The first two events of the 2017 Stone Industry Education series — organized by the Marble Institute of America+Building Stone Institute (MIA+BSI) and Stone World — kicked off in Phoenix, AZ, on February 15 followed by Houston, TX, on March 9. Eric Tryon of Premier Surfaces in Atlanta, GA, was the moderator for both events. Tryon discussed the importance of analyzing shop performance, taking the guesswork out of your business and making decisions based on solid data. “The power of benchmarking is that it’s there to help us make the best decisions for our business,” said Tryon. “We can do everything right, or what we believe is right, but if that installer tracks mud through Mrs. Jones’ floor, she isn’t going to be happy overall with your services. The entire shop needs to work together from start to finish — making sure nothing is done wrong and the customer is happy.”

Tryon then went into the formula for success. Identify the opportunity, quantify the opportunity, strategize the execution, track results and communicate the progress. “When looking at profit, job costing and gross margin, you need to know how much will this job cost to produce and what will the gross margin profit be?,” he said. “I think that’s one of the most important metrics you can have. Your variables are: what we are getting paid for the job, or the invoice amount, the material costs and labor costs with direct overhead. Your invoice, minus the material costs and labor costs, is your gross margin profit, and that’s something you need to know in your business.”

The discussion next went on to rework and how it may be the silent killer in your business. “What’s the value of tracking this information?,” asked Tryon to the audience. “You now have a baseline number to work off of. You can start underselling what to charge for your work. You also have visibility into powerful data such as, who are your rock stars in the company and who are your duds.”

After Tryon gave personal examples from his shop of using job costing trackers and finding opportunities to make more money in his business, and to be able to donate to local charities, the groups went on tours of the warehouse. The Phoenix, AZ, workshop was located at Arizona Tile where they featured an outdoor slab yard. In Houston, TX, the workshop was located at M S International’s (MSI) facility that let fabricators tour their extensive indoor warehouse.

After returning from their tours, the local fabricators broke into three groups, covering business, marketing and technical. Each group discussed several different issues they face while running their business, which included but not limited to, cross training, pricing, advertising online and retaining employees. The other issue that was discussed was how to deal with customers who have picked out their own stone from stone distributors and how to price that job, who deals with the liability issues and if there are any issues that come up with the stone.

The next Stone Industry Education event takes place on April 27 in Memphis, TN.