Stone Presence

Maintaining A Stone Industry Online Presence

Running a successful business in the stone fabrication industry takes a lot of work and attention from the owner of the business. And if the business is to gain significant ‘traction’ online, there is even more work involved. Some stone fabricators wonder what goes into maintaining a successful business presence online? There are a number aspects to managing an online presence of any kind. In this post, we will look at some things that stone professionals will need to keep in mind if they are thinking of running a website; particularly one that has a blog. This will help explain how to maintain a stone industry online presence.

A Stone Industry Website Takes Work

The first thing to know about maintaining a website that deals with products in the stone industry is that it will take work to keep it running and producing benefits. Before we get into the work that is needed let’s look at why an online presence can be a great way to promote your stone industry business.

A presence online can help you keep your brand in front of people that might one day become your customer. Although it is only one avenue for achieving this, it is an important method nonetheless. Other channels for keeping your branding in front of the eyes of the public include print, radio, and television advertising. However, these other methods of contact work along with your website to keep the interest of those to whom your company serves as customers. To that end, the work that you put into your ‘online presence’ will be sizable. This is something that stone professionals should know going into this endeavor. But what actually goes into managing an online presence? Let’s take a look.

Parts of Your Fabrication Online Presence

There are a number of parts to your online presence. Some of these parts include the following:

  • Website
  • Social Media
  • Blogging
  • Periodic Newsletter

These aspects of your stone industry online presence take a great deal of work and time to manage. As a result, you might want to consider hiring an Internet Manager to handle this aspect of your business’s marketing profile. If you do hire someone to care for this however, you should be aware of what they will need to do to effectively care for your online presence. Let’s delve into that now.

Managing A Stone Fabrication Online Presence

What actually goes into managing an online presence? Well, it takes a person that is tech savvy, somewhat knowledgeable about the industry, and somewhat creative. Although, the creativity need not be such that the individual is a graphic artist or interior decorator. It just helps to be able to think about things from a creative perspective as it relates to possibilities.

One aspect of managing an online profile (or presence) is caring for a website. This does not mean that your Internet Manager has to be a computer programmer or web designer, it just means that they need to be savvy in using a computer and websites. There are a number of pre-built platforms on which you can run your website. In fact, one popular one is WordPress. This software is so popular because it allows you as the owner to create your own website pages and upload images for those pages. However, you will need to be aware of how to manage WordPress in a secure manner. The benefits though are numerous; including the fact that this software allows you to have a blog built into your website. This is a key element of gaining traction online. But what are some of the things to look out for while running a WordPress site?

Stone Article Comments

Managing the Community

“Community? What do you mean community?”, You may be wondering. Well, WordPress allows for others to comment on your blog posts. One of the things that can become a challenge is figuring out what method you are going to use to moderate the comments that will come into your website. Additionally, some clever programmers write programs to post comments on websites that allow commenting. They do this in an attempt to promote their own business on your website. Even though commenting on a blog post is not a bad thing in and of itself, your Internet Manager will need to keep an eye on it so that commenters are actually real people and not robots masquerading as people.

Continuous New Unique Content

Another thing that you will need to make sure your Internet Manager is willing and able to do is come up with, write, and promote new and unique content. This takes a number of resources. First, the writer needs to understand the topic. Second, writing skills are necessary. Third, a creativity that allows the writer to come up with angles on the subject that will appeal to the readers (a.k.a. your audience). At first, you may need to educate your Internet Manager on the specifics of your aspect of the stone industry. However, after the initial challenge of understanding the role your business plays, your content author(s) can then begin thinking of new ways to communicate concepts to your audience.

Social Media’s Role

Another aspect of managing an online presence for stone fabrication businesses is creating & keeping up with social media accounts. Having the big three social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube) is important to your stone business. Each of these social media channels can be used to accomplish slightly different goals. However, using all three of them effectively with your blog and website can yield some remarkable benefits when it comes to keeping your brand in front of people whom you wish to draw to your business. This again goes back to creativity in how you produce your content. Some other social media tools that could be used to promote your stone fabrication business is Pinterest. Again, creativity is imperative for success.

Maintaining A List of Stone Industry Customers

Another social aspect of keeping your business’s brand in front of potential customers is creating interesting articles for them to read by means of a newsletter. This can be challenging for some to do effectively. However, if your content writers are able to put themselves in the shoes of the audience you are trying to reach it is easier. Knowing what kinds of questions commonly get asked can give you hints about what they might be interested in reading about.

The key is to think about it from the perspective of the reader and pretend what you would want to see if you were in their position. What kinds of ads (if any) would you tolerate? What types of topics would you be open to reading about? Taking this into consideration can help you sort out what kinds of emails to send to your list and how often to send them.

Using Tools To Accomplish Your Goal

Your goal may vary as it relates to how you use your online tools. In the end you want to use the tools we have talked about to cultivate brand awareness. Using the tools together will help you accomplish this task. For example, the following use case might be one that you find effective for building brand awareness.

First, create good content that describes in detail the aspects of your business that are important to your potential customers. Answer common questions that you receive about stone fabrication, installing stone countertops, how to care for natural and engineered stone countertops. When you write your material, don’t just write it to make a sale. Write it in such a way that it will educate the reader on the reasons why things are the way they are. These pages will become your website’s core information. Always include a way for your site visitors to sign up for your newsletter and mailing list.

After you have built out your core website, begin to flesh out your blog by creating categories that have to do with the stone fabrication industry. It does not have to be only about stone. It can also be about design, appliances , and other industries related to your industry. Then regularly write articles and arrange them in those categories. By continuously adding new articles to your blog, you will accomplish a couple of things; one, you will gradually build authority on the subject of fabrication and two, you will be continually making your website relevant to more topics. Over time, you website will begin to rank for more and more phrases and people will begin to find you in a variety of ways.

Stone Industry Online Presence

Creating Stone Related Content

In addition to creating content on your website and blog, you will want to write interesting articles to send out to your email list. If possible you want to archive your articles on your website, although this is not required. When you write articles for your newsletter readers, add links to interesting areas of your website to help your readers find other information they might be interested in.

Utilize your social media accounts to help people find your website. By sculpting your content and linking it together, you will be able to attract visitors form a variety of points in your online profile.

Cascading Your Information

By using the various parts of your stone industry online presence to promote other parts, you allow people to put your business in front of their eyes in many places. So how can you do this? Cascade your online properties. Here is an example: on your Facebook business page, post a link to an article on your blog (which is a section of your website) or an archived newsletter, then post Twitter tweets about the Facebook post and/or the article.

Use your YouTube channel to create informative and/or demonstration videos about your products and then embed the YouTube video into the product page of your website. In your YouTube description place a link to the details page of the product so people do not have to meander through your website to find that exact product. You can even tweet about your YouTube videos. The idea is to be active on social media so other can constantly see your brand. You never know when someone is going to become interested in your stone related business.

Actively Engage Stone Shoppers

The idea of managing your online presence is that you want to continually keep your audience engaged with your brand. Doing this requires active creation of content and interaction. It may feel like it is not working for a very long time, but if you persistently keep your brand in front of people they will grow to know your logo, your brand, and your business. Then when they are ready to begin a stone project, where will they start looking? With the businesses they already know. The question is, will the business they know be yours?

Good Transport Equipment

Benefits of Good Material Handling Equipment

Good Material Handling Equipment

Fabricators of that operate high volume establishments are aware that good quality equipment plays a large role in the shop’s success. Not only that, keeping your equipment in good working order is also imperative. For that reason, we thought we would take a few minutes to go over some of the key benefits of good material handling equipment.

In this post, we will take a quick look at four key benefits to using quality material handling gear. These advantages include:

  • Profitability
  • Product Care
  • Worker Safety
  • Efficient Processing

These advantages somewhat work together to yield a profitable work environment, so don’t be surprised if you notice a little bit of overlap across the four points. The first benefit we will discuss is profitability.

Profiting From Good Material Handling

This is so obvious that it can be easy to overlook. The better your material handling machines are, the more profitable your shop can become. Just think about all the ways that material handling impacts your bottom line:

  • Fewer Workman’s Comp Incidents
  • Productivity Boosts
  • Reduced Equipment Expenses
  • Better Quality Work
  • Workload Efficiency

Each of those items in that list can directly contribute to your bottom line. Either through generating more sales, or by reducing costs. Both of those avenues translate into higher profit margins. So keep reading if you are in the market for some increased profitability.

Good & Safe Equipment

These two types of equipment are often found together. In fact, many stone professionals would even say that good material handling equipment has to also be safe. After all, how good is a piece of equipment that is dangerous or unsafe to operate? In turn, the fewer the accidents, the more profitable the business. Additionally, you can safe cash on outgoing costs if you do not have to replace your material handling equipment as often as the next fabrication shop.

One feature of some equipment that helps reduce repurchasing is A Frames that utilize replacement rubber. Being able to replace rubber on A Frames reduces spending in a couple of ways. First, it allows the fabrication shop to continue using an A Frame that they might otherwise be looking to replace. Second, it can help protect the stone when transporting it to the saw. Just like there are a variety of diamond blades, there are also a number of kinds of material handling machines. Each kind will no doubt be available in a range of quality levels.

Material Handling Equipment & Shop Safety

Another benefit that comes from having and maintaining good material handling equipment is the safety of the workers. After all, injuries on the job can really drive up the cost of running a fabrication shop. Having well-maintained equipment ensures that slabs stay on the handling equipment. But the condition of the machines is only one aspect that produces benefits.

A second way fabrication pros benefit is by being able to work more efficiently. Utilizing safety equipment that is in good condition makes it possible to work a bit quicker that is possible if the handlers are wrestling the material as they transport it around the shop. Good equipment that fits the material well makes working fast easier.

Production Efficiency Yields Profits

It all boils down to the fact that efficiency is directly related to the profitability of the shop. And the formula is pretty simple. The more you can get done in a given time frame, the more money your shop takes in. And the less money you spend to do that amount of work, the more of the income the shop gets to keep. It’s as simple as that!

So, in conclusion, why not take some time to examine your workflow and the quality of your material handling equipment. If there are ways that you can increase productivity and boost shop safety while ramping up the quality of production, seize those opportunities and experience the benefits that come from good material handling equipment.

Diamond Blade Basics

What You Need to Know About Diamond Blades

45 Degree Blade Cutting

The topic “what you need to know about diamond blades” is vast and could be explored to virtually infinite depth. In this post, we will explore three basic things you need to know about diamond blades that can affect your day-to-day usage.

At some point, good fabricators develop an appreciation for high quality tools and equipment. That is not to say that every situation or production method must use the highest performing equipment. The cost of the tool and consumables for that tool play a role in the bottom line of the profit of the business. However, there are other times when the higher price for a long lasting tool is well worth the expense. One piece of equipment where this is the case is diamond blades.

High quality diamond blades can be costly. Since this is true, it makes sense to understand some basic concepts regarding diamond blades. Having a basic understanding will help fabrication workers not only select the proper blade for the job, but also enable the fabricator to get the best results and longevity from a given blade.

Diamond Blade Construction

The first area to get an understanding of is blade construction. Having insight into what components make up a diamond blade and the roles they play in the blade’s performance lays the foundation for using the blade properly and getting the best results from your diamond blades. Here, we will discuss two main components:

  • Core
  • Segments

The Diamond Blade Core

The first primary component of a diamond blade that we will consider is the diamond blade core. The core of a diamond blade is the round disc used to support the segments (we will discuss these shortly). The core of a diamond blade can play a large part in the results you receive from the blade. Some characteristics that affect the blade’s performance include:

  • Thickness
  • Hardness
  • Precision
  • Tension

The thickness of the core and its hardness contribute to how well it works and the precision with which the blade is made affect the results too. Diamond blade cores are also “tensioned”. A blade that is properly “tensioned” will be flexible to a certain degree – bending slightly under pressure – and snapping back into place when the pressure is removed. This characteristic of a diamond blade’s core allows it to flex with the cutting pressure that comes from proper blade use.

Diamond Blade Segments

In addition to the core of the blade are its segments (although there are continuous rim diamond blades which do not have segments). These segments are another part of the diamond blade’s construction that contribute to its results. Let’s take a look at diamond blade segments and how they are structured.

Diamond segments are composed of to parts. First, the metal bond. Second, the diamonds. Let’s take a high level look at each of these.

The blade’s bond is what hold the diamonds and is composed of metal powders. These various powders are mixed together; producing varying hardness and wear rates. Manufacturers formulate bonds that wear at precisely the proper rate for the type of cutting for which the blade is designed to be used. Coordinating the wear of the bond with the wear and fracturing of the diamonds.

As for the diamonds, they are typically not the naturally produced diamonds found in the earth. Rather, these are synthetic (produced or manufactured) diamonds that can be created with specific characteristics that make them just right for use on particular materials and in particular bonds. Other configurable properties that play a role in the segment design are as follows:

  • Diamond Quality
  • Quantity of Diamonds
  • Diamond Size

All of these factors contribute to the performance of a given blade. As mentioned earlier, a blade’s thickness, hardness, and tension being made with high precision will affect the performance of the blade. So the core and the segments work together to contribute to the blade’s performance. Let’s consider some significant performance factors of diamond blades.

Diamond Blade Performance Factors

When it comes to the factors that contribute to the effectiveness of a diamond blade, we need to consider the dynamics of how the blade’s core and segments work together to produce results. How the segments are fastened or attached to the core will affect the blade’s ability to perform in various scenarios. The main methods for attaching the segments to the core of diamond blades are:

  • Vacuum Brazed
  • Sintered
  • Laser Welded

Each of these attachment methods offers a degree of durability. Yet they are also come at various prices. Depending on what material you are cutting, what horse power your saw is, and whether the environment is wet or dry, your choice of the above attachment methods will vary.

Laser welded segments cost more as a general rule and produce the strongest bond to the core. This strong bond contributes to amount of heat the blade can withstand. Additionally, the strength of the core and its tension (the ability to flex and not lose its shape) also play a large role in performance.

The dynamics involved in the wearing of the diamonds and the matrix (or bond) that holds the diamonds also make for a high performance blade. The bond and the diamonds need to breakdown in a particular manner and at a rate that is complimentary. The better this wear process is coordinated, the better the results will be. Conversely though, if any of the aforementioned components or dynamics is even slightly out of line, the results will not be optimal. In fact, many factors can even cause a blade to break.

How to Prevent Diamond Blade Breakage

As we have considered there are many details that go into what you need to know about diamond blades. One of the important ones from a fabricator’s perspective is how can I prevent breaking blades? As you will see, there are a number of factors, including environmental factors, usage factors, and even operating factors that can contribute to sub-par performance and even breakage.

Cutting stoneĀ at a high speed, under intense heat, at various pressures and force is a sensitive process. Right there in that sentence is a clue to preventing blade breakage. So, you should endeavor to use the proper blade in the proper manner with the right equipment. Hence, thisĀ  affords you the best opportunity for increasing the longevity of the blade. Ultimately, you want the blade to wear out and not break.

One underlying cause of blades breaking involves heat. In fact, if the blade gets too hot from improper use or from friction, it can cause the blade to break or to lose segments. So we have included a list of specific things that can hinder the performance of a diamond blade and which can result in a blade breaking or throwing segments:

  • Using dry diamond blades improperly.
  • Using wet diamond blades with too little water.
  • Machines in need of maintenance.

Each of the above situations can cause blade breakage or segments being thrown. Let’s look at each one and see how it contributes to what you need to know about diamond blades.

Improper Blade Use

Diamond blades must be kept cool while they are being used to cut stone. Some blades are designed to be used dry and others are designed to be used in wet environments. One of the primary differences between these blades is how they are cooled.

In the case of a dry diamond blade, air is used to cool the blade while it cuts. This is achieved by allowing air to circulate around the segments (and even through the blade in some cases). This fact implies a proper use of these kinds of diamond blades.

When using a dry diamond blade, be sure to allow enough air to interact with the blade by keeping your sawing mode shallow. This approach allows air to flow around or through the gaps and holes in the blade. Deep, continuous cutting can create a situation where the blade is damaged due to overheating which affects the core and the segments.

If you are using a wet diamond blade, the danger of heat-related damage can occur if there is insufficient water produced to cool the stone. Therefore, it is important that your environment provides a sufficient amount of water on both side of the blade. Additionally, never use a wet diamond blade without water.

Finally, you can prevent blade breakage by keeping your machines well-maintained and in good working order. Loose nuts, bots or other fasteners can cause the blade to wobble or flutter. Also, worn out shafts and bearings create play in what would otherwise be a straight, smooth line. Anything that can cause the blade to be out of balance can cause even more damage. Be sure to regularly check and service your stone cutting equipment. It will pay off in the long run.

What to Take Away

As you can see, what you need to know about diamond blades involves understanding basic principles and being familiar with how blades work in various situations and environments. Knowing this, prevents fabricators from arbitrarily using diamond blades in ways they were not intended. And from neglecting machinery to the point that it becomes a detriment to the shop’s operation.

Customer Service Ideas

Stone Fabrication Customer Service

Stone fabrication has a lot of unique factors that separate it from other service related industries. However, in many ways stone fabricators have to give attention to the same aspects of business as any other company. One such area is customer service. Service tips is one of the aspects of stone fabrication mentioned on Granite Polishing Pads. But if you are going to provide a memorable experience for your customers, you must help them to feel understood. Let’s look at some basic customer service ideas that help accomplish this.

Stone Fabrication Customer Service

Effective Customer Service Means Listening Well

This may sound strange on the surface, but it really is important. In fact, you may even be thinking to yourself “that is obvious”, but think about what it takes to achieve that. Also, think about how it affects the bottom line of the business. In order to understand your customer, you have to must be a good listener. If your customer expresses a lack of interest in one of your features or services, how you listen will impact the relationship. Notice this quote from an article in the Countertops & Architectural Surfaces magazine Volume 10 / Issue 4 Quarter 4, 2017.

“If you upgrade your listening skills, you automatically upgrade your sales and your ability to persuade.”

That article was talking about the slaes process, but the premise of article also applies to customer service relationships. So, tip number one in our customer service ideas starts before the sale; listen well.

Customer Service While Doing the Work

Providing good customer service during the install process is also vital. In fact, the service provided during the sale and install of the process is just as important as the quality of the work and product itself. Efficiency during the sales and follow up process is key to getting things right for the customer. Many Fabrication professionals utilize forms to assist with various aspects of the sales and service process. The Natural Stone Institute provides a variety of forms to assist stone professionals with the customer service experience. A sample of what one of these forms may look like can be found here: Initial Contact Form.

Creating documentation throughout the sales and service process keeps the communication clear so that all involved know what to expect and what not to expect. And clarity is as important part of the customer experience.

Service Before During After

Service After the Sale

Even after the sale is complete, customer service does not stop. Following up with the customer some time after the install is finished can speak volumes. Try giving your customer a call to see how they are enjoying their new countertop or stone surface. Some fabrication professionals send a gift to the owner of the new surface as a thank you present. Actually, some very thoughtful stone professionals even perform the first cleaning with a nice high quality product like Lustro Italiano and then leave the cleaning and maintenance kit as a thank you gift for the customer. That’s what Ageless Stoneworks Inc. out of Houston, TX. recommends in this discussion in the SFA forum.

The idea is that customer service is a way of doing business. It is more than a slogan or a way of selling. Customer service encompasses various aspects of the relationship between you, the fabricator or stone professional and the customer. It spans the entire range of interaction between you and your customer. From the first time they hear about your company or service to the time they recommend you to a friend.