You already spend enough money keeping your countertop company afloat. Wouldn’t it be nice to actually save a dollar or two for once?
While you might see tips about creating more efficient processes or lowering your material costs, there’s one easy(ish) way to save money for your business, and it’s all about setting clear expectations. That’s right, a bit of communication here and there is all you need to keep more cash in the bank and less on the shop floor. Here’s how setting clear expectations will save your countertop company money.
Reduce Expensive Reworks
Close your eyes and imagine for a minute. You just finished a massive countertop installation. The customer told you what they wanted, you fabricated the slab, hauled the massive stone over to their house, and installed it, only to get an email from the client that they didn’t want granite; they wanted marble!
Okay, that’s an extreme example, but you get the point. That moment of dread when you realize you have to restart the process. All the time and money you spent fabricating the first countertop just went right down the drain. How could you have possibly avoided this predicament!?
When you set clear expectations with the client from the get-go, you can avoid these expensive reworks.You understand exactly what the client wants, and the client knows exactly what to expect. That way, there’s no silly miscommunications or reworks that waste your time and money.
How often has your crew shown up to an installation job, only to find the house is a mess and there’s all sorts of stuff in the way? Then, you have to awkwardly ask them to clean up a bit or, worse, push their stuff out of the way.
All these little inconveniences aren’t just annoying. They take up time and cost your company money. Not only are you paying your workers to wait around, but they also might be late to their next job.
If you provide clear expectations with the customer about the stages of the fabrication and installation, they’ll know what to expect and be ready for it. This will help with a stress-free experience for both you and the customer.
It doesn’t mean you’ll never have to deal with a cluttered workspace ever again, but it’ll definitely save you a few hours, headaches, and dollars in the long run.
Increase Customer Satisfaction
Remember way back when you imagined that nightmare scenario about fabricating the wrong countertop (like two seconds ago)? Well, you weren’t the only one upset in that situation. The customer was probably a little grumpy about getting the wrong countertop, too. There’s a good chance they won’t do business with you in the future or, worse, would leave bad reviews and tell their friends to avoid your company. This also translates to losing you money.
Instead, if you set clear expectations from the beginning and nailed each step from start to finish, you’d have one more raving fan who can’t wait to tell all their friends about how great you were! They might even leave you a lovely review on Google and help you pick up new clients.
When people know what to expect, there’s no uncertainty or dissatisfaction. Even if there are a few bumps in the road during the fabrication process (which never happens at your shop, of course), being transparent with the customer throughout the process will keep their satisfaction levels up.
Remember, expectations aren’t set in stone—unlike countertops! While you should definitely try your best to stick to the original plan, things happen. Everyone can understand that. As long as you communicate and are transparent from the start, you maintain that all-important customer satisfaction.
Keep Employees in the Know
Customers aren’t the only ones who need clear expectations. Your employees can also thrive and save you money when they know what’s going on.
For the most part, your employees want to help the company succeed. But you’d be surprised at how many companies leave their definition of “success” up to the imagination. If you tell your employees your exact expectations for success, they’ll try their hardest to help you achieve it!
Scheduling is the most obvious example of expectation-setting in the countertop fabrication world. Everything is linear. Obviously, you can’t get to an install job before the previous job is complete. You can’t install a countertop before it’s fabricated. You can’t fabricate a countertop before the designs are drawn. And so on…
When you make your scheduling expectations clear with your employees, they’ll better know how to pace their work to stay on schedule. That’ll help you complete more jobs, make more customers happy, and of course, make more money for your company!
4 Tips for Setting Clear Expectations
Saying you should set clear expectations is one thing, but actually doing it is another! Here are a few tips to help you set expectations with both your customers and employees to really boost your profits.
1. Educate Your Customers
As interesting as it may be, countertop fabrication isn’t something most people know a lot about. They don’t know how hard it is to fabricate a countertop or the process involved. But if you tell them a little bit about your niche, they might be more understanding with timelines or if an issue pops up.
Of course, you don’t have to get into the real nitty-gritty, but it’s always nice to educate your customers about rough timelines between design, fabrication, and installation. That way, they know what to expect and how to keep their personal expectations realistic. They might want their custom countertops installed by tomorrow afternoon, but we do (unfortunately, perhaps) live in the real world.
2. Communication: Regular and Transparent
As the age-old saying goes, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Well, expectations are just that, expected. They’re not guaranteed. When something does inevitably go awry, you’ll need to update your expectations.
Constant and transparent communication is the key to maintaining your expectations with anyone, whether it be with your employees or customers. Whenever something changes, send an email, message, text, or phone call right away to keep everyone in the loop. When people know what’s going on, they won’t get upset when the unexpected occurs.
It’s also a good idea to set up a regular contract schedule. Even if everything is on track, a weekly update email never hurt anything!
3. Document Everything
People tend to forget. So, even if you set clear expectations, there’s no promise whoever you set the expectations with will remember what the expectations were. Frustrating…
To fix the problem, document everything. Create schedules your customers and employees can reference to keep up with expected timelines. Take notes and pictures when things progress or change to keep everyone in the loop. The best way to keep everyone on the same page is to create a page they can actually look at!
4. Utilize the Power of Technology
Technology is wonderful, but it’s not just used to help you cut your countertops with ultra-precision in a fraction of the time compared to doing it by hand. You can also use technology to help set expectations.
There are tons of software solutions available to help you keep up with both employees and customers to set clear expectations. For example, CounterGo is a great tool for customizing quotes, showing clients what they need to see, and even drawing their countertops right in front of them. You can even use the slab layout feature to show them veining and where all the seams will go. Talk about setting crystal-clear expectations!
Set Expectations, Make More Money
When everyone is on the same page, it’s easy to keep the work quick and efficient. Customers know exactly what’s coming down the road, keeping them happy and informed, while your employees can keep up with schedules to stay nice and efficient. In the end, happy customers and efficient employees equal more money for your shop!