Guest Post: By Mark Albert, Editor Emeritus, Modern Machine Shop

We have all received emails from our banks, dentist office, retailers, hotel chains and other parties assuring us that they are taking precautions to keep customers and employees as safe as possible as well as minimize the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Many of the messages explain special procedures on how to conduct business or what contingency plans they have in place.

Metalworking job shops should do the same, says Jason Ray, co-founder and CEO of Paperless Parts Inc., but he emphasizes that the message must be carefully tailored for their customers to address matters of special concern. He believes that following his advice will help keep the message from being lost in the current flurry.

Here are his recommendations for what shops should include in emails to customers:

  • Subject Line: XYZ Machine Shop – We Are Open for Business (or other status that applies)
  • Open with directness: “In this period of uncertainty, we are sure you are struggling to understand the implications to your supply chain. We can tell you this…”
  • Current operating status: (“We are open for business”/”Closed until XYZ date.”)
  • Offer a reassuring message such as “All employees are healthy and we are taking the CDC recommended precautions to make sure it stays that way.”, or ”We are working through a challenging time right now and doing everything we can to minimize disruptions as a result of our current business status.”
  • Provide the shop lead time for different-size jobs (<50 pieces - 7 days, 50-150 pieces - 10 days, etc.) Mention that all jobs have options for expediting.
  • Offer help “We are open for rush, overflow or unique jobs that we have not made before to support damaged supply chains. No job is too small. We are here to help you get through these challenging times.”
  • Answer likely questions about the status of your shop’s own supply chain. “All of our material providers and finishers (plating, painting, etc.) are currently open and operating.”, or “We cannot support xyz service due to our plating house being closed until xyz date.”
  • Include a phone number and email so customers can contact your shop directly with any questions.

Jason recommends sending this email now and updating it weekly. “You have to be truthful to maintain your credibility, so if things are bad, say so and talk about what you are doing to make them better. Buyers value reliable, honest supply chain partners. Being the shop that communicates the best in these difficult times will ensure that you are the shop that gets the business when things start to improve,” he says.

Finally, he reminds shop owners to communicate with employees, and do so as often as needed to maintain trust and build confidence that the best and right steps are being taken.

“Communicating with customers is more than a courtesy”, says Jason Ray. “Keeping customers informed and reassured is a vital service that a job shop should provide as a valued business partner in their supply chain.”

This guest post was written by Mark Albert, Editor Emeritus, Modern Machine Shop

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