Over the last 18+ years, we’ve had many amazing opportunities to visit countertop shops. Whether it’s through a tour associated with an industry event or visiting our own awesome customers, we’re always happy to see just how creative fabricators are getting with the way they run their businesses. These visits often include business conversations which really help us understand the changes in the industry and inform our development of new features.
But, it’s not just about us! These tours are so beneficial in creating an open and collaborative tone within the industry. Every time we go explore a new shop, we learn something new and so do other fabricators. In case you haven’t been able to go lately, here are some important themes we’ve learned along the way.
1. There’s no one right way to set up a shop
After visiting so many shops, one thing’s for sure – they’re all so different! For example, some shops have elegant, extensive showrooms allowing homeowners to visualize how great their new kitchen could look. Other shops skip the showroom entirely and opt for a one-on-one consultation.
It’s not right or wrong to have either set-up. If you know your customers and what is going to get them to buy, then you’re doing it the right way. Don’t worry about what your competitors are doing.
Instead, add more activities into your sales process that allow you to understand your customers better. This could be questions that you ask during the first call or a survey you send out after install. The more you know, the easier it will be to (or not to) set up a showroom.
When it comes to machinery, slabs, and equipment, it’s really about your process. How can you arrange your shop so that it shaves off time here and there throughout your whole process? Asking yourself these kinds of questions is really good practice to always be improving. And when you are always improving, you are becoming more profitable. Cha-ching!
2. There is always something that could be improved
Which brings us to this extremely popular nugget of knowledge. The most successful fabricators will tell you this over and over again. You should always be improving. The best way to do that? It’s by learning. Learning how others are running their countertop business is really helpful but, here’s the big secret: it’s vital to learn about the way you are running your own business.
By knowing the entire process that a job moves through your shop, from quote to install, you’ll be able to implement ways to track all those steps. This will give you insight into where improvements can be made and where you are absolutely killing it.
3. Touch screens can help speed up your shop’s process
When I’m in a shop and I see our software on screens in every part of the shop, it’s pretty heartwarming. Not to get too sappy, but our goal is to help fabricators so seeing it in action is the big dream come true!
If you are like many of our customers, software is the core of your business’ process. It’s the epicenter of your communication. By adding monitors to your shop, the right people can always know the right information at the right time. Efficiency, is that you?
Precision Countertops takes it a step further and has touch screens in their shop. This way, it’s easy to start, stop, and pause jobs. The touch screen is quick to use and avoids the “I’ll update this later” attitude. It’s a really smart way to keep everyone updated on a job’s progress in real-time and prevent mistakes.
4. Shops that feel calm do exist
We’ve all been to shops that felt frantic and disheveled inside. Whether it was a mountain of paperwork overflowing on the front desk or staff members desperately looking for an answer, that hectic energy is in the atmosphere. You can feel the stress when you open the door.
One thing we’ve noticed when visiting our customer’s shops is that it feels calm and collected inside. It’s hard to explain other than saying it’s just a feeling in the air, but when we talk to these shop owners, they have one major thing in common. They have established processes and as a result, a more efficient and happier team.
5. Focusing on efficiency and automation is key
The financial crisis of 2008 was a tragic time for many countertop shops. Imagine investing a ton of money in new equipment and a new building right before it happened. Well, that’s exactly what B. Shea Surfaces did. After the financial crisis, they retrenched and really focused on increasing their efficiency and cutting costs where possible.
Over the last couple of years, B. Shea Surfaces has added significantly to its revenue without adding additional employees or reducing the quality of their products. That’s the power of streamlining your processes with software!
6. Company culture can be just as important as the numbers
You want to attract, hire, and retain great employees. It’s pretty obvious to anyone in this industry that it can be quite the challenge right now. You’re not alone. One of the polls shared at one of Park Industries’ Digital Stoneworking Expos recently shared that labor is the No. 1 business pain for countertop shop owners!
One way you can attract better candidates is by putting more focus on your company’s culture. Carolina Custom Surfaces addresses culture on their performance reviews. Everyone’s fit for the culture is weighed as heavily as their performance on the key metrics in the business.
Joe explains that when you catch someone in the act of doing something that supports your culture, you should quickly acknowledge it. You want to encourage the good culture and the employees who are a good fit because they are training the new employees as well. Rewarding has been proven to be more successful in getting the results you want. Plus, it’s more fun anyways.
7. Fabricators have the best desks!
OK, so this one isn’t necessary a valuable thing we’ve learned, but it’s so true! Fabricators always seem to have the best, most immaculate stone furniture.
Our team here at Moraware has serious desk envy.