Blog: Stone Fabrication Software and Business Articles

Why Moraware is the best place to work: quality of life

The Moraware guiding principles are to improve revenue, profit, and quality of life. Revenue and profit are pretty obvious and easy to measure – those are the economic engines that keep our company around for the long-term. But what does quality of life mean?

We recently worked through this as a team, and came up with statements that we believe are true… or should be true in the the future. After collecting everyone’s ideas it became clear that the important areas that define quality of life are contribution, team, time, career, and money.

Here’s what we mean by quality of life at Moraware:

Contribution

  • My work is engaging & challenging, but not overwhelming.
  • My work is valuable, I’m good at it, and I like doing it.
  • My work has a measurable impact on the success of the company.

Team

  • I have a great relationship with my team.
  • I have open and clear communication with my manager and peers.

Time

  • I take time off. When others on my team take time off, I’m not overwhelmed by extra work.
  • For work that doesn’t depend on other people, I have flexibility to schedule my time.

Career

  • I am improving my skills through education both inside and outside of Moraware.
  • I am making progress toward my career goals.

Money

  • I participate in the financial success of the company.

If you’re thinking of joining our team, hopefully you’re reading this and it’s a great sales pitch for why you should consider our company! Check out our careers page for open jobs.

Or, if you’re a countertop fabricator maybe this is an idea that makes a great company culture for your own business. Having a great team is one of the most important factors in our company’s success – I bet that’s true for every business whether you make software or countertops!

Re-duce your re-works and re-claim your profits!

As Katherine mentioned in her recap of the last Stone Industry Education event, Eric Tryon had great suggestions for growing your business. The importance of tracking and communicating some basic metrics came up again and again – and Moraware can help! Let’s look at one of the areas that Eric pointed to as a silent killer: reworks.

Eric started by emphasizing the formidable cost of a rework. He explained that in order to get an accurate number, you should consider every person who touches the job.

Here’s a great example of costly a rework can be. If the installers arrive at a jobsite and can’t complete the install because a piece doesn’t fit, consider all the people involved:

  • The installer calls somebody at the office, and they spend time discussing what to do. (time $, mileage $)
  • Perhaps the there was a templating error, so you send somebody back to redo it. (time $, mileage $)
  • Your inventory manager orders new material. (time $, material $, rush shipping $)
  • You rush the job through the shop. (time $, overtime $)
  • Installers go back to install. (time $, mileage $)
  • You pay to get rid of the faulty top. (dumpster $)
  • You’re NOT bringing in money because your install crew is busy re-installing. (opportunity cost $)
  • You get a bad review and lose a potential sale. (lost jobs $)

Ouch! He made a compelling case for reducing your reworks! But there’s good news. We can help you get a handle on your reworks, so you make more money! 

Re-think your process

We’ve learned a lot from working with so many successful fabricators. They’ve allowed me to pick their brains and take snapshots of their systems, so we can use best practice to help you rethink your process.

Check out this article on Managing re-works & tracking errors

First, the article shows one way to send a job (or a portion of a job) back through your process to be reworked. Second, and perhaps more importantly, it includes an error tracking form that you can use to start tracking the details about the number and cost of the errors, as well as information that might help you determine the source of the error

Re-ward and re-trace!

Powerful information! If you get serious about tracking your reworks, you can make those numbers visible to your team and find creative ways to reward people when those numbers go down.

In addition, by identifying the source of the errors, you might see a common issue that can be addressed. Maybe one of your templaters needs more training or perhaps you need a better way to get the right gray quartz backsplash on the right truck. 

Want more help managing your reworks and tracking errors? We can help!

The Moraware Presentation

Our sales team attended the Park Industries’ Digital Stoneworking Expo a few weeks ago and changed things up a bit. At the event, Eric got to spend a few minutes talking about how software fits into the everyday digital stoneworking shop.

Instead of our usual approach of giving a quick software demo of our products to the attendees, we reworked the presentation to be more interesting and applicable for our listeners! We wanted to provide some insights on what we hear on a daily basis – why fabricators use software to help them run their businesses.

In case you missed the DSE, below is a transcript of our presentation.

I do sales for Moraware and I’ve talked to hundreds of countertop fabricators about their business problems. I want to spend 5 mins telling you a little bit about what I’ve learned. 

Understanding your needs

When we sell our software, the whole goal of our conversation is to learn about your business.What’s really valuable to us is understanding the why. My goal when I’m talking to a fabricator is to understand 4 things:

What are you doing today?

What works about that?

What doesn’t?

What’s the consequence of not changing?

Of course, we’ll show our software but that’s not the important part. Rather, it is a great chance to understand your business problems.

What we’ve learned about our customers

Now, the answers to those questions vary for every countertop shop. But, like I said, I’ve talked to hundreds of fabricators and based on that those issues fall into a couple of categories.  

Because you’re here today, that means you’re interested in understanding your business at a deeper level, making it more efficient, growing, and ultimately making more profit. The folks at Park have done a great job at explaining the key metrics that help you think about the productivity in the shop – like the direct cost to make a square foot of countertop.

But, as you grow something weird happens. You built a business based on the craft of making countertops. But then because you’ve gotten more systematic in your shop: you’ve automated lots of the repetitive work and increased your throughput. Your shop is no longer the thing that keeps you up at night. Most of you have either gone through this transformation or are about to – the fact that you’re considering digital equipment is the clue.

If it hasn’t already happened, you’re going to wake up and realize that you’ve got the shop under control, but the new bottleneck in your business is the office.

When it was just one or two people in the office, you didn’t have a problem. When you were just doing one or two kitchens a day, you didn’t have a problem. But, I know that once you hit that mark of doing more than two kitchens per day, communication in the office is the thing that’s hurting your business, taking your time, and preventing your growth.

So, what are some of the bottlenecks that we regularly hear about?

Well first, let’s talk about sales. I’m sure all of us have had home improvements done on our own houses. How many times have you reached out to a contractor and they haven’t gotten back to you? Or, they sent an estimator out to your house, and then never gave you a quote. Or when you do get it, it’s scratched on a piece of graph paper. That’s a pure missed opportunity.  So many countertop fabricators think they’re competing on price, but in reality if you just show up, are friendly, professional and give the homeowner a price–you’ve got the job.

Once you have a new customer, then the real work begins. You’re probably tracking details about the job in multiple places – a whiteboard, google calendar, file folders, and a spreadsheet.

Why is that bad? When a customer calls and asks about their job, at the very least you need to put them on hold. But more likely, you need to get up, walk around the office, and maybe interrupt another person or two to figure out the status or make a change.

Do you have examples of wasted time last week? What did it really cost you in terms of time and money?

Wasted time is painful, but it’s not the worst. In the countertop business mistakes are incredibly expensive. If you send an install crew to a house on the wrong day and they’re not home, that’s hundreds of dollars out the window. And if you fabricate a top out of the wrong color or edge, it’s thousands of dollars.

That’s just the negative stuff.  All of us want to think about the positive.  Growth. The reason you’ve been able to grow this far is because you have a repeatable way of turning homeowner’s money into countertops. If you doubled the number of customers you have, could you keep up with all of the communication and details? If you’re looking at a whiteboard, file folder, and spreadsheet… that just can’t happen. Again, around 2-3 installs/day is a strong indication to us that a company very well be in need of software.

Conclusion

So, I hope that helps give some of the why behind thinking about software in your office.

If you don’t have software, I encourage you to talk to someone who IS using software to run their shop. They’re the real experts because they’ll be able to give you first-hand feedback about software and how it’s working for them. 

If you’d like to chat with us, let set up some time. Before we show you how our software works, we’re going to ask you what you’re doing now, what works about that, what doesn’t, and what’s the consequence of not changing.

If you’re considering software to help you run your business, I encourage you to identify your bottlenecks. Also, let’s discuss whether our software can help!

Interested in having a discussion with us about how software can help your business?

Stone Industry Education Recap: Growing Smarter and Safer

Last week, Kathleen and I dusted off our cowgirl boots and headed to Dallas, TX for the Stone Industry Education summit. Okay, I lied. I don’t have boots… but Kathleen does!

These educational series by Natural Stone Institute and Stone World Magazine are incredibly beneficial to fabricators and sponsors alike. We attended as sponsors and a resource for fabricators but I’m still impressed by how much knowledge I took away with me from the one-day event. 

Being smart about growth

Eric Tryon gives a great talk. And as a team member of a company experiencing growth, I really enjoyed this segment of his presentation. Possibly my favorite summation of this was from a fabricator in the audience when asked what he’s looking to gain from the event. I want to grow, I want to kick butt, and I want balance.” I mean, can I get a “yeehaw!” He’s so right.

Sidenote: If you’re the fabricator who said this, you are awesome and I have about 50 more questions for you so get in touch!

When you’re looking to grow into a kick-butt shop, while maintaining a healthy balance, you’ll need to be efficient and safe with your growth process. Eric spoke on the importance of defining roles and skills, understanding your customer expectation, tracking your growth, and our favorite topic of conversation – bottlenecks.

“You are in the PEOPLE business”

If you are thinking, “But wait, I’m in the countertop business. Am I reading the wrong article?”  then I can totally understand why you’re confused. But, Eric explains that hiring and training are critical elements to your countertop business. If you want to do more jobs successfully and efficiently, you’ll need to invest in your people. 

He recommends putting the skills you are looking for on paper and looking for someone who checks those boxes. By avoiding the quick-fix hire and taking time to understand what skills are necessary for producing quality work, you’ll avoid costly mistakes and wasted time.

Another great point that really struck me was Eric’s discussion about onboarding new employees. Hiring and training the right people will perpetuate good habits for future employees. You don’t want a person who doesn’t meet their goals or follow your set processes teaching your new employees those habits. 

Tracking what matters

Now that you’ve got the right people in your shop, how do you know if you’re making progress? We’re talking data, people! Every shop is different and it’s up to you to sit down and figure out what data it is that you need. This data should show you what is working in your shop and what is holding you back so that you can make changes and grow.

There is software and technology available to help with this. (We just might know of some great software if you’re asking…) By using the right tools for your shop, you can track your results and make changes as needed. You may need a process for measuring your employee’s success or need data that reports how many square feet a week you are producing. Whatever your need is, find the best tool to help you consistently analyze and make changes. This will help you grow smartly and efficiently.

Let’s work smarter, not harder

As a marketing nerd, automation and efficiency are two of my favorite topics. As a Moraware employee, talking about bottlenecks is my other favorite topic. So, when Eric said, “Doing work and making money are not the same thing,” I might have been nodding too emphatically. 

The first step to lean manufacturing is to find the bottlenecks in your process. By focusing on improving the productivity of your shop’s processes, you’ll be able to find those pain points and find solutions that will allow you to grow. For example, here at Moraware we hear a lot about bottlenecks in the quoting process. Inconsistencies in pricing or quote turnarounds? Anyone facing these bottlenecks would purchase an estimating software like CounterGo to help them keep their quotes professional, fast, and accurate.

As you grow, you’ll solve one bottleneck and then find another one. It’s really important to remember that this is a constant motion, as Eric says. Maybe you purchased new equipment or changed a step in your installation process, and now your bottleneck is that you want more sales because you can handle way more jobs now. Sounds like a good problem to have! 

Just remember to always be tracking, measuring, and analyzing your data to keep up with your productivity. Eric recommends utilizing the “What Ifs” and asking yourself what you could be doing and then finding a solution to make those a reality.

A great industry to be a part of

Throughout the day, the friendly atmosphere only furthered my belief that one of the best, and most unique, traits of our industry is the willingness to share. “We’re here to share, learn, and grow together” is such a common attitude at every event and throughout many of the industry resources. If you haven’t attended one of these events near you, I highly recommend checking out their schedule and registering for one!

Do you have any estimating or scheduling bottlenecks? We’re here to help! Sign up for a free demo and have a conversation with us about how to improve your processes.

A First Time Fabricator Visit

I recently had the pleasure of visiting America’s Dream HomeWorks during a trip to Sacramento for Digital Stoneworking Expo. As a software salesman, it is always a welcome change of pace for me to see the inner workings of a stone fabrication shop. This is especially true when I know that Moraware is at least a small part of those inner workings.

Although I have been with Moraware for nearly two quarters now, the amount of time I have spent with our customers in their daily routine has been somewhat limited. Also, working primarily in sales means I’m spending most of my time talking to people who aren’t customers yet.

So, being able to visit the team at America’s Dream HomeWorks gave me the chance to see how much I love visiting our awesome customers. It’s eye-opening to be able to see the results of the meaningful business conversations I have every day in action!

Experiencing the Industry

My visit to America’s Dream HomeWorks left me truly impressed. From the moment I pulled into their large parking lot surrounding their impressively lettered building, I knew I was in for a treat. The front doors lead into a pristine showroom that is lined wall-to-wall with entire slabs. The space between these slab-lined walls is full of great stoneworking examples too.

From the immaculate stone furniture (fabricators always seem to have the best desks!) to the vignettes that could give anyone bathroom and kitchen envy, there is no shortage of fun stuff to look at in their showroom. After perusing their showroom for a few minutes (and considering each and every way I’d like to remodel my own home), we walked through the back to where the real action is.

The hum of giant digital machines cutting slabs, pieces of stone getting polished to perfection, the workforce getting these things done in a timely and tidy fashion – all of the cool stuff that never happens in my office! Visiting our customers always gives me a good reminder of what it takes to run a successful fabrication shop, and America’s Dream HomeWorks is a stunning example of this!

Experiencing Results

As a part of Moraware’s sales team, I spend a lot of my day talking to people who aren’t customers yet. This is something I truly love doing because I feel like I’m helping people get solutions and answers to their business problems. Taking the time with each new potential customer to hear what they’re currently doing, what they think can be improved upon, and how they can do so is very rewarding for me.

However, talking with potential new customers doesn’t always leave me with the opportunity to see the short and long term results our current customers benefit from. This is another reason why I love visiting Moraware’s awesome customers – experiencing those results first hand.

The great team working at America’s Dream HomeWorks is not only dedicated to keeping their business great, they’re dedicated to finding ways to improve it. It always makes me happy to visit customers that are excited to whip out their laptop after showing us around the shop.

It’s during this time (at one of those previously mentioned stone desks) that I get to hear about how much time CounterGo is saving on quotes, or how much smoother operations are (or will be) with Systemize. There’s really no value that can be assigned to experiencing those results in person and in the context of everything else their business is accomplishing at any given time. 

Interested in seeing how you could improve your shop with CounterGo or Systemize? Sign up for a free demo!

The Importance of a Software Demo for Fabricators

So, you’re interested in investing in some software to help your countertop shop run smoothly and drum up more business. That is fantastic!

Ideally, you’ve done your research and found the bottlenecks in your process where software can help. You’ve asked around, you’ve checked out the websites, and you’ve browsed helpful forums like the SFA. You’re ready to buy.

When you’re excited, there’s nothing more frustrating than having to wait to give a company your money and get started. We totally get that! Your time is valuable and the quicker you get started, the quicker you can improve your shop’s process. So why wait for a demo?

We are confident that going over the software and your business needs together is so important to your success with the software. In fact, we are so confident about it that we make having a demo a requirement before purchase of CounterGo or Systemize.

The Moraware Demo Strategy

Whether you are brand new to the software or a returning customer, it will only benefit you to have a discussion with the sales team. At Moraware, we have found the discussion about your business that takes place during the demo is key to your success with the software.

These demos are much more than just a demonstration of our software. They include an essential discussion about what you’re doing now for scheduling or estimating, what is working in your existing process, and what isn’t working that you need help with. We want to know what the consequence of you not changing your current process is so we can help you determine the value of this software for your shop.

If you can clearly paint a picture about your bottleneck and the solution you need, our salesperson can give you a better demo. They can show you potential solutions to your specific needs. Even if you are a little hazy about what’s holding your shop back, this discussion can act as a business consultation and find those pain points with you!

And, this discussion allows our sales team to be honest about whether or not investing in that particular software is beneficial to your business. We’re not in the business of taking money for the sake of it, we’re in the business of helping countertop fabricators.

If you’ve already used the software before…

We love hearing this!It makes us so proud to hear that our software worked so well for you that you want to continue using it wherever you go.

However, like any software, updates happen constantly. During your demo, you’ll get a nice refresher on the software you already know so well. More importantly, you’ll get to see what updates and new features have improved the software you already get value from!

Even if you’ve used our software in the past, it’s important that you go through a demo with us. This isn’t just a great way to share any changes in the software that have happened since you last used it.It’s also a great time to chat about why the software didn’t work for you the first time and how it could help you this time.

Maybe your needs have changed or maybe they haven’t and you just never got started on the software in the first place. Either way, talking this through with us will help us better determine your path to success using our software.

And thank you…

Your patience in waiting for a demo with us does not go unnoticed. We have some amazing customers! Starting new software requires time and effort in order to be successful. From taking the time to receive a demo to committing to onboarding, your dedication and feedback is essential to both your success as well as ours.

Interested in seeing a free demo of our software for yourself? Sign up by clicking the big green button below!