First of all, a huge congrats to Creative Stone for an amazing 25 years being in business! That is no small feat for a small business, especially in this industry.
Of course, we just had to sit down for a chat with Amy Alt-Kellner, co-owner of Creative Stone alongside Dmitri Kellner, to see how they’ve done it.
Figuring out growth
Creative Stone has kept a relatively small team for many years with the help of machinery, technology, and reporting. Like many fabrication shops over the last few years, there was a boom of growth. Amy says they’ve done some hiring but that they’ve also added another CNC machine.
When asked how she knows it’s time to make a change, Amy explains that there is a moment when a business is right on the edge. She says knowing the numbers will help give you the understanding of where that edge is.
Some examples of reports that Amy uses to determine what next steps to make:
- Daily SF produced
- Jobs quoted
- Quotes turned into Orders
- Install time frames
Here’s a great example provided: If you have seven people in the shop fabricating and two machines running, you can produce a certain maximum number of square feet. But what if there is more business knocking at your door and turn around times are starting to get delayed? If you add a machine and keep the same number of employees, how much more square footage could you produce in a day?
This kind of thinking will help you know when it’s time to grow and what sort of changes will help you get there. When in a growth phase, adding anything that lets your employees do more work to meet deadlines is a game-changer.
💡Read more: Grow your countertop shop with these first steps
Reducing labor with software
Years and years ago, Amy used to do all quoting manually. It took a lot of time and energy. When they signed up for Moraware back in 2005, she admits to resisting a bit at first with Job Tracker EE Quotes (the OGs know…). It can be really hard to keep everything running and carve out the time to set up a new process, but once she did (and after a few curse words) she got everything up and running and has never looked back. In fact, a direct quote would be: “I can’t go back to the old way.”
Now, they have Systemize and CounterGo to help run their business. One of the major benefits for Amy is the CounterGo integration with Quickbooks. It has reduced so much extra work for the team at Creative Stone, not to mention all the time saved by not having to go back in and fix items mapped incorrectly.
After shopping around for quoting software, Amy ended up loving the simplicity of CounterGo. Drawing is easy, everything is calculated immediately, and it’s been easy to train people on. She also finds that customers are able to give a yes or no immediately when they see the layout, and that helps save time going back and forth.
Know your product…and your customers
The core of Creative Stone’s success is honesty. They pride themselves on exceptional customer service and setting the right expectations with their customers. Because they treat all customers the same, whether they come in for a small job or a big job, and are transparent, they get all their business from word of mouth. No advertising needed.
One of the ways they do this is by being transparent with their quoting. Their quotes don’t hide line items and every cost is accounted for because that is what the customers want to see. Additionally, giving an estimate of what their job could look like (via the slab layout feature), lets their customers know that Creative Stone cares about what they want and will work hard to achieve it. All while being upfront and honest.
Amy credits knowing their product and their customers for Creative Stone’s growth over the years. She believes in treating her team like family and her customers with respect. We’re just glad to be one of the “phenomenal” tools she uses to do that!