One of the best things you can do to grow a CNC machine shop is to develop long-lasting relationships with other machine shops. It’s important not to look at all the other businesses in your industry as competition, but as colleagues. Not only does it help to have support from the manufacturing community when you need it, but it’s also important to have trust in other machine shops that have different specialties when you need them. It’s difficult for a CNC machine shop to be good at absolutely everything. There are many jobs that we have to send out to our friends to make sure they are of the highest quality possible. We send out jobs for heat treating, grinding and plating, and we are lucky to have a few go to shops that we can trust with every job we send their way. Since turn-around time is usually stressed in our industry, we need to make sure that all our work is done right and on time every time. The bonus is that the work we send out is usually reciprocated when these shops get work in that requires one of our specialties, any small CNC turning or lathe CNC turning.
How do you find other shops you can trust? I might not know how to help you there. Some of these shops I’ve known for over 30 years and I could not tell you how we started our relationship. I suppose back then I just used word of mouth and maybe the yellow pages until I found someone that I clicked with. The important part may not be how you find them, but that when you do, you keep your relationship with them strong and healthy as you do your business. In other words, don’t burn any bridges.