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Always Focus on the Bottleneck

Always Focus on the Bottleneck

Welcome to Part I of Countertops 101’s Best Practices Series

In most shops, the perception is you are making money if the bridge saw, panel saw, or CNC are cutting up a new project. Consequently, we like to see as many jobs being cut as possible.  However, the real place money is made or lost is at your shop bottleneck.  The bottleneck is the point at which production is slowed.

Bot-tle-neck [bot-l-neck] noun – A place or stage in a process at which progress is impeded

For instance, look at this model for either a stone or solid surface shop:

  • Saw guy can cut out 600 sq. ft. per day
  • Edge lamination guy can glue up 400 sq. ft. per day
  • Sander or polisher can only polish 200 sq. ft. per day

Q. Where would the bottleneck be? 

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Shop Signage

Shop Signage

Everywhere I go I am asked if there is any advice I have to increase business.  Here is one easy, simple and affordable tip that can help increase your revenue – A SIGN!

You cannot imagine how many fabricators I used to visit each and every week. The most time consuming and frustrating thing I did was locate a fabricator for the first time.  The majority of fabricators do not have their building clearly labeled with a sign or a suite number. Nothing is more frustrating than driving through an industrial park trying to find your customer.

Now imagine how your customers feel. I wanted to find you, I needed to find you.  You were my customer. However, your retail customers are fickle and even if they do spend 15 minutes driving around trying to find you, by the time they enter your showroom they probably will not be in the best of spirits. Not the best situation for closing a sale!

I encourage you to look at your facilities as if it was your first time visiting.  Is your address clearly labeled?  Do you have a sign that is clearly visible?  If you are tucked in the back of an industrial complex, do you have signs guiding your customers? Does Google Maps locate your business correctly? Are you listed on Google Maps?

An affordable vinyl sign with your company name and logo on your door or window can make all the difference in the world!

 

Acrylic vs. Polyester

Acrylic vs. Polyester

So which is the better solid surface material?  Acrylic or Polyester?

This has been the subject of much debate for as long as I can remember.  It seems every fabricator has their own opinion on which material is best.  The reality is there is no right or wrong…. just what is best given the specific application and design constraints.

CLICK HERE to view a pdf showing the brief differences between the two types of solid surface materials.

graphic for post

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Countertop Surfaces – Strengths and Weaknesses

Countertop Surfaces – Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths and Weaknesses

Solid Surface/Quartz/Natural Stone

Solid Surface

Strengths:

  • Non porous – extremely sanitary and resistant to bacteria
  • NSF 51 approved for use in food service areas
  • Damage can be repaired and in most cases repair will not be noticeable
  • Inconspicuous seams
  • Surface can be refinished if it becomes scratched
  • Thermoformable – 100% acrylic surfaces only
  • Class 1 Fire rating – in most cases – some polyesters are not
  • Integral sinks with no caulk line
  • Wide color selection – custom colors are possible
  • Consistent color – what you specify is what you get
  • Good for vertical, horizontal and flooring surfaces
  • Generally backed by a manufacturer’s warranty – not just the fabricator
  • Eco-friendly colors are available

Weaknesses:

  • Can be scratched – dark colors show scratches more than light colors
  • Cannot place hot pans directly on material
  • Does not have the natural beauty (movement/variation) found in natural stone
  • Feels like plastic – some like this, some like the feel of stone
  • Limited use in outdoor environments due to climate extremes (outdoor use generally voids warranty)

 

Quartz

Strengths:

  • Non porous – extremely sanitary and resistant to bacteria
  • NSF 51 approved for use in food service areas
  • Scratch RESISTANT – not scratch PROOF
  • Class 1 Fire rating – in most cases – some quartz are not
  • Wide color selection
  • Consistent color – what you specify is what you get
  • Good for vertical, horizontal and flooring surfaces
  • Generally backed by a manufacturer’s warranty – not just the fabricator
  • Eco-friendly colors are available

Weaknesses:

  • Heat Resistant, but do not place hot pans directly on material it can “ghost” and turn white (stainless steel is the only material not affected by heat)
  • Damage can be difficult to repair
  • Seams will be visible – technology is getting better though and with a good fabricator seams can almost be inconspicuous on smaller particulate colors
  • Does not have the natural beauty (movement) found in natural stone
  • Some design limitations – for instance cannot thermoform….yet.
  • Limited use in outdoor environments due to climate extremes (outdoor use generally voids warranty)

 

Natural Stone – Granite

Strengths:

  • Wide color selection – Natural Movement and Variation can not be matched with man made products
  • Heat Resistant – Slabs that have been treated with resin can “ghost” if they have a hot pan set on them
  • Scratch RESISTANT – not scratch PROOF
  • High end luxurious feel and look
  • Good for vertical, horizontal and flooring surfaces
  • Great for outdoor surfaces

Weaknesses:

  • Porous – Has fissures and cracks inherently – susceptible to staining and harboring bacteria
  • Can be very difficult to repair and expensive
  • Visible seams – the development of top polishing has helped take granite seams to the next level, but this requires a highly skilled installer
  • Color can vary greatly – for instance St. Cecelia can range from a crisp white to a mustardy yellow base color.  Can be difficult to specify off of a sample.
  • Generally not allowed in healthcare or food service applications
  • No manufacturer warranty – 1 year fabricator warranty is standard

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Vanity Positioning for ADA Compliance

Vanity Positioning for ADA Compliance

Over the last few days I have been getting lots of inquiries in regards to the positioning of bathroom vanities in regards to ADA compliance specifications.

Here is a diagram showing the measurements to be in compliance.

2013-11-11_18-36-14

The Staron 3181 bowl will be in compliance when the front of the bowl is positioned 4″ back from the front edge on a countertop that is 34″ tall.

Staron 3181 Vanity

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Make a Real Difference

In America, everyone wants to be a leader.

I think, and would argue, everyone is already a leader by definition. In every interaction you are guiding or influencing in one way or another. This interaction will lead the mind of your peer to form an opinion or belief of some sort. It may be good, it may be bad, it may be neutral…. regardless, you have led someone to that thought in your interaction. What everyone is striving to be, already is.

Knowing then that leadership is relative and inevitable, since we all exact a degree of influence at every interaction (or choice not to interact) should we not focus our attention on serving. By serving we are focusing on the growth and benefit of others and I feel this outward focus will help ensure that our countless interactions result in positive leadership.

Wether you want to or not you are a leading…. someone. Nothing remarkable there. But are you serving?

Everyone will lead, few serve.

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Integrating Moraware Software

In this industry everyone wants to focus on the tech side of the business – fancy CNC’s, bridgesaws, edge polishers, and water jets. After all, most of us got into this industry because we liked to create things with our hands. Talking about software and other “office” details can get kind of dull.

However, I strongly encourage you to look at getting a project management software for your company.  It will help you stay on task and be more efficient and be more profitable.

So why did I first get Moraware for my company?

Simple. Quoting.

Before M0raware I was using a bunch of excel spreadsheets for all of my sales teams. I considered myself very proficient in excel and I must admit they did their job.  However, despite being proud of my excel pricing programs, I knew there had to be a better solution.  There were many shortcomings with my program, here is what I was looking to solve:

1) Error Reduction – While I would lock cells and try and make it full proof, at one point or another, a sales person would mess something up and crash the algorithm.  Hopefully this was caught before a wrong price was quoted – sometimes yes, sometimes no.  I can tell you the error almost never caused the price to be in my favor.

2) Consistency- The programs were pretty structured, but I could have 5 different sales people quote a job and get 5 different prices.  Granted, they were all within 2-5% of each other, but 4% on only a $1M company is still $40k.  That os some good cheese.

3) Speed. We needed to be able to do quotes faster.  Like most shops, we were offering solid surface, quartz and natural stone.  Add to this the fact that in solid surface and quartz we have 5-8 manufactures and there were lots of options to quote.  It never failed, we would do a quote in one brand and then the customer would want us to quote another material.  We would have to redo everything in another excel program. This was time consuming.

4) Integration.  When closing a job we would have to print a quote.  Then open and print a contract.  Then our “template – what to expect” form. Etc. Etc. There was a lot of shuffling between programs to get done what we needed.  We wanted a one stop print if you will.

No don’t get me wrong – our programs worked for a long time.  And there are many shops that are still doing their quoting this way.  That is fine. But I can promise you that there is a good chance you are leaving money on the table – either in direct dollars or in lost labor costs.

OK, so your sales team is on commission.  Well, keep in mind if your team can quote faster and more accurately they come across as more professional and close deals faster.  Faster closes allows time for more closings.  You always have to consider opportunity costs.

Moraware can solve all of the above issues for you and more – you might even discover you have issues that you did not even think about.  Moraware helped me think about my business in absolutes and allowed me to test new strategies and theories and see how it affected the company as a whole.

Moreaware has great training on their site for Moraware.  I want to help you integrate it into your business so you become more profitable and get you started thinking about how you can be more efficient using software.

There are varied medications for many cases. One’s first responsibility for a good breath is heartiness. Factors that can affect your decision when you are ordering medicaments are numerous. Other remedies are used to treat priming caused by allergic reactions. Kamagra is a medicament used to treat various upsets. What do you know about buy generic viagra online? In our generation many families search online for the exact keyword Kamagra on Google. Other point we have to is order viagra online. The signs of sexual diseases in men include impossibility to reach an orgasm despite signs of arousal. What are the symptoms of sexual diseases? You discuss it with local dispenser if you are thinking to take Kamagra. Or you can talk to a specialist. Psychiatrists can be involved in the management of sexual malfunction. Either one can prescribe the medicament if they recognize the treatment is good for you. If you need advice about Kamagra, one of heartiness care providers will make accessible medicaments that are suitable for you to take. You will then be able to buy the medicine.

Gaining Efficiencies

One key component that should be a part of every business is operating software that can keep your company on track.

In the past this may not have been necessary.  Everyone was doing business with paper, clip boards and files.  This is not the case anymore.  Even if you are still doing business this way, your competition is moving forward, or already has moved to the digital world.

The biggest thing keeping individuals and companies from moving to a core software program is fear and complacency.  We all get stuck in our comfort zone and many of us despise change.  We tell ourselves we have been doing this for 29 yeras, 10 years, whatever, and it works.

OK, I’ll give you that what you are doing may work.  What if you could do it faster, quicker and more profitable though?  What if you are leaving money on the table?  Or even more importantly, what if you could get the same amount of work done as you do now, but be able to spend your evenings with your family?

Moraware is a software that can help you achieve these goals in your countertop company.  I used Moraware personally back in my countertop company and it made a world of difference getting everyone on the same page.

I love helping businesses get up to speed on Moraware, because it can truly help make your business more successful.  Granted, it is not as cool as learning about the latest saw jet or water jet, but I promise you integrating an operational software will get you one of the best ROI that you can make.

If you integrate Moraware into your business and get everyone on board you will wonder how you did business without it.

So what can Moraware help you with?

Here are the most common tasks:
-Quoting
-Scheduling
-Inventory
-Reporting

Here are even more when you integrate it into your business:

-QC – forms for templates, fabrication and  installation
-Scripts for schedulers
-Increase capacity – scheduling based on bottlenecks rather than FIFO (first in first out)
-Profits – sales team all quoting the same way
-Remote capabilities – you can learn anything you need to know about a job from anywhere on the planet
-Knowledge- know in real time where your business stands to make knowledgable changes for greater success.

I want to mention that I do not work for Moraware.  I created Countertops 101 to help fabricators take their businesses to the next level, and I personally believe that the team at Moraware has put together a software package that can do just this.  I have used the software myself and I believe in it.

There are varied medications for many cases. One’s first responsibility for a good existence is health. Factors that can affect your decision when you are ordering medicaments are numerous. Other remedies are used to treat inflammation caused by allergic reactions. Kamagra is a preparation used to treat various upsets. What do you know about buy generic viagra online? In our generation many families search online for the exact keyword Kamagra on Google. Other point we have to is order viagra online. The signs of sexual diseases in men switch on impossibility to reach an orgasm despite signs of arousal. What are the symptoms of sexual diseases? You discuss it with local dispenser if you are thinking to take Kamagra. Or you can talk to a specialist. Psychiatrists can be involved in the management of sexual disfunction. Either one can prescribe the medicament if they recognize the treatment is good for you. If you need advice about Kamagra, one of health care providers will make accessible medicaments that are suitable for you to take. You will then be able to buy the medicine.

Go Ahead, Aim for the Moon

The other day I was reading an article about Google. It referred to Google as a company that took “moonshots” and continued to push the envelope in regards to what is possible. They have no limits to their creativity. Fom Google fiber to self-driving cars they are making the once thought impossible, possible.

Are we living up to our full potential?  Is your countertop company everything that it could be? What fear is stopping you?

I am not suggesting that we go all in and expose ourselves to great risk, but that we really take a moment and write down our hopes and dreams and begin outlining a plan to get there, no matter how ambitious they might be.  It is amazing how once a step by step plan is laid out, even the most complex systems seem to become tangible almost immediately.

What is your goal? Your dream?

Break down the steps you need to accomplish to get there today.  If you don’t know how, find someone who has done it and take them to lunch. Remember someone with less smarts than you has most likely already forged a similar path.  You can do anything you want to once you break it down into small bites.

“Yard by yard life is hard, inch by inch life is a cinch.” — Unknown

There are varied medications for many cases. One’s first responsibility for a good living is health. Factors that can affect your decision when you are ordering medicaments are numerous. Other remedies are used to treat inflammation caused by allergic reactions. Kamagra is a preparation used to treat varied upsets. What do you know about buy generic viagra online? In our generation many families search online for the exact keyword Kamagra on Google. Other point we have to is order viagra online. The signs of sexual diseases in men include improbability to reach an orgasm despite signs of arousal. What are the symptoms of sexual diseases? You discuss it with local pharmacist if you are thinking to take Kamagra. Or you can talk to a specialist. Psychiatrists can be involved in the management of sexual disfunction. Either one can prescribe the preparation if they recognize the treatment is good for you. If you need advice about Kamagra, one of heartiness care providers will make accessible medicaments that are suitable for you to take. You will then be able to buy the medicine.

Piano Bar by Matt Kromeke

Piano Bar by Matt Kromeke

I spent this week in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  The land of enchantment. While the mountains and landscapes were breathtaking, I met a fabricator whose talents are equally as impressive – Matt Kromeke.

Piano Bar Fabrication

Matt is the nephew of Mike Nolan (Director of Education, ISFA) so it should come as no surprise as talent clearly runs in the gene pool. I was fortunate enough to be able to have lunch with Matt.  Not only is he passionate about solid surface, but he also has a love for hot air ballooning.  I love meeting individuals like Matt who are so passionate about what they do!

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