Top Shops About Improvement, Prestige

Products Finishing Top Shops benchmarking survey can set you apart from the rest.

The Top Shops benchmarking survey runs through the middle of January at pfonline.com, so time is drawing near if your electroplating or anodizing shop hasn’t yet taken part in the survey.

In a nutshell, we set out to determine what differentiates the “top shops” from others in the industry. Our goal was to hone in on the best finishing practices, the most sophisticated business operations, and to determine what benchmarks a shop needs to reach to be considered one of the best in the business.

The benefits to the shops who are participating in the survey (and you still have time if you haven’t done so already) are fairly obvious: While the information you provide is strictly confidential, we will provide you a set of reports of industry standards so that you can measure where you stack up against others in the industry.

“Generally, best practice techniques are derived from benchmarking data across an industry,” says Gary Wien, communications manager for an automotive fleet management association. “Benchmarking is the means of evaluating or comparing the way one manages a project to others in a particular industry.”

Wien’s organization annually conducts benchmarking surveys, and says that knowledge is power, especially for fleet professionals who don’t always have the time to learn by trial and error.

“Knowledge can mean everything,” he says. “It’s the difference between spending time reinventing the wheel and instantly putting best practices into play.”

Kay Kendall, the director of quality and six sigma for Allied Signals, says using benchmarks can improve process performance. She says business owners can ask themselves whether improvements in a process support their business goals and objectives, and she also points outs the obvious benefits of a survey program:

-Identify opportunities

-Set realistic, but aggressive goals

-Challenge internal paradigms on what is possible

-Understand methods for improved processes

-Uncover strengths within your organization

-Learn from the leaders’ experiences

-Better prioritize and allocate resources

 

“Use analysis tools to understand the causes for inefficiencies in the process,” Kendall says. “You don’t have to wait to make improvements.”

Helping shops improve has been the goal of the Products Finishing Top Shops benchmarking survey from the start, when we first started designing the survey back in June. In our travels around the country to the many electroplating and anodizing shops we’ve visited, we’ve seen first-hand how a Top Shop should look and function, from its standardized practices and quality control measures, to its laboratory testing and refinement processes.

But there is also another benefit of taking part in the Products Finishing Top Shops benchmarking survey, and that is simply being recognized as one of the best in the industry. And that is important to many of you out there who spend tens of thousands of dollars each year on certifications and testing to meet stringent guidelines set forth by your not-so-forgiving customers.

One of the decisions we made was to allow shops that meet the standard of being a Products Finishing Top Shop to market themselves to customers—and more importantly, potential customers—that they are a Top Shop when it comes to electroplating and anodizing.

We know many shops out there struggle in quoting a job and only to be underbid by another shop nearby that doesn’t come close to quality measures and testing. Customers themselves often find a hard time distinguishing between the finer points of job quotes, often simply looking at the bottom line of what the job will cost them out of pocket.

But when rejects start becoming the norm, those customers often find their way back to the more reputable shops to start over again in asking for help finishing off parts. You want to say to them, “You should have worked with us first.”

And perhaps those finishers who distinguish themselves as a Products Finishing Top Shop—either on their websites, quote forms or business cards—will have fewer jobs lost to the lowest bidder, and fewer times to say “I told you so.”

Visit us at pfonline.com and take the brief survey. You’ll see where you stack up, and you can maybe promote yourself as one of the best in the business, too. 

A Products Finishing Top Shops benchmarking survey for powder coating and painting shops will take place this summer.