Tag Archive | "scheduling"

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 Nov. 2020

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Business Sense: Avoid Getting Burnt Out During the Holiday Rush

Posted on 10 November 2020 by cradmin3

By Katherine Gifford of Moraware

The holidays are a beautiful time of joy, family time, and relaxation. Well… for about 10% of us.

For more than half of us, the holidays are a breeding ground for stress. It shouldn’t be that way, but here we are.

According to a study, there are three main culprits for holiday stress:

  1. Lack of money
  2. Lack of time
  3. The general focus on commercialism and spending money

For many fabricators, this is all happening at home and the workplace. Your customers are in a mad rush to get their homes ready for company, and you’re to blame if things don’t go according to plan.

Here’s some advice for handling the holiday countertop rush like a pro.

Practice Benchmarking, or Setting Customer Expectations

Before we get into any Moraware-specific solutions, we have to mention a super simple customer service tip: set expectations. This is also more formally referred to as “benchmarking.”

We all use reference points to evaluate the world around us. 

For example, if all your friends eat out every single day, you feel pretty good about cooking three times a week. If all your friends cook at home every single day, you feel like you aren’t making enough home-cooked meals.

The same thing happens in business – if you say you’ll reply to all emails in 24 hours or less, that’s the reference point your customers will measure you against.

“If we don’t provide our customer reference points by setting customer expectations, customers will search out their own reference points,” explains Sarah Chambers, a Customer Support Consultant.

In other words, if you don’t set any expectations at all, your customers will pull from other experiences to set a reference point. Maybe their friends said their countertops were ready in two days. If that’s your customer’s reference point, they’ll hire you the week before Thanksgiving and expect a perfect kitchen by Thanksgiving Eve. Sound familiar?

Be cautious around the holidays. Set clear expectations! Even if you think you can pull it off, make sure your customers are fully aware that they may not have their dream kitchen installed by turkey day.

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Business Sense July 2020

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Business Sense: Do Countertop Fabricators Really Need Scheduling Software?

Posted on 15 July 2020 by cradmin3

By Katherine Gifford of Moraware

If you’re not using scheduling software, what are you currently using to organize your fabrication schedule? A magnetic board, a whiteboard, maybe a color-coded Google Calendar?

Second question: how much time do you spend each and every day on scheduling? An hour, a couple of hours, maybe even half the day or more?

It’s no secret doing scheduling this way is a pain. But even so, can fabricators make it work instead of investing in a scheduling software?

Let’s explore it!

Using a Whiteboard or Magnetic Board for Countertop Scheduling

You can use a physical board like a whiteboard or magnetic board for scheduling. We talk to hundreds of fab shops that have used this method at one time or another. You can purchase a large whiteboard that’s either plain for your own customizing or one that’s already set up like a calendar.

Get some dry erase markers, and start deciding how you want to color-code different activities. Perhaps all red activities are installs, and maybe all green activities are templates.

There are a few things to keep in mind when using a physical calendar for scheduling purposes.

1. It doesn’t go where you go.

If you use a whiteboard for scheduling, you can’t see it unless you’re standing right in front of it. What if you’re not at the office and a customer calls about the current status of their job? 

You won’t have a good answer for them unless you have a photographic memory, and even that is problematic. What if an adjustment was made to the whiteboard since you saw it last?

One of the largest problems with fabricators using whiteboards is they don’t have access to it when they’re at home or out in the field.

2. There’s no “Undo.”

The cleaning crew arrives and accidentally cleans everything on your whiteboard. What now? With a whiteboard, there’s no way to hit “Undo” and get all of that information back.

There’s also no way to reference what was on the whiteboard last month, or even last year. 

You might think the chances of someone erasing everything is slim, especially since that whiteboard is literally your lifeline, but it has happened. Teri Wright of Wright’s Woodworking explained their cleaning gal cleaned off the bottom two rows of their scheduling whiteboard, and they had no idea what the next two weeks were supposed to be.

Bottom line: life happens.

While a whiteboard can work for scheduling, it’s obviously not ideal and won’t work long for a growing fabrication shop. 

Using Google Calendar for Countertop Scheduling

In a pinch, you can use Google Calendar to schedule the various tasks in your shop. You can create a color-coded system and make sure everyone is synced up on the same calendar.

In several ways, Google Calendar is a step up from a physical whiteboard. At least your information is accessible “in the cloud,” and you don’t have to be physically in the office to look at it. Your various jobs and activities can also be referenced later in time if needed, though it might be clunky and somewhat of a hassle to do so. 

Google Calendar really isn’t built for some of the more complex things you may want to do, like tracking your activities this month compared to this month last year. Again, it’s possible – it’s just not ideal.

When you use Google Calendar, it’s not your single source of truth. It’s really not a great place to keep and store customer information, so you’ll probably use a combination of tools. We often see shops using Google Calendar, file folders, and spreadsheets.

Again, using Google Calendar or Outlook for scheduling is doable – it’s just not efficient, and at some point, you’re going to outgrow it. Keeping up with it simply gets too chaotic.

You also don’t have any features that are specifically useful for what you’re doing, like reporting, automatic scheduling, and mapping.

Kristian Tharaldson, Operations Manager at Great Northern Granite in Minnesota, explains

“I came on in 2012, and everything was done on paper. It was a corkboard calendar with little pieces of paper with the job address and the material going to that address. We then moved everything to Google Calendar and tried to color-code everything. Then, we realized Moraware was a better version of that. When we switched to Moraware is when everything changed in the company.”

Using Moraware’s Scheduling Software Instead

Systemize, our fabrication scheduling software, is created specifically for fabricators so there are a lot of features that are uniquely beneficial to our industry.

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Moraware Introduces Systemize

Posted on 16 March 2018 by cradmin

Systemize-Job-detail-pageMoraware has introduced Systemize, a scheduling software for countertop fabricators. Systemize enables consistent communication in the office and the fabrication shop.

Making sure that tasks get done well and on time is a key to success. Systemize helps keep activities organized and streamlined. This software will allow anyone who answers the phone to immediately tell a customer the status of their job.

Bottlenecks in processes can be addressed to ensure that issues get dealt with and to reinforce a consistent workflow. Systemize reporting lets a business view important details and measure what was done last time so it can be improved upon the next time. Reporting can also help determine useful things like which install crew is most effective and which crew generated the most repair calls.

Right now, Systemize is only available to new customers. Those already using Moraware JobTracker or CounterGo will need to wait for Systemize as the company gets everything in place to allow a migration for existing customers.

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