Blog: Stone Fabrication Software and Business Articles

We’re hiring!

We’re expanding the Moraware team in both customer support and marketing. If you know someone who’d be a great fit, check out our Careers page.

I’m really excited about growing the customer support team. Even though most countertop companies think they’re just buying software from us, it’s just part of the equation. Without our support team to assist with “getting started”, answering questions, and making great help articles and videos, things would be really different. Customer support is critical to success. It’s vital our customers’ success, and as a result, for Moraware too.

And speaking of success: marketing. We’ve never had a “marketing department” or a person who’s responsible for ensuring that we have a steady inflow of leads. Luckily (because of our great software, customer support, and sales) we’ve been able to grow the company without very diligent marketing. But, it means we’ve been missing out on a great opportunity. Almost every day, we hear from countertop fabricators who’d never heard of us before. We know we can help make countertop businesses better, and it’s a shame that we’re not reaching everyone we can help.

Interested in learning more? Take a look at our open positions!

Reduce “go backs” & set customer expectations

Stone Industry Education, Tulsa, OK

Fabricators from across Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas gathered in Tulsa last week for another Stone Industry Education event organized by the MIA+BSI.

The morning featured a presentation by GK Naquin from Stone Interiors in Alabama, but the afternoon was reserved for break-out discussions among the attendees. GK set the tone by sharing terrific stories collected over his 35 years in the stone industry.

Reduce Go-Backs to Regain Profits!

GK stressed the importance of reducing “go backs.” In addition to the cost of fuel and wages for the staff making the trip, you have to consider the cost of the work that is NOT getting done. So what’s the solution?

Participants agreed that incomplete information and poor internal communication was at the root of the problem. We’ve seen fabricators address both of those issues with JobTracker! For example, you can design Job Forms to track essential information, print Activity Packets to ensure your crews have complete information, and flag potential problems with Job Issues.

Check out this interview with Scott Hanes to learn how he uses JobTracker to support his workflow. For example, Scott requires that an initial intake form is 100% complete BEFORE they will even schedule the Template. Sure, you still have to enforce internal policies like these – but JobTracker makes it easier! You can see when you fall short and reward the team when you improve.

Create Happy Customers by Setting Clear Expectations

GK also emphasized the importance of setting realistic customer expectations. Money spent training your salespeople can have a huge pay-off if they, in turn, train your customers. For example, if your salespeople understand the properties of quartzite vs marble – and which colors fall into which category – they’ll know how to help customers set realistic expectations about performance and care.

Similarly, it is important to help customers envision how the slab they fell in love with in the show room is going to look once it is divided into smaller pieces and installed in their home. As GK explained, customers often fall in love with the complete stone almost like a painting. They might not stop to imagine that once you layout the counter, the “painting” may not be recognizable.

CounterGo can be a lifesaver here! You can quickly import a slab image and show your customer how it will look in their home.

 

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The Case for Single-Sourcing

Countertop fabricators who offer quartz, solid surface or laminate have a wide variety of brands from which to choose for their product offerings. Some business owners argue that, since the fabricator adds most of the value to the final product, the choice of brand is less important than the aesthetic, i.e., color and/or texture. Others choose to align themselves primarily with a single supplier in each material category, citing the advantages of improved communication, more favorable pricing, and higher levels of competency resulting from a more intimate knowledge of the product. Both scenarios can be highly customer-driven. In the end analysis, it basically comes down to a business decision.

Paxton Countertops of Lansing, MI

“Every year when we do our business plan we make a decision of what material in each category are we going to focus on,” says Dave Paxton of Paxton Countertops and Showers in Lansing, MI. “So, for instance, if it’s solid surface, I’m going to focus on Corian. If it’s laminate, we go with Formica. Quartz would be Silestone.”

Dave Paxton of Paxton Countertops

Increased Product Knowledge
Paxton says that single-sourcing material brands creates a type of focus which allows his staff to become true experts for each product. “We get to know all these colors inside and out,” he explains. “In my opinion, this is where we differ from some people. We get to know those colors to a T, so we know exactly every little issue that you could possibly have. We’re going to have the perfect adhesive matches. I’m going to know how that finish is better because I use it all the time. That way I can sell a better product to my customer.”

A partnership relationship with his suppliers is valuable to Paxton because it helps create an environment of trust, information sharing and mutual financial benefits. “They’re going to give me better pricing because I buy more from them,” he says, “which means I, in turn, can give my customer a better price.”

Less Waste, More Profit
By sticking to a single brand in each category, Paxton is able to become more efficient in his use of material as well. “If I have seven different suppliers of quartz, for example, I end up with off-fall from seven different products that I am never going to use,” he says. “At that point the extra is considered waste, instead of a usable product. That means I can’t give the customer as good of a price plus I don’t have the same kind of product knowledge.”
Dave Paxton deer cutout

As you might imagine, the choice of who to partner with is not taken lightly by the folks at Paxton Countertops. It involves an annual detailed analysis of all aspects of the supplier relationship. “Every year we review our previous dealings with the distributor, evaluate the new colors that are coming out, and everything we know about the supplier to make an overall decision,” Paxton explains. “Once the decision is made, that’s it. We’re sticking with that for the year. A lot of people tell me I’m wrong for doing this, but that’s what we’re doing – and it’s helped us immensely.”

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Buy Stone Direct: StoneTalk Episode 38 with Vinny Tavares and Jesse Miller

In StoneTalk Episode 38, Patrick speaks with Vinny Tavares of Pacific Shore Stones and Jesse Miller of Integrity Enterprises about buying stone direct.

Listen to this episode or read the transcript to discover:

  • The value of buying stone direct from the source
  • The challenges and pitfalls of buying stone direct
  • How to team up on stone buying trips to increase your buying power

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast in iTunes… and please let us know what you think! You can leave comments for this show on the StoneTalk Facebook page or on this site.

Also, we will be recording new StoneTalk episodes again soon. If you have stories or insights that you’d like to share with other fabricators, please reach out to Patrick.

Download mp3 directly

Real discussion. Real tools. Real impact.

The folks at Park Industries organized another great Digital Stoneworking Expo (DSE) in Bozeman, MT this month, with talks on everything from evaluating your shop to hiring strategies to meeting the growing demand for mitered edges. Four different fabricators were on hand to give presentations, and attendees were invited to tour two different digital shops in Bozeman.

The Flooring Place, Bozeman, MT

In such a competitive industry, you might think that people would be too guarded to have any useful discussion. Not so! Park managed to foster a positive, open atmosphere where fabricators shared their stories of both success and failure. Because when it comes to improving your business, you need the courage to face the truth, to look at the numbers.

If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

To that end, Park spent some time walking people through a process of establishing and tracking a couple of useful shop metrics: (1) square feet per labor hour, and (2) cost per square foot.

But they didn’t just say, “You should be measuring these things. Shame on you if you’re not!” Nope. They shared the tools, invited people to share their numbers, and the speakers were willing to share how they’ve been able to improve their numbers over the years. Attendees also went home with a spreadsheet they could use to get started – so everyone didn’t have to recreate the wheel!

“We cannot get to where we dream of being tomorrow unless we change our thinking today.”

Park Industries Co-President, Joan Schatz, opened with that challenging quote from Albert Einstein. Again, I think it set the right tone. It takes courage to change our thinking today, and the supportive atmosphere at the DSE helped people summon that courage.

As one of the speakers, Tige Rhoades from Out of the Woods in Layton, Utah explained, “Who you buy from is as important as what you buy. I received a lot of help as I was going digital, so I’m up here now because I want to give back.”

That fearless generosity says a lot about Tige, about the industry and about Park Industries.

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Measuring More Than You Can Imagine

When I talk with our medium-to-large Moraware customers, business efficiency is a topic I frequently discuss. More specifically, I’ll delve into reporting accuracy, capturing metrics consistently, and using those metrics to drive additional efficiencies.

While JobTracker and our reporting features give you a solid look at job performance, we only address part of the overall picture of your business. For the bigger picture, enter BP Metrics. I first learned of BP Metrics when one of our customers had questions about using the JobTracker API to access data via BP Metrics’ data collection interface.

I scheduled a getting-to-know-them call with BP Metrics and talked with Hans Dekker, their CEO. It was an enjoyable, far-ranging call about business, technology, and innovative things they’ve done. He shared some of their experiences working with JobTracker customers & Park Industries customers. He also shared a specific case study from one of their granite shop clients illustrating the breadth of their services.
BP Metrics logo

Hans told me about a professionally run granite shop in Florida who contracted BP Metrics to deliver key shop performance, production data and metrics. The CEO of this operation envisioned an innovative payroll system, in which staff would be compensated based on actual Production Volume & Performance. This unique approach delivered a self-regulating shop dynamic, in which all parties win together. It naturally drove performance, innovation, and efficiencies, increasing staff ownership and satisfaction, and improving the overall shop and staff utilization. The approach demanded detailed metrics and management input, which BP Metrics provided.

So how does BP Metrics work? That was a primary question I asked, so I’ll share Hans’ answer:
BP Metrics has a core data collection and reporting infrastructure. They tightly integrate their code software platform with each fabrication shop’s unique technologies and business processes. Their services address everything from staff activity, machine activity, and staff movements, to integrations with various shop software applications, clocking in/out (face recognition-based), payroll preparation, quote benchmarking, financial period reporting, and more than I can remember with my merely mortal mind.

In short, they’ll start by focusing on: What’s your need? Where’s your pain? How is your bottom-line? BP Metrics immerses into your unique business model and delivers exactly the metrics that allow you to step ahead of your competition.

To learn more or to contact BP Metrics, visit the Moraware Partners page or go directly to BPMetrics.net

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