Cream of the Shops

The Products Finishing Top Shops Benchmarking Survey brings out the best.

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Those who completed the Products Finishing Top Shops Benchmarking Survey probably thought it was a pretty good primer for filling out their tax returns.

I won’t apologize for the survey’s thoroughness in exploring every shop’s performance during the past year. That’s the goal: to get a true picture of how plating shops are performing and what benchmarks others need to know in order to bring themselves up to par with the industry’s best.

But as you will read in this issue, the blood, sweat and tears shed by the several hundred plating shops that helped to give us the data to compile one of the most complete statistical representations of the plating industry was very much worth it.

Inside, you will find the list (in alphabetical order) of the 50 Top Shops which scored the highest on our scoring metrics. These metrics took into account best finishing practices, volume and inspection/analysis procedures, as well as certifications and approvals.

It should be noted: we will be providing all the plating shops who filled out the survey with a complete set of statistical benchmarking data—three reports, in fact—that will enable them to compare their performance with other shops in the industry.

The data is impressive and extremely interesting. In a nutshell, the data told us how shops are managed, how much equipment they buy, how much they spend in chemicals and to what extent they are inspecting and analyzing their results.

Second note: if you didn’t take part in the survey, there is always next year. We will do this annually so that the data remains fresh. Unfortunately, we will not share the several reports with those who didn’t take part in the survey.

But back to the numbers. I’ll break out a few interesting tidbits we learned from the data.

  • The average Top Shop had 13 finishing lines; other shops averaged at eight lines.
  • Top Shops spent an average of 200 hours per week on part inspection; other shops averaged 98 hours per week.
  • Top Shops had an average of 412 active customers; other shops had an average of 350 clients.
  • Regarding quote-to-bid ratio, Top Shops closed the deal an average of 81 percent of the time; other shops came in at 50 percent.
  • Top Shops spent an average of around $913,100 on capital equipment, which accounts for 9 percent of their average gross sales; other shops spent an average of $375,100, which accounts for 2 percent of their average gross sales.
  • On average, Top Shops recorded 21 percent annual growth from 2013 to 2014; other shops reported an average of 8 percent annual growth.

One thing stands out as obvious: the Top Shops spent more money on capital equipment to keep their facilities humming along at high performance. But they also put more of their gross sales income back into their shops; the rate was almost 2-to-1 over all other shops.

What do all these numbers mean to the owner of a job shop in Middle America who wants to get his or her business to the level of the industry’s best?

First, it would mean studying the data and understanding the trends. One will see quickly how owners and GMs of Top Shops try to maintain the best and most up-to-date equipment they can, often including a maintenance and repair schedule and budget that gets inefficient equipment out of the shop before it breaks down and replaces it with better-performing tools.

Going deeper, shop owners should be able to recognize how important it is to become approved in certain finishes, how ISO ratings can help to win a bid and how managing personnel with training and performance standards can take a shop from the middle to the top with hard work and determination.

There will be some who will rue the numbers; but the fact of the matter is that to get better, things must be measured. Welcome to the Products Finishing Top Shops Benchmarking

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Top Shops: Part Inspection Hours Per Week

In the latest Products Finishing Top Shops Benchmarking Survey results for electroplaters, the Top Shops spent 240 hours a week checking part quality and looking for imperfections.