Aaron Crowley

Crowley’s Granite

Install turnover is a hidden expense often tolerated by fab shop owners.  It’s “hidden” because the true cost in terms of dollars and disruption to the overall business performance is not fully understood.… and thus the fact that it’s tolerated.

The costs can be arranged in two categories: direct and indirect.  The direct costs are the investment in training, lost capacity, resulting in a surge in overtime to compensate, and time spent hiring a replacement.  These direct costs can be measured in dollars, and can easily approach five figures.

The indirect costs are a little harder to measure in dollars, yet they are still intolerably high. When an installer quits (whether the cause is physical, financial, or frustration), the rhythm and continuity in the install department itself as well as the overall business is disrupted. Efficiency is greatly diminished until the dust settles and a replacement has filled the void.  

Additionally, anytime a member of the team leaves, no matter the reason, it ALWAYS negatively affects morale.  

When you add it all up, the loss of a qualified installer can easily be tens of thousands of dollars.

So now that the costs are no longer hidden, what about the reasons installers move on?  More importantly, what are the solutions to this problem?


Physical

Some installers make the difficult transition out of the field and into the shop, but most simply get out of the business altogether because their bodies can no longer take the punishment that 3cm counters dish out.

The great irony (and I would argue it’s a tragedy) is that about the time an installer is approaching journeyman level, his body is starting to give out and he must evaluate a career change. 

The solution to this is simple, shops that invest in lifting and transporting technology like the No Lift Install System will preserve the well being of their installers and virtually eliminate the likelihood that their installers will suffer career- ending injuries.


Financial

Since turnover is abnormally high in the install departments of most stone shops, there is a continuous shortage of qualified installers.  It’s supply and demand.  And thus there always exists the possibility that your installers are being offered higher pay to go to work for another shop.

Usually the owner realizes this on the day his key installer quits for a better offer.  The owner has two choices in this situation: say good riddance or make a counter-offer.  

Whether it’s a dollar, two, three, or even five dollars an hour more, the solution here is easy: MATCH THE OFFER!  While this requires humility, it’s peanuts compared to the cost of replacing the installer.


Frustration

The reality is that installing granite and quartz counters is without a doubt the most difficult and stressful job in the stone business… and that’s on a good day.

Unfortunately, many shop owners add to this by failing to manage the three departments that precede the install: Production, Template, and Sales.  If the installers are regularly required to track down information that the sales department failed to acquire, make adjustments for oversights by the templater, or finish fabrication work like faucet holes and return polishes that the shop overlooked, frustration can eventually reach the boiling point.

The solution for this is not relying on your installers to “catch” and resolve the mistakes of every other department in the company.

The old saying, “You can’t un-ring the bell” sure applies now that the true costs and reasons for install turnover has been explained.

Now, my fellow stone shop owners: what are you going to do with this newfound knowledge?

The question isn’t what to do, it’s when you’re going to put this knowledge to good use and make the decisions that will positively impact your installers and your business!


Aaron Crowley is a stone shop owner, innovator and inventor, author, speaker, and consultant to mid-size stone companies. Send comments to
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