The Perfect Way to Use Software in a Countertop Shop

Oct 13, 2022 | Business

Okay, I’m sorry for the clickbait title. That was rude of me because the answer is – there isn’t one perfect way to use software in any business. For over 20 years, we’ve worked alongside fabricators running businesses of all shapes and sizes. If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that each one is unique. And, that the most successful of those shops understand that refining their processes to make them work for that uniqueness is the key. Let me explain…

Shop A does mostly commercial work and has a larger team. Shop B is a small team that does mostly custom work. Their processes should not be the same, right? With that in mind, the solutions they are looking for in software are also not the same.

It seems dreamy to have one software solution that can manage everything, but we’re here to suggest that creating a customized software stack is typically the most effective way to streamline your shop’s processes and ensure future growth. In this article, I’ll attempt to give you a good understanding of software, software stacking, and what to look for as you invest in technology.

What is a software stack?

Seems important to define this for those not immersed in software every day like yours truly. A software stack is when you have multiple software solutions that work together to create efficiency. In any industry, this is common practice as there is never one piece of software that can solve all your problems all the time.

Many times, folks prefer their software providers to be really good at one thing rather than not so great at a lot of things. Remember the old saying, “a jack of all trades is a master of none.” Those options trying to solve every problem can be pretty good at everything, but they’re not amazing at anything. It’s more efficient to create a stack that works together, all providing amazing service. Less regrets, I promise!

So, as a growing business, where do you start?

Start with a good foundation

No matter your size, you’ll need a system for keeping all important information in one central location. Shops starting out may be able to keep up all their job information using Google or Outlook calendars and those growing tend to move towards more industry specific tools like Systemize for keeping information accessible. The thing to note here is that if you are looking to grow, whatever your system is, it will need to be capable of growing with you. For many reasons, it is very hard to switch over when you have grown. Ask yourself, “Is the way I’m currently able to find job information sustainable?”

💡Further reading: How to Start Streamlining Your Countertop Shop

How do you know if you’re ready for software?

Implementing software is exciting, but tiring. It’s an investment just like any other piece of equipment in your shop. Future you will thank you so (so, so, so) much, but it takes time upfront to implement it successfully. So, how do you know if making that investment is a smart move for your business right now?

Well, another question to ask yourself is, “What are we currently doing that is not working and how much does that cost us?” If you are able to use a whiteboard and google without anything falling through the cracks, then you are doing just fine. This works very well for really small shops. It’s typically when mistakes (and the resulting headaches) start happening that we start to hear from fabricators about needing to streamline their operations. It ranges from misquoting material to scheduling miscommunication to fabricating the wrong slab, and everything in between!

If these types of things are happening more often, you might be outgrowing your current system and hurting your profitability. It doesn’t cost anything to look into software solutions. A lot of our customers started with a quoting software because it’s faster to implement and an incredibly easy return on investment.

And hey, here’s a free guide to shopping around for a good program!

Ensuring Scalability

So, you’ve finally been convinced to implement software in your business. Here’s the thing many forget to think about because they’ve already got 100 other things to consider: the future. Whatever software you decide to bring into the way you run your business, it’s important to consider what your business will look like in five years, ten years, etc. Can this software grow with you? Your processes will change as you cut waste and keep improving. Is it customizable and flexible enough to help you do that? These are the sorts of questions you’ll want to ask during any of your demos. Keep those sales folks on their toes!

Another growth challenge we’ve seen for countertop shops is the onboarding of new employees. It can be time-consuming to train someone new on your processes and software, but if you don’t do it correctly it could lead to some pretty expensive mistakes. Another question to ask is whether or not your software solution provides the support you need to do this and what that looks like for you as a customer.

💡Check out our Knowledge Base and How-To videos for some training tools!

When you need more

There comes a time when you’ve grown and you’ve gotten so darn good at finding ways to increase your efficiency. That’s amazing! You might be needing more solutions than your current system offers. Try to see this as a good thing. Maybe even a great thing. Like the student has become the master sort of thing! *pauses to watch Karate Kid*

Ok, I’m back. When you have these specific problems where you know a solution will increase efficiency and profitability, there are a large variety of specific software options out there to add to your stack.

Example time! Your schedule is running smoothly and more streamlined than ever before. But, your operations manager was looking at their weekly numbers and realized there has been an increase in multiple trips due to missing materials at the job site. The inefficiency of multiple trips, the crew’s time, and miscommunication is eating into your profit. We call that waste. Well, the folks over at SPEEDlabel have you covered. Their software makes sure all cut pieces of a job stay together, preventing this sort of costly disorganization.

Here at Moraware, our open API allows for other software companies to separately build add-on solutions that work with Systemize by pulling job information. This communication between different software is what will make you even better at streamlining your shop. And this is just one example!

💡 Demo tip: Make sure to ask if they can integrate with other software solutions

You’ve made it to the end

If you’ve made it this far on this long article, thank you for your time! I suppose I could talk about software too long but I know firsthand there is a lot to think about for fabricators when starting the technology journey. Hopefully, this has given you some good starting points and as always, if you have any questions – we are here to answer.