific dates/actions, new, active, lapsing and lapsed campaigns – use data to be relevant and personalized.” Additionally, think targeting and segmentation. This is where brands can be very relevant and personalized with their content. You have the data and the ability to deliver content based on their actions or data points. Use segmentation of your email database and targeting these same customers in social and search marketing programs creating cross-channel campaigns hitting the customers where they are. All you need is the email address for this.

Last, Bernie suggested focusing on metrics such as the ones below to measure the success of campaigns:

  • Open Rates
  • Click-through rates
  • Click to open rates
  • Conversion rates
  • Bounce rates
  • Unsub rates
  • Engagement rate
  • List growth
  • Campaign specific metrics – sales goals, actions, shares.

For more helpful email marketing tips, visit Bernie’s website. Also, be sure to follow him on Twitter @B2the7 to stay updated on what he is doing.

Next week, Damon Pistulka (@dpistulka) will be hosting the chat and sharing about how manufacturers can adopt speed in their businesses.  

The #USAMfgHour chat is founded by @DCSCInc @BIllGarlandSpkr @witzshared and @SERVICECASTER. Be sure to follow the official account for chat highlights, recaps, and information at @USAMfgHourChat and visit us on other platforms to keep in touch between chats.

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Resources for Manufacturing and Professional Development

#USAMfgHour Twitter Chat Recap for April 9, 2020

This week on the #USAMfgHour Twitter chat, @DCSCInc and @SERVICECASTER hosted an informal discussion on manufacturing resources and professional development.

After introductions, @DCSCInc asked whether participants knew there are organizations within each state that specifically exist to provide support, advocacy, advice and assistance to help grow their manufacturing operations. Most participants did know about it and shouted out some of their favorites, including @NJMEP, @Fuzehub, @OHIOMFG, @bemamstrong, and @NIST_MEP.

Question two asked, “Do you know what Lean Manufacturing is and how this concept can be applied to your operations?” A few of the participants said “Yes!”. Some even shared the following resources:

The third question asked whether participant’s companies have any practices to promote team members’ own unique talents, opinions or backgrounds. Nearly everyone answered that team meetings and 1:1 conversations help with talent development. @GraphicProducts said, “In our Friday meetings, we encourage people to share their wins for the week and some items they are focusing on improving. That way we can maybe contribute ideas or solutions toward. It really helps workers to know they are not alone.” @DCSCInc mentioned they also do “Meet the Team” posts on social media and birthday and anniversary celebrations.

Next, on a lighter note, participants were asked to share their favorite quotes to provide some inspiration and motivation during this challenging time. 

  • “Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough.” ~Og Mandino (@FelixNater)
  • “It’s not what you are capable of, it’s WHAT YOU ARE WILLING TO DO.” (@CVTPlastics)
  • The greatest compassion is the prevention of human suffering through patience, alertness, courage and kindness.” ― Amit Ray, Walking the Path of Compassion (@GraphicProducts) 
  • Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. – John Lennon (@SERVICECASTER)
  • Work Smart, Not Hard (@SpaceGuard)
  • “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” -Milton Berle (@PowerDrivesPDI)
  • “The more we value things outside our control, the less control we have.” (@UNEX)

The last question covered professional development and asked whether participants have programs in place for ongoing improvement? Many participants said they support professional development of their employees, including cross-training, continuing education, and reimbursement for formal degrees or training. @UNEX said, “Ongoing training and professional development are very important to us. We encourage our team members to go to seminars, webinars, training, conferences, etc.”

Before signing off for the day, @SERVICECASTER shared how @ThomasNet has been an excellent resource for learning all about manufacturing marketing best practices and encouraged participants to check it out.

Next week, Bernie Fussenegger (@B2the7) will be hosting a chat all about email marketing for manufacturers. If you’ve been thinking about starting email marketing or would like to improve upon what you’re already doing, you won’t want to miss this chat!

The #USAMfgHour chat is founded by @DCSCInc @BIllGarlandSpkr @witzshared and @SERVICECASTER. Be sure to follow the official account for chat highlights, recaps, and information at @USAMfgHourChat and visit us on other platforms to keep in touch between chats.

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Dealing with Generational Issues in the Workplace

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#USAMfgHour Twitter Chat Recap for April 2, 2020

“No matter the generation as long as you speak to people with respect and explain what you expect from them, give them the tools to succeed and then listen and appreciate their feedback it works pretty well. There will always be hiccups, that’s life.” – @witzshared

This week, Jennifer Wegman, Social Media / Communications Manager for Service Caster Corporation (@SERVICECASTER) hosted the #USAMfgHour Twitter chat, which was focused on generational issues in the workplace.

After introductions, Jennifer asked participants whether they have noticed generational issues arise as a result of COVID-19 social distancing. Most of the companies said they hadn’t; however, @IEN_Now said, “It has certainly shed light on who is more risk-averse than anything. Within the industry, we’ve heard of multiple issues from management (workers taking excused extended leave, causing staffing issues) and employees (fear of going to work, possible exposure).”

The first question of the chat asked participants how many generations they have working together at their companies. Answers ranged from two generations at work to four or five. @AxisNJ said, “Our company has employees from a variety of different generations – we realize that everyone brings something unique and valuable to the table, regardless of age.” When asked whether they’ve seen inter-generational conflict, most companies could (happily) say they hadn’t. However, two companies mentioned differing opinions on what work ethic means between generations, as well as an “I’ll just quit and find another job,” mentality.  

When inter-generational conflicts occur, participants expressed that they mainly handle them by focusing on communication by offering opportunities for staff to communicate with each other and leadership. @FelixNater said that sometimes disputes are a form of poor communications emanating from frustration, so opportunities for mediation and conflict resolution are invaluable. @CVTPlastic mentioned that just talking to the workforce and sharing information on what’s going on can be helpful.  

We kicked off the second half of the chat by asking whether participants have seen a difference in how each generation prefers feedback and asked how they’ve adapted. @FSCabinetDoors said, “I think younger generations search for guidance and the opinions of our elders much more than is stereotyped. We want to know if what we’re doing is beneficial to the business operations and practices. Older generations seem to have more independent work styles.” Other participants said that being unable to accept feedback or criticism often seems more of an individual problem versus a generational one, as they’ve seen people get offended by simple suggestions and take changes in policy personally. (What do you think, folks? Individual or generational?) While becoming friendly with staff can help them receive feedback more easily, it can also create boundary issues. However, using positive reinforcement consistently can minimize reactions to criticism.  

How do you manage different learning, training, and working styles? Several participants mentioned collaboration and teamwork on projects as ways to minimize conflict around different preferences. @CVTPlastics stated that there is no one-size-fits-all solution and that overcoming barriers is a process while @FelixNater said that connecting business needs and operational requirements is a management expectation and responsibility.

The last question of the chat asked how participants are recruiting and/or retaining employees of different generations. A few people mentioned that current closures of higher education facilities as a result of social distancing have hindered their recruitment efforts. Normally, though, they often look at recent graduates for positions or fill the pipeline by bringing in interns. Others use external recruiters or staffing agencies, as well as personal references. While there is a focus on qualifications rather than age, it begs the question of workforce continuity. What if all the qualified candidates are older? Will they bring in younger talent and train them with the intent of passing on knowledge in order to keep their businesses running in the future?

Before closing the chat, Jennifer provided a helpful report on generational differences in the workplace. 

Next week @DCSCInc and @SERVICECASTER will be co-hosting an informal discussion on resources for manufacturing professional development.  

The #USAMfgHour chat is founded by @DCSCInc @BIllGarlandSpkr @witzshared and @SERVICECASTER. Be sure to follow the official account for chat highlights, recaps, and information at @USAMfgHourChat and visit us on other platforms to keep in touch between chats.

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