With the start of the 2014 baseball season upon us, I can't help but have the 'great American pastime' on my mind. You may not see it at first glance, but there's a definite connection between baseball and electronic contract manufacturing.
Imagine you’re at your favorite team’s home opener, and their veteran ace pitcher started today’s game. He’s fulfilled everyone’s expectations of pitching a full seven innings, complete with eleven strikeouts and only one run allowed. Since the run allowed was a home run hit by a right-handed batter, the coach is now deciding if he should bring in a right-handed relief pitcher who specializes in situations like this, or leave the starter in since he’s been consistent the whole game.
In the electronic contract manufacturing business, you're faced with complicated decisions like this every day. You've got clients with large batch orders that you can regularly count on for profit, just like the coach can count on his starter for a large number of consistent pitches in every game he plays. But, you may also have clients knocking on your door with smaller orders of custom electronic assemblies. These may be coming to you with a very specific and short-lived need, just like the coach experiences in situations where he needs his relief pitcher. Unfortunately, switching back and forth between handling large and small orders is disruptive and can cause you to lose money. Honestly, it’s more difficult than switching out your pitcher, unless your bullpen is thin (but that’s for a different conversation).
Since it’s counter-productive to switch between these batch sizes, should you turn those smaller orders away to continue servicing the large ones? Certainly not. Just because these particular customers have specialized, periodic orders, doesn't mean you can’t provide for them. A client that is just starting off and looking for your contract manufacturing expertise will always have the potential to grow into an exciting opportunity that will eventually provide you with a steady stream of profitable large batch orders. The predicament is figuring out when to serve these customer’s yourself, like the starting pitcher throwing the majority of the game, and when to bring in the relief pitcher, who specializes in meeting the needs of these smaller orders.
Evaluating Your Game Plan
Determining how to serve the needs of both large and small batch customers presents some pretty big challenges. When a contract manufacturing company tries to handle too much all at once, it's inevitable that at some point, someone is going to drop the ball and one or more of your clients are going to be left dissatisfied. You may have good intentions of fulfilling small batch, custom electronic assemblies that have been sent your way, but if a number of larger, higher-paying orders comes along, you're faced with a dilemma: to either push the little job to the back burner in order to keep your big order customers happy, or risk losing the large business by giving your attention to the small job first. Either way, you lose.
But why are you pitting your starting and relief pitchers against each other, anyway? The truth of the matter is that they are very different and should be treated that way – with both of them getting the win in the end. The question is how do you maintain the level of service and quality for your customer without disrupting the flow of the game at your facility? You’ll need to build up your bullpen and pick the perfect relief pitcher for the job.
You can find Part 2 of this series, Build Your Bullpen, by clicking here.