Creating a Work-Life Balance at a Countertop Shop

Dec 7, 2020 | Business

We talk to many folks in the shops and offices of countertop businesses and unfortunately, it’s more common than not to be totally and utterly burnt out.

Mental exhaustion. Emotionally drained. Never-ending stress. The headaches!

It’s no way to live, but it’s the norm in our low-margin, high-speed industry. While it’s easier than not to be discouraged and keep your head down, it’s very possible to have an excellent quality of life with a little life-changing strategic thinking. I know what you are thinking…”tell me more, please, I can’t wait to read the rest of this blog!” Well, let’s get rid of those headaches, shall we?

Why are we so stressed out?

It’s relatively common in the countertop fabrication business to work long hours.

According to researchers, working more than 10 hours in a day, more than 40 hours of overtime in a month, and 60 or more hours in a week leads to stressful feelings.

Certain times of the year, such as leading up to the holidays, are stressful times for everyone involved. 

Read more: Avoid Getting Burnt Out During the Holiday Rush

But often, owners and managers are so burnt out because there are too many bottlenecks in their processes. And here’s where things get hard – when you’re burnt out, how can you keep your team motivated?

Whitney Johnson, the author of Build an A-Team: Play to Their Strengths and Lead Them Up the Learning Curve, says “Your team is picking up on your stress, and it’s making everything worse,”

Understanding your business and its bottlenecks is the first step toward making improvements that’ll give you back some of your time and lift the weight of stress. Your employees will notice the difference!

Shave off time with a consistent process

For many shops with growing pains, their most obvious bottleneck is the way they get quotes out the door.

For example, Kristian Tharaldson, Operations Manager at Great North Granite in Minnesota, explains that he and his boss used to bid everything by hand. The desk was cluttered with calculators, rulers, and blueprints, and it was a fantastic day if they could crank out ten bids – together.

When they took the leap of faith and switched to using CounterGo, Tharaldson says they always had about 120 active countertop quotes going at a time.

Read More: 8 Reasons CounterGo Users Say Quoting Software Is Worth the Investment

For Tharaldson, it was obvious where they were weak – it was the drawn-out, manual bidding process! By introducing a software solution with price lists, they were about to increase their active bids 12x over.

Streamline your workflow

Another weak area for many growing shops is the entire scheduling process. Do you spend hours each day on scheduling? Are you using a complicated system that relies on a whiteboard or color-coded Google calendar?

A significant pain point is customers calling in to ask about their job status, and no one knows! The information isn’t handy, or it’s not updated in real-time, so a lot of time is wasted running around, finding the right person, and tracking down the correct information.

Throw in the occasional accident – like the cleaning lady wiping off your whiteboard schedule (Gasp!) – and that’s enough to make you pull out your hair!

Systemize, our scheduling software, can help you iron out this wrinkly mess.

Over two hundred Moraware users told us how this software changed their lives, and one of the most popular answers revolved around better scheduling and less confusion. One reviewer said, “This program allows us to embrace the enjoyment of our work and takes the worry out of processes.”

How’s that for less stress?!

Read More: Do Countertop Fabricators Really Need Scheduling Software?

Reduce costly remakes 

Another big stressor for countertop shops is remakes. One broken slab can take 4-5 additional jobs to pay for – and that’s just to get your money back! Turning a profit when you’re constantly catching up with remakes is difficult and stressful.

Our friends at SPEEDLabel came up with an organized labeling system to reduce reworks and remakes. 

For example, if you have a piece on your CNC and it breaks, most shops don’t realize it happened, and the employee just grabs another remnant. Now, if a piece breaks, you can report that issue in the app.

SPEEDLabel integrates with Moraware, making it easy to get information for your labels and keep track of your job all the way through install.

A side benefit is the ability to go paperless, which is a major stress reducer!

Read more: Go Paperless and Reduce Remakes with Moraware and SPEEDLabel

Improve communication to prevent mistakes

How much of your time is spent putting out fires due to lack of communication?

This is not only a huge waste of time, but it’s stressful! The more you communicate, the more impressed and thankful your customers will be.

Systemize, our job management software, helps your countertop fabrication business by providing you with the following information at any given time:

  • Always know the status of a countertop installation – has the countertop been cut? Is the install scheduled yet?
  • Measure what you did last time and improve it for next time – which install crew is the most effective? Which team generated the most repair calls?
  • Monitor tasks and ensure they’re getting done

Not only is your staff experiencing better communication, but you can update your customers at any given moment with the confidence that the information is accurate. Setting the right expectations and communicating consistently will get you a customer for life.

Read More: How to Increase Countertop Sales with Better Customer Service

Get the data you need to turn a profit

Wouldn’t it be a perfect world if you were profitable enough that you never had to worry about making payroll? What if you actually had some extra left over? 

It all starts with knowing your numbers. If you don’t know where you are, how can you get to where you want to be?

Thankfully, there are data nerds out there that can help you track and report on the data you need to turn a profit.

Consultants like Kim Duda can take the data you already have and show it to you in a meaningful format. Then, you can make smarter business decisions

Maybe you can clearly see an employee is severely underperforming compared to others. Perhaps you see you’re having to go back to the job site way too often – what’s the cause, and what steps can you take to avoid that going forward?

These are two small examples in a pool of hundreds of possibilities.

If you’re using software made for fabricators, you have a ton of data already (as long as you’re putting good data in, that is). Consider working with an expert to maximize your business opportunities!

Quit Trying to Do It All

You can’t grow if you’re doing everything yourself. You want to enjoy life outside of work for once. We should work to live, not live to work!

A great start is admitting you’re working in your business, not on your business. What are the day-to-day tasks that are draining you of your time?

Once you streamline the processes in your shop, it’ll be clear which positions need to be filled. Hiring the right people to fill in the “gaps” will free up your time for other things, such as other parts of the business, or dare I say… life outside of work?!

Adding software and fabrication technology to your shop enables your employees to take some of your tasks off your hands. 

  • No more running to you for answers
  • No more spending all day long on bids alone
  • No more confusion about who needs to be where at what time

Hiring someone with previous industry experience or stone software experience can help as well. However, as always, attitude is much more important than experience. You can teach skills, but a bad attitude will lose you money.


If you’ve been avoiding adding quoting and scheduling software to your shop, here are some insights from Moraware users:

  • “I sleep better because all the job specific customer details are in Moraware, not in my brain!”
  • “It saves time and money, which allows me to spend time doing other things!!”
  • “Removed wasting of time – able to concentrate on more important things.”
  • “Holds people accountable to complete the tasks that are assigned to them.  Keeps all the information in the same place so that everyone has real time access.”
  • “No longer taking work home.  And if a problem does occur after hours I can view Moraware from my phone no mater where I am.  Definitely cuts down on the stress.”
  • “I get to spend more time working in the shop instead of in front of a computer.”

Part of this is also mental – you have to be determined to thrive in this industry. If you want it, pull the bandaid and put in the work to set yourself up for success.

You’ll be on your way in no time.

Want to chat with us about how streamlining your process can reduce your stress and give you your life back? Click the big button below to schedule a demo!

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