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You’d Better Keep Buying Electronic Assemblies From Us...

Posted by Bruce Hendrick on Thu, Apr 17, 2014 @ 11:04 AM

If you don’t continue to buy from us, bad things will happen. That’s what your current electronic assembly provider hopes you are thinking.

It’s like when you pull off the highway in a strange town. The familiar fast food chains are lined up; and across the street is a modest, friendly-looking diner. The kids negotiate for their favorite place but you keep eyeing that diner. You know what you’ll get with the chains – cheap, predictable, unhealthy, and basically unsatisfying. Your husband is sick of the chains too.

Yet here you are, pulling into yet another drive-thru.

Is it just that we’re creatures of habit? I doubt it. We choose the known over the unknown even when better options stare us in the face. We somehow believe that our pursuit of happiness lies in the absence of risk, so we live with the mediocre, with fries.

If It Doesn’t Fit, You Must A-Quit.

You have small batch electronic assembly needs that your current CM handles for you, but you may not be truly satisfied. You sense that you’d get better service if you had larger batches and more of them. When your provider gets busy, your small batches can take a back seat – and you figure it’s because they are unprofitable compared to higher volume work. Unexpected fees, price increases, and order minimums have crept in over time, but instead of switching to another player, you stick with the known. You tell yourself that you were lucky that these nice people figured out how to build your high-hassle jobs in the first place.

Like with the diner example above, you have options: there are many reputable electronic small batch job shops out there. They stand ready to absorb your unique type of demand in stride. Yet something holds you back from pulling this trigger. Here are some common ideas that buyers of small batches may have, compared with the new reality offered by strong job shops today:


Common Electronic Assembly Buyer Rationale 

Reality Offered by a Reputable Small Batch Job Shop 


CM’s will do my small batch work if I have plenty of high volume stuff to offset the cost and aggravation.

Job Shops are designed to process a continuous stream of small batches – the more like this the better.


Adding another supplier just to do the recurring small batches will add complexity and cost.

Very often, total costs come down. Removing small jobs from the larger CM’s schedule allows them to be more efficient without a major loss in revenue. Good job shops are price competitive as well. 


Job-Shop means Mom & Pop: my product deadlines require high quality and sophistication.

Many electronic job shops today are sizable, professionally-run operations. At RBB, we employ great equipment, people and practices, all tuned to thrive in the small batch world.


I may lose my leverage and influence if I switch.

To a job shop, every job matters; no more or less than the next. The relative importance of each small batch is actually higher here than at larger CM’s.


My current CM might react poorly if I begin to move some work out of their control. I don’t want this.

This is very possible because for many years the traditional CM business model had an all-or-nothing approach. A visit to your job shop partner will reassure them that they are not capable or interested in the high volume business. The larger CM is often better off splitting the work in this way. 


I don’t want to risk whole pieces of business on an unproven player.

Good job shops do not require this. Whether it’s one assembly or hundreds, small batches are all they do. Qualifying with a few assemblies is quite common.

Bruce loves to manage change and to encourage working environments where employees and customers thrive. His passion led him to found ODS – a highly practical leadership, trust and communication training firm and blog. He’s a noted speaker, author, active church member and community volunteer. Bruce has led RBB since 2001, becoming Owner in 2007.

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Topics: Small Batch Electronics, Circuit Board & Assembly & Manufacturing, Contract Manufacturing

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