By Katherine Gifford
We’ve learned over the years that fabricators are some of the most creative and resourceful people, and they’re definitely no strangers to hard work and quick thinking. However, the only way to manage growth and reduce the overwhelming stress that comes with fabricating fragile materials is to work smarter, not harder. Any successful fabricator will tell you that you need trackable processes in your shop for all parts of your business. This is the only way you can truly look at your business, see where improvements can be made, and get better results.
The best place to start is at the beginning of your customer’s experience with you. The way you quote a job sets the tone. A seamless and professional experience will lead to a happy customer, which in turn leads to more sales, referrals and repeat business. Plus, it will naturally reduce those expensive mistakes that can happen as a result of disorganization. It means more money in your pocket all around!
Increase Your Professionalism
I’m sure you’ve heard that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Before you roll your eyes, admit that it’s true! Homeowners are most likely shopping around for their new countertops. If your competitors have a professional quoting process in place, and you are sending them a text message with just an amount, it’s almost a guarantee that the customer will choose your competitor even if they cost more. At least, the type of customers that you want will make that choice. Customers who choose based on the lowest price will never bring you the profit and growth that lead to financial freedom.
Your first impression can be your website, social media, a phone call or your showroom. Your team should be trained in customer service, pricing, ongoing promotions and materials. If a homeowner visits your website and then calls in, would the information being provided be consistent no matter who they talk to? Buying countertops is expensive and can be nerve-wracking for your customers because they aren’t the experts. But you are! Educate the customer throughout every channel to help them understand what to expect during their purchase. This kind of consistency and transparent communication leads to trust, which leads to higher sales.
An easy way to increase your professionalism is to update the way you deliver quotes. Whether you use a Word template or professional software, make sure it has your logo and company information at the top. You’ll want to include just enough of a breakdown of your pricing to help your customer understand the cost, but not too much that they can take it to your competitors. Including some sort of visualization of the countertop never fails to impress as well.
Empower Your Sales Team
Give your employees the tools they need to do a great job. In this case, making sure you provide team members a way to sell countertops independently is the key to better sales. If all the pricing is in your head, then you are the bottleneck to your own growth.
Documenting a process for estimating a job might seem like more work upfront, but it will save you an incredible amount of time in the long run. Taking all the knowledge that lives in your head and making it into a repeatable process will stop everyone from tracking you down for answers. Aren’t you tired of being pulled in a hundred directions?
Once you create a consistent pricing structure, you’ll be able to focus your time on other areas of your business that need improvement. It’ll be easy to trust your team to produce consistent, accurate and professional quotes because you established a repeatable process that works without you.
The number one reason why fabricators seek estimating software is usually about saving time. And that requires having more than one person do the quotes. Having one central place for pricing, customer information and quote templates will make it easy to train any new staff and get them up and running quickly.
Prevent Expensive Mistakes
When you’ve got a lot of bid requests coming in, it’s a blessing and a curse. On one hand, how exciting! More jobs, more money, more growth. On the other hand, there is more room for error when everything is rushed, and everyone is scrambling. Things start falling through the cracks and that is costing you too much money.
Implementing software in your shop reduces those costly mistakes. Within your estimating process, software establishes your pricing, and it automatically calculates pricing as you draw the project. Also, it should enable you to lay out your drawing onto slabs. This will help you correctly estimate how much material you will need. It will also work as a selling tool to educate your customer on veining and the need for a certain number of slabs. Basically, having your process customized in estimating software leaves no room for human error which means fewer mistakes and greater profits.
Keep Improving Profitability
Creating a sales process allows you to track success. Take the time to think about which data is going to be important. Then, you can create reports that give insights into what is working and what isn’t. By having this understanding of your business, you’ll know which levers to pull to increase your profits. That might mean keeping track of which material is selling the most or how many square feet you are selling every week. This will keep expectations realistic and error-free.
For sales, it’s important to remember that it’s more than just tracking won or lost bids. It also matters who won or lost those bids and why. You can reward salespeople who are excelling, and you can help those who are struggling. Or, if sales are down across the board, then the right data will help you understand why and what needs to change.
Lastly, we love hearing how successful shops implement marketing strategies into their sales process. By tracking your outreach efforts, you’ll have fun seeing which promotion or channel is bringing you the most business. Many find social media or referral programs the best and easiest way to bring in more business. Just don’t forget to track the success of these efforts or else you’ll be spending unnecessary time on tactics that aren’t working. If you know what is working and what is not, you’ll be able to focus your energy on the right marketing moves instead of guessing.
About the Author
Katherine Gifford is a marketing coordinator for Moraware, one of the industry’s leading digital solutions for fabricators. Curious about whether or not software would benefit your shop? Check out Moraware’s free countertop quoting software ROI calculator at www.moraware.com/QuotingSoftwareROI to get a quick estimate on how much time and money you could save. For more information about Moraware, visit www.moraware.com.