Running a job shop is difficult work, and each has specific needs. However, there are four building blocks, along with a good ERP software, that can help any job shop. With accurate invoicing, a broad customer base, great customer relationships, and efficient scheduling, any job shop will have a great foundation to succeed.
Your job shop could do the best work, but if you don’t bill your customers, you won’t get paid. Different shops have different needs. For some shops, it’s helpful to use accounting software like QuickBooks and that’s all they need. Some shops use the accounting features in their ERP software, and some shops use QuickBooks and ERP software together. Whatever works best for your shop, it’s important that your shop gets paid for every job. Some customers may forget to pay, and some may be using your shop as a bank by waiting as long as they can before paying you. It’s hard to tell the difference. So it’s helpful to be able to remind all of your customers about any bills they need to pay.
On the other hand, sometimes a job may slip through and be shipped to the customer without being marked as done in whatever system you’re using. Your shop may not know it’s done, so they won’t ask the customer to pay. An ERP system can help with this by allowing you to easily pull up a report of jobs billed versus jobs shipped. If there are any that have been shipped but not billed, it’s easy to notice and fix it. If you don’t have an ERP system, it can be a lot harder to track down the job that got shipped out without being billed.
Broad Customer Base
Customers love when your shop is experienced in their industry. The more work your shop does in an industry, the more confident potential customers will be in your shop’s abilities. However, if your shop only works for one industry, you are tied to that industry doing well. If something happens that impacts that industry, then it impacts your shop as well. If your shop has a more diverse customer base, then it’s easier to weather storms that may happen in specific industries.
However, if you try to work in every industry in a way that your shop doesn’t develop any specialties, it could be hard to attract clients. Like so many things, there’s a balance between serving different industries, and that balance will be different for every shop. So, while it may be helpful to see what shops similar to yours are doing, look at that as a starting place. The way your shop diversifies its customer base needs to work for your shop, specifically.
Great Customer Relationships
As part of keeping a good customer base, it’s important to have great customer relationships. ERP software can help with this. With good ERP software, when a customer calls, you can have all of their past orders at your fingertips. Being able to recall details about any past jobs with your shop builds confidence in you. It also makes them feel like your shop cares about their business.
Communication, while you’re working on a customer’s job, can also build trust. However, if your shop is working on their job, you don’t want to stop to send an email. ERP software can help with that as well. You can set up triggers so that when a certain event happens, the software will perform the action you want. For example, when a customer’s job moves to shipping, good ERP software can automatically send the customer an email to let them know their job will be shipped soon.
During more complicated jobs, your customers might call your shop more often to ask for status updates. With an ERP system, you’ll be able to see where a job is on the shop floor from your computer, instead of having to track down the job. You’ll be able to answer your customers’ questions quickly and accurately so that both of you can get on with your day.
Scheduling is the heart of a good job shop, so it’s no surprise that it can get complicated. Scheduling by hand is time-consuming and you can’t keep up with events in real time. Using the wrong ERP software can be just as frustrating. However, good ERP software makes scheduling easy.
With good ERP software, your shop’s schedule is easy to see, change, and understand. It should also update in real time from the shop floor, making tracking jobs a snap. It needs to be able to accommodate rush jobs too. No matter how well planned out your schedule is, there’s always a chance that a customer will call with a job that needs to be done right away. You can fit a rush job in and still get other jobs out on time with proper scheduling. Scheduling is possibly the most important part of a job shop, but it doesn’t have to take the most time. A good ERP system requires you to type in your jobs and when they’re due, and the software will do the rest.
It can be tough to run a job shop. It’s even harder if you don’t have the right systems in place. Efficiency and reliability are the keys to good systems and it’s hard to get both when doing everything by hand. With a good ERP system, your shop can run more efficiently and give shop owners time to do more complicated things. Set your business up for success with a good system to help run your shop.