Advancing the customer at Advanced Machinery

There is an old saying in the retail sector – ‘the customer is king’. What this means is that when it comes to customers the aim should always be to enhance the experience. Sometimes the product itself is sufficient to keep the customer happy but if you can find a way to enhance the customer’s experience the chance of future sales is dramatically increased. Often it is essential to enhance the experience with additional and complementary services in order to show the customer that there is more to the offering than one or two products. When it comes to the supply of production technology there are a number of things which a company can do to enhance its offerings. After-sales service and support is one, but that is generally accepted as being part of the purchase of the device – whatever that may be. How can a supplier add extra value? Johannesburg-based Advanced Machinery has taken an innovative approach with the establishment of two new companies under its umbrella, one offering training and the other offering practical demonstrations and production facility. Advanced Machinery supplies a range of large-format printers, vinyl cutters, laser cutters and CNC cutters and routers. While some customers will know how to use these systems and others will be able to figure out how to use them, others will require some training whether theoretical or practical. To address the need for this training but also to support customers after they have bought their new systems, Advanced Machinery is now able to offer supplementary services. Eric Yin, founder of Advanced Machinery believes implicitly in the need for training, not just in the technical aspects of using the equipment which he sells, but also in the development of internal skills to allow his customers to benefit from business, front office, systems and software training. To this end he has partnered with Atupiye Simwinga, a man who has many years in the training sector. Atu is a qualified Assessor, Curriculum Designer and Training Facilitator and currently pursuing a Master of Business Leadership degree. Artium Magister – as the company is named – will be a SETA accredited training centre able to offer training in various aspects of business, skills development as well as software and systems training. It will be offering training courses for the use of the respective software systems for the vinyl cutters, laser and CNC cutters. He will develop the respective curriculae for the various training courses. He will also be responsible for student assessments. The aim will be to train between five and 15 people per course in order to achieve a cost-effective pricing structure for the courses. This will also allow students to work together and thereby learn from each other – a proven method for knowledge transfer and retention. Atu has already commenced with some training courses but will develop more as the scope of the Training Centre expands. All of the training provided by Atu and the Artium Magister Training Centre will be continuously developed to meet the needs of customers. Atu commented, ‘There is a serious lack of skills in all sectors of South African business. This training centre will allow us to help to address this and at the same time improve the capabilities of our clients. We can also offer a wide range of Product, Technical and Soft Skills training including performance management and labour relations to assist with the resolution and management of labour issues in the work place. Altogether, this should help to increase the productivity of our clients which will ultimately have a broader impact.’ For the handling of product demonstrations Eric has entered into another joint venture with Mark Preiss. Mark was formerly one of Eric’s clients and has practical knowledge in the use of the laser cutting and CNC cutting machines. He is also proficient in the use of the respective software packages. Under the name Advanced Manufacturing, Mark will take responsibility for demonstrating the various pieces of equipment to prospective clients. However, there is more to the service being offered by Advanced Manufacturing than simply demonstrating the capabilities of the systems and training operators. It will also assist customers who have purchased a machine but need to start production before the machine arrives. Mark will take on customers work and assist with interim production until the customers’ machines arrive. Even so, Mark does not believe that this will provide enough work to keep his facility busy. He will, therefore, be providing a cutting service to smaller customers. This will include the cutting and building of bespoke staging for corporate events and functions. He will also provide custom finishes and décor such as flat-pack table centre pieces for these smaller clients. It is not his aim to compete with clients who are buying the machinery from Advanced Machinery but rather to address a market sector which is not currently being supported and at the same time adding income to what would otherwise be a cost centre for the company. Mark commented, ‘There is a large demand for these one-off type of products which many of the larger companies cannot handle because of the expense associated with set up and economies of scale. As a small operation, we can handle things like custom-designed flat-pack bedroom furniture for children and one-off stage designs for small company events at a more cost-effective price than the bigger companies would be able to do. This will make these products more accessible to a wider section of the market. The main aim will always be to assist the new equipment customers from Advanced Machinery, in this way we can contribute not only to the company ,but provide the training and demonstration facilities as well.’ For more information on the equipment, training courses and demonstration and manufacturing services offered by the companies in the Advanced Machinery group contact Eric, Atu or Mark on 072 222 2211 or visit the website: http://am.co.za