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No business can prosper without the contacts, resources and infrastructure necessary to provide timely, cost effective services and products.
In all cases, a current resource file with business contact information is extremely beneficial. The file should also be kept as a hard copy in case of a computer virus or malfunction. Phone numbers, email addresses, notes and company contact names are vital to maintaining your network.
For instance, if your shop mainly specializes in classic, yet obsolete firearms repair, you will want to have contacts that can supply parts for obsolete weapons. This doesn’t mean you will be able to turn away work on modern production guns. There are few real gunsmiths left, so specialization may not be possible if you are the only gunsmith within your locale. You will need contact with shops that focus on other gunsmithing specialties to provide the best service to your clientele.
For instance, your strength may lie in metalwork and repair of internal malfunctions, but not in wood stock repair. Of course, you can do the wood repairs and checkering, but wood work takes you such a long time that you are unable to profit from the work. I’m certain there is a shop that can do a rapid, wood repair but is not that proficient with diagnostics and metal repair. Obviously, there is an opportunity for both businesses to benefit if they cooperate. Shops traditionally give a reduced price to each other and both parties benefit. Being competitors as well as collaborators is possible!
Don’t be afraid of “farming out” work to other shops. However, make certain their work is professional and well done before you become allies!
Over time, you will develop relationships with others in your industry. You will encounter all types of personalities. Don’t worry about the people that reject your overtures of cooperation. If they treat their customers like they treat their colleagues, they won’t be around very long anyway.