As a new Moraware employee, I was ranging from nervous to excited to visit my very first countertop shop. But, there was no way to maintain any nervousness once you sat down with Dan and Aaron at Milan Stoneworks in Portland, OR. Easy-going and charismatic, we joked with Aaron, the owner, about his being able to take more time to golf now that they use CounterGo and JobTracker. We chatted about the way they’re using the software and what features they’d like to see improved – like drawing unique shapes. Being new to this industry provides an interesting takeaway from each shop as we toured them that I think differs from the veterans of the stone world. At Milan Stoneworks, I was impressed with their confidence in their process, a contentment with their business, and an importance of valuing their employees and coworkers.
The software works for you, you don’t work for the software
One of the things that stuck with me was that at Milan Stoneworks, they are using file folders. After playing it super cool and casual by asking, “You guys have JobTracker, what’s with the file folders?” They shrugged and said that it’s part of their system and it works well for them. Epiphany struck! Just because there are lots of features in JobTracker, doesn’t mean they all need to be utilized for it to be successful. All that matters is that JobTracker solves the business problem that prompted the user to sign up for it in the first place. My iPhone counts my steps, but do I ever look at that? No. Because it’s not why I have an iPhone. Is it a cool feature that I could start using? Sure, but it’s okay if I don’t. It doesn’t solve anything for me at the moment. The same thing goes with any software you are paying for. In this case, it’s solving Milan’s need for a scheduling tool and that is pretty great to hear.
The importance of knowing your limits
It seems to me that right now more than ever, shops are contemplating whether going digital is right for their shop. During our tour of Milan Stoneworks, we saw a clean and organized shop with a tried and true system in place. We discussed the temptation of going digital and expanding the business. Aaron explained that it just isn’t right for his shop. They do well, they just can’t justify the expense in economic terms nor do they really need it when it comes down to it. That is a highly important quality to have as a business owner – knowing the limits of your business. For a smaller shop, it’s tempting to want more and more and keep up with technology, but that’s too general of an idea. If increasing your business and going digital is something you really want, you’ll need to do your research, set realistic goals, and create a smart financial plan. Ultimately, you’ll need to ask yourself does spending more money achieve the results you want to see or are you already there? Either way, congrats! If you’re at that crossroad, you’re doing a pretty great job running your shop.
Your employees don’t just work for you, they represent you
Aaron ended our tour with some insightful views on employee retention. I couldn’t have been more thrilled with the topic. People being good to people. It sounds so simple, but then why do so many companies have such a high turnover rate? And when I got to thinking more about it specific to the countertop industry, doesn’t this affect the success of a shop when it comes to using systems and processes? If your employees don’t love coming to work, is that showing when they interact with your customers? The only answer I could come up with for these questions was a big and loud YES, duh. Aaron was right. Treating your employees well is an encouragement to be their best and do their best, even if it’s not with your shop forever. The secret is, though, they will probably want to stay forever.
I really enjoyed visiting Milan Stoneworks and hearing firsthand how CounterGo and JobTracker have enhanced their shop’s output. Basically, I can’t wait to visit more of you!