Bespoke Manufacturing Problems

Are you a manufacturer of bespoke products? If so, do you experience some of the following problems?

  • Quoting is really time consuming, because you have to collect all the job- specific data and then work out the price manually or with the help of a spread sheet that sometimes does not really properly match the specifications of the job?
  • Some Customers want products tailored to their exact needs, all the bells and whistles, the best materials only, but can’t afford your price?
  • This results in a low conversion rate, meaning even more work per order?
  • When you have a lot of work an get very busy, too much goes wrong:
    • You miss deadlines
    • Too many defects cause additional delays
    • Products are not fully checked before delivery and thus
    • Some products are delivered faulty
    • Too much expensive material wasted
    • Too much work in progress on shop floor causes
    • People waste too much time to find jobs
    • Decreased productivity
  • Do you sometimes loose track on your invoicing, because delivery was not reported and thus the invoice not sent, or you followed up on overdue invoices very late?

So you spend all your time quoting to have your business running, and you are putting out fires everywhere because you have too much work to complete?  As a result you work long hours on a regular basis, have no time for family and friends and your last holidays were years ago? To make things worse you don’t even make a lot of money that way because you lose too much on the bodged jobs and the wasted material? Does this sound familiar?

Does it seem to you there is no way out of this because after all you are producing bespoke products and that involves a lot of manual work? Really? Is there none in your field that starts doing business differently? Take a step back, google it and you might start developing ideas. Would there be a way that your customers specify online?

There are many ways you can improve your bespoke manufacturing business. Could you improve the specification process so that your customer happily does some of the work for you, for example by providing his specifics online? If the information provided that way is sufficient to calculate a price, then customers might be happy to go onto the system and play with the various options until they found the right compromise between their vision and what they can afford.

Those things could become very complex, so if one web developer tells you that this can’t be done, this might only mean the he can’t do it. In that case you would have to search around a bit to find someone able to do that.

Another option to gain efficiency would be to automate some of the production processes. This might not mean to buy all new and shiny machinery, but just some key machine that helps reduce complexity for the workers. Sometimes not even that is needed for a start, all you need is better organisation of the work flow. This could mean better production papers or labels with barcodes so reporting back progress is easy. With a little bit more effort you could have them report back any issues they have, for example defects, and a system that promptly handles that.

Again you don’t need an expensive ERP system that forces you to work the way it is built and is complicated and hard to use anyway. And again not every web developer might know and understand what you need, meaning you have to find the right people to do the job and are happy to grow with you.

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