I’m assuming you will agree with this, of all the jobs in the stone business (besides ownership) installing has got to be the toughest.
They’re stuck on site till the job is complete, they have to solve a myriad of unforeseen problems with the customer looking over their shoulder, and often they finish work that was missed by measure-up or the shop!
To help you help your shop help your installers, here’s a short article:
1. Leaving the 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 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.
Sealing can and should take place in the controlled environment of a well-lit shop, where proper cleaning and drying can take place before application of sealers.
When done in this environment, it takes less time while producing a better-finished product.
2. Scattering Counters, Splash, and Work Orders
One of the biggest time (and money) wasters in a stone counter operation is when installers must search the shop with the work order in hand, trying to track down the counters and splash.
Scavenger hunts are fine for bachelorette parties, but highly skilled/highly paid installers should not be hunting 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!
3. Cutting Back Splash “Long”
There is a misconception among measure up techs (and sawyers) that splash must be cut long during production and cut to final length on-site by the installers. With one exception being miters, all backsplash can be precisely measured and cut in the shop for installation.
Of course, this requires a little math by the measure up tech adding overhangs, subtracting transition lines, and such, but it eliminates the terribly 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 tools outside not to mention the double handling (setting up and taking down) of every piece splash!
4. Forgetting Sink Clips
Today, there are multiple off the shelf solutions for mechanically attaching an undermount sink to the counter to eliminate delaminating and failure.
These can be easily and seamlessly incorporated into a shop operation.
When systemized these techniques take mere minutes in the shop, when the alternative is spending hours onsite cutting, routing, and blocking sinks with wood, or returning to job sites when the silicone adhesive technique fails.
5. Failure to Check Templates
Few things are more infuriating to a tired installer than a customer pointing out that 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 what’s the solution to ensuring little things like return polishes and faucet holes aren’t overlooked in the shop?
A review of the work by somebody other than the finisher!
The finisher who has looked at the counter, work order, and templates 15-20 times can easily miss something staring him right in the face.
The solution is simply delegating the task of QC to a supervisor or even a machine operator, templates and counters can be double-checked by a fresh set of eyes before they are taken down off the finisher tables (and before they are sealed).
These 5 tasks must be completed by someone in the company and most likely your shop crew is happy with the current status quo.
But by shifting these tasks out of the install and into the shop, many many hours per week will be saved and in almost every case, quality will improve as well!
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