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Shop Efficiency

Updated: May 12, 2019

I'm 34 now, but when I was 20, my dad handed me the keys to a shop with a GMM manual saw and some slabs in the Outer Banks of NC (I know, lucky!). The shop had no employees or customers, just me.

This wasn't my first experience in a granite shop. My dad started as a tile setter and moved on to open a granite fab shop. His first saw was on a track he pulled with a rope, but he eventually upgraded to a Sawing Systems saw (ever hear of it?).

He started when they didn't have clamps to move slabs, they didn't have CNC machines, they didn't even have wet polishers or profile wheels. They applied the edging with a blade and used hand pads to polish the edges. This was 35 years ago.

Back then, he would be lucky to produce a kitchen a week if he was lucky. His shop was bi level, so they would tie a rope around the slab and hoist it by hand to bring the slab into the shop!

Today, it's a lot easier to manufacture. However, the competition is far more fierce and the pricing is competitive. Margins are often low, too low. Everyday, new machines, equipment, and software come out that makes manufacturing easier and more efficient.

I don't think this business will EVER be easy. But it can be easier and more profitable by doing the small things right.

If you do the small things right, it makes doing bigger things possible.

Fast forward two years later after my dad handed me the keys to the shop. I had 20+ employees and $3,000,000+ a year in revenue! That's a wow, right?

I was killing it. But guess what, it was complete chaos. I worked my ass off trying to do everything myself. One weekend, I didn't leave the shop for 3 days, I slept on the floor to meet production goals and customer demands. Maybe that's why my customers loved me so much.

But guess what? I hated my life. All I did was work and worry. I couldn't stand it anymore. I just wanted out.

From any outsider looking in, I looked incredibly successful. 22 years old, 20+ employees, $4,500,000 in sales from $0 in under two years! I became the biggest fabricator within a 60 miles radius. Hell, I was bigger than all my competitors combined and they were there for 10+ years!

Why was my shop in chaos? Because I didn't do the little things right.

I just wanted to grow, but I didn't pay attention to the little things.

Without doing the little things right, doing big things will almost certainly be difficult, if not impossible.

What are the little things?

Being organized with shop equipment and supplies. Having rags. Having a broom. Keeping the floors clean. Having good aprons. Having color sets. Having steel toe shop boots.

Think about this, what happens if a polisher doesn't have a rag handy to wipe a top down?

This is what happens:

1. He stops polishing.

2. He wonders around the shop asking other polishers working if they have or know where a rag is.

3. They say "no" and he goes off looking for something to use as a rag.

4. After 5 or 10 minutes of looking, he finds a rag, probably dirty and wet already, and uses that.

5. He wipes the top down, but since the rag is in poor condition, the top really isn't that clean.

Now lets analyze this.

We are paying a guy $15 or $20 an hour to polish, but we just paid him $2 to $3 to go look for a dirty rag that would only cost $0.20 new! Not only that, he had to stop working and whoever he asked also had to stop working.

That rag just cost you $5, if not $10.

And guess what? That guy is frustrated, he's pissed off. He doesn't want to be looking for a rag! And even after looking for it, the top still isn't clean because the rag was dirty. Now your customer sees a dirty top, maybe it gets scratched because of it.

Big deal? Yes!!!!

Not because of that 1 time occurrence, but because it probably happens 5 times a day! Now multiply that by 20 days. We're looking at over $1,000 in a single month, just looking for RAGS!

If you want to beat your competitors, you need to do the small things right first!

Every extra step someone in your shop needs to take is costing you money and lost production.

Just stop and look at your guys work. See what they are doing, see what is slowing them down. AND FIX IT! Fix it as fast as possible!

If that means buying rags every week or buying a few extra brooms or buying a few extra grinders, DO IT! Do it now, because every time someone stops in your shop to go find a tool or supplies, it is costing you money and lots of it! Especially when it is compounded day by day.

If you can limit lost production, your margins will grow, your shop will be happier, and your product be of higher quality.

All by doing the little things right.

I find it amazing people will spend $300,000 on a machine, but tell me $329 a month for RoboTop software is expensive.

No, it's not expensive. What's expensive is people. Not using us is actually costing you money, lots of it!

If you want to avoid chaos and grow, you need the infrastructure and procedures built in from the start no matter what size shop you operate. This way as you grow, it never becomes chaos like it did for me.

You simply add the pieces to grow, not micro manage every piece you add. A monumental difference!

And guess what? You might actually like operating a granite shop for once!

My name is Ryan and I created RoboTop for fabricators just like you. Want to talk? Email me at or visit to learn more.

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