How do you get in front of engineers and buyers that are looking to get custom parts made?
Beyond a referral from a peer or coworker, part buyers often start by going to Google. 70% of buyers used Google or the Internet to find new suppliers in the last year. Buyers type in the name of a shop they may have heard about or the name of the service they are looking for, such as, “CNC machining NH”, in Google to see what comes up. The results serve as the first impression a buyer has of a shop. The days of part buyers calling or emailing a shop for quotes without visiting the website are over. However, this doesn’t mean job shops need to spend an arm and a leg in both time and dollars on building out the most elaborate website. Rather, shops simply need to have an internet presence and an easy way for these buyers to request a quote for the services they offer.
With this in mind, there are several steps shop owners can take to make a huge impact on how customers find and view their business. Here are some quick ways to start making an impact today!
1. Create a Google My Business Page
Have you ever searched for a product, service or company on Google and seen a company profile on the right side of the results? This profile has business hours, phone number, location, reviews, images, a link to the website and more. Setting up a Business Page is an easy way for shops to quickly establish an online presence while making a good first impression when customers search for their business or ones like it.
- Take up a large chunk of screen real estate on the right side of Google results when people search for your business
- Opens up an avenue for reviews that create credibility
- Show up in map results for users searching for your service
- Creates an enhanced connection with potential buyers who see you are real
- IT’S FREE!
2. Build a LinkedIn Company Page
There are over 300,000 custom part buyers on LinkedIn. You can reach them with a LinkedIn Company Page. Need I say more?
- Generate new business by connecting with potential and existing customers and asking them to follow your company page for business updates
- Google and other search engines rank LinkedIn pages and company posts in search results
- Opportunity to tell your company story while building credibility
- Establish another customer-facing image of your company
- Opens up another line of communication with potential customers
- Create the connection between your profile and the company page (Under the Experience Section of your profile)
- IT’S FREE!
3. Be crystal clear about what you do on your Website
People judge a book by its cover. A company’s website is the first thing a prospective customer will see when doing research into your job shop. What do you want them to know about you right off the bat?
After seeing thousands of job shop websites, I’m amazed by how many are not clear on their purpose. Differentiating yourself by the services you offer lets you stand out from the competition. It can also encourage potential customers to submit parts you like to make, reducing wasted back and forth for parts that are not a fit for your shop. If you are trying to be a more niche machine shop specializing in complex parts with tight tolerances, or prototype parts with fast lead times, make that very clear for the visitor when they first land on your website.
Best practice checklist:
- Let visitors know how good you are:
- Put out your on-time delivery %
- Add testimonials from customers
- Post pictures of the awesome parts you’ve made! (with customer permission)
- Set the right expectations, and use them to your advantage
- Tell visitors how quickly you respond to quotes (24 hours is the industry standard)
- Tell visitors your standard lead time
- Contact us page
- Name of company
- Email and Phone
- RFQ page
- Add a simple form that allows your visitors to submit files
- JotForm.com is a great user-friendly form builder
These are some of the basic things you can do to get your job shop on the map. It’s easy to put them off because quotes are coming in and jobs need to get out the door. With these simple steps, you can make sure you are in a position to retain and acquire new customers. Stay tuned as we go into more techniques on how to build your shop’s online presence.
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This article was written by Matt Sordillo
Matt Sordillo was the Head of Marketing at RAPID, a CNC machining and sheet metal shop that grew to $50M in sales and was sold to Proto Labs, Inc. (PRLB) in 2017 for $120M. Today, Matt is the Chief Marketing Officer at Paperless Parts and is working to provide job shop owners the tools necessary to compete in today’s increasingly digital business world.