Blog: Stone Fabrication Software and Business Articles

Meet Amanda!

Hello there! I’m Amanda, one of the newest additions to the Moraware team. I’m coming on as a a member of the Customer Support team and will primarily be onboarding new users to our products. I can’t express how thrilled I am to join this group of highly skilled, thoughtful professionals who are absolutely dedicated to supporting our customers business needs.

A little about me and what I bring to the table — I have a background in Graphic Design, Visual Communication, Project Management, and Training & Development in a Software Support environment. This makes me well-suited to helping our newest clients learn to navigate our products and wiggle out new solutions to the issues that inevitably arise for any growing business.

When I’m not introducing our customers to the ins and outs of our products, I like to travel and take my little boy to museums. So far, we’ve checked off the Met, the Getty, the Natural History Museum in NYC, and the Smithsonian in DC.

When we’re chilling at home in Seattle, we like to roam around outdoors or play video games and do art projects when its raining (which is frequent).

I’m very excited to meet you and show you all the advantages of our products and how Moraware can meet your business needs!

Digital Stoneworking Expo Recap: Fabricators Sharing Best Practices is Awesome as Ever

Going to the Park Industries’ Digital Stoneworking Expos is always something we look forward to here at Moraware. We try to take turns so that everyone on our team can attend. It gives us more insight into the needs and business problems that our customers and other fabricators are going through. And, it’s really fun to spend some time together in person.

This time, it was yours truly and Harry attending the Chicago event. And we all know how much Harry loves these!

As usual, I learned a lot listening to fabricators sharing their stories and listening to their questions. So, I thought I’d share some of my favorite highlights from the DSE for you!

What is the cost to do nothing?

A lot of fabricators attend these because they know that something needs to change in their shop. And honestly, we should always be changing if we want to keep being successful.

If you are lucky enough to know exactly what the bottleneck in your shop is and how to fix it, what would happen if you continued doing nothing about it? Would you lose money and eventually go out of business? Would you keep having a high employee turnover, which ends up costing you time and money on training and hiring?

It doesn’t matter what it is that is causing you a big fat business headache, it’s going to cost you more to do nothing about it. Sometimes you have to invest in a solution to see better results. This could be developing a better culture to keep your great employees or investing in technology for your shop.

In order to change, you must have a process

So, you decide to go ahead and do something to better your fabrication business. Huge step! It can be overwhelming and pretty darn scary. As Geoffrey Gran from The Countertop Factory said, “Change can be scary, it’s the owner’s job to lead.”

I feel like a broken record here but it’s too true not to say over and over again – every shop needs a process. And it will change as your shop’s bottlenecks change. In the Identifying Your Shop’s Bottlenecks breakout, Brett Brunson of Evolution Granite said, “Bottlenecks – we fix one and find another.” It’s only circled a couple hundred times in my notes…

Attending these events, touring other countertop shops, and asking your fellow fabricators are some first steps in learning how to improve your efficiency and define your process. These tips will help steer you in the right direction and tracking your metrics will help you fine-tune the process that works best for your team.

Labor pains in the stone industry

I found it really interesting that one of the polls showed Labor as the number one business pain. All of the speakers mentioned retaining talent in some way or another. With a labor shortage haunting fabricators of all sizes, training and culture are more important than ever in a countertop shop.

Creating easy processes and taking the time to develop thorough training allows less experienced employees to be successful. It also prevents mistakes and bad habits that can end up costing you.

As for culture, Sepp Vanderputten from Sarto Granite talked about his employees feeling like family. He found that by caring for and treating his team well, they shared the same level of concern for their work.

Thanks for the love

It was incredibly humbling to hear Moraware mentioned as the “lifeline” for many fabricators at this event. In the breakout discussions I attended, I was amazed at how often Moraware came up in different conversations about best practices. Our goal here at Moraware is to help fabricators in their business, whether it’s our software or highlighting best practices and industry resources.

Attending industry events like these are educational for us, too. We learn what fabricators are facing in their businesses and can continue developing solutions to help. Come say hi to us at the next one!

Want to chat about your process? Shoot us an email, we’re always happy to help!

Partner Highlight: Job Well Done

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 Job Well Done

Based in Minnesota, these three childhood friends found a need in the countertop industry for better communication and improved workflows. Job Well Done is the result of a great understanding of the countertop installation process.

They’ve used their first-hand installer experience to create an app that would solve problems specific to the stone industry. Mostly, communication problems that hold up jobs, like real time updates and issue resolution. Job Well Done helps you connect your office to your field for faster results.

Access from anywhere

We optimized Systemize for better use in the field, so we can definitely appreciate how the Job Well Done app helps our customers and others access job info from anywhere on a mobile device.

Imagine being able to communicate issues and solve them right away. Would make your customers pretty happy, I bet. Job Well Done facilitates communication between your office and field by taking all the information inputted into Moraware from the office and notifies the installers in real time.

For management & field service

Management can use Job Well Done to see real-time updates on a job, be proactive about any installation issues, and relay whatever information from Systemize that they want the installer to see.

Field service can use Job Well Done to view relevant customer information, take before and after photos, and capture customer’s sign-off signatures.

Improve accountability with before & after pictures and capturing signatures

Don’t want to be held accountable for damages the customer believes you did during installation? Prevent these awkward situations by documenting before and after photos of the site.

Take the photos with Job Well Done and save them directly to your Systemize. Want to know more about taking before and after photos? Here’s a quick guide we made last year!

You can also capture customer’s signatures onsite and have a digital record of the job’s sign off in your Systemize documents as well.

Learn more about Job Well Done

These are just a few of the helpful features that Job Well Done is capable of with Systemize or standalone! For more info, check out their website.

No Lift Install System has your back

 

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to tag along on a Precision Countertops install here in Oregon. Working for a software company (and remotely), I’m always eager to be in the field with our customers seeing what they do for their customers. This one was especially fun because it was a little group of industry folks there – Moraware, SpeedLabel, and No Lift Install System all in one place. 

Where did No Lift Install System come from?

I hadn’t heard of the No Lift Install System yet even though it was created by one of our long-term customers, Aaron Crowley of Crowley’s Granite. If you haven’t heard him as a guest on StoneTalk, you can listen to him on the very first episode. Aaron is all about making life better for fabricators whether it’s sharing best practices in the shop or creating useful tools for installers. 

The folks behind the No Lift System realized there was a big problem in the countertop industry. High turnover rates are costly for fabricators and installers are getting injured and burnt out. 

So, they came up with a solution – the No Lift Install System

But what does the No Lift System do?

If you’d like to see the mechanics of the No Lift System, they have a great website with lots of great videos to check out. It was really neat to see in person, even though I didn’t end up getting a lift on it back to my car like I asked…maybe next time.

But because we’re always focused on solutions for countertop fabricators, I was really interested in understanding why a fabricator would need a tool like this. And from what I gathered by interrogating both the Precision team and the No Lift System team, the No Lift System is a two-part solution. There are benefits for the owner and just as many benefits or the installer. 

For the owner, the system prevents risk and reduces employee turnover. The cart eliminates the risk of dropping or damaging the countertop, which in turn eliminates those pesky and costly reworks. At the same time, you can keep your favorite installers because they won’t be getting hurt and even send less of your staff to each job site – more resources for more jobs, hooray!

For the installer, the benefits are obvious. No inevitable back surgeries. As an installer, you get to make the customer happy because you are the last part of their new countertop journey. Now you get to the good part even faster with the help of a mechanical cart. Not to mention, working for a business that cares about your health and safety is always appreciated.

Thanks for letting me join in on the fun Precision Countertops & No Lift System!

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Hiring for Attitude with Portland Marble Works

When Jim sent us an email about the value he finds in listening to other fabricators on StoneTalk, I already knew he was a good manager. But, as I only live a few minutes away from Portland Marble Works, I thought I’d go see for myself.

And after 26 years in the industry and having a naturally open and friendly disposition, Jim proved me right. We talked about a lot of the ups and downs of working in a countertop shop. He also talked a lot about their growth and the changes that come along with that. Mostly, we chatted about the importance of hiring the right people and what it takes to keep them.

Hiring for Attitude

All of us involved in the stone industry are painfully aware how hard it can be to find great employees. Especially, during a labor shortage. The pool of options is small and every shop prioritizes different talents, skills, and personality traits. 

What often happens is that a shop hires someone based on their years of experience, even if they don’t seem like a good fit for the rest of the team. And while experience is important and can be a really great addition to the team, is it possible that attitude is more important?

Both Jim and Tom, the owner, think so – they both emphasized that they’re hiring for attitude. It’s so important to them that they’re currently producing as a four person fabrication team with a growing customer list. And while it’s hard to wait, it’s a greater priority to get the right people on the team than it is to fill the gaps with the wrong people. 

What’s the cost of culture?

It’s expensive to hire. And it’s expensive to lose employees. Portland Marble Works understands that taking the time and prioritizing attitude will benefit everyone – including customers. Maybe an applicant has limited experience, but has a good attitude and a personality that will fit in with the team they already have. Are they a better option than the applicant with 20 years of experience but a bad attitude?

Portland Marble Works (and Moraware) would argue that yes, it is a better option. You can always train someone, especially if they have the good attitude we’ve been talking about. Hiring someone who isn’t a good fit for your shop can cause a lot of problems ranging from employee arguments to costly mistakes from a lack of communication. And I can guarantee that no customer wants to experience waiting longer for their countertops.

Hiring the right person can add to the environment, encourage team work and communication, and prevent mistakes. These are the skills that can’t be taught.

Keeping your great team

Jim knows that he’s asking a lot of his small team while they’re looking for those good fits to add. He shows his appreciation and works hard right alongside them. He’s constantly educating himself with industry resources and learning how to be better.

But mostly, his years of experience in a fabrication shop have shown him what a good manager does and doesn’t do. For me, Jim summed it up best with this quote: “A good manager does things right. A good leader does the right thing.” 

Thank you to the team at Portland Marble Works for taking the time to show me around and talk shop, software, and donuts with me!

Sharing is caring. Want to share your shop’s best practices with others? Shoot me an email to be featured!

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?