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Technology and the Human Hand: Are We Losing Touch?

17. May 2018 16:05

By: Scott Grove, ScottGrove.com

Ever since I started woodworking I have wondered: Does technology compromise my craftsmanship? I would buy the latest and greatest gizmo that would give me better accuracy and speed, and then a friend would jokingly say, well, that’s just cheating.

In recent years technology advances have made working with wood easier. Wood can now be cut, carved, and shaped more precisely and more quickly with a CNC machine than one could ever have hoped to imagine. We are now at a stage in the game where furniture can be completely designed and created with the push of a button. As a businessman, I embrace this efficiency, but sometimes I wonder if I am losing touch with my craft. Am I still a maker, a “real” craftsman? Or am I being redefined as a designer and assembler? Where is the line between them?

In Western society, we dwell on imperfection as a flaw and often consider it a failure or subpar, shoddy craftsmanship. Even the term “craft” can have a negative connotation. But are we missing the fact that these flaws represent the human touch? OR do we and society want perfection no matter how it is achieved? Some will argue that the design and even the manufacture is still a craft, but is it? Really?

Obviously there are more questions than clear answers here. But one thing is for sure: Technology is here to stay and will keep advancing, helping us to become faster and more accurate, work more quickly and more cost effectively. The technological craftsman is a reality and our trade is splintering in two.

The dilemma is: How to use technology without losing touch with our craftsmanship? Or is that just cheating?  Be a part of the conversation during the Technology and the Human Hand - Are We Losing Touch session at the IWF Conference on Wednesday, August 22nd from 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM.

For a 9 minute TedX talk overview of this discussion, please visit https://imaginegrove.com/

Scott Grove, ScottGrove.com ImagineGrove.com


The Most Effective Leadership Practice

17. May 2018 15:56

By: Cyndi Gave, The Metiss Group

When it comes to leading others within an organization, the most effective leadership practice is weekly one-on-one meetings between a leader and their direct reports.

It accelerates performance because the one-on-one is all about the direct report and their needs.  Specifically, the leader should ask:

  • What is going on at work and in life that might impact performance or effectiveness this week;
  • What activities are the direct report focused on this week;
  • What obstacles have they run into;
  • What resources are needed?

When the direct report believes this simple 30 minutes each week is completely dedicated by the leader to focus on their success, the engagement and passion for results is unbelievable.

Additionally, these meetings create trust between the direct report and the leader.  When a direct report knows their leader will share information, trust soars.

This is not the time for the leader to micromanage; the focus of the one-on-one is on the direct report and their needs – the leader is the resource, not the solution.

You can learn more about this subject during the Anticipating and Overcoming Predictable Barriers to Growth session at the IWF 2018 Education Conference.



Think On Your Feet?

14. May 2018 09:53

By: Monique MacKinnon, Energetic Evolution

Thinking clearly, quickly and decisively in response to important matters is a valuable skill and strategy. Woodworkers who have the ability to think on their feet are self-confident with their craft, including related decisions.

When you the woodworking professional experience technical complications – such as significant-enough errors in judgment or your craft – how do you: Mediate this situation? Compensate for this resource-wise, if and when required? Who takes responsibility and the potential ‘hit’, as well as decides the next step?

Measuring Twice and Cutting Once doesn’t guarantee that woodworking will ever be black and white.

In How to be Visionary, Create BOLD Results in Uncertainty (BMG13), you will learn how to Up-level your Thinking On Your Feet and visionary skills plus qualitative and quantitative results. Guaranteed, you will walk away with the Eagle Soaring Tool.

Bonus: Come prepared with your practical questions, even ethical ones, and you will benefit that much more!



14. May 2018 09:45

By: Chrisitne Corelli, Christine Corelli and Associates

It goes without saying that developing a reputation for superior customer service is an imperative for business success. But I’m always saying it!  So should you – to your employees. Customers don’t need much of an excuse to head over to your competitor if your business falls even the slightest bit short in the level of service you provide. And in today’s highly competitive marketplace, you can’t afford to lose even one customer.

The Experience Matters!

We hear so much talk today about providing a consistently great “customer experience,” and the importance of putting the “Wow” factor into that experience. We also hear a great deal about consistently improving processes and procedures to make it easy for the customer to do business with us. Yet, there are far too many organizations that have not even mastered the basics. 

First Things First – Master the Basics

Basic Five Step Process to Serving Customers

  • Answer the phone and greet customers in a friendly and highly professional manner.

“XYZ Cabinetry, this is Susan how may I direct your call?”

“XYZ Woodworking Equipment, this is John, how may I help you?”

If you know the customer be sure to make them feel important. “Oh, hello Mr. Smith, how are you today?”  Remember Norm from the TV Show Cheers and why he was so well loved and remembered till this day?  It’s because he knew everyone’s name!

When a new customer walks in to your place of business, walk toward them and extend your hand as you say, “Hello, I’m John. What brings you in today?” (Not, “Can I help you?” …too boring!)

       2)  Ask how you can help and LISTEN.

Perhaps the biggest difference in the way we did business in the past and how we will need to do    it in the future is that we will have to be better listeners. Demonstrate you are listening by maintaining eye contact, and reconfirming what the customer wants. This is often referred to ask “paraphrasing.” As my colleague Jeffrey Gitomer says,

                              “You will never listen yourself out of a customer.”

       3)  Help customers.

Tell them what you will do and do it. It’s the most important part of your job. If   the customer                has a problem, take ownership to resolve the problem. Refrain from simply handing it off to                   someone else.  Remember to provide the customer with more help than they ever dreamed               would be possible. This includes being far more knowledgeable than any of your competitors.

       4)  Ask what more you can do.

Never hang up or say goodbye without asking “Is there anything more I can do for you today?”

       5.)  Thank customers for their business

Customers want to be appreciated—very appreciated.  Never take them for granted. Thank them often and especially if they give you a referral. If they give you a referral that results in business, by all means send them a gift.

 More Basics but Some of the Best Things to Do

  • Make a positive first impression.

Your appearance is important. There’s nothing worse than walking into a place of business and being ignored by the person behind the counter because they are on a personal call.  Today’s scrutinizing customers may think that if a dealership is lax with professionalism, they may be lax in the level of service it provides or in the quality of their workmanship.  Make it mandatory that techs wear uniforms, and front-line employees dress in a professional manner.

Your equipment, cabinetry, or woodworking products and the way they are displayed should be impressive, but your facility is also a part of your presentation. When a customer walks into your place of business, it should shout cleanliness and orderliness. The outside of your facility should be nicely landscaped and without debris anywhere near the building. Your washrooms should be immaculately clean. If you think these things are not important to customers, you are dead wrong!

  • Respect the customer and be courteous at all times.

Customers are spending their hard-earned money at your place of business. Give them respect and courtesy, even if they are difficult. Never judge or correct them. Refrain from saying, “Why didn’t you tell the installer?!

       Demonstrate an urgency to serve. If you don’t, customers will go elsewhere.

  • Answer every call by the third ring. Sound “ready to serve. ”
  • Return calls promptly and in no longer than 90 mins.
  • Find parts fast. Train others to jump in and help you when needed.
  • Provide the fastest field assistance possible.
  • Handle complaints with professionalism.

When a customer is angry, diffuse the situation by applying "verbal cushions," a communication technique taught by customer service trainers. These words and phrases “cushion” a customer's complaint and will help you to service them more effectively. The verbal cushions below communicate a sense of concern, promote cooperation, and display empathy. Memorize them so that you can apply them in challenging situations.

  • "I apologize this occurred, John."
  • "I can understand why you are upset.”
  • "I'm very sorry this has happened to you."
  • "I apologize if there's been a misunderstanding."
  • "I can understand why you would be unhappy."
  • "I understand your position."
  • "Thank you for bringing this to my attention."
  • "I agree with you completely. This is crucial to the job you're doing."
  • “I recognize the urgency involved. Let me take care of this immediately.”
  • “I want you to walk of here as a happy customer.”
  • Apply the highest levels of communication

            - Use words and phrases that impress customers 

               “How can I help you today?”

               “Is there anything more I can do for you today?”

               “My pleasure.”

                “You’re more than welcome.”

                “I will keep you informed of our progress.”

                “We appreciate your business.” “How was the level of service today?”

            -  Parts and service managers – ask the customer

              “How would you like me to follow up?”

  • Over-communicate with customers and your internal customers. Make sure all departments have all important information they need. Let them know when you can get back to them with an answer.
  • Reach out - Call customers even if it’s only to keep them informed on what you are doing to help them.
  •  Build trust.
  • Do what you say you are going to do.
  • Follow up
  • Fix it on time, fix it right the first time.
  • Deliver it on time
  • Never make a promise you can’t keep.
  • Exceed expectations.

This is an important basic of customer service. Exceeding expectations in every way possible, is by far, the best way to obtain customer loyalty. Strive to exceed expectations at every opportunity and stand on your head for your customers.  When you exceed a customer’s expectations you are delivering what they purchased and more.  Here’s a rule to follow:

Always give customers far more than they ever imagined.

Once you and everyone in your company have mastered the basics of customer service, think of how you can add value, make it easier for customers to do business with you, streamline processes and procedures, and examine “Moments of Truth” – (each time a customer provides you with an opportunity to impress them). Then, add the “Wow” factor.

If you do, you will be in a better position to establish higher levels of customer loyalty and maintain strength in the marketplace.

With unrivaled expertise, strive to deliver intuitive and proactive customer service and a consistently superior customer experience.

Learn more about this topic during Christine's session "Seven Steps to Service Excellence" during the IWF 2018 Education Conference.

© 2018, Christine Corelli & Associates, Inc.  Christine Corelli has had a distinguished 25 year career as an international keynote speaker, workshop facilitator, and business columnist. She has authored business six books, including the best-selling, Wake Up and Smell the Competition. Her clients are characterized by Fortune 500 companies, major trade associations, and an abundance of mid-size and small companies. Attend her sessions at IWF Atlanta! To learn more visit https://www.christinespeaks.com - To contact her for an upcoming meeting, conference or special event, call (847) 477-7376.


Don’t Let Behavior Fool You

11. May 2018 12:07

By: John Bruer: In2Great

A person’s behavior can be a real mystery.  They show up at an interview with a strong resume and appear in a way that seems to suggest they would be a great fit with the organization.  Then a few months later it seems like we are dealing with a complete stranger. Behavior can be misleading because it can be modified to fit the situation and, let’s face it, people are getting good at interviewing and presenting themselves in a way that can make them attractive as a potential employee.  On the other hand, if you know the origin of behavior, you can more accurately predict what this person will be like as part of your organization.

At their most basic level, behaviors are a result of a person’s needs and those needs originate from a person’s natural drives.  Scientifically, we identify those drives as Dominance, Extraversion, Patience, and Formality and by uncovering those drives and understanding what they tell us, we can make more informed decisions about talent management.  There are a number of variables that go into the selection of new employees or the promotion of existing ones, but unless we let these drives inform our decisions, we are likely to put someone in a place that is not well suited for their natural abilities nor beneficial to the organization.  They get frustrated, we get frustrated - and no one wins.

Using a reliable and validated diagnostic tool helps tremendously.  Our work has been based on the validated science of The Predictive Index which has been around since the 1950’s.  One of the most validated platforms available, the PI measures a person’s natural drives and therefore informs us as to their needs that will show up as their behaviors.  For example, someone with a very low Extraversion drive will be more introspective and private in nature. Recruiting them for a position that demands that they make frequent public appearances and give many speeches is likely to wear them out faster than someone with a high Extraversion drive.  It’s not that they couldn’t do it, the point is that their drive would not suggest that they would be drawn to that activity and be energized and motivated by it which is what we want in an employee. When we are able to put people in a position and can leverage their natural drives, they will be happier and in all practicality, more productive.

Learn more about this topic during the Countertops and Architectural Surfaces Symposium at IWF 2018 Education Conference.




11. May 2018 12:03

By: Bill Boxer, Modern Finishing Products, Inc.

Previously I positioned HVLP technology in today's marketplace. In this article I would like to explain more about the turbine/turbospray technology.

There are two pieces of knowledge necessary to understand the range and variables of HVLP turbine/turbospray technology. The technology itself and an understanding of the coatings and finishes one intends to access.

The basic system has three components. The air supply, the air hose and the spray gun. Each plays an important role in performance success. The air supply is electric driven. It incorporates an impeller/blower type motor that produces a high volume of air (CFM) similar to the output of a common vacuum. These motors come in a range of sizes or as I like to call them power levels. The more powerful the motor the higher the available atomizing pressure. Pressure relates to the ability to atomize or break up a fluid (coating) into small even particles which in turn gives you a fine finish with a smooth surface. Higher pressure gives you access to the widest range of coatings and viscosities.

Unlike an air compressor where you can regulate the pressure up and down, most HVLP turbine/turbospray systems are one fixed pressure. Today there are a few exceptions where you can regulate or adjust the pressure or even visibly see the pressure on an LCD screen for fine adjustment if desired.

The air hose should be rugged, crush proof and have a smooth interior lining to achieve maximum efficiency. Hose length is important to allow for flexibility and movement around a substrate. The average air hose length for an HVLP turbine/turbospray system is generally between 20' - 30'. (6.1m - 9.1m).

The third component of an HVLP turbine/turbospray system is the spray gun. This is probably the most critical part of the system. It requires design precision, versatility, a range of nozzles, needles and air caps while being light weight and balanced. The finer one’s desired results increases the importance of the spray gun.

Before moving ahead let me interject one additional component which I personally feel is extremely important in understanding what is available in the marketplace. Given the versatility of HVLP turbine/turbospray technology, the consumer range is wide. You can find equipment available for the occasional craftsman right through professional applications. It is critical that one looks at equipment based on need, desired results and most important the coatings one intends to use with HVLP turbine/turbospray equipment.

Let us talk about coatings, finishes, paints and viscosity. This is an ever-changing variable in the world of finishing. We have solvent based coatings, waterborne and waterbased coatings. Paint manufacturers are constantly formulating their products to offer the consumer the best results while complying with VOC codes. Using the best available products are critical to achieving desired results with HVLP turbine/turbospray products. This means fine ground resins and pigments and variables to adjust viscosity, dry times and enhanced flow out of the product.

Knowing product performance features, recommended viscosity and pairing it with the right HVLP turbine/turbospray system will ensure the perfect finish every time.

 Learn more about this subject during the "HVLP Turbospray Technology, Past-Present-Future" session at the IWF 2018 Education Conference.









Effective Estimating that leads to Bullet Proof Proposals

10. May 2018 13:12

By: Bobbo Buckley, Software Developer: Cabinotch Innovative Solutions

Effective Estimating that leads to Bullet Proof Proposals - BMG10

In addition to what we discussed in Part 1 of this series, we will be spending some time working on a couple models in Excel (it's not rocket science, but there is a learning curve) so we can learn to not only take our costs and build bullet proof Estimates and Proposals, but also be able to play incredibly valuable 'What If' scenarios.

What if we use this wood specie instead of that wood specie?

What if we use this door instead of that door?

What if we use this drawer type instead of that drawer type?

What if I outsource my doors and drawer fronts?

What if I outsource my cabinet components?

What are the financial implications of Outsourcing in general?

Your Estimating system must be bi-lingual, it must speak two languages equally well. It must speak cost and selling price. There must never be a discrepancy between what you tell a client an item will cost, and the reduction made if they opt to not purchase that item.

Seeing IF statements used in Excel models is the first step in learning to use these incredibly useful tools (it's always easier to learn a new thing when it is used in the same context you want to use it in). My life experience tells me that the primary objective of an Estimate is to sell a project, but the secondary objective is absolutely no less important, and that is to Create Right Expectations.

Managing expectations just might be the second hardest thing about cabinetmaking (managing employees claiming the top position for most cabinetmakers). Since there are no second chances at first impressions, then I'm thinking we should put our very best foot forward when it comes to the systems we use to produce our Estimates and Proposals, and let these two instruments of communication be our primary method for managing those expectations. Verbal communications are subject to forgetfulness and/or misinterpretation, so they need to be our last resort for managing expectations.

In this session, we will look at the mechanics of making just such a system a reality.





Exposed: The Truth about Nonflammable Adhesives and How to Verify a Compliant Product

10. May 2018 13:06

Increased Health, Safety, and Environmental restrictions by OSHA, Fire Marshals, insurance companies, and other regulatory commissions, especially concerning products used in areas such as healthcare and education environments, has led to a vital need for nonflammable canister adhesives to be used in millwork projects.

Although there are a variety of nonflammable canister contact adhesives on the market; there’s more to the “nonflammable” label than first meets the eye. In fact, there are two key requirements for a product to be considered a nonflammable canister adhesive; it must contain a nonflammable, solvent-based adhesive and a nonflammable propellant. Combined, the nonflammable adhesive and nonflammable propellant creates a canister adhesive that will not burn or catch fire.

Solvent-based Adhesives: The current technology for nonflammable, solvent-based adhesives center on Methylene Chloride (commonly disguised as Dichloroethane) and n-Propyl Bromide (nPB). While these solvents are common in the adhesive industry, they have recently come under heavy scrutiny. The ugly truth is that OSHA considers both Methylene Chloride and nPB to be a potential occupational carcinogen and have extremely low permissible exposure limits. Both chemicals have been listed to be potentially banded by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

Propellants: Some nonflammable canisters are being misrepresented as completely nonflammable despite containing a flammable propellant like butane or propane. The easiest way to determine if a product contains a flammable propellant is to examine the DOT label required on all canister adhesives. If the bright red, “UN3501 Chemical under pressure, flammable n.o.s” label is present, this IS NOT a completely nonflammable product. The flammable propellant will catch fire if exposed to an open flame. If a green, “UN3500 Chemical under pressure, non-flammable gas” label is present, this is a completely nonflammable canister adhesive.

After many years of development, Wilsonart Engineered Surfaces has launched a U.S. patent-pending formula for a Nonflammable Canister Adhesive that no other company currently offers. This new, revolutionary canister contact adhesive is a true nonflammable product. Unlike its counterparts, the Wilsonart Nonflammable Series – NF 702/703 and NF 742/743 – is entirely nonflammable and does not contain Methylene Chloride or nPB.

Interested in learning more about the benefits of Nonflammable Canister Adhesives and what to look for when purchasing a verified product? Join us at the “Techniques and Time-Savers for Engineered Surfacing Products” on Tuesday, August 21st.


Your Email Should Have Just One Job

10. May 2018 10:29

By: Ralph Bagnall, Woodworking Consultant, Author and TV Host

Emails often fail to deliver the results you are looking for simply because the message is unfocused. In an effective email campaign, your reader should immediately know what your message is about.

Each email you send should have one well-defined goal and one goal only. That’s because if you present your reader with too many choices, your message becomes unclear and your audience won’t understand what you want them to do. Worse, if they have too many options, they may become overwhelmed and take no action at all.

Some best practices to consider when creating your email message include:

  • Define the purpose of the email and set one clear action you wish your reader to take
  • Make sure you are sending the right message for this audience
  • Create a short, clear call to action (CTA) that grabs attention. Use clear, descriptive words and start with a verb “Download white paper”, “Join us today”, Register for the webinar”, “Buy now”, etc.
  • Don’t make your reader have to hunt for the call to action. Make it prominent by using a button or create a text link that is a contrasting color
  • Keep your content as brief and focused on your goal as possible. Any additional text should reinforce the main message

If your goal is to get people to sign up for an upcoming webinar, focus the email on that one task. Create a compelling message with links or buttons that lead only to the landing page for the webinar sign up.  You may also consider removing other links like your homepage and social media links as they may divert the reader’s focus.

Keep it short and to the point. Help your audience to understand what you want them to do and make it easy for them to take action. This will go a long way toward boosting the effectiveness of all your email campaigns.

Learn more about this during Ralph's session "Effective Email for Small Businesses" at the IWF 2018 Education Conference.


WCA Skill Standards Can Develop Your In-house Training Program and Grow Your Skilled Workforce

10. May 2018 10:15

By: Scott Nelson, Woodwork Career Alliance of North America

The Woodwork Career Alliance (WCA) has developed industry based woodworking machine standards for the majority of the machines used in the secondary wood processing industry.   When paired with the manufacturers processes and production floor equipment the development of an in-house training and employee skill level evaluation program is a straight forward exercise.

WCA has training resources to compliment the Skill Standards and to assist companies with the development of their own training programs. Enrolling a company and its employees into the WCA credentialing process, will identify a true Career Path for existing and future employees.

Management must first determine what skills and product knowledge a new employee must obtain in the first 30 days, 60 days and 90 days.  This is extremely important to determine if the new hire has the skills to invest further training before that employee becomes permanent with full benefits.  “This sounds simple enough, but when asked the question most owners really do not have a definite answer nor do they have a written procedure to move the new employee forward,” says Scott Nelson, President of WCA.  

To learn more about this, check out the "Growing Your Skilled Workforce" session at the IWF 2018 Education Conference