West Midlands manufacturers told to make 2013 a year of action, says MAS
The Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) is urging West Midlands manufacturers to go for growth in 2013 and has released a ten-point action plan to help them boost efficiencies, reduce waste and increase sales.
Having spent the last decade assisting thousands of companies across the country, the business support organisation believes this year could be an ideal opportunity for firms to expand both at home and overseas.
MAS, which is funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), has tapped into its team of specialist advisors to come up with a range of useful tips, which focus on starting the lean journey, examining your customers, developing new ideas and cultivating your supply chain.
“The recent economic data suggests an upturn in the sector and, with exchange rates still favouring English exporters, all the conditions are there for our manufacturers to expand,” explained Lorraine Holmes, Area Director for MAS.
“Our role is to provide on-the-ground support to West Midlands companies through our team of advisors. This could be through simple advice and guidance from our helpline (0845 658 9600), a free manufacturing review or by attending our workshops that look to tackle key issues affecting industry.”
She continued: “We also have funding available to deliver in-depth improvement projects that shape strategy, create new products, reduce waste and strengthen supply chains.”
The MAS ten point action plan:
1. Decide on your company’s key objectives
Much as you’d like to, you can’t focus on everything. Decide on your strategy (be it growth or survival) and concentrate on three or four key objectives for 2013. You can then prepare to grow in a controlled way across a set period of time, ensuring you give key priorities the attention they deserve.
2. If you haven’t started the lean journey, do it now – (your competitors will be)
Even if you have, there are always new ways to improve. You can’t afford unnecessary bottlenecks and inefficient processes. Strip out any inefficiencies and free up cash/resources for new investment.
3. Don’t overlook your office processes
60% of potential inefficiencies are found in office and administration processes rather than production. Map your product journey from the point the initial order is placed, right through to dispatch – you’ll be surprised! This exercise could prove crucial to reducing lead times.
4. Review your sales and marketing strategy
Do you have one? What are the most successful ways in which your business attracts and wins new business? Is e-commerce working as hard for you as it could be? Is your corporate brand and image clear and consistent?
5. Examine your customers
Where do your orders currently come from and what’s preventing you from reaching new markets? Think about your structure, standards, certifications, policies and processes. Consider developing a separate strategy for each current/potential market.
6. Develop your new ideas
What more could you do with your existing skills and capabilities? New products? New markets? Invest in R&D and make sure you have a robust process for collecting and testing new ideas. Protect your Intellectual Property Rights and ensure you’re using it to its full advantage.
7. Work pro-actively with your supply chain
Work together to reduce bottlenecks that influence the end-user. Seek out and develop joint opportunities for growth.
8. Keep service levels high
Retaining your client base is crucial and word-of-mouth marketing is the most powerful method there is. Keep your reputation credible and it will reap dividends.
9. Keep internal communications fluid
Often overlooked, this is one of the most crucial elements to keeping your business strategy on track. Every member of your team needs to feel involved, valued and know where the business is going so they can contribute to its success.
10. Raise your profile
Get your business known in the local, national and trade press. Share your good news stories with clients, suppliers, industry bodies and via social media. Look at putting your business forward for relevant award schemes, such as the MX Award, which can also help you benchmark your current performance.
To tap into MAS support, visit www.mymas.org, contact 0845 658 9600 or follow on twitter @mas_works.