It’s pretty much a given: if you’ve been in business more than five years and have experienced rapid and steady growth during that time, opportunities most likely exist to improve your operational efficiency and, hence, the bottom line. At least, that’s what Chris Schnetzler, Owner of Distinctive Marble & Granite in Powell, Ohio believed. Which is why he brought in Chip Gleine, a man with more than 13 years experience in the countertop business, to take over the role of General Manager.
“Distinctive Marble & Granite has been around since 2001 and they had a good base of business,” Gleine explains, “but they had operational issues in terms of quick response times to customer’s needs and scheduling issues. So we tightened up the operation. We put scheduling on track, and now we are turning all of our jobs in 3-5 days.”
Just how important that kind of organizational discipline can be is illustrated by Distinctive Marble’s numbers. “We grew sales by over 50% in 2012,” Gleine says. “It took about 10 months for us to get the operational changes done and all the procedures in place. The last two months we have finally been able to focus more on selling, which made it the biggest quarter we have ever had. We expect to grow even more in 2013 now that the procedures are in place and we can focus more on sales.”
Growth From The Inside
Keep in mind that the company did very little advertising to generate all this growth, and doesn’t rely much on technology to achieve efficiency in production. “It’s all about tightening up the ship,” says Gleine. “We have a bridge saw and a flat polisher – and we pay extreme attention to details. Everything else is done by hand.”
Gleine explains that Distinctive Marble & Granite’s marketing strategy is built almost entirely on word-of-mouth advertising. The company doesn’t advertise in local magazines and it doesn’t send out fliers, although it does attend the odd home show here and there.
“About 85% of our business is residential,” he says. “Mostly builders and retail, I would say. We have a good location. We stand behind our products 100% and we guarantee satisfaction – so we live and die with our referral business. It is a matter of company policy that we don’t ever have a bad referral.”
Follow-Through, And More Follow-Through
A longtime user of Moraware’s JobTracker program, Gleine relied heavily on its job tracking and scheduling features to build efficiencies into the operation. “Most of our growth was operational growth in how we were able to schedule in Moraware and track jobs,” he explains. “We don’t just quote a job and forget about it. We are tracking and following up on every single job we quote. We know what happens on every quote. If we lose a job we know how and why. If a customer has a better number, 9 times out of 10 we will match it.”
The same kind of attention to detail is applied to scheduling in the shop and on the installation truck. “I basically developed an operations manual to track sales and forecast lead times to help us be more efficient. We use the Activities setting in JobTracker to track activities and material selections for our sales team.”
As happens with all change, there were bumps along the way, including getting buy-in from the existing staff. “That was a challenge,” Gleine admits. “We had some turnover in the beginning. I brought in some people that I had worked with before – people we trust. At about six months we were doing pretty well. It took us about 10 months to get operationally sound.”
Want to know more? At Moraware, we make software for countertop fabricators. CounterGo is countertop drawing, layout, 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.