How Efficient is Your 3D Printing Business?

Simple question, right?

Wrong.

To really answer that, you have to understand two things. Firstly, there isn’t a universal grading system of efficiency, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t grade yourself. And secondly – (by the way, this should be a general rule of thumb for all aspects of your business) – you’re only as strong as your weakest link.

Let’s start with that first point. You can judge a car by its fuel-efficiency or its safety rating. You can judge a sports team by their win/loss record. But there is no exact universal metric to determine how efficient your company is compared to your closest competitor. But humor me: what would a grading system look like?

the efficiency scale.png



Ideally, you won’t identify with the lower end of this scale, but let’s start there.

Inconvenient

You’ll notice the opposite of efficient is not the lowest value on this scale. That’s because there is something much worse than being inefficient; it’s being an inconvenience to your customer.

An inconvenient 3D printing business will not only push away a customer, but it will prompt them to spread word of how bad their experience was. If that even KIND OF feels like where you’re at: you need to closely examine how much effort you are putting in to enhancing the customer experience, and then double it. Triple it. Do whatever you have to do so your customer is not just satisfied with your work, but they’re happy and want to come back.

Inefficient

An inefficient business gets the customer the final product they want, but it leaves them wanting a bit more out of you. Maybe it’s the length of time taken? Maybe it’s the level of communication? Maybe it’s the ease of payment and smooth delivery? It can’t hurt to ask a customer to give you feedback on what you did well and what you could do better. The worst case scenario: they say no. The best case scenario: they help you break out of some bad habits.

Efficient

Let’s get this straight: this is NOT what you should be aiming for. This is the bare minimum of what you want. This is a 2.0 GPA. This is satisfactory, but not excellent. And since you’re not the only 3D printing company in the world, satisfactory is not enough. A free market in the 21st century means your customers and potential customers have the world at their fingertips, and can easily find an option that’s more than just “okay.”

Very Efficient

A very efficient 3D printing company has their business down to a science. Customers are left satisfied and likely to return for more. They might even tell friends about you! But this is also the most perilous stage on the scale, because you can fall into complacency, while your competitors continue to work and improve and get better. Don’t fall behind. Continue reaching out to customers for feedback. Continue to evaluate your business, and your competition as well.

Most Efficient

The best of the best. The golden standard aspiring companies compare themselves to. An all-in-one solution to your customers’ 3D printing needs, and thinking ahead to be their resource for their adjacent business as well. You’ll establish lifelong customers and cement yourself as “the name” in your corner of the market. With MakerOS, you’ll be able to integrate a wide-ranging suite of resources and applications for an all-in-one solution to your efficiency and workflow, and ensure your customers keep coming back for more.

Being a maverick, and disrupting a market is great. But being the company people want to TRY to disrupt is even better. As long as you continue striving to be better, and stay the king of the hill, you are on the right path.

You may remember I said there are two things to remember. That second one: you’re only as strong as your weakest link.

So how do you determine your weakest link? It’s all about being honest with yourself, and getting consistent feedback. Ask yourself what piece of your business is taking up the most time? Does it need to take that much time? Is communication going smoothly? Are you diverting too many resources to trying to accomplish ten tasks at once, when there is a more efficient solution readily available? Questions like these will be vital to determining how and where you need to focus your improvements.

Nobody is able to give you more honest feedback on your efficiency than the only people whose opinion actually matters.

In the event that you’re not already the golden standard of efficiency, your next step is to develop and maintain an efficiency platform.

Check back next week and we’ll break down what that means and how you can build your own.