… And How to Avoid Them

Aaron Crowley

Crowley’s Granite

Out of all the jobs in the stone business (besides ownership), installing has to be the hardest.

Installers are stuck on site until the job is complete,. They have to solve tons of unforeseen problems with the customer watching over their shoulder, and they often finish work that was missed by measure-up or the shop.

So how can you help your installers succeed? Take a look at these five common mistakes fab shop owners make and how to avoid them.

Leaving Sealing to the Installers

Leaving Sealing to the Installers

 Counters still wet and gritty from fabrication are like coal in a Christmas stocking for an installer. 

First, they get everything and everyone on the install dirty, and second, they must be cleaned and then sealed before the job is completed. 

This is a risky, time-consuming, and smelly process when done in someone’s home. 

Make sure sealing is finished in the controlled environment of a well-lit shop, where proper cleaning and drying can take place before sealers are applied. When done in this environment, your installers save time and produce a better-finished product.

Scattering Counters, Splashes and Work Orders

Scattering Counters, Splashes and Work Orders 

 One of the biggest time (and money) wasters in a stone countertop operation is when installers must search the shop with a work order in hand, trying to track down the counters and backsplashes.

Scavenger hunts are fine for your kids’ birthday parties, but highly skilled/highly paid installers should not have to hunt for anything – not even the job site address.

The solution to this common craziness is a dedicated and defined space/place where completed jobs are staged for install. This includes counters, splash, templates, and work orders.

Cutting the Backsplash Long

Cutting the Backsplash Long

There’s a misconception among measure-up techs (and sawyers) that splashes must be cut long during production and cut to final length onsite by the installers — with one exception being miters. However, all backsplash can be precisely measured and cut in the shop.

Of course, this requires a little math by the measure-up tech. They must add overhangs, subtract transition lines, etc., but this eliminates the inefficient re-cutting to length of every piece of the splash on site.

It also eliminates the need to run extension cords, saw-horses, and using dust-generating tools outside, not to mention the double-handling (setting up and taking down) of every piece of splash in the job!

Forgetting the Sink Clips

Forgetting the Sink Clips

Today, there are multiple off-the-shelf solutions for mechanically attaching an undermount sink to the counter to prevent delaminating and failure. These can be easily and seamlessly incorporated into a shop operation.

When systematized, these techniques take mere minutes in the shop, while the alternative is spending hours on site cutting, routing, and blocking sinks with wood, or returning to job sites when the silicone adhesive technique fails.

Failure to Check Templates

Failure to Check Templates

Few things are more infuriating to a tired installer than a customer pointing out a return polish or faucet hole was missed when it was clearly marked on the template for the shop to see.

Murphy’s Law generally requires that the customer point this out after all the tools are packed up.

So how can you ensure little things like return polishes and faucet holes aren’t overlooked in the shop? The best way is to have someone other than the finisher review the work. Have another employee, such as a supervisor or machine operator, QC the work with a fresh set of eyes. 

By shifting these tasks out of install and into the shop, you’ll save several hours per week, see improved production, and provide higher quality installs for your customers.