A big challenge for any 3D printing service is how to attract and retain quality engineering business. I experienced this first hand when I founded and ran Manulith, a digital fabrication and 3D printing service in Detroit back in 2014. At the time, I was using a contact form on my website as the main way for interested potential clients to submit projects. If we proceeded forward with the project, then the client and I would mainly work over email. In short, it was messy. Collaborating over email threads was not an efficient process for digital fabrication projects. It quickly became disorganized and unruly and I knew I needed a better solution.
I researched for alternative solutions to the contact form and could not find one. I decided to contact other people in my network to see what they were using. Through connections, I ultimately spoke with over 100 fabrication shops that offered 3D printing, CNC, and other similar services to see if they were experiencing the same issues I was. During a 5 month period, I personally interviewed and spoke with shop floor managers, business owners, and application engineers across the industry. Did other business 3D printing owners experience the same problems?
The short answer was yes. Common themes I noticed were:
- Like myself, many 3D printing business owners used “contact forms” on their website for their project submissions.
- Contact forms may or may not have been integrated into a CRM platform or an email service provider (ESP) system.
- Those who were not using a CRM or ESP (and even some who were) would organize contacts in spreadsheets.
None of that was efficient. I realized that there is a better way than “contact forms” for potential, new clients to submit projects. There clearly was a problem, and so I sought out to build a solution, and that’s how the MakerOS Client Portal came to be.
MakerOS is an all-in-one business operating software platform for digital fabrication companies to facilitate their design, prototype, and production process. The tools are designed to allow 3D printing companies to better manage their manufacturing workflows and include a 3D file viewer, an easy-to-use project management system, and a Client Portal.
We built the MakerOS Client Portal is the ultimate job submission system. You can easily add it to any website and enable your clients to log in to one place to find everything related to the project. It consolidates everything related to the project in one location and allows for real-time chat functionality to ensure excellent client communication at every stage of the 3D printing workflow.
The Client Portal is where the client interaction and relationship exists. Every touchpoint that the client has with the business exists within the client portal. They can interact with their Projects, the 3D viewer, and the quoting system.
As soon as we put the MakerOS Autoquoter and Client Portal on the Manulith website, we were able to attract many more people to actually submit files to us and got many more inquiries. The psychology behind having MakerOS as opposed to “contact forms” is that people do not want to submit files through a contact form, they want to submit something to a professional system. It exudes professionalism and with it, you’ll attract higher-value and higher-quality clients.
Check out the MakerOS Client Portal and start for free at makeros.com. There’s no credit card required to get started and try the Client Portal. See how it will improve your 3D printing service.
About the Author, Mike Moceri
Mike Moceri has deep experience in manufacturing, design, and software. In 2013, he co-founded the world’s first 3D printing retail service bureau in Chicago. In 2014 he founded Manulith, a 3D printing, and product design agency, where his clientele included Fortune 500 companies within the aerospace, automotive, and medical industries. Mike is also a mentor at Stanley+Techstars Additive Manufacturing Accelerator, a mentor at WeWork Labs in NYC, and formerly a mentor at TechTown Detroit. He’s previously been featured on MSN, Make Magazine, NBC, and the Encyclopedia Britannica. D-Business Magazine called him the “Face of 3D printing.” Mike is currently the founder and CEO of MakerOS, an all-in-one business operating software for manufacturers, engineers, designers, and fabricators to facilitate modern product development.
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