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Expanding your business and scaling up your operations is an important part of succeeding in the manufacturing sector. But manufacturing businesses big and small face challenges when it comes to scaling sustainably and navigating market changes. Knowing how to grow your manufacturing business with the right tools and strategies means you’re better able to adapt to changes and unexpected challenges that arise.

Business growth is a great thing – but only if you have the capacity to scale with the growth. If your business can’t handle the speed or size of the growth, you might find your team struggling with inefficiencies, miscommunications and costly errors. Smaller businesses are even more vulnerable to set backs – even minor errors and inefficiencies can have major consequences.

In this article, we explain how to grow your manufacturing business – and the key tools and strategies that will help you scale sustainably and achieve your growth goals.

How to grow a manufacturing business

To grow, businesses not only need to have a great product and solid customer relationships, but they also need to be consistent, avoid costly mistakes and use self-regulating processes to continually optimise. The tips below explain how to grow your manufacturing business across your entire production cycle so that everyone benefits – from your sales team to your shop-floor staff, upper management and everyone in between.

1. Base business decisions on accurate data.

Growth takes careful planning and an accurate understanding of where your business is currently at. When developing the steps your business will take to achieve your growth goals, it pays to have reliable data you can analyse. Instead of basing your business decisions on guesswork, look for ways to collect hard data from every area of your business operations. That way you can find areas for improvement, streamline your processes, save money and maximise your growth.

Data points worth monitoring include:

  • Time use – how much time your staff spends on different steps in the production process, and how estimated times compare to actual times.
  • Mistakes – when they happen, why they happen, and what effects they have on the workflow.
  • Lead management – how many leads you get, what your response times are and how much time is spent on quoting.

While collecting data is important, it shouldn’t slow your systems down – especially since you need to do it on an ongoing basis. Including data collection and reporting as part of your day-to-day processes means you can engage in a continuous cycle of improvement as you grow. The best way to gather data is to use an integrated system that collates data across your business operations as a naturalised part of the process.

2. Forecasting, a sure way to improve your supply chain.

When supply chain shortages arise, suppliers are possibly more likely to cater to clients who have a good relationship with them, pay their bills on time and are investing in systems, technology and all that tomorrow brings.

In recent times, manufacturing businesses have experienced an array of supply chain upsets and challenges – from interruptions in business activities to rising freight rates and exponential increases in demand. The importance of building a resilient supply chain to cope with unexpected challenges is more apparent than ever.

3. Make your supply chain management watertight.

Supply chain interruptions can have a detrimental effect on any business, but it can be particularly impactful for small businesses who are scaling up. The importance of building a resilient supply chain to cope with unexpected challenges is more apparent than ever.

Use forecasting techniques to plan ahead and build stronger relationships with your suppliers. If you plan ahead, your suppliers can plan ahead too, ensuring better outcomes for both parties. Practical ways to foster strong supplier relationships include paying bills on time and placing orders with plenty of notice. Make your orders in writing using a user-friendly system so that both your team and your suppliers can access the information fast and accurately.

A robust inventory management system will help you bring all these factors together. And it will enable you to manage your inventory based on data and patterns – you’ll know more accurately when you need to restock, how much stock to order and when you need to manufacture more products. Using data to make these decisions can help you avoid production bottlenecks, regulate your inventory better and reduce the number of interruptions you experience.

Learn more about how ERP software helps manufacturers navigate uncertainty.

4. Increase manufacturing productivity with the right tools and systems.

Streamlining your current manufacturing processes will ensure you’re not losing valuable time or money as your business scales up. Lean manufacturing is a great way to start minimising waste, improving problem solving and standardising routine tasks. While Lean manufacturing is the pursuit of perfection, and for many of us feels a little unattainable, the strategies and concepts can be applied in any business at any stage of their journey. Jobman is a great tool to start implementing Lean manufacturing into your business, but Lean manufacturing is not a prerequisite to get the most out of your ERP software.

Here’s a great resource on Lean manufacturing, or check out our article on implementing lean project management.

How to grow your manufacturing business with lean project management:

  • Track time use – use comprehensive time tracking software, with remote timesheet logging and automations, to save time and improve efficiency across your team.
  • Standardise processes – implement a user-friendly, intuitive system that’s integrated across all the different sectors of your company.
  • Implement a scheduling program – cut out wasted wait times, improve job scheduling and eliminate entry errors with a job scheduling software that syncs across all team devices.
  • Reduce waste through error – have an efficient system for recording errors and issues so that you can reduce recurrence and keep your team accountable.

Whatever size your business is, problems in your processes will be amplified as you grow. Just because you’re scaling up, doesn’t mean your processes need to become more complicated. In fact, complex processes create more room for error and inefficiency. Instead, aim to develop core processes that are simple, intuitive to carry out and easy to repeat.

Further reading: Three Simple Steps to Better Manufacturing Productivity

5. Increase manufacturing productivity with the right tools and systems.

Successful business growth for manufacturers is a team effort. How can you reach your goals if nobody knows what they are? Improving the way you manage your teams will ensure your efforts towards growth are implemented effectively across the company.

While some people in your team will embrace change, others may be more hesitant. Make time to address your team’s concerns, and show them how the changes will make things easier, more efficient and better for everyone.

By improving workplace culture and employee experience, you’ll not only increase productivity, but you’re also more likely to attract and retain great staff.

Here are some actionable ways to empower your team as your business grows:

  • Help your skilled workers focus on what they do best by cutting out unnecessary administration and tasks that can be automated.
  • Improve communication by using an integrated ERP system – reduce human error, sync information across your organisation and automate where possible.
  • Embed transparency in your systems to promote a culture of trust and fair treatment.
  • Provide your team with the information and tools they need to set goals and manage their work more effectively.

Also read: The Better Way to Track Your Employee Timesheets and Attendance

6. Invest in ERP technology.

ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) is a complete business management platform that allows you to take action on all the steps in this article. Incorporating both CRM and SCM modules, an ERP for small business manufacturing is the best way to enable long term growth. It will allow you to simplify your processes, improve efficiency across your organisation and enhance client relationships.

Many manufacturing companies still rely on several separate systems to operate, causing headaches with matching up information, collecting reliable data, and communication errors. On the other hand, ERP systems are scalable and simple, seamlessly integrating all of your systems using a single interface to connect every point of your production cycle.

Growing your manufacturing business takes time, and the right ERP can give you the time you need to focus on growing in the right direction.

Not sure if ERP is right for you? Check out these signs your business needs an ERP.

Grow your business with the best ERP software for the manufacturing industry.

Jobman is a versatile all-in-one ERP system built specifically for the Australian manufacturing industry. Whether you’re running a small cabinetry business or a larger scale company, Jobman is designed to help you grow in the direction you want to go – handle every stage of your production process from a single interface, boost your productivity and scale up as you need to.

We understand every business in the manufacturing industry has different needs. Jobman scales with you, whatever stage you’re at. Switching to Jobman now means you don’t have to relearn and implement new systems later on – start with a focused set of features that works for you and scale up as your business grows.

Book a call today to see how Jobman can help you realise fast, effective and sustainable business growth.

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