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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A Lesson on Workplace Violence Prevention in Manufacturing

Close up crime scene investigation police boundary tape

#USAMfgHour Twitter Chat Recap for March 26, 2020

Prevention must create an environment where the workforce feels a part of the solution. – FelixNater

This week, Felix Nater (@FelixNater) guest hosted the #USAMfgHour Twitter chat and focused on educating participants about workplace violence prevention, a very important topic for today’s manufacturing community.

After introductions, Felix asked participants whether they have a workplace violence prevention policy or plan in place. Several participants stated that they do have plans in place, but that they either haven’t been tested frequently or reinforced with employees consistently.  Felix responded by saying that handbooks are helpful as long as they enable the workforce to understand what their roles are. Companies should continuously promote prevention and situational awareness.  

When asked whether there has been training for staff on workplace violence prevention policies, most of the participants, sadly, said there hasn’t been.  Felix responded by saying that an experience-centered, education-based expertise approach helps greatly when it comes to training employees.  

Overall, Felix taught that training on and communicating workplace violence policies are pieces of a comprehensive plan, which also includes physical security, access control, visitor management, supervision, leadership, and technology. Additionally, having an established reporting system in place that employees trust and feel confident in their confidentiality and eventual security is essential since the lack of trust and confidence in reporting is a huge inhibitor. If an employee suspects that disciplinary action may be the outcome rather than the desire to resolve their observations, they will not report their co-worker’s behavior. They want to help not incriminate.

Are company employees aware of or familiar with the importance of warning signs and risk factors and how they apply to prevention?  He asked because most employees are unable to connect the dots. They do not know what to look for, don’t know how to assess their observation and don’t recognize aggression in connection with their observations. Merely showing warning signs is not an indication to violence.  Is your company adequately prepared to address the at-risk employee and/or situation internally in preventing escalation? 

Finally, Felix asked whether particpant’s workforces are adequately trained in active shooter immediate protective measures to reduce risk, avoid the shooter and understand the police response and police role during the threat?  Felix asked these questions because, while the “free local police training” is helpful, it suggests that the organization has met its fiduciary responsibility when in actuality it has only begun. And, while the focus is always on the employee threat there are other categories of workplace violence not often discussed that companies need to address and communicate.

Want to learn more about workplace violence preparedness? If so visit Felix’ blog for many excellent resources on the subject. 

On April 2, 2020, Jennifer Wegman of Service Caster (@SERVICECASTER) will be leading a discussion on generational issues in the workplace.  We hope you can join us! In the meantime, go follow @FelixNater on Twitter for workplace violence prevention and preparation content.

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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How are Manufacturers Dealing with Coronavirus?


#USAMfgHour Twitter Chat Recap for March 19, 2020

Jennifer Ratcliff of Manufacturer’s News, Inc. (@MfrsNews) was supposed to discuss sales and business development at this week’s #USAMfgHour chat, however, she opted, instead, to focus on a much more timely topic right now:  Coronavirus.

After introductions, we jumped into the chat with Jennifer asking what impact participants have been seeing on their marketing, sales, and business development efforts.  @NJ_MEP said, “We’re seeing a massive impact. New Jersey manufacturers are turning to us for support in this confusing time, and we welcome it. However, most of our normal services have been put on hold and nearly all resources have been shifted to provide #COVID19 support.”  Others indicated that they have seen a small slow down in sales and business development.

Next, Jennifer asked how the Coronavirus is impacting the way participating companies are communicating with customers.  @SpecialTaps said, “More phone, more email, more SM, just less face to face,” which turned out to be the general consensus among respondents.  Facilities have been closed to outside visitors and staff that doesn’t need to be on site have shifted to remote work. Staff members who are on site are following the CDC’s precautionary guidelines. 

Are you seeing a shift in demand for your products or services?  Responses to this question varied. Some participants said everything is normal while others have seen a slight increase based on the products they sell or a decrease due to uncertainty.  @CVTPlastics said, “I am trying to present and update our customers that we are still moving forward as normal. I think it needs to be stated and restated,” a sentiment that was seconded by @NesbitMarketing and several other participants.

When asked what changes they are making to adapt to social distancing on the production floor, warehouse or office, those who responded had a wide array of answers. @SpaceGuard said it has adjusted workstations on the factory floor, added temporary ones, and encouraged more frequent hand washing.  Others have taken similar actions and also included more frequent cleaning and sanitizing of office and production spaces.

Few participants are looking to increase production or adapt product lines to meet the specific demands brought on by Coronavirus, as many of the companies who responded have long lead times on their custom products.  The few that do have quicker turnaround are playing it by ear.

In the closing question, Jennifer asked, “What sorts of tools and resources is your business exploring to help keep up operations at this time?” @UNEX stated it is currently relying on remote communication tools.  Other companies aren’t necessarily looking for anything new. Instead, they are focused on delivering timely communications with their customers and employees.  

Overall, the consensus was that manufacturers are doing what they can to protect their employees during the pandemic while also fulfilling customer orders as timely as possible.

Before ending the chat, Jennifer mentioned Manufacturing News’ industrial solutions, including IndustrySelect for sales, prospecting & business development and IndustryNet for FREE supplier discovery, purchasing & sourcing.

On March 26, 2020, Felix Nater (@FelixNater) will be discussing workplace violence prevention for manufacturers.  We hope you can join us! In the meantime, go follow @MFGTalkRadio on Twitter for great manufacturing-based content.

The #USAMfgHour chat is founded by @DCSCInc @BIllGarlandSpkr @CVTPlastics @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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How Can Manufacturers Develop Their Brands?

Brand word on vintage broken car license plates, concept sign

USAMfgHour Twitter Chat Recap for March 12, 2020

“With the onset of social media and various new marketing tools available for manufacturing companies, it is imperative in this digital age that businesses utilize at least some of these options to improve brand awareness.”

– @MFGTalk Radio

This week, Chris Giglio of Manufacturing Talk Radio (@MFGTalkRadio) hosted a #USAMfgHour chat about brand development for manufacturing companies, and, after brief introductions by participants, he asked what tools and services they are using to increase their brand awareness. Top answers included social media platforms, PPC, digital and traditional advertising, videos, podcasting, trade shows, hosted events, branded materials, blogging, and newsletters. @NJMEP said that Google Alerts are great for reputation monitoring and @amatrol mentioned using SEMRush as a scheduler and tool for monitoring SEO and other metrics. [Other scheduler options: Hootsuite, AgoraPulse, Sprout Social, Meet Edgar, Strawberry Social, Social Bee, Later, and Planoly.]

Next, Chris asked what tools have been most and least successful for participants. LinkedIn was a popular response among B2B companies; however, it was emphasized that using the platform to connect and develop relationships was imperative to successful growth. Others did well on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, depending on their target audiences. Trade shows, PPC, webinars, press releases, and word-of-mouth referrals rounded out the responses.

Blogging was the topic of the third question. Chris said that staying consistent with a blog is an excellent way to boost SEO and sell products at the same time. Do participants blog? What do they blog about? Many of the participants mentioned that they do indeed blog about their products, services, and industry-related topics in order to help raise their brand awareness. The main reason people didn’t blog was lack of time to do so consistently. But did you know that you can easily repurpose your social media content into blogs and vice versa?

Next up was YouTube. How have participants found success there? Several of the participants mentioned they are either on the platform currently or plan to launch this year. Examples of content include facility tours, behind the scenes content, and product information. Chris said that YouTube is a great place to host your videos and post them on a blog/website, too.

What is the most challenging aspect of brand development for manufacturers?
@LiftWisco said, “…knowing who the actual buyer is and the best way to market to them. If you sell to companies, the decision maker and buyer can be two different people.”
@CVTPlastics said, “Our answer is, catching up. We have survived and thrived on word of mouth for many many years. We are building a broader brand now and that is going to take time to get established.”
@FSCabinetDoors said, “Typically, manufacturing and marketing educations are two vastly different worlds. When I was brought in w/ a mktg degree, I knew zero about cabinet door mfg. I’ve had to learn all the lingo and how to target customers in our industry.”
@NJMEP said, “Many manufacturing companies throughout the United States are small to medium sized companies. It can be difficult for these organizations to focus on brand development when they’re busy running a business.”
@BearPlumbing said, “It’s hard to keep up with the ever changing world in which we can reach people. What’s the newest platform? What’s outdated? While we want to let our quality work speak for itself, we need to be an active member of our community, while donating time & money to enrich people.”
@cdmcmachine said, “Finding the right balance between informing peeps on our machines and services and providing interesting #industry content. You want to push what you do but you don’t want to become blah, blah, blah”
@amatrol mentioned, “We’re pretty niche, and it’s tough to get in front of new customers sometimes. We take a multifaceted approach to make it work, and it does. But with everything else, you always want to make it work better.”
@SERVICECASTER said, “Brutal honesty here? Making casters and wheels interesting. Either you need them or you don’t. It’s not really an emotional purchase. So, we do what we can to make it fun.”

What’s your biggest brand development challenge?

Chris closed out the chat by asking participants to tag manufacturing companies who are great examples for proper brand development techniques. Companies tagged included: @NWolterHMmfg @NJMEP @FelixNater @DCSCInc @SERVICECASTER @USAMfgHourChat @NestbitMarketing @NJMEP @GraphicProducts @Volt_Protector @americorpusa @SpaceGuard @amatrol @BearPlumbing @NJ_BAC @dpistulka @SpecialTaps @FSCabinetDoors @witzshared @BillGarlandSpkr @LiftWisco @bigassfans @mfgdotnet @MFGTalkRadio @FasternerNews @HudsonFasteners @KnottsCompany @Thorlabs @FelixNater @BuyDirectUSA @neilpatel @Mnetnews @HooperHandling @amatrol @SecoToolsUS @burleyfires @AxisNJ @GroverPrecision @MakingChips @IEN_Now @DuraTechUS

Who else would you recommend?

On March 19, 2020, Jennifer Ratcliff of @MfrsNews will discuss sales resources and business development in manufacturing. We hope you can join us! In the meantime, go follow @MFGTalkRadio on Twitter for great manufacturing-based content.

The #USAMfgHour chat is founded by @DCSCInc @BIllGarlandSpkr @CVTPlastics @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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A Discussion on Leadership and Work-Life Balance

Work life (work-life) balance concept.

USAMfgHour Twitter Chat Recap for March 5, 2020

This week, Jennifer Wegman of Service Caster Corporation (@SERVICECASTER) hosted a #USAMfgHour chat about leadership and work-life balance on behalf of Bill Garland (@BillGarlandSpkr), who had a last minute conflict and couldn’t appear live.

After brief introductions by participants, several of whom were new to the chat, we were off and running. The first item on Bill’s agenda was morning routines that prepare yourself mentally for the day ahead. Not surprisingly, coffee was a popular response. Other responses included journaling, meditating, taking a walk, spending time with family or pets, and early workouts. @AxisNJ said, “I usually take a few minutes to plan the day ahead, and look forward with a positive attitude!,” which was a sentiment seconded by many of the respondents.

Bill’s second question asked participants what they like to do for fun outside of work that helps keep them going. Hiking, gardening, landscaping, exercising, traveling, crafting, woodworking, reading, writing, meditating, golfing and other sports, baking, kayaking, and photography were just some of the activities mentioned. @DuraTechUS added, “We have a wellness program here at DuraTech that helps employees find those healthy hobbies and activities, as well as life work balance.” When asked about the level of employee engagement, Duratech responded with, “It is really nice and we have a very high amount of engagement. We have a committee of employees that help plan a monthly calendar of wellness activities and an annual wellness fair.” [Who else wants a chat dedicated to employee wellness programs now?!]

Next, we talked about the demands of leadership and how challenges can arise at any moment. Bill asked participants how they keep their emotions in check in those moments. “Taking a breath” was the most popular response by far, preceded by pausing before responding and followed by walking away to pull yourself together if necessary. @SpecialTaps said, “Philosophically, I don’t believe there is any room for anger in the workplace. We are #WorkingTogether, and therefore are on the same team. Attack the issues, not each other.” And, @AxisNJ added, I’m pleased to say people around here keep cool heads. I think we all exhibit mutual respect and keep an understanding of circumstances in mind.” Others suggested assessing the situation before responding, adjusting your own attitude, having patience, and venting to a trusted colleague as potential options. However, @GroverPrecision emphasized the importance of communication in these situations. “Immediate communication saves confusion, which saves stress.”

At the halfway point of the chat, @SERVICECASTER added a mini question about what leadership means to the #USAMfgHour participants and got some great responses, including being a progressive part of team success (@torres_inklings), sharing ideas with others on the team (@FSCabinetDoors), building the team through communication (@CVTPlastics), leading by example (@SpecialTaps), and giving your all and but also relying on your excellent team to get the job done (@DCSCInc)

Our next question asked about mentors. Do participants have them? @BigelowBethany said, “I feel like many of you on here are my mentors. I’ve learned a lot from you all.,” which got a virtual standing ovation from other participants, who extolled the virtues of creating a supportive network through personal interaction, whether online or in person. While some participants have had mentors throughout their careers, several said that they’ve found that “seasonal” mentors often appear just when they need them. A few people mentioned that they also do what they can to give back by being mentors themselves.

Next on Bill’s agenda for the day: STRESS. How do participants manage their stress? Embracing self-care through time with family, exercising, volunteering, etc. was recommended for stress-busting, as well as short breaks, meditation, fresh air, listening to uplifting music, laughing, talking to colleagues, and petting office pets. Setting boundaries between work and personal time was popular, which included leaving the office at the office rather than taking it home with you.

So, what are our participant’s recommendations for achieving work-life balance?

@NesbitMarketing – Get enough rest.
@SpecialTaps – Spend time with the people who matter to you
@CVTPlastics – Prioritize what’s important and block out the time for those things and then fill in the rest as you go
@DuraTechUS – Just do it. Create it. Demand it in your life.
@SocialSMktg – Manage your goals by prioritizing tasks to help you reach them and spend a little time on each day on it
@FSCabinetDoors – Use your PTO because it’s there for a reason
@Torres_Inklings – Learn to say no to unimportant tasks
@PowerDrivesPDI – Set personal boundaries
@IEN_Now – Go home when your shift is over
@MezzGate – Find the outlet that works for you and use it everyday

To close, @SERVICECASTER shared a quote by Marissa Meyer, former Yahoo! CEO, that said burnout is about resentment and that you beat it by knowing what it is you’re giving up that makes you resentful and then protecting it.

On March 12, 2020, Chris Giglio, the social media manager of Manufacturing Talk Radio (@MFGTalkRadio) will host a chat on brand development for manufacturing companies. We hope you can join us! In the meantime, go follow @BillGarlandSpkr on Twitter for more leadership tips.

The #USAMfgHour chat is founded by @DCSCInc @BIllGarlandSpkr @CVTPlastics @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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IT and Cybersecurity for Manufacturers

USAMfgHour Twitter Chat Recap for February 27, 2020

This week, Joanna Johnston of Estes Group (@EstesGroup) hosted an informative chat for our #USAMfgHour participants on ERP and manufacturing IT security.

Did you know that 43% of cyber attacks are against small businesses with less than 250 employees and that 60% of those businesses will close within six months? Joanna shared this startling statistic from Verizon’s 2019 Cyber Report to start off the chat and then asked what participant companies are doing to keep their IT systems safe. Answers varied, but most people said they either have an in-house IT team, an IT vendor, or a combination of both to help them stay vigilant and safe. @NJMEP said, “We ensure to send out consistent reminders about Cybersecurity tips and best practices. They are sent to all employees. There is also a yearly test all employees must take that reviews the basics of personal #cybersecurity.” [Do you test your employees on their personal cybersecurity?! Let us know in the comments] Joanna suggested that companies start with Good Cyber Hygiene to increase their cyber security. They can do this by requiring dual-factor authentication, employee training, regular data backups, and keeping up-to-date anti-malware deployed on all equipment accessing the internet.

Joanna next asked participants whether they or other businesses they work with have been victims of ransomware attacks after sharing that Accenture’s 2019 study found that ransomware payment demands increased by 21% between 2018 and 2019 and that the average ransomware payment is over 41,000. A few participants said they knew someone who’d been affected, but, thankfully, most of them hadn’t. @DCSCInc said that a ransomware attack nearly shut down one of its $150MM clients for a week and that it took a lot to straighten out. Joanna shared that almost every company has experienced or knows another company that has been a victim of ransomware, yet only 60% of companies have a data recovery plan in place. She said that having a good data disaster & recovery plan will minimize business impact in the case of a breech.

Next, Joanna asked whether participants are protecting themselves from vulnerabilities around IoT and smart manufacturing? Joanna warned that basically anything with a connection can be hacked: computers, smart equipment, medical devices that use transmission. She added that many companies have former users or old computers that still have access to internal company systems that present potential cyber vulnerability points. @CVTPlastics, @AxisNJ, @MezzGate and @SocialSMktg all showed concern around this area and mentioned that they will be looking into it further. @NJMEP expressed how important it is for manufacturers to make cybersecurity a business strategy to ensure understanding of potential risks and increase protection.

Joanna then moved onto the new Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) for Department of Defense contractors. None of this week’s participants currently work with the DoD, but were interested to learn more about the program. Joanna said, “If your company is a direct supplier to the DoD you might already know you need to comply. But CMMC will affect companies within the supply chain. If you supply a DoD supplier, you too might need to comply with CMMC.” She further stated, “We work with many ITAR compliant companies – and know the depth of requirements for CMMC. Companies cannot self-certify and instead companies are assigned levels & require a Certified 3rd Party Auditor to certify them. Its a big deal coming down the pipe.” Learn more about CMMC in Joanna’s blog post. @NJMEP shared their resource on this, too.

The next thing discussed was whether participants have an all-in-one sales, operations, warehousing, and finance system or whether they’re still separated. Everyone who responded said they are still separated. Joanna responded by saying that 2 out of 3 manufacturers and distributors running #Epicor ERP report efficiency gains over 20%. ERP systems gather & report real-time production metrics, accounting & costs, drive overall company effectiveness, & increase customer satisfaction.

Joanna closed out the chat by asking participants what new policies or practices might you want to deploy to be safer around cybersecurity? @LiftWisco is checking into their IT security/recovery plan to make sure the company is protected. Everyone else who responded said their #1 priority is getting informed on the topic and doing what they can to help make sure proper security is there.

On March 5, 2020, Bill Garland (@BillGarlandSpkr) will host a chat on leadership and finding work-life balance. We hope you can join us. In the meantime, check out Joanna’s blog post on cybersecurity audits.

The #USAMfgHour chat is founded by @DCSCInc @BIllGarlandSpkr @CVTPlastics @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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Tags: @DCSCInc @BIllGarlandSpkr @witzshared @SERVICECASTER @AxisNJ @CVTPlastics @NJMEP @EstesGroup @LiftWisco @SpaceGuard @rutlandproducts @MezzGate @SocialSMktg

Generating Sales and Building Relationships in Manufacturing

Lead Generation Interest Marketing Business Concept

USAMfgHour Twitter Chat Recap for February 20, 2020

This week, Dan Bigger of CVT Plastics (@CVTPlastics) hosted a #USAMfgHour chat all about sales and relationship building.

After introductions by the participants that included what they do and what industries they primarily sell to, Dan started off the chat by asking what CRM, or customer relationship management systems, they use and what their recommended follow-up time frames are. Act! 365, Salesforce, Pipedrive, Zoho, Microsoft Dynamics 365, and Streak were some of the ones mentioned by participants as helping to track their leads. All the participants had different follow-up procedures. Some reach out fairly consistently while others follow predetermined schedules such as weekly, monthly, or quarterly based on whether the lead is “hot” or “cold”. But @AxisNJ’s comment that, “…it is key to keep in touch continuously even if a project is set to move later on,” summed up the topic nicely.

Next, Dan asked participants to name their best lead sources. Word-of-mouth recommendations and referrals from their networks were, by far, the most popular lead generators. Others included inside and outside salespeople, trade shows, social media, email marketing, SEO, website contact forms, targeted direct mail, data-driven lists, and PPC advertising. @NJMEP stressed the importance of generating leads from various sources so as not to put all your eggs in one basket and @GraphicProducts mentioned it often generates leads by sharing product knowledge for free to new connections.

Dan followed that question by asking how participants develop their leads in hopes of turning them into customers. @GetProdio said, “We regularly improve our product based on customers insight, suggestions, ideas. We are for them, not just to make profit. We are in regular touch (chat, mails, phone calls, social media, visits in person). It’s for us more than just B2B, rather H2H (human to human).” Other participants stated calls, emails, in-person visits, and facility tours as ways to gain trust of potential customers when they’re looking to bid a project or buy a product. @Amatrol stated “Really, we want current and potential customers to see they’re getting the most robust service possible in our market,” so its development activities reflect that goal. Dan added that he developed a survey that enables customers to state when they want to be contacted and in what ways and allows the company to collect testimonials, referrals, and gain insights.

Dan closed the chat by asking the participants to share their 2020 sales goals. Not surprisingly, everyone stated their desire to add new clients to the roster this year. Other goals included expanding into new markets, increasing brand awareness, utilizing digital or traditional advertising, continuing existing marketing efforts and maintaining high levels of customer service to existing customers in order to encourage repeat or referral business.
On February 27, 2020, Joanna Johnston of Estes Group (@EstesGroup) will be leading a chat on ERP and manufacturing IT security. Will you be joining us? The #USAMfgHour chat is founded by @DCSCInc @BIllGarlandSpkr @CVTPlastics @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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Instagram: @usamfghourchat

Tags: @DCSCInc @BIllGarlandSpkr @witzshared @SERVICECASTER @AxisNJ @CVTPlastics @NJMEP @GraphicProducts @GetProdio @IndeeLiftInc @Amatrol @dpistulka @specialtaps @socialsmktg @WMPaintingInc_ @EstesGroup @LiftWisco @NesbitMarketing @envmfilter @SpaceGuard @ProTapes @Solution_System