Stone Industry Education Toronto, part 2 of 3

Stone Industry Education Toronto, part 2 of 3

On June 21st, I attended the Marble Institute Stone Industry Education in Toronto, ON. This time there were two keynote speakers and a fabricator forum. Here’s part 1 of my overview. After Mike spoke, there was a fabricator forum.

Phil DiMambro from Dimanti Stoneworks, Paulo Mantenuto of Marble & Marble, and John Traczuk of Moscone Marble led the fabricator forum. I really liked that they had strong opinions about the industry and their businesses, and many of the fabricators in the room got involved in the discussion, too.

Building Systems, not jobs

Paulo’s approach to his business really resonated with me – he described in several ways how his job as a business owner is not to build jobs for himself or his employees, but to build systems.

This has a great effect on the overall business. First, it allows the company to rely on the system, not any individual person. And for the employees, it provides greater motivation.

Everyone who works at Marble & Marble understands their part in the bigger system and it allows them to work toward a cohesive goal. The panelists agreed that it’s possible to run a business without systems, but once you hit a threshold around 10 employees, you can’t continue growing without systematizing your business.

Making investments

All of the speakers’ shops are using CNC equipment. A few of the newer shops in the audience asked about the transition from a “hand work” shop to having an automated workflow. In order to evaluate if you’re ready, the best approach is to

  1. Examine your market, and determine if automation helps you serve your customers
  2. Build a business plan, to ensure that the overall cost of the equipment you’re planning can be done profitably at the volume you intend to produce.
  3. Have a goal, it’s critical. If you’re not trying to fix a problem or achieve a goal, don’t invest in your business.

Motivating employees

Everyone has a different approach to motivation. Most of the fabricators in the room considered their shops “family businesses”, and many tried to extend that feeling to their employees. John said that they make sure to show small gestures of appreciation to their employees. For example, during the heat wave that hit Ontario during the week of the seminar they distributed popsicles to their shop workers.

Competition

So, how do you compete with another countertop shop that is willing to undercut you? Nobody wants to play that game, so they figure out how to differentiate themselves from the pack. Paolo only works on the most high-end jobs, and others distinguish themselves based on providing the fastest turnaround time, or becoming accredited Marble Institute fabricators.

But, the competition isn’t primarily other countertop companies. The #1 challenge is educating the consumer on the material, the process, and the potential pitfalls of using granite, marble, or other stones in their countertops.

I’ll continue with the overview of online local marketing in part 3.

Want to know more? At Moraware, we make software for countertop fabricators. CounterGo is countertop drawing and estimating software. JobTracker is scheduling software that helps you eliminate the time you waste looking for job folders. RemnantSwap is a free place to buy and sell granite remnants with fabricators near you.

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