Archive | Countertop Articles

Business Sense Sept. 21

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Business Sense: How to Start Streamlining Your Countertop Shop

Posted on 15 September 2021 by cradmin

By Katherine Gifford of Moraware

Many of you already know that a growing shop comes with a few growing pains. As more business comes in, your current process (and head) becomes strained. What once worked smoothly, starts to break down. Important details get missed, customers are upset, and the stress is at an all-time high.

This is where streamlining comes in. Taking those processes and creating a system that you can track and maintain is the most important task you can do for your business. Once you organize these, you’ll learn important insights into the way your shop is running. And, you’ll be able to tweak and refine the way you do things to save yourself time and money.

As some very wise fabricators like to say, “you should always be improving.” Refining your processes is a never ending task, but it’s guaranteed to make you and your team better and happier in the long run.

In this post, we’ll talk about some areas where you can start streamlining your countertop shop. Then, you can take your business to the next level and maybe take a well-deserved day off.

Estimating and Sales

It’s pretty common for this area to be the first to get organized in a growing countertop shop. It could be that too many jobs are coming in for one person to bid. Or, that the current estimating process simply takes too long. These situations are stressful and result in losing out on jobs.

The matter of time is an easy fix with technology. With estimating software, you can dramatically cut back on the time it takes to produce a quote while easily training new folks to quote accurately. 

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Business Sense Aug. 2021

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Business Sense: 7 Valuable Things We’ve Learned From Visiting Successful Countertop Shops

Posted on 17 August 2021 by cradmin

By Katherine Gifford of Moraware

Over the last 18+ years, we’ve had many amazing opportunities to visit countertop shops. Whether it’s through a tour associated with an industry event or visiting our own awesome customers, we’re always happy to see just how creative fabricators are getting with the way they run their businesses. These visits often include business conversations which really help us understand the changes in the industry and inform our development of new features.

But, it’s not just about us! These tours are so beneficial in creating an open and collaborative tone within the industry. Every time we go explore a new shop, we learn something new and so do other fabricators. In case you haven’t been able to go lately, here are some important themes we’ve learned along the way.

1. There’s not one right way to set up a shop

After visiting so many shops, one thing’s for sure – they’re all so different! For example, some shops have elegant, extensive showrooms allowing homeowners to visualize how great their new kitchen could look. Other shops skip the showroom entirely and opt for a one-on-one consultation.

It’s not right or wrong to have either set-up. If you know your customers and what is going to get them to buy, then you’re doing it the right way. Don’t worry about what your competitors are doing.

Instead, add more activities into your sales process that allow you to understand your customers better. This could be questions that you ask during the first call or a survey you send out after install. The more you know, the easier it will be to (or not to) set up a showroom.

When it comes to machinery, slabs, and equipment, it’s really about your process. How can you arrange your shop so that it shaves off time here and there throughout your whole process? Asking yourself these kinds of questions is really good practice to always be improving. And when you are always improving, you are becoming more profitable. Cha-ching!

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OSHA Safe +Sound Week

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Health & Safety Watch: Safe+Sound Week

Posted on 03 August 2021 by cradmin

Safe + Sound Week is a nationwide event held each August that recognizes the successes of workplace health and safety programs and offers information and ideas on how to keep America’s workers safe. This year OSHA invites companies to participate August 9-15.

Successful safety and health programs can proactively identify and manage workplace hazards before they cause injury or illness, improving sustainability and the bottom line. Participating in Safe + Sound Week can help get your program started, energize an existing one or provide a chance to recognize your safety successes.

All organizations looking for an opportunity to recognize their commitment to safety are welcome to participate. Last year, more than 3,400 businesses helped to raise awareness about workers’ health and safety.

Sign up on the OSHA website and then identify activities and events to plan and promote for your workplace or community. The site includes example activities, graphics and other resources. After you’ve completed your events, you can download a certificate and virtual challenge coin to recognize your organization.

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Bus Sense Featured-Image_customer-service

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Business Sense: Good customer service will make you more money

Posted on 19 July 2021 by cradmin

by Katherine Gifford of Moraware

It’s too easy to deprioritize customer service when you’re overworked and you don’t have a large enough team to step in and help. And given today’s market, when the jobs are rolling in with little effort, it’s hardly motivating to put extra work into a part of your business that isn’t production. 

But, the really important, really overlooked fact is that your customers are buying more than new countertops when they sign up with you. They are paying for a whole heap of things: your expertise, their peace of mind, a smooth experience from start to finish, quality products, feeling like they aren’t being ripped off, the list goes on and on. 

The experience you provide will determine if that customer writes a good review, refers you to new customers, and/or books you for future jobs. By offering a less than stellar experience, you’re really only hurting yourself in the long run.

On the other hand, you can choose to provide an amazing experience for your customers and leave them so thrilled they can’t help but refer you to everyone they know looking for new countertops. You’ll reap many rewards, my friends. Like more customers, more money, and less complaints! Let’s discuss some areas for improvement.

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Business Sense Juen 2021

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Business Sense: How to Get Your Time Back With Countertop Software

Posted on 14 June 2021 by cradmin

By Katherine Gifford of Moraware

“I am finally able to leave work and go spend time with my family!”

An actual countertop fabricator said that. A few years ago Moraware asked its users how software has helped their business, and their quality of life. The answers were overwhelmingly about the time they were able to get back. The freedom to focus on the important things, whether it’s other parts of the business or more time away from the shop.

So, if you are a countertop fabricator and your days are so jam-packed that you are pulling your hair out, where do you begin? Read on for the first steps to take in reducing the chaos and creating some peace of mind.

Ask yourself, “Where’s my time going?”

When you look at your work days over the last week or so, what projects or tasks have taken up the majority of your time? This is the first step. Any successful countertop fabricator will tell you that knowledge is power. If you track your activities, you’ll easily be able to find areas that you can shave off time from. 

Start with an easy win

With the right software, you can streamline your countertop business all the way through install. Taking a look at your current processes will help you find areas that need improvement. There will always be bottlenecks, so don’t be overwhelmed!  

Many fabricators start by taking a look at their quoting process. It’s an easy, high-reward move that will get you almost  immediate results. When shops switch from quoting by hand to using estimating software, they are able to produce more bids faster than ever. In this case, using software to speed up the bidding process allows for consistent and accurate quoting by anyone on the team and frees up time. Less time wasted on revisions, pricing mistakes, calculations and hand drawing. Extra bonus: because you are able to increase your bid output, you’ll naturally and easily increase your countertop sales. More time and money!

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Laticrete_PROJECT_SAFETY_main_banner

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Health & Safety Watch: LATICRETE Launches ProjectSafety™ Campaign

Posted on 20 May 2021 by cradmin

LATICRETE, a manufacturer of construction solutions for the building industry, has launched the ProjectSafety™ campaign, a company-wide initiative that provides access to safety education and alternative installation techniques to help lower the staggering injury and ailment statistics associated with the construction industry. This industry’s workforce handles tasks that range from carrying heavy loads to performing repetitive tasks to safely navigating often chaotic job sites, manufacturing facilities, warehouses and laboratories, placing workers at risk of serious injury. The ProjectSafety mission is to raise awareness about the risks of construction installations and help educate the industry on ways to mitigate those risks.

In phase one, ProjectSafety is a focused effort toward educating construction workers in all trades, at all levels of projects and general contractors about the risks associated with respirable crystalline silica and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as well as best practices for back, knee, hand and eye safety in the workplace. Phases two and three will expand with added content to Laticrete University covering health and safety best practices, training and education about products that are safer to handle and install.

Later this year in ProjectSafety phase two, LATICRETE will help increase awareness by providing education about potential issues that can affect construction professionals via access to webinars, data sheets and product information through the ProjectSafety page on the LATICRETE website.
The goal of the campaign is for companies to adopt accountability measures to effectively execute safer installation methods, countermeasures and actions to lessen the risks and impact on the installer and their business, resulting in an improved work environment. These measures include specific practices such as:

  • proper bending and lifting techniques
  • knowledge of what products should be used or avoided on the jobsite
  • types of tools and PPE that should be worn and when
  • education on a variety of certification systems and what they mean in regards to safety protocols
  • how various lightweight and rapid curing product solutions can be implemented
  • how to limit exposure to harmful chemicals such as respirable crystalline silica and VOCs

For more information visit laticrete.com/projectsafety.

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May 2021 Business Sense

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Business Sense: How to Better Manage Countertop Shop Scheduling

Posted on 12 May 2021 by cradmin

By Katherine Gifford of Moraware

What words come to mind when you think about your scheduling process? For a lot of fabricators – especially those with smaller operations – it’s chaos. 

Striking the right balance of supply and demand is what scheduling is all about, but when everyone at your shop is adding jobs, removing them, and making changes, that delicate balance gets thrown off.

Overbooking, underbooking, last-minute additions, and forgetting about holidays are incredibly common, especially when there’s no defined process in place for scheduling.

When your shop has too much on its plate, more mistakes are likely to be made. Not to mention some of your best staff members can get burnt out and leave, and replacing talent in this industry is incredibly difficult.

All of this boils down to a lower margin in an already low-margin industry. But don’t worry – there is a better way, and you can take small strides towards a more efficient scheduling process.

Why Focus On Scheduling?

We talk to fabricators every day, and scheduling is typically one of many bottlenecks they’re facing. What makes the scheduling problem so important?

If you think about it, the schedule is the pulse of your business. It’s what keeps everything else alive. Providing amazing service, having stress-free days, and keeping up with demand all rely on good scheduling.

If you overbook, then you have to call the customer and reschedule, but they just took off work to meet you, and now they want to be compensated for their time. It’s a world of hurt just waiting for you at the end of an already stressful day.

Aside from quoting, nailing down scheduling is often the first place shops start when they want to improve their processes.

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OSHA Whistleblower Protection Program

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OSHA Solicits Public Input on Whistleblower Program

Posted on 22 April 2021 by cradmin

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will hold a teleconference meeting May 19, 2021, to solicit public comments and suggestions on key issues facing OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program.

This is the seventh in a series of meetings on how the agency can improve the whistleblower program.

Open to the public, the meeting will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. EDT via telephone. Those interested in joining or participating in the meeting must register by May 12, 2021. Call-in information will be provided to all registrants. There is no fee to register.

The agency is seeking comments on:

  • How can OSHA better deliver its whistleblower services?
  • What kind of assistance can OSHA provide to help explain the agency’s whistleblower laws to employees and employers?
  • What can OSHA do to ensure that workers are protected from retaliation for raising concerns related to the pandemic?

Materials may be submitted electronically at http://www.regulations.gov, which is the Federal eRulemaking Portal, or by mail. Written or electronic comments must be submitted by May 12, 2021. See the Federal Register notice for submission details. Comments must be identified with Docket No. OSHA-2018-0005.

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Business Sense April 2021

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Business Sense: Grow Your Countertop Shop With These First Steps

Posted on 15 April 2021 by cradmin

by Katherine Gifford of Moraware

Business is booming in the stone industry! Either you are flooded with new business or you are wanting to be flooded with all that new business. Am I right? Hint: say yes so we can stay friends.

Working with fabricators for decades has shown us that growth can be a huge blessing, but also a huge pain. A growing shop is suddenly faced with strains on their current processes and more stress than ever.

But, growth is something to celebrate! And you deserve to be excited about it. So, we’ve compiled some practical tips that you can start thinking about now. That way you can put your feet up and enjoy the rewards sooner rather than later.

Update Your Processes

I know what you’re thinking – “You always say that!” And you’re right. Because it’s tried and true. The most successful countertop fabricators will tell you how streamlining their processes from quote to install have changed their business for the better.

This quote from the All Slab Fabbers facebook group was so perfect, I had to save it. “If you save 30 seconds on a step you do hundreds of times a day…”

If you could save time by increasing your efficiency in every step of your process, what could you spend that time doing? Being able to focus on the next part of your business that needs attention like marketing, customer experience, and metrics is vital to your growth. So is being able to take a vacation! With a streamlined process established, your shop can scale and grow without being dependent on one or two key people. That’s why we’re in the software-for-countertop-fabricators-business, after all.

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US Customs logo_cBP sm

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Cambria Announces Investigation of Antidumping/Countervailing Duties Evasion

Posted on 01 April 2021 by cradmin

Cambria announced in a press release that the and Border Protection agency (Customs) has preliminarily determined that fifteen U.S. importers have evaded the antidumping and countervailing duties (AD/CVD) on quartz surface products from China.

As part of its recent determination regarding evasion, Customs found that fifteen importers evaded the AD/CVD duties on Chinese imports by importing quartz surface products that were made in China and then transshipped through Malaysia before entering the United States without payment of the duties.

Customs is conducting its investigation pursuant to the Enforce and Protect Act (“EAPA”). Many U.S. importers know when they are purchasing transshipped Chinese merchandise and, as a result, that they are engaging in illegal evasion. However, EAPA does not have a knowledge requirement for Customs to find that evasion is taking place. In fact, one of the importers identified as participating in the evasion scheme has claimed to Customs that it never had any contact with the Malaysian transshipment company and purchased the quartz surface products through a U.S. company that claimed to be a partner in the Malaysian company. To avoid getting caught up in evasion schemes, U.S. companies need to be aware that any low-priced quartz surface products imported from Malaysia or other third countries may be Chinese merchandise. The purchase of this low-priced merchandise may ultimately subject U.S. companies to liability for payment of the AD/CVD duties.

Customs will issue a more detailed memorandum explaining its initial determination of evasion. Following this initial determination, Customs has seven months to continue its investigation and determine appropriate penalties.

Read the full press release here.

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