Blog: Stone Fabrication Software and Business Articles

Keep your process moving

Working for a company in the stone industry, I’ve heard many stories on how a shop’s workflow can get tangled up in miscommunication and disorganization. While that sounds terrifying and can be very stressful, what this really means is that you’re growing. And that’s a very, very good thing!

Oftentimes, fabricators start with a quoting problem like inconsistent pricing or losing too much time to hand drawing. Here, they would purchase CounterGo or a similar program that allows them to produce quick, professional quotes. Now you’re selling more jobs than ever because you aren’t losing business to faster shops with better looking quotes. You are that faster, better shop. Hooray!

More Quotes, More Sales, More Jobs

Once a fabricator has solved their quoting bottleneck, the ideal situation would be a bottleneck in the scheduling process. “How can a bottleneck be a positive thing?” you might ask…

Well, think of it this way – As your business grows, you’ll notice that the growing pains will move around. It’s a constant evolution. There should always be a bottleneck in your business if you want to keep growing.

Now that you’ve got all these new jobs, you could be facing multiple new bottlenecks. Is your bottleneck getting their countertops out the door? Is it miscommunication between the office and the field? Are jobs getting overlooked because of disorganized scheduling? To put it simply, you need to keep your process moving….

A New System

If keeping track of all your new jobs is your pain point, congratulations! A great way to keep up with the influx of new business is to get organized. Maybe you’ve always been organized but that same system you’ve been using doesn’t work for the new amount of growth you’re experiencing. That’s normal!

By streamlining all your job information and calendars into one place (and ditching the whiteboards and file folders), you’ll have all the information your team needs at any time with just a few clicks.

Here are some ways implementing a new system worked for other fabricators: 

We centralized the job information, allowing it to be accessible remotely. This improved our workflow by allowing all team members insight on job schedules and the amount of work. It has allowed us to access data easily for shop metrics that was often difficult and inaccurate in the past.

Andy at Fresh Water Stone

The ability to establish such transparency has instilled trust in every department. Our sales team is able to see exactly where the production process is, any ongoing communication from customers, and install/service dates. Our production doesn’t miss a step and communication is fluid. This program allows us to embrace the enjoyment of our work and takes the worry out of processes. 

Chris at Excel Cabinets

Solve the bottlenecks

This is one of our favorite things to do here at Moraware. We love having a conversation with fabricators to examine ways to better their workflow and create solutions for their pain points. These conversations start with a demo of either CounterGo or Systemize depending on your business needs and basically, they never end. Your business is constantly evolving and we understand that.

If at any point, you feel like your current process could use a revamp, we’re always eager to schedule a call with you to work out a solution that’s right for this phase of your shop’s growth. 

Interested in learning more about how Systemize can help your shop?

Partner Highlight: DataBridge Integrations

Our number one priority at Moraware is to help fabricators. Its why we created estimating and scheduling software!

But we also understand that each fabrication shop is different in many ways and requires a variety of solutions in order to get more out of Moraware. This is why we partner with some amazing companies that also care about countertop fabricators.

Meet Databridge Integrations

The men behind DataBridge have a vision – to automate your redundant processes and save you time. Scott, Marty, and Shawn are passionate about creating integrations between established software platforms. We’re big fans of the variety of integrations they’ve created that link with Systemize!

Their favorite part of what they do? Hearing their customers tell them how much their apps saved them time by cutting down errors and redundancy through automation.

Keep track of your inventory

The MIRS (Moraware Inventory Reconciliation System) enables a Moraware Inventory user to create and print barcodes for every slab in the shop. The user is able to scan these barcodes using the app to keep track of all inventory, including remnants. MIRS is an app that produces fast and accurate inventory management for many fabricators.

Automatically send emails and texts to your customers

With JMAIL, a Systemize user can keep their customers updated with real-time progress on their job. JMAIL automatically sends notifications to customers based on the job status in Systemize. Those emails and text messages are fully customizable. For example, when an install date is added to a job, a JSIP user could automatically set a reminder email or text to go out to the customer 24 hours before the install.

Share data between Moraware and Slabsmith

If a fabricator uses both Systemize and Slabsmith, JSIP is a great tool to link the data between the two. By only having to enter information once, DataBridge estimates an annual savings of 600 hours of data entry and a whole lot of time fixing errors made from manually entering the same info in two different places!

Interested in learning more about how DataBridge can help you get more out of your Moraware? Listen to Scott and Marty’s interview on StoneTalk where they discuss the type of customers who use DataBridge tools.

We’re hiring! Sales, On-boarding, and Software Development.

Okay, I already ruined the punchline, but I’ll say it again. We’re hiring! If you’re a full stack software developer, or if you’ve done sales or onboarding for a Software-as-a-Service company… take a look at our job listings and learn more about what it’s like to work at Moraware.

If you’ve been following the Moraware story up to this point, you might be thinking that it’s not our style to hire so many folks at once. Well, last year our team grew by 50%, and we still need more help to accomplish all of our goals. For a long time we focused on making sure our team was super lean. But, over the past few months we realized how much better our company can be if we grow.

Growth is in our DNA

As a company, we’ve been focused on increasing revenue and profit. It’s not always automatic, but over the last 16 years, that’s what we’ve been working on and we’ve gotten pretty good at it. The green & blue bars represent our increasing revenue since 2012.

But, the red line represents something else that’s not scientific, and pretty hard to measure. Let’s call it “Company Sophistication“. Even though the revenue growth is nice and smooth, we only increase our company sophistication in bumps and jumps. Those bumps are painful and require outsize effort from the whole team.

The biggest reason that the sophistication line isn’t smooth is that we were mostly focusing on the things that helped our customers and bring us revenue: sales, on-boarding, customer support, and software development. We’d only make changes to our internal processes or structure in reaction to something going wrong. And, by the time things are blowing up, it’s even more stressful to make big changes.

Moraware in 10 years: better than today

We want to keep growing, and we want our company to be around for the long haul. And, we want it to be even BETTER.

Better means more stability, both for company and for everyone working here. It also means that we need to plan for growth, rather than just reacting to it. We could choose to keep reacting, but that’s painful and hard to manage. We want Moraware to be running more smoothly. We could also choose to slow down or stop our growth, but that’s the same as killing the company. Eventually we couldn’t serve our customers and someone would come along and eat our lunch. No thanks!

Growth also means we can deliver more value to our customers. We have a huge opportunity to make our existing customers more successful and solve more problems for them. Plus, we intend to keep getting more customers.

Yes, serving our customer better is a huge part of why we’re growing our team, but there’s a more selfish reason, too…

Quality of Life

When we’re busting at the seams, quality of life suffers for everyone involved with Moraware. We take quality of life seriously and we’re not willing to sacrifice quality of life for the financial goals. That goes for the quality of life of our owners, employees, and customers. We’ve taken a long-term view of the business, and if everyday of working with us or for Moraware is a grind… we’ll that’s not very good long-term thinking.

Growth also lets us increase our quality of life. We want to make sure that everyone is engaged and challenged, but not overwhelmed. Without growing the team, taking time off feels like it might slow down the progress of the company, or overwhelm the rest of the team with more work. Growing our team also means that we can spend more time building the internal tools to make Moraware run more smoothly.

Growing our company also means that we can help folks make progress toward their career goals. As we add to the team, there’s more opportunity for growth within the company. But, even though it feels like a big change from inside, it’s actually just an incremental step in terms of company sophistication. Instead of a corporate career ladder, we’ve got a corporate step-stool.

Excited for the future

That’s a lot of explanation to say that I’m really excited about our opportunities in the future. Having a plan for growth is really going to make our company better in the long-run. We’ll continue to increase our revenue, profit, and quality of life. We’re going to have a great company culture, and get things done without heroic effort. And, we’re going to get really good at increasing our company sophistication to match our growth.

And, we might need YOU! Are you a software engineer with C#, Javascript, and SQL experience? What about a master of having business-focused sales conversations? Or, do you love helping new customers get started?

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?