Friday, August 26, 2016

Critical Moves: Effective Communication for Relocating Your Business

Rising costs, changing demand, or new zoning requirements are a few of the reasons companies
decide to relocate their operations. Be it anticipated or unexpected, moving  a manufacturing facility is a complex, costly, and often sensitive process that demands strategic planning, strong leadership, and careful communication for effective execution.

Why Move?
The relocation or consolidation of manufacturing usually stems from a company’s desire to support the growth of the business, reduce operating costs, attract management, or for other strategic reasons. This blog will provide you tips on how to make sure your organization’s clients, partners and vendors stay informed about your exciting move.

Tips for an Informed Move
Below are some communication To-Dos in order to best communicate your company’s move.

  1. Update Printed Material: Whether it be letterhead, business cards, envelopes, brochures or folders, you’ll want to plan and prepare to update all printed marketing collateral with your new address. It can be rolled out in stages, but you will want all material to be redesigned and ready prior to the move.
  2. Online Announcements: Email signature lines are a great place to communicate crucial messages. Add a notation at the bottom of each email to include the new address and expected move-in date. Also, don’t forget to promote heavily on social media. Email marketing software, such as Constant Contact or MailChimp, is a great way to send out mass communication to those who have subscribed to receiving information about your company.
  3. Signage: Take advantage of traffic. At your current location, signs your facility is moving should be displayed on the property identifying the new address. At your new location, post signage announcing it as “The Future Home of…” until the relocation is complete. 
  4. Postcards: Mail postcards to your current and past clients, vendors and partners to let them know you are moving.
  5. Your Website: Your company’s website should be reviewed and updated accordingly-addresses, maps, links, downloads, etc. The homepage banner is also great real estate to showcase your new facility.

Now What?
There are risks associated with the relocation of a manufacturing facility that can significantly impact operations and financial results. Get ahead with better communication. The experts of the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center can assist you. Whether your new facility needs layout consulting, growth and marketing strategies, or lean applications, we are here for you. Contact us at 888.414.6682,, or email for more information.

PLEASE NOTE: The Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center is moving to a new location September 2016. Our new home will be located only two miles east of our current location at: 45501 Helm St. -- Plymouth, MI 48170.

About Us
Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at on the web at

Friday, August 19, 2016

Stay Connected to Clients Through Email Marketing

No matter which way you slice it, we live in a digital age. Now you can order pizza from your smartphone app, get a diagnosis through an email, and deposit checks without ever leaving your couch. The world is changing, and so is the way companies reach new clients.

Staying in Touch With Clients
The manufacturing industry sometimes has a difficult time keeping up-to-date with current technological advances. One particularly useful advancement that has helped companies stay in touch with their clients and keep ahead of the competition is through the use of email marketing software. With the aid of this easy-to-use software, companies can email clients about the status of their orders, announcements of upcoming events, and newsletters that highlight the latest products and changes for the company.

Email Marketing Tips for Manufacturers
Email marketing is a great way to reach your clients without spending a lot of money. Email marketing software also gets you past the spam folder into the inbox.  But it’s a big responsibility, too—people don’t give their email addresses to just anyone. Thinking about starting a company newsletter or reaching out to clients on a more frequent basis? Here are some tips to keep in mind.

  1. Make it easy to subscribe. Post a signup form on your website, blog, Facebook page, and wherever else your clients are currently active and engaged. You will want to require first name, last name, company and email address upon submission. Requiring additional fields may discourage subscribers from completing the form.
  2. Choose a mobile-friendly design. Today, nearly half of all emails are opened with some form of mobile device. Choosing a layout that shows up well on a mobile device will perform better, with more opens, clicks and forwards.
  3. Organize your databases. By setting up a cohesive and detailed database of contacts, targeted emails can be sent based on industry, location and title. Clients will receive relevant, personalized information based on their specific situation. 
  4. Keep in touch with clients. Email-generated newsletters featuring products, upcoming events, special deals, and industry news can be instrumental in keeping in touch with your customer base. Email marketing software has pre-existing templates which you can modify to share your own specific information-which hopefully will be forwarded on to others. Set a schedule in Outlook or some other database to make sure not too much time lapses between communications. 
  5. Know your spam rules. Innocent people send spam because they don’t know any better. Read up on the CAN-SPAM act to avoid any trouble. Put simply, you’re allowed to send bulk email only to people who specifically asked to be on your mailing list. Most email marketing software products include an obvious unsubscribe link in every email-BUT if you are sending bulk email from your own Outlook account, you must give them instruction on how to be removed from the list. 

Email, in combination with a strong website and customer experience, forms a stable foundation for digital marketing. Email's ability to deliver targeted and exclusive content continues to make it a sound investment of your brand's marketing time and money to reach your customers where they anticipate hearing from you most. Have questions about digital outreach or want to grow your client base? Contact the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center at 888.414.6682 and speak to one of our Business Growth Experts.

About Us
Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at on the web at

Friday, August 12, 2016

Business Process Flow Charting & Supply Chain Risk Management

A company’s supply chain is an integral component to success. Therefore, any disruption can be a major threat to business continuity, including delays in production and distribution, reduced revenue, and decreased market share. From earthquakes and tsunamis to hurricanes and tornadoes, all have shown just how far risk can extend. Since volatility isn’t disappearing, we need to identify the triggers of risk events, the importance of developing a plan to mitigate them when they do occur, and how to establish monitoring metrics and activities in order to be prepared for the inevitable.

Develop a Risk Management Plan
A Risk Management Plan is an essential element to operational efficiency. It is important for every organization to understand the financial impact of risk. This requires each company to be able to estimate the financial impact of a potential supply chain risk event from suppliers as well as internal risk events within their own processes.

Your risk management plan should include:

  • A risk mitigation strategy
  • A risk impact analysis tool
  • What value do we have at risk
  • A risk event reaction plan, monitoring trigger event to be monitored by who, when, how

Work Flow Process Mapping
Risk exists at every level of an organization. Work flow process mapping is a simple tool used to help understand the internal and external risks of an organization. All business processes have workflows. In its simplest definition, a process workflow is a series of activities necessary to complete a task. This information is needed to determine what the Total Cost of Ownership of purchased and manufactured components, assemblies and finished goods are.

Creating a current state process flow map will help you understand your company’s efficiency. The visualization of a process helps to locate risk and identify improvements, especially in cases where a process workflow may be interdependent on a separate process and collaboration between departments is required.

Process workflows need to be developed using input from employees, customers, suppliers, and all other stakeholders. Aligning users will eliminate the risk of a process improvement in one area leading to a delay/inefficiency in a separate area. Consider what influences the process inputs and outputs have both internally and externally. A simple line of communication can avoid quite a bit of issues.

Companies pursuing growth are continually trying to improve their business practices. Assimilating new technology into your business process flows can quickly antiquate old business practices. This requires current and future state business flows to be documented. The future state business process flow can be used to train and communicate with team members how and why the future state business process flow will improve our operations.

An Introduction to Risk Management
This is the perfect time to introduce the concept of risk management and how the process workflow gives the users insight into how we can improve our risk and reduce our total cost of ownership.

Example: Recently the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center worked with a company to streamline their accounts payable process.  The risk they were facing was exceeding their line of credit at a major big box hardware company. This was very important to the company because they had 32 branches throughout the country installing their products.  It is less expensive for the installation branch manager to purchase needed supplies to install their products than to ship and stock all those supplies at each branch location.

Accounts Payable visited the Big Box Hardware Store website and downloaded from their Credit Center all unpaid invoices (Open Invoice). This replaced the need to print out every individual invoice from the Big Box Stores.  The plan was to use Big Box’s spreadsheet from the Credit Center to replace the hard copy match of each individual invoice of the purchase order.  This saved an average of 16 hours of printing per week of Accounts Payable staff time.  Each invoice required 2-3 minutes to print-and the company averaged 400 invoices per week, with the potential up to 600.  Auditors will still be able to do drill down verification price testing on demand.  This ensured timely payment of invoices and prevent the credit limit from being exceeded. It also helped to eliminate the risk of the install branch managers not being able to purchase needed supplies to install their products at the customer’s location because the credit limit has been exceeded, risking customer satisfaction and top line revenue.

Gaining Clear Insight
Process workflows map out the critical points of each task and allow for process owners to identify required resources.  The workflow map will help establish a task hierarchy, eliminating the risk of duplicated efforts.  It also helps eliminate the risk of rework due to critical stakeholders receiving the information at the wrong stage in the process.

Often key stakeholders do not have clear insights into the ownership of specific tasks. These insights will bring security during times of employee turnover as there is less risk in processes being lost during the transition to a new team member taking ownership of a group of tasks.

Workflow analysis can be used to establish a clear path of escalation, drastically reducing downtime and eliminating the risk of confusion and delay.  A lack of recognized ownership can halt a process because the team member does not know where to go for answers. Just as supplier workflow will provide you with insight into value adding processes, your customers may want insight into your workflow to help them when they are evaluating your business stability. It is also useful in locating areas of error, for any needed damage control and what future kaizen needs to planned and scheduled.

Process Workflows=Accountability
Defined process workflows hold each resource in a process accountable for their specific tasks. The ultimate result of a defined and agile process includes involved suppliers, accountable employees, and satisfied customers, which all fuel organizational growth.
Suppliers with inefficient processes or inadequate compliance may directly impact production and revenue targets. Suppliers with poor social responsibility practices may expose an organization to brand and legal risks.

Suppliers must be evaluated on quality management procedures, supplier corrective action request responses, documentation, requirements and specifications, testing, installation, change control, support and maintenance, security and electronic records compliance. Evaluation also includes review of potential legal, ethical and other potential regulatory issues.

Supplier audits are a necessary, time and cost prohibitive aspect of supply chain management.  It is important a supplier be able to provide their customer current process workflows which provide:

  • An in-depth risk assessments
  • A tool to calculating the value that is at risks 
  • Understand their true Cost of Ownership to support and validate their decision-making 

A good supply chain system not only allows one to rank the risk of their suppliers, but also identifies the suppliers who are prepared to improve their process. Suppliers who are actively working to reduce their risk, provide high quality products/services uninterrupted at the lowest cost. As a Good Supplier, we can combine workflow process mapping using risk management tools to proactively communicate to our customers that our organization is working to improve and reduce risk of an interruption in their supply chain.

Need supply chain assistance? Contact the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center today at 888.414.6682 to discuss your needs.

About Us
Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at on the web at

Friday, August 5, 2016

National Manufacturing Day is Almost Here

National Manufacturing Day is Almost Here
On Friday, October 7, manufacturers nationwide will join together and celebrate National Manufacturing Day! The holiday was established to raise awareness about the positive impacts manufacturing has on the economy and change the prevailing perception of manufacturing careers in the U.S. for future generations.

As the manufacturing sector continues to evolve with innovation and technological advancements, it is important that future generations become accustomed to the new face of manufacturing and understand how vital the manufacturing sector is to the economic growth and future of America. Manufacturing Day enables manufacturers from all over the country to highlight their work and influence the potential future pool of skilled workers.

Manufacturers, engineers and academic institutions are encouraged to open their doors on National Manufacturing Day to students, educators, parents and the media so the public can understand and appreciate the processes of local manufacturers and the wide array of job opportunities they have available within the industry. 

Why is this so important for Michigan’s manufacturers?
As you may have experienced or read about, an aging demographic has created a skills gap in the industry. Nearly 1.6M out of 3M open manufacturing jobs are projected to go unfulfilled by the year 2025. Over the years, the younger generations have chosen alternative careers and areas of study, contributing to the lack of skills suitable for manufacturing.

The main driver for this lack of interest in manufacturing is perception. Many younger professionals envision manufacturing as a career of hazard, dirt, and manual labor. They don’t see the high-tech careers often associated with manufacturing today! They also don’t realize the wide-range of positions in manufacturing facilities such as sales, marketing, administration, accounting, etc. Their perception of “old school” workers getting dirty on an assembly line MUST be changed to one of technological advancement, innovation and economical accomplishment.

Statistics from an infographic by NIST MEP in partnership with the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association, International, best capture the story:
  • Only 37 percent of parents encourage their kids to enter manufacturing and only 18 percent of people view manufacturing as a top career choice. 
  • Manufacturing jobs pay well. An annual salary averages more than $77K and manufacturing professionals have the highest level of job tenure in the private sector. 
  • 84 percent of U.S. manufacturers are experiencing a moderate to severe shortage of skilled workers and 87 percent of American manufacturers believe this issue will impact the ability to meet customer demands.
  • By 2025, it is projected that there will be 2M jobs available in U.S. manufacturing.

The Result
Manufacturers must take a proactive approach in changing the upcoming generations’ perception of manufacturing in the U.S. They must be educated! People who are familiar with the industry of manufacturing and its multiple benefits are twice as likely to encourage children to pursue a career in manufacturing. National Manufacturing Day raises awareness about these types of issues. We can join together and help cultivate the next generation of manufacturing leaders!

Useful Links:

If you are a manufacturer who is looking to become more efficient, productive and globally competitive, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center can help. Click here for a list of our services or contact us at 888-414-6682 or via email at

About Us
Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at on the web at