There is no one perfect way to run a countertop shop. Each business is unique and has it’s own way of doing things. However, the one thing all shops should have is….you guessed it…a process!
Whether you’ve been in the industry for years or just starting out on your own, all the successful fabricators out there will tell you the same thing. Always keep improving that process. Making refinements here and there will save you time and keep you at the top of your game.
Today, we’re talking about tools for your scheduling process. The most important thing for keeping jobs flowing smoothly throughout the fabrication process and through install. Below are the most common solutions we’ve found in shops for keeping track of ongoing jobs
The classic whiteboard
If you ever doubt a fabricator’s creative abilities, just check out their scheduling whiteboards. Each shop creates their customized whiteboards differently to keep their team on the same page. We’ve seen anything and everything, like post-it notes, color-coded marker usage, and even unique acronyms decoded only by employees at that shop!
Putting up a whiteboard is a great visual tool for everyone in the shop or office to find information on what jobs are happening when. It’s easy to edit information as it happens, especially if there is one or two people solely responsible for the whiteboard. This is typically a tool for smaller shops with less than five people needing a schedule or job information.
It doesn’t go where you go. Unless you are standing right in front of the board, you don’t have the job information you need. It doesn’t have all the job information your team needs in one place. Once you erase it off the board, it’s gone and then it’s back to searching file folders.
And speaking of erasing, we’ve heard too many horror stories about accidental erasing of the white board where everyone was left with no clue what the next week was supposed to look like. Big yikes!
As shops outgrow the whiteboard, they might move to a more digital solution like Google Calendar, or another email calendar like Outlook. This solves the problem of white board limitations by creating more access. Many shops will have one person in the office responsible for managing the Google calendar and creating a system for organizing it. Like most scheduling solutions, fabricators get ultra creative with color-coding and language in this program!
Kristian Tharaldson, Operations Manager at Great Northern Granite in Minnesota, explains:
“I came on in 2012, and everything was done on paper. It was a corkboard calendar with little pieces of paper with the job address and the material going to that address. We then moved everything to Google Calendar and tried to color-code everything…”
Well, first off, Google is free. Huge benefit! In several ways, Google Calendar is a step up from a physical whiteboard. Your information is accessible digitally, and you don’t have to be physically in the office to look at it. Your various jobs and activities can also be referenced later in time if needed.
When you use Google Calendar, it’s not your single source of truth. It’s really not a great place to keep and store customer information, so you’ll probably use a combination of tools. We often see shops using Google Calendar, file folders, and spreadsheets.
Scheduling software for countertop fabricators
Often, this is the final stage for growing shops. When they’ve outgrown the limitations of the whiteboard and google calendar, they find the benefits of software made specifically for the fabrication process to be the most successful. Usually, the final straw is one final mistake where some important detail slipped through the cracks and cost the business a lot of money.
To continue Kristian’s quote from above, “…we realized Moraware [scheduling software] was a better version of Google Calendar. When we switched [to scheduling software] is when everything changed in the company.”
Scheduling and job management software made specifically for fabricators allows you to take your shop to next level in sophistication and organization. Features like auto-scheduling, flagging job issues, and mapping routes directly from the calendar will help prevent those costly mistakes that are popular with really busy, growing shops.
An additional benefit that many don’t think about straight away is the ability to create reports based on your job information in the system. This goes back to the process we first talked about. We’ve gone full circle! A huge benefit here is that the right software can give you insight into how your business is running and where in your process you could use some improvement.
It’s not free. And, it takes some investment in the form of time, that you may not feel you have, to learn and set up. But, going from good to great always comes at a price. By streamlining your countertop business, you’ll be able to prevent costly reworks, improve your workflow, and provide quality customer service. This will make you more money in the long run.
So, what’s the next step for you?
It should be said that these three solutions I listed are not the end all be all of scheduling solutions. Fabricators are incredibly hard-working and resourceful, meaning that we’ve seen a plethora of solutions to solve their job management problems. These are just the most common.
However, the industry is booming right now. Shops are busier than many can handle with some of these workaround scheduling solutions. If you are outgrowing a whiteboard or your email calendar, it might be time to look at a better way to keep you and your team on track.
It just so happens that we have an awesome scheduling and job management software, specially made for countertop fabricators. Can you believe it? Systemize is an industry-leading software that has helped thousands of countertop fabricators organize and streamline their businesses.
Interested in learning more? Our team would be happy to talk with you one on one about how scheduling software can take your shop to the next level! Schedule a live demo or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.