Blog: Stone Fabrication Software and Business Articles

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!

Industry Roundtable Recap: Taking the Time to Invest in People and Your Business

Last week, I got to visit beautiful North Carolina for the recent ISFA Industry Roundtable in Raleigh. As always, I walked away having had a great chance to meet and network with industry leaders. Also, I got to learn about what’s top of mind for a number of surfacing industry professionals including fabricators, distributors and suppliers to the industry.

ISFA Roundtable Raleigh 2019 attendees

There was great value in having this diverse, but small group all in one place with the purpose of discussing key topics in our industry.

The event started with a tour and reception at ROCKin’teriors, ISFA’s 2018 Fabricator of the Year. Talking to their employees reconfirmed for me that great people will produce great things. This high-end countertop shop invests in attracting and developing a great team. As a result of the dedication and knowledge of the people who work there, ROCKin’teriors is one of the premier fabricators for the upper end of the market in Raleigh.

The rest of the meeting highlighted how powerful it can be to come together as a group. Throughout the day, there were discussions about wide ranging topics from labor shortages locally to the impact of tariffs on Chinese quartz. What I learned is that fabricators are facing challenges on multiple fronts that are threatening margins. To me, that means that every activity related to every job should be executed with precision, whether that’s back in the shop, in the field or in the office.

What impressed me about the ISFA Roundtable was the openness of all of the people in the room, the willingness to share with competitors and the common desire to make their businesses and industry better. One conversation, specifically, that I valued was the dialog between fabricators and quartz manufacturers around the topic of silicosis. This frank discussion was enabled by the intimate, trusting environment. It led to some actions that ISFA will work on.

If you’re able to get to one of these events in the future, I highly recommend it. I’m looking forward to my next one!

Hard at work learning about best practices

In addition to the ISFA meeting, I had a chance to visit a couple of local customers in the Raleigh area. One of them had just bought our scheduling software, Systemize, the week before. Watching all of the activity in the office and shop was impressive. Customers were showing up in droves, installers were texting and the phone was ringing. It was a great reminder to me that working with software is only a minor part of the day for any of our customers. 

Here’s the rub—while distractions in any shop are a reality, success with our software will require budgeting some time to get it set up. Block out time on your calendar every day when you first get the software. If you can remove yourself from the hectic daily activities, that will pay off in a major way. Yes, it’s extra work on top of all the daily stuff that doesn’t go away. However, this customer realizes that when Systemize is in place and a part of everyone’s routine, it’ll be a huge improvement to their business.

Attending industry events and meeting with our customers is a great way for me to get deeper insight about how countertop shops are changing with new technology and market trends. I’m looking forward to my next trip! If you haven’t visited other countertop businesses, you should do that too.

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New Feature: Exporting Contacts

Helping countertop fabricators grow their businesses is one of our favorite things to do. We think communicating with your customers (aka marketing!) is one important part of that. Systemize and CounterGo aren’t marketing tools, but we know that sometimes it’s useful to export your customers’ contact information into other systems… or even just to create a mailing list so you can send thank-you notes.

So, we released a new feature that allows you to export your contacts from CounterGo and Systemize into a spreadsheet!

To see your contacts, simply go to Settings > Account > Contacts. From there you can click the big export button up top.

Once you’ve got your contacts in Excel or Google Sheets, you can segment your list to figure out who to email, mail, visit, or call.

Now that you’ve got the power to export your contacts, go ahead and get started sending those promotional emails and direct mailers. We’re positive that great communication with your prospects and customers will make your business better, and we hope you’ll sell more jobs than ever before!

How to export your contacts in CounterGo

How to export your contacts in Systemize

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2019 TISE Recap: The Value found at TISE

Last week, I was lucky enough to attend TISE for the first time. It was impossible not to be impressed with the size of the convention, but what really struck me was the creativity and dedication of the exhibitors. From small booths with creative displays to the looming robot arms, the amount of work put into this expo by each vendor was a blast to explore.

Finding value in all industry events has been easy for me so far, and this case was no different. If you haven’t made the previous expos or are debating next year, I believe there is value for everyone in making the effort to attend at least a few industry events.

The importance of presence

Your family wants it, your team wants it, your industry wants it – quality time goes a long way with all people. Spending time face-to-face with our customers, partners, and friends in the industry is a huge part of maintaining these relationships. Shaking a hand, sharing a laugh, talking with fabricators about their business problems…being present to do all these things is more personable and oftentimes more valuable than a phone call.

I’ve found that it’s easy to get wrapped up in the day to day role I fill, but by being at TISE I realized how important it is to be more present in the industry. Being on the floor among industry peers of all different sizes and services puts it all into perspective. We’re here to learn, educate, and grow together. Connecting at an expo like TISE is one of the many ways where this is possible.

Growing your network

In a similar thought, I realized that if you choose not to have a presence at TISE or industry events, you just might lose your place at the forefront of everyone’s minds. And that just makes me sad! If we were to never attend any industry events, we might also lose the opportunities to meet new people and foster our existing connections.

One of the ways Eric, Chase, and I worked to keep our relationships alive at the expo was to meet up with existing customers as well as new customers. By having discussions with our customers, we hear their feedback and offer solutions ranging from scheduling a call with our awesome support and implementation team to suggesting a consultant that we think could take your software to the next level. A happy fabricator is a measure of success for us.

Another way was by spending time with some of our amazing partners. Each time I meet or get to know a partner better, I learn a little bit more about why it’s so incredible to have software that can be built on to provide even more functionality. Or how Moraware consultants can help our customers set up their system as successfully as possible. Plus, they’re all a lot of fun!

And last but not least, I had a blast going to the different booths. It was such a great feeling to say “hi” in person to people I’ve been emailing for a year or people I’ve met once or twice before. By visiting the different booths at TISE, I was able to further those relationships and make new ones to catch up with at the next event. As a marketer for Moraware, getting to know the people in our industry and maintaining those relationships is a measure of success for me.

Quality time with the team

Personally, one of the aspects I find highly valuable in these events is the time I spend with my coworkers. And I don’t just mean because we’re a remote team. Even if we worked in the same place, I found a different value in attending TISE with my teammates.

What I find value in is that we’re experiencing something together. No matter what role we are in or how many years we have been in the industry, we’re still learning about our industry and getting to know each other in a different setting than the everyday office/shop/skype.

Each time I see Chase and Eric in person, I learn a little more about them and we work together better than before. Brainstorming in the lobby leads to more productivity than calls typically do. Meeting with customers allowed me to see their sales conversations firsthand. And perhaps most importantly, spending more time with them allows me to get to know their personalities better. In turn, these all help me be a more considerate and productive coworker. I’m not sure how to put a price on that, but I think comradery is a huge win for any workplace.

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