Ways Small Manufacturers Can Better Adapt to Remote Work
COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of embracing industry 4.0. So, in the article, we look into ways you can better prepare your business for remote work and the tools you can use to implement remote work.
It doesn’t matter where on the planet you’ve set-up your business. All across the globe, countries are dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The severity of sanctions, lockdowns, and quarantines vary from country to country. But, one thing every manufacturer, big or small, are asking themselves, “How will my business cope during this crisis?”
As manufacturers, there may still be opportunities to be had, but you’ll need an infrastructure in your business that can support remote work.
And, this crisis has increased the trend of businesses taking control over their production by driving them to adopt direct-to-consumer (D2C) manufacturing.
In this article, we’re going to explore how you can adapt to this crisis, and prepare your business for when the dust settles, as the way businesses operate from now on will be reformed as more manufacturers go digital.
Questions You Might Be Asking Yourself
Let’s dive straight into it and try and answer any concerns that you’ll have during this crisis.
1. How do we transition our business from a physical location to a digital one?
Trends and predictions for 2020 show that businesses are transitioning to e-commerce platforms, and in some instances, even forgoing a physical store.
According to research, 8 out of 10 Americans shop online, and this was, of course, before a pandemic struck.
Businesses are adapting to the fact they cannot sell from their brick and mortar stores and are opening up online sales channels.
And the same can be said for wholesalers, as they too are shifting their focus to online markets.
To adapt to this increasingly online future, you should:
— Set a realistic budget as there will be costs for starting a website;
— Choose products carefully since some inventory is better suited for selling in person or restrictions might apply to selling your products online;
— Consider that handling online sales is going to increase your order fill rates; and
— Find tools that can integrate with your current software.
2. How can we work from home?
First things first, follow the rules during this pandemic. Don’t break any lockdown rules for your area, and don’t put a worker’s health at risk.
But this all depends on the type of industry your business belongs to.
If you’re a manufacturer using job shop manufacturing to produce wooden toys, then maybe there’s the chance (if team members are willing) for workers to work on tasks from home, and for you to figure out a supply chain around that.
But, regardless of if you can or can’t keep manufacturing your products at this current moment in time, it doesn’t mean that your business should completely shut down.
It’s essential to get your business set up with the right tools to achieve working remotely (something we'll look into more later).
You want the infrastructure in place so you can access your business's information from anywhere with cloud-based software.
This way, you’re not lost if you can’t access a desktop at work with all the information you need.
3. How can we maintain a relationship with our customers?
Just because everyone is in quarantine, doesn’t mean you can’t interact with them.
In fact, you should have the opposite mentality, now is the perfect time to be streamlining how you interact with customers, and start a dialogue with them.
And with social media, live chat tools, email, or just a good ol’ fashion phone call, doing so couldn’t be easier!
You can reach out to your customers for a follow-up and find out how your product is treating them.
And if they’re having issues, you can begin working out how to solve their problem.
Your customers, even if they’re unhappy with a purchase now, will greatly appreciate that you took the time to think about them and contact them.
But, let’s take a moment to look into maintaining your relationship with your customer further since this is going to be extremely important over the next coming weeks.
How to Effectively Communicate with Customers
The COVID-19 crisis is a scary one, and you need to keep your customers up-to-date with information or reach out to them to let them know how your business is doing.
However, research indicates that 89% of customers will stop buying from businesses that aren’t transparent.
A little bit of honesty, and a human touch, goes a long way.
There are several different things you can say when reaching out to customers, you might want to:
— Thank them for supporting you;
— Explain how your business is responding to the crisis;
— Let them know about any changes you’ll be making;
— Let them know how you’ve updated refund and cancellation policies; and
— Tell them how they can reach out to you during this time.
But, why stop there? Create blogs, eBooks, and vlogs! Give your customers valuable content and keep growing your relationship with them.
All of this is made significantly easier when you have the right tools in place.
Getting the Right Tools for the Job
As we touched on earlier in the article, for your business to survive this crisis and to adapt to the changes which are sure to follow once it passes, you’re going to have to find tools that can give you automated manufacturing.
This means finding software to help with:
The purpose of communication software is to provide users with remote access to systems and to easily allow users to exchange documents and messages (regardless of format) between computers and other users in real-time.
Communication software tools can help you implement:
— A unified communications system;
— Web conferencing; and
— Live chat for customers (and use of bots for out-of-office hours).
By getting set up with communication systems, you’ll be able to start:
— Working remotely;
— Boost productivity with clear channels of communication;
— Easily integrate with your other SaaS solutions;
— Record and save important data; and
— Reduce costs by using a web-based communication solution.
Marketing has always been important. However, with your manufacturing potentially paused, keeping the hype going for your product is essential.
Using marketing software will help you easily spread the word about your business, bring in customers, engage, and retain them.
Once you adopt marketing software into your business, you’ll be able to automate repetitive tasks and offer a personalized experience for customers via:
— Email marketing;
— Social media; and
— Ad campaigns.
Once you get set-up with automated marketing software, you’ll be able to:
— Get valuable insightful data;
— Enhance your customer experience;
— Effectively nurture your leads; and
— Improve your workflow efficiency.
Finally, as everyone is going to be working away from the office for the foreseeable future (and after) you’re going to need a collaboration tool, so your team members can continue working together at different locations.
Real-time collaborative software means you can stay in touch with your team members with improved efficiency and increased productivity.
This means you and your employees won’t have to worry about scheduling time and finding a place to hold a meeting, you can easily hold a meeting with your entire business online and be back to work before you know it.
Why is it Important to Get Set Up with Smart Manufacturing?
Like it or not, the COVID-19 pandemic is likely going to change the way manufacturers work from now on.
This is not necessarily a bad thing as it's increased the speed of manufacturers switching to smart manufacturing.
This is because Smart Manufacturing Software gives users access to:
— Remote work;
— Automated data;
— Reduced costs;
— Reduced workflow challenges;
— Integrations; and
Smart Manufacturing Software will provide you with the necessary tools to adapt your business to a new way of working and get your business into industry 4.0.
Doing so will allow you to automate your repetitive tasks, so you can stay focused on your manufacturing, and growing your business.
Remote Working with Smart Manufacturing Software
Smart Manufacturing Software is a cloud-based solution, meaning you can check your stock levels, manage orders, and monitor task progress all from your smartphone before you've even rolled out of bed.
This 24/7 access means you or your team members can stay informed remotely. Or, if you need to use outsource manufacturing, you can still be a part of the production process, from anywhere in the world (Or, as it stands, the kitchen or the living room).
By automating your manufacturing, you’re going to remove the hassle of having to deal with your repetitive tasks such as inventory management or production scheduling and be able to continue running your business remotely.
We offer a 14-day free trial, so you can check out for yourself how the software works, or if you’d prefer a demo, we’d be more than happy to go through how it works in the context of your business.
But, regardless of how you go about doing it, remote work is only possible with the right tools and if you’re set-up in the right places.
Maybe these following questions can help you better understand how to get started:
— Do you have an online presence;
— Do you need to increase your marketing efforts;
— Which areas of your business could benefit from automation;
— Are your team members able to contribute from outside of the office; and
— Do you have the means to keep engaging with your customers?
We hope that you have found this article useful, and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
And until next time, stay healthy, and happy manufacturing.