Organize & Automate: How Metalmite Overcomes the Chaos of Quoting
Shop owners know all too well the chaos of quoting: the gathering of all relevant RFQ information, the imperfect pricing estimates based on the untested manufacturing specifications… multiplied by a few hundred times every month. Now deliver an on-time quote – and track it all, all the time.
Metalmite, founded in 1968, is a family-owned full-service precision CNC shop specializing in prototype to production CNC milling, as well as turning and wire EDM parts for a variety of industries.
Michael Gendich started the shop in the basement of his home, and it is now run by his son, Tom Gendich, President of Metalmite. Now a Prime Contractor for the U.S. government, Metalmite receives close to 200 requests for quote every week, and to stay on top of that, Tom knew he needed to organize the entire quoting process.
Metalmite had been down the ERP road but found it cumbersome, and lacking adequate quote management and client communication. Tom took the task head-on and hired developers to build a custom software solution. Eventually, each developer moved on leaving Tom with an outdated solution. So, he did what many shops do – he continued to track quotes manually in a spreadsheet.
Chaos Brings Constant Challenge
Hundreds of RFQs arrive on Metalmite’s doorstep every month from a variety of sources: phone calls, emails, and walk-ins. To handle the volume, several people receive and review RFQs: Tom, his executive assistant, the shop foreman, and members of the sales team, which amplified the complexity.
Everybody had a different way of gathering, summarizing, and delivering the details of each RFQ. Quickly managing this with a spreadsheet became difficult, and then pretty much impossible.
They needed a centralized, standardized view of the RFQs, their current status, any missing information, what needed review, and what was accepted. Misplaced quotes mean missed deadlines and lost revenue opportunities. Too much time managing the front end of this process leaves even less to quote the job, let alone manufacture the product.
The Cost of Time
On average, Metalmite wins about 30% of the quotes they submit, which, of course, means that 70% of quotes don’t turn into jobs. Metalmite’s sometimes chaotic, longstanding quoting process consumed as many as 20 staff hours each week – reviewing, assessing, tracking (or just finding) RFQs, sometimes quoting on incorrect or incomplete information.
There was the back and forth with engineers on parts and materials, frequently interrupting their attention to production to answer questions or do research. There was the ongoing conversation with customers, ensuring the missing elements of the RFQ were explored and detailed, and fully understood by both parties. It took up to two weeks (sometimes more) to quote a sizable job, and just managing the status of all of the opportunities presented real challenges for their manual system, no matter how talented or hardworking the staff. They were missing deadlines.
Let’s Do the Math.
Consider this hypothetical example to illustrate the opportunity cost:
CNC, Inc misses 20% of deadlines, and the average value of $3,500…
then 100 jobs per month would create 20 losses to missed deadlines, yielding a loss of $70,000/month for a total potential annual loss of $840,000
2 Week Turnaround to 2 Day Guarantee
Without a comprehensive and centralized repository for both the requests and the quotes, identifying and prioritizing the strategic, high-value jobs was a constant challenge. Job values could range anywhere from $200 to $1 million or more. Tom knew that every inefficiency was costing them: occasionally irate customers, jobs lost to missed details or dates, and the potential reputation damage that can occur within the industry. And every week, it happens all over again. He knew Metalmite needed to transform quoting, but how?
“I just wanted a place where all the RFQs could come in, the orders lined up so I could see where we stood with each request, and I wanted to be able to do this no matter where I was, in the shop or at home.”
Tom heard about Paperless Parts through a friend, and what he heard intrigued him. Paperless Parts’ Smart RFQ Form enables customers to request a quote online, ensuring correct and complete RFQs so Metalmite can start quoting.
This welcomed process automation means all requests are now submitted to the Paperless Parts repository. Tom and his team have a single pane of glass into the quoting process. They know which quotes are on or behind schedule, and which ones have been won or lost. This centralized view gives Tom the tools to analyze which jobs are worth his focus and has given him back the time needed to do that.
Having a web-based process for receiving and accepting quotes has allowed Metalmite to concentrate on the most strategic jobs and leverage the digital process to manage many of the smaller ones. Metalmite mailed customers to introduce the Smart RFQ form with a 48-hour turnaround guarantee. They also decided that any customer spending less than $30K annually had to pay online via credit card.
Unexpected Added Value
Tom admits that there were some unexpected advantages to using Paperless Parts.
Optimizing the quoting process enabled Metalmite to offer a new service, metal 3D printing. Smaller margins had traditionally made this an unattractive business, but the automation of Paperless Parts made it a low-touch scalable business. Customers order 3D printing online, quickly receive a quote, purchase online, and Metalmite can fulfill the order without ever having talked to the customer. They are now seeking to expand this to generate additional revenue without siphoning resources from more strategic jobs.
With 25 years of experience in estimating, Tom was skeptical of the geometry engine that drives manufacturability and estimating within Paperless Parts. But he quickly realized that the accuracy rate of this ‘automatic quoting’ was about 80%. Trusting Paperless Parts to do more of this workload enables him to reallocate his time. “I’ve really been pleasantly surprised. With 80% quoting accuracy, that’s 80% of my job that I no longer have to do manually. That saves me a ton of time.”
As Tom explained, “Paperless Parts is more modern than ERP solutions and so much easier to use. The best part is that I can look at our queue of work and organize my day. It keeps us on track and allows us to focus on more strategic work.”