When a customer moves to another source for products you once provided, how do you bring them back? Identifying the reasons why a customer has changed suppliers is critical.
The Lawton Standard companies have been working hard to answer these questions and develop strategies to win these customers back. Recent returns of “former” customers to indicate that this initiative is working.
Why do customers return? A review of several recent “boomerang customer” cases sheds light on the factors that influenced them to return.
Quality is the number one factor. All others are secondary. A low-cost part from a low-quality supplier will often cost you more in the long run than a higher-cost part from a top-quality supplier. Lawton foundries have consistently delivered high-quality products that the industry demands.
Every supplier has lost business to lower-priced providers. We continually address the costs of our products with our LEAN initiatives. Our companies regularly review costing factors. Our LEAN production process is designed for simplicity and speed while also maintaining the high level of quality our customers demand. A direct result of these efficiencies is cost savings.
In addition, with any new customer project, we begin by conducting a detailed dialog with the customer to optimize their product’s features and characteristics and improve manufacturability. That, in turn, helps keep the casting affordable.
The casting process has a long lead time. The sampling process for new castings can also cause delivery timetables to stretch. To properly define casting delivery dates, all specifications need to be defined upfront and reviewed to be sure a fair comparison is being made.
An initial claim of a 10-week lead time that wins an order can quickly become a problem when weeks are added to complete ancillary operations. Identifying these issues upfront will ensure realistic expectations and help avoid unforeseen delays in the customer’s order fulfillment.
Engineered value-added services
Some customers are looking for “one-stop shopping” for their component products. Where it makes sense, Lawton foundries can provide services to complement the casting process, including:
- Heat treatments
With proper definition, this can significantly reduce the sourcing complexity of a component for a customer. However, we also want to ensure we are not slowing the process or complicating the sourcing. Therefore, we discuss the expectations with the customer to determine what combination of services is the best option.
Some customers have excellent capabilities to serve them with these services. In these cases, we coordinate the casting supply to best serve the overall process.