When you’re in the plastics business, your work involves problem solving as much as it does making optical-grade plastics. Understanding customers’ challenges and coming up with solutions is as difficult, gratifying and important as making reliable mirrors and lenses.
You know a company has pushed past its childhood into maturity when it is able to handle the day-to-day operations with ease, and the leadership team can focus their energies on expanding the business and solving client-specific needs.
Testing for European Markets
There is some skepticism out there as to whether American suppliers can meet the stringent European standards for mirrored lenses and domes. When exploring international business opportunities, it is important to have rigorous quality control measures in place and to lend a listening ear to your international clients’ specific questions and regulation concerns. I learned that many European customers have very specific optical requirements for their mirrors, for instance. We initially encountered some skepticism and extra questioning when doing business with these international clients, but proven optical quality can speak for itself and allow a business to secure new partnerships abroad.
A Problem in Poland, A Solution in the USA
To share a business example, when a prospective client located in Poland had a problem with their mirrors corroding, they contacted Replex to determine if we could manufacture a product that would hold up to the weather and test specifications in Poland. Being familiar with neither, I investigated how their home country’s testing standards compared to international standards and standards in the U.S. I then huddled up with our quality manager, who then compiled a test report that showcased the results of Replex’s durability testing. It was neat to discover that we could solve their corrosion challenge despite the different testing and weather challenges faced in Europe.
It’s Not A Specialty, But It’s Always Best to Specialize in Customer Service
In my opinion a key business best practice is to prioritize customer service. Not only does a company want to build loyalty and uphold integrity in all vendor and client relationships, but we also want to go above and beyond for people when there’s nothing in it for the business. It’s a perk of the plastics business that you can build long-standing relationships with people in your networks and reach out to each other for all sorts of things, from personnel suggestions to business advice.
Tailoring Products to the Customer
Sometimes problem solving extends into making one’s product more competitive. One customer may be looking for an ultra-heavy duty polycarbonate dome, one may be looking for ultra-fine optical mirror, or one may just be looking for the most affordable transportation mirror! Problem solving involves adding features that the customer needs, allowing you to produce durable and customized products; and removing features that the customer does not need, allowing you to offer the most competitive price. The way to win contracts is as simple as offering the best suited product for the client.