As the new year starts, we’re being inundated with the usual horror stories about failing economies and collapsing industries, all of which make business owners around the world worry about the future.The industry is notoriously volatile, with business prospects ebbing and flowing on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis, and there’s absolutely no doubt in your mind that 2017 will be exactly the same.
The trick to surviving whatever ups and downs it throws your way is to focus on the things you can control, instead of allowing anxieties to send you into a panic.One thing I’ve noticed is that the most effective strategies don’t require a huge investment, but do need vision and dedication.
With that in mind, i am sharing five strategies that will help futureproof and grow your food manufacturing business.
Invest in Marketing
(a) Marketing is essential for growth and development of any business, whether you’re running a shop or food manufacturing company.
Your calendar may be pretty full at the moment but unless you continue putting your name out there and capitalize on your reputation for quality, you’ll struggle to attract new customers.
Start off the year by working on comprehensive marketing strategy, including boosting your local and online presence. If it sounds like too much extra responsibility, there are plenty of companies to pick from that will manage the whole process for you.
(b)Market Yourself and Your Company: I cannot emphasize this enough! You get what you go after. If you’re not going after new business, yours will DIE!
Listen to Customers
Now is the time for food manufacturers to pay more attention to customers than ever. In one interview with Food Magazine, Bronwyn Powell, Marketing and Innovation Director, says one of her biggest daily challenges is “Getting to the heart of the consumer insight… digging deeper and deeper for the killer insight and not stopping.” This is the exact focus manufacturers need to have.
Keep Current With Technology
I know some small manufacturers just love their old machines and refuse to part with them. At the same time they wonder why younger guys in the business with half their experience are getting more business than they are. Have you considered that your competitor can make the same part in a fraction of the time because he uses more modern machines and techniques? If that saved time allows him to charge half the price you do, he will eventually put you out of business. When I discuss technology, I’m not just talking about machinery. Technology can help your business in MANY ways. Many old time machine shop owners for example have not embraced the computer age. They prefer antiquated methods of accounting and invoicing. By doing so you are negatively impacting your company’s finances. Your bookkeeper’s job could be done in half the time if the system were computerized. Additionally, if you ultimately plan on selling your business to finance retirement, buyers will discount the purchase price if you are not computerized. Its time to get out of the dark ages folks, but don’t worry, its not as expensive or scary as you think!
Innovate and Keep Innovating
Innovation is not about a “eureka” moment, nor is it just about launching exciting new products or one-hit wonders. True innovation is sustainable innovation. Innovation across every part of your business, from processes to staff training, across products and marketing.
Food Manufacturers need to create and nurture a culture that supports ongoing innovation. And if you fail to innovate, you risk being overtaken by those who do. Dairy is a great example of an industry sector doing just that. Consumers are demanding products that lend themselves to on-the-go consumption, and dairy brands have been satisfying this demand with single-serve and lunch box ready products.
Keep Your Eyes Open For Acquisition Opportunity
Acquisitions can be the fastest way to grow your manufacturing business. Are you thinking that you don’t have enough money for acquisition? Think again, because you just might. Perhaps acquiring an entire company or competitor is out of the question financially. That doesn’t mean that you can’t use this strategy to grow your manufacturing business. Consider the acquisition of a customer list or product line. Opportunities abound as old timers leave the industry. Some have no children to take over the business and opt for the auction method of cashing out, even though they have ongoing work. Customer lists and small product lines can be acquired easily from these folks and for much less than the cost of acquiring a thriving ongoing business.
Do you have any tips or helpful advice for other manufacturing entrepreneurs looking to grow their business in 2017? You can always leave a comment and share with us.