From a StoneTalk interview with fabricator and author, Aaron Crowley
Aaron Crowley is the founder of Crowley’s Granite Concepts located in Tualatin, Oregon. Founded in 1998, the company’s customer mix is approximately 70% retail and 30% small remodeling contractors and cabinet shops. He also founded Fabricator’s Friend, maker of quality stone fabricator clothing and host of a free stone remnant locator service. Crowley is author of the book, Less Chaos, More Cash.
“We have a certain amount of capacity and it’s finite,” Crowley explains. “We know to a certain degree what we can produce week in, week out. With that knowledge we can create a first come/first served scheduling scenario with a certain number of installation slots in the calendar every month. We can look at the calendar and see at a moment’s notice the next available date. It’s not emotional.”
In theory, that is. In reality, for a business owner, it IS emotional. That is because the business paid money to generate the lead and to go present it. Then they had to produce a quote, follow up on it and turn it into a sale. With a first come/first served scheduling system, there is always the potential to lose that hard-won sale if the company can’t get to it fast enough. Difficult as it may seem, Crowley expects his team to do just that.
Crowley’s Granite Concepts guarantee a six business day turnaround from template to installation. Crowley says that a major benefit to that policy is they don’t have an excess of work in progress floating around the shop on carts or at various stages of production. The jobs enter the shop, they’re laid out, cut, and then they’re prepared for installation at the same rate they have been templated. “We don’t disrupt the order and it’s always six days,” he says. “That short turnaround time is useful for a number of reasons, one being that it is more predictable. We can then schedule exact dates several weeks out.”
But, what happens when the customer is not ready for the template on the scheduled date? “With the schedule set up first come/first served it might be two or three weeks before we could drop that job back into the calendar,” explains Crowley. “So we’ve found it behooves us to proactively make a call to the customer two or three days in advance of the template. We have that activity auto-scheduled in JobTracker. Our scheduler calls to say, ‘It’s been four weeks since we’ve talked last when we set the date of the template for three days from now. I just want to confirm that everything is still on schedule. Are you going to be ready? Are your cabinets in?’
“Sometimes, people aren’t ready. By making the call in advance it at least gives us two or three days to finagle things. Sometimes other customers are able to bump up the installation date, which is good for everyone. If we’re trying to do that the morning of the template, it’s too late, and we’ve lost a day of production. That allocated slot for capacity just passed us by, and we’re going to incur the cost of the labor – we end up just eating it. Without that call, as much as 15% of our capacity would go unutilized.”
** Listen to the full StoneTalk interview with Aaron Crowley **