While the methods of production and the nature of the end products made might have changed, the metalwork industry is a vital part of the economy. From the small parts sold in hardware stores through to large scale construction and infrastructure projects, there is a need for skilled workers to be able to fulfill the important functions carried out by workers and businesses in this line of work.
But, what if you’re a metalwork business that wants to grow? Perhaps you’ve had a successful start but feel there’s more money to be made if you can push things further? How do you upscale your business and ensure you can take on more lucrative contracts?
Don’t neglect both sides to your business
All businesses need to strike a balance. You can’t just be a ‘doer’, you have to have a brain for the wider skills needed to run a business too. In metalwork, it’s no good being the best welder out there – you need to have a flair for balance sheets, tax forms and marketing plans too. If you’re upscaling, it means doing more of both and it certainly cannot mean ‘doing’ more without considering the back office side of things. If you’re not good at that – and, let’s face it, many skilled tradespeople don’t find that this comes naturally – then that means that you need to find people who can help you with this so that your expansion is built on sound business and administrative foundations.
Find the right people
Speaking of which, you might well need more manpower if you wish to upscale your business effectively. More people will bring more skills and increase the scale, speed and scope of the projects that you can handle. Hiring people is, however, expensive and taking on a big payroll could cause your costs to rise to unmanageable levels.
David Zielinski, author of The Welding Business Owner’s Handbook, suggests that businesses would be better to hire contractors and agency staff, so that they can buy-in expertise without taking on a cost burden. It’s certainly worth weighing this up as you upscale.
Use the right equipment
Taking on bigger and better projects won’t just leave you with a manpower issue, you might also have to invest in extra equipment to be able handle the work you’re aiming to take on.
Do your research to find out where and how to get access to this. From suppliers who can provide bulk orders of parts and accessories right through to big blast rooms that can handle the treatment and preparation of metalwork structures – find out what you’ll need to use to operate on a bigger scale.
The best product and service in the world will only get you so far – you need to be able to tell the right people about it. Market yourself to your target customers by using your website and social media channels and by attending networking events and trade shows in your local area.
This case study on the Freelancer website shows a good example of a father and son business that used its website in a smart way to be able to showcase the services it offered in a cost effective way.
Have a robust business plan
Upscaling is all about achieving growth and, in order to grow effectively, you need to have a plan for how you are going to achieve this. Set out clear targets for the short, medium and long term. Identify all of the issues above and set out your solutions in a vision for the future. You might need this document to show a bank or lender – or it might just help you to have a clear idea of where you are heading. Without this your efforts might be unstructured and chaotic.