The world is constantly changing. As with anything, you either go with the flow embracing the change or exhaust yourself trying to swim upstream avoiding it. Why continue doing the same things over and over again when there is a more efficient way? As a small batch electronics manufacturer, we’ve learned to go with the flow and strive for continuous improvement in all aspects of our business.
One of the key areas we’ve focused on improving is quoting. As a Customer Liaison, I quote new opportunities as well as re-quote and update assemblies we have been producing for many years. Through this experience, I’ve seen many situations where we could improve the process, thereby improving our customers’ experience. In just one example, there was a quote I was working on with my fellow Customer Centric Team team members that we were all struggling with. The documents weren’t complete, and it required a lot of legwork to fill in the gaps. After we submitted the quote, we found out there had been a sample board available the whole time that we could have referenced. The sample board could have given us all the answers to our questions and the quote could have been completed a week faster. Utilizing these types of resources and having complete information is essential to smooth and efficient quoting.
We’ve learned from this experience (and many others) and applied a number of improvement measures to our process to enhance the customer experience.
Here are some of the tips we’ve come to live by as a result – and things our customers can do to help ensure speedy quote turnaround:
- Provide all key information before the quote is even launched. Information such as RoHS or Non-RoHS, whether or not overseas boards can be used, quantities to be quoted and whether there needs to be testing or programming done are critical to know up front. We’ve started providing a Product Spec Worksheet to customers in an effort to help organize all of this information and capture the details for the quoting process. Since this worksheet was implemented, customers get quotes faster and they’re more accurate because all of the details are accounted for.
- Provide a complete document packet. A complete document packet includes: Gerber files, schematics, pictures and any other pertinent information that will help us to quote the assembly. The more we know the less we have to guess and the more accurate the quote.
- Provide A BOM (Bill of Material) that has manufacturers’ part number and description in Excel format. This format keeps everything very organized and is easily input in the quote. Less time tracking down part numbers or organizing this information means faster quote turnaround for you.
- Let us know of any known issues with previous builds. Are there things we should look out for? Are there any parts that will need to be hand prepped? Even though this information isn’t needed to complete a quote, it’s very helpful to know when figuring labor costs and ensuring we’re giving you the accurate information you’ll need at the start of a project.
- If possible, provide an actual sample of the board. This helps tremendously! With the actual board in our hands, a lot of our questions will be answered. Sometimes days are added to a quote turnaround just in communications back and forth concerning a question that comes up. From experience, we know that if there’s a sample available, it helps us complete the quote much faster.
Improving quoting times is just one of several continuous improvement projects electronics manufacturers can work towards that really make a difference for our customers – and we’re happy to do it!
Our motto “Move Heaven and Earth” doesn’t just apply for getting the customer what they want when they want it. It also applies for those prospects that haven’t done business with us yet. Bottom line, we know that a quick turnaround on a new quote can be very important to our customers – and can mean the difference between you becoming a customer or not.
And of course, if you’ve got other ideas or feedback for how to improve quote turnaround, we’d love to hear it. Leave us a comment with your ideas.
RBB welcomed Danielle in 2010 as Materials Specialist. In 2011 she joined the Sales Team where she helps develop pricing quotes and manages related project information for customers. In her free time, Dani enjoys being a performing singer/songwriter.