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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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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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Business Sense March 2021_kpis-400x250

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Business Sense: A Quick Guide to Setting Goals For Your Countertop Business

Posted on 24 March 2021 by cradmin

By Katherine Gifford of Moraware

Goals are critical for any business, including the fabrication industry. Without them, it’s like playing a game of darts in a pitch-black room. You keep aiming and throwing, but you have no idea if you’re ever going to hit the bullseye.

That’s where KPIs come in. 

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are indicators that track your progress toward a specific goal. KPIs give your business focus – something to work towards. According to Peter Drucker, “What gets measured gets done.”

In this quick guide, we’ll go over how to set and track KPIs that matter for your countertop shop.

What are KPIs?

KPIs help you track the health of your company. For example, here at Moraware, we track new customer activity as a measure of success. Why? Because we’ve found that if our new customers aren’t active within the first few weeks, they aren’t likely to be active at any point and will cancel. 

That’s one KPI we measure and report on that directly affects the way we do business. What metrics are important for your business?

First and foremost, you want to make sure it can check a few boxes. Here are a few features of a great KPI:

  • You should be able to tell if you’re making progress toward your goal
  • Your measurements along the way should help you make better business decisions
  • You should be able to compare performance change over time – for example, sales this month versus sales this month last year

A KPI can track efficiency, effectiveness, quality, timeliness, governance, compliance, behaviors, economics, project performance, personnel performance, or resource utilization.

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OSHA

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Health & Safety Watch: OSHA Launches National Emphasis Program

Posted on 16 March 2021 by cradmin

 In response to President Biden’s executive order on protecting worker health and safety, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has launched a National Emphasis Program (NEP) focusing enforcement efforts on companies that put the largest number of workers at serious risk of contracting the coronavirus. The program also prioritizes employers that retaliate against workers for complaints about unsafe or unhealthy conditions, or for exercising other rights protected by federal law.

NEP inspections will enhance the agency’s previous coronavirus enforcement efforts, and will include some follow-up inspections of worksites inspected in 2020. The program’s focused strategy ensures abatement and includes monitoring the effectiveness of OSHA’s enforcement and guidance efforts. The program will remain in effect for up to one year from its issuance date, though OSHA has the flexibility to amend or cancel the program as the pandemic subsides.

OSHA state plans have adopted varying requirements to protect employees from coronavirus, and OSHA knows many of them have implemented enforcement programs similar to this NEP. While it does not require it, OSHA strongly encourages the rest to adopt this NEP. State plans must notify federal OSHA of their intention to adopt the NEP within 60 days after its issuance.

In a related action, OSHA has also updated its Interim Enforcement Response Plan to prioritize the use of on-site workplace inspections where practical, or a combination of on-site and remote methods. OSHA will only use remote-only inspections if the agency determines that on-site inspections cannot be performed safely. On March 18, 2021, OSHA will rescind the May 26, 2020, memorandum on this topic and this new guidance will go into and remain in effect until further notice.

OSHA will ensure that its Compliance Safety and Health Officers have every protection necessary for onsite inspections. When conducting on-site inspections, OSHA will evaluate all risk and utilize appropriate protective measures, including appropriate respiratory protection and other necessary personal protective equipment.

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Video: Solid Surface Double Cut Seam

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Video: Solid Surface Double Cut Seam

Posted on 26 February 2021 by cradmin

TheFabricatorNetwork.com offers a wide variety of informative fabrication videos. In this particular video, Andy Graves takes you through the steps to double cut a seam to create the perfect joint, ready for adhesive.

Although this process may take some time to set up, you can achieve invisible solid surface joints, according to Graves.

Here is a list of the fabrication tools suggested for this process:

  • Makita GA4542C SJSII High Power Angle Grinder, 4-1/2 in.
  • Makita Plunge Router 3-1/4 in. HP
  • Random Orbital Sander
  • Bosch Jig Saw
  • Jorgensen 3706-LD 6-Inch Light-Duty Steel Bar Clamp
  • Irwin Vice-Grip Original Locking Pliers with Swivel Pads, 11-Inch

You may also be interested in this video: Front Edge Buildup (Rebated Joint)

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LEED Safety First Pilot Credits Feb. blog

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New LEED Safety First Pilot Credits to Support Success

Posted on 22 February 2021 by cradmin

To keep pace with the evolving health challenges around the world, the US Green Building Council (USGBC) designed several LEED Safety First pilot credits, which address COVID-19. Four new Education @USGBC courses offer a combination of videos, podcasts and resources to support success with implementing these credits.

The pilot credits outline sustainable best practices related to cleaning and disinfecting, workplace reoccupancy, HVAC and plumbing operations, and may be used by LEED projects that are certified or are undergoing certification.

Learn more through these education resources:

  1. Safety First: Managing Indoor Air Quality During COVID-19 Credit
    The objective of this credit is to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 through the air in a building and to define best practices. The credit builds on the current standards for indoor air quality and LEED credits.

The resources available for this credit include a video presentation by Nicole Isle, Vice President and Chief Sustainability Strategist, Glumac, which was recorded during the USGBC Healthy Economy Forum on Aug. 4, 2020.

  1. Safety First: Re-enter Your Workspace Credit
    The goal of this credit is to establish conditions and best practices for reentry assessment, as well as planning and evaluation of progress once a space is occupied.

The resources available for this credit include video clips from a July 2020 LEED v4.1 Ask the Experts webinar, where insights are shared by Corey Enck, Vice President, LEED Technical Development, USGBC, and Ken Filarski, Founder and Principal, FILARSKI/ ARCHITECTURE + PLANNING + RESEARCH; a video clip from the USGBC Healthy Economy Forum, and the AIA Re-occupancy Assessment Tool.

  1. Safety First: Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Space Credit
    With this credit, the aim is to identify standards and best practices for cleaning that encourage a healthy indoor setting and worker safety. While vaccines and medical therapies for the treatment of COVID-19 are still in progress, there are already successful disinfectant products and processes.

The resources available for this credit include video clips from a July 2020 Ask the Experts webinar, where insights are shared by Larissa Oaks, Indoor Environmental Quality Specialist, USGBC, and Steve Ashkin, Founder and President, The Ashkin Group LLC, as well as a video presentation from the USGBC Healthy Economy Forum and podcasts interviews with Ashkin discussing the pilot credit further.

  1. Safety First: Building Water System Recommissioning Credit
    The principal objective of this credit is to define standards and best practices for cleaning that foster a healthy indoor environment and worker safety and to help building teams reduce the risk of occupant exposure to impaired water quality.

The resources available for this credit include a video presentation from the USGBC Healthy Economy Forum and a podcast interview with Daryn Cline, Director, Environmental Technologies at EVAPCO.

All four pilot credits listed in this article are available for LEED 2009, LEED v4 and LEED v4.1 and can be found here.

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Moraware CounterGo Feb. 21

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Level Up Your Countertop Quoting with Slab Layouts

Posted on 16 February 2021 by cradmin

By Katherine Gifford of Moraware

Slab layouts are critical in making sure your estimate is accurate. Some fabricators rely on guesswork, some do complex math based on square footage, and others spend hours in CAD for a prospect who may never even spend a dime! 

None of these are great solutions for quickly and easily doing a slab layout. Lucky for you, CounterGo has a handy slab layout estimating feature. Here’s everything you need to know about solving your slab layout headaches.

An Inaccurate Slab Layout Can Cost You Thousands

Picture this: you meet a new prospect, and they need new kitchen countertops. You calculate the square footage and figure you only need one slab. You give them your quote, and they send back a deposit.

All is good, right?

Once you start on the fabrication, you realize the veining isn’t going to match up – no matter how you lay it out. 

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Health & Safety Feb. 21

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Health & Safety: OSHA Issues Stronger Coronavirus Workplace Guidance

Posted on 01 February 2021 by cradmin

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued stronger worker safety guidance to help employers and workers implement a coronavirus prevention program and better identify risks which could lead to exposure and contraction. Last week, President Biden directed OSHA to release clear guidance for employers to help keep workers safe from COVID-19 exposure.

Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace” provides updated guidance and recommendations, and outlines existing safety and health standards. OSHA is providing the recommendations to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace.

Implementing a coronavirus prevention program is the most effective way to reduce the spread of the virus. The guidance recommends several essential elements in a prevention program:

  • Conduct a hazard assessment.
  • Identify control measures to limit the spread of the virus.
  • Adopt policies for employee absences that don’t punish workers as a way to encourage potentially infected workers to remain home.
  • Ensure that coronavirus policies and procedures are communicated to both English and non-English speaking workers.
  • Implement protections from retaliation for workers who raise coronavirus-related concerns.

The guidance details key measures for limiting coronavirus’s spread, including ensuring infected or potentially infected people are not in the workplace, implementing and following physical distancing protocols and using surgical masks or cloth face coverings. It also provides guidance on use of personal protective equipment, improving ventilation, good hygiene and routine cleaning.

OSHA will update this new guidance as developments in science, best practices and standards warrant.

This guidance is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations. It contains recommendations as well as descriptions of existing mandatory safety and health standards. The recommendations are advisory in nature, informational in content and are intended to assist employers in recognizing and abating hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm as part of their obligation to provide a safe and healthful workplace.

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Application form. Paycheck Protection Program Borrower Application Form

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SBA and Treasury Re-open PPP Loan Portal

Posted on 12 January 2021 by cradmin

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the U.S. Treasury Department, re-opened the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan portal. SBA is continuing its dedicated commitment to underserved small businesses and to addressing potential access to capital barriers by initially granting PPP access exclusively to community financial institutions (CFIs) that typically serve these concerns.

When the PPP loan portal re-opened, it initially accepted First Draw PPP loan applications from participating CFIs, which include Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), Certified Development Companies (CDCs) and Microloan Intermediaries. These lenders made up approximately 10 percent of all PPP participating lenders in 2020. A First Draw PPP loan is for those borrowers who had yet to receive a PPP loan before the program closed in August 2020.

On Jan. 13, 2021, participating CFIs may begin submitting application information to SBA for Second Draw PPP loans. A Second Draw PPP loan is for certain eligible borrowers that previously received a PPP loan, generally have 300 employees or less, and has suffered a 25 percent reduction in gross receipts. At least $15 billion is set aside for additional PPP lending by CFIs.

In the near future, additional lenders will be able to submit First and Second draw PPP loan applications. SBA will continue to provide updates on systems operations. Additionally, SBA plans to dedicate specific times to process and assist the smallest PPP lenders with loan applications from eligible small businesses.

The opening of the SBA loan system is designed to efficiently and effectively implement the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act and to ensure increased access to the PPP for minority-, underserved-, veteran- and women-owned small business concerns. SBA also is calling upon its lending partners to redouble their efforts to assist eligible borrowers in underserved and disadvantaged communities.

Updated PPP Lender forms, guidance and resources are available at www.sba.gov/ppp.

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Bus Sense - January 21

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Business Sense: Why Taking Photos of Your Finished Jobs Should Be Part of Your Process

Posted on 05 January 2021 by cradmin

By Katherine Gifford of Moraware

One of the best ways to advertise your business is by showing proof of your craftsmanship. Posting photos of your finished jobs on social media and website is a great way to show new prospects what kind of work you’re capable of. Images can also save you from ornery customers who call about issues that might not have any merit.

Taking great photos isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Who should take the pictures – the installers, a photographer, or the customer? How do you motivate your team to take great photos? What kind of equipment should you provide, if any? And lastly, how do you make sure it happens every time.

Two Reasons Countertop Installers Should Take Photos of the Finished Job

Great photos of the finished countertop serve two purposes:

  1. Prevent miscommunication with the customer in case they call about a crack or chip.
  2. Help you promote your shop by showing new prospects what you’re capable of.

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