Repeat Coatings Business

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In this article, we will deal with methods to increase thermal spray sales. As you may know, there are two kinds of sales in any endeavor – the first is one time sales and the second is repeat sales – thermal spray coating sales is no different. The time and effort spent in finding a customer who is going to purchase your thermal spray coating services on a one-time basis is better spent in finding and nurturing a customer who will potentially buy your thermal spray coatings service over and over again. There is a word of caution – there are times when an engineer who has never used thermal spray coatings in the past has an application problem where he wants to try the hvof technology or plasma spray coatings technology to see if it will solve his problem – this case could very well turn out to be extremely profitable for you if handled properly and end up with a lot of repeat business. What is not really worth wasting time on is in the occasional user of thermal spray coatings as a way to repair an old pump shaft or rebuilding of an old machine component – you may never see that customer wanting your thermal spray services for the next couple of years!

Repeat customers can be developed for example by dealing directly with the OEM pump manufacturers or valve manufacturers or other component manufacturers and developing a wear-resistant coating system for instance that will allow them to use a cheaper base material with a tungsten carbide coating – now every component they manufacture will end up coming to your shop for plasma spray coating service. Or for that matter, introduce an anti-fretting copper-nickel-indium coating to a systems manufacturer where couple of their components face significant fretting wear and you got a lot of business for a long time. I have always held the stand that it is more profitable to make a smaller margin on a large volume of parts than a large margin on a handful of parts. High volume thermal spray orders keeps booths running all the time and machine utilization gets optimized, thermal spray powders can be purchased in volume at a lower price, thermal spray nozzles and other consumables can be bought with significant discounts, robotic automation can be introduced and so on.

There is a price to pay to get those higher volume coating contracts. This is where the sales engineering and applications engineering skills of your thermal spray shop come into life. Everybody wants that multi-year tungsten carbide coating work – but how many are willing to put in the effort? Remember , no pains no gains. Hence you will have to identify the opportunity, understand the application and the problem – whether it is corrosion, sliding wear, fretting wear, impact wear, thermal barrier requirement, electrical conductivity or resistivity requirement, etc and then come up with the correct coating solution and last but not the least, deliver a cost effective thermal spray coating solution. Now you end up with a high volume coatings contract and can start making some serious money !

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