Customers love businesses that cater to their needs, wants, and preferences, and one great way to capitalize on this and build trust is switching to an agile manufacturing strategy. Agile manufacturing is the practice of rapid consumer response. In other words, you quickly adapt your products to meet the changing needs and wants of your customers based on ongoing feedback and consumer requests.
Agile Manufacturing Elements
As an agile manufacturer, it’s a good idea to base your manufacturing strategy around the following elements:
- Modular product design: Building products you can customize and quickly implement variations on, quenching your customers’ thirst for gratification without sacrificing speed.
- Information technology: Swift communication between your departments and employees to ensure the fastest order fulfillment possible.
- Corporate partnerships: Mutually beneficial relationships with suppliers, advertisers, and other business-to-business (B2B) parties that can help you bring your products to market faster.
- Knowledge culture: Employee training that focuses on flexibility and change in your manufacturing process.
When you build your business on these four pillars, you have a solid foundation for creating, manufacturing, and distributing products that excite your customers into ordering and purchasing. It’s also beneficial to keep a strong focus on quality and attention to detail. This sets your local business a notch above the offshore competition and makes your status as a local business a distinct advantage rather than a cost liability.
Give Your Customers What They Want
Once you have the foundational elements in place, it’s time to start designing and shipping products. Some tips for making your first agile product a success include:
- Modify an existing product. For example, if you sell candles, add a custom swirl option. Let customers design their own custom candles by layering three chosen scents. There are many common products that don’t extend the manufacturing process beyond a day or two, making them perfect for agile production.
- Don’t force it if it doesn’t work. If you don’t already have products and materials that lend themselves to agile manufacturing, then go back to the drawing board and create a new product that does work rather than forcing variations onto a product that doesn’t need them.
- Fill a niche. If your market is already oversaturated with personalized candles, then agile candle-making isn’t the most financially sound move. Find a product that isn’t commonly available in an agile form and put a personal spin on it. Perhaps etched coffee mugs, blend-your-own tea flavours, or custom bath bomb blends are your calling.
- Communicate with your customers. Conduct research and ask your audience what options and variations they want to see. Customers love seeing that you added a special variation just for them, and they’re likely to reward you with their loyalty to your brand.
- Love your suppliers. Develop a close relationship with your materials suppliers by paying your bills on time, negotiating deals, and placing regular orders. The more consistent your materials are, the less time your customers spend waiting for their modular products to arrive.
Meeting the needs of your customers, even if the customer doesn’t realize the need yet, helps make your small business more successful. QuickBooks Self-Employed app helps freelancers, contractors, and sole proprietors track and manage business on the go. Download the app.