Manufacturing is hard work. Any student of Manufacturing or American Business has heard of Henry Ford. Generally viewed as a pioneer in modern American Manufacturing, inventing the assembly line for mass production. A Famous Ford Quote:
"You can have any color you like, as long as it's black!"
Simplicity. Limited choice. Assembly line. It's like a symphony of efficiency.
I often think......
"Wouldn't it be nice to offer a handful of products that's what our clients choose from? We'll get so efficient at it our costs could be lowered, we can sell more, and then....."
Then I quickly wake up! 75% of our work at PAVERART is CUSTOM. That number is more like 92% if I counted the ability to "customize" basic designs with our 25 color palette paver selection set.
Sometimes the raw numbers just scream:
"This is who you are and what you do."
There is no magic formula for success in the world of custom manufacturing, but over 17+ years we HAVE picked up few critical success factors:
This goes without saying, but if your manufacturing and design team do not embrace the MANY versions, drawings, testings that happen in the world of custom, it won't work. No patience, no custom.
Choosing Your Clients Wisely
The world of Custom Manufacturing requires significant "Vetting." The world is full of what's known as "tire kickers." Custom manufacturing, by definition means you will incur significant cost before you produce anything. Figure out a way to vet the tire kickers from the serious prospects. One way to do that is to cost share the design process. Any client that is serious will be willing to pay appropriate design fees. At PAVERART, we are happy to credit design fees against the final price of the produced design, but going through extensive design processes without a client commitment to cost sharing design costs is a major red flag.
If You Can't Fully Commit, Don't Try Custom
Anybody can tell when you are "mailing it in." If this is a side project you do when you get around to it, how successful will you really be? Commitment really applies to all areas of life doesn't it?
Be Ready For Mistakes, But Be Transparent
By definition, in the world of custom, you haven't built THIS product or design before. Do you really think you can do it 100% error free? That's the goal, but it's ambitious. EXPECT mistakes and build that into your process, and of course don't let anything out the door with errors.
You Need Partners At Your Side
No business is successful in isolation. In our world, we rely on many groups OUTSIDE of our own team:
* Great installers/contractors
* Landscape Architects
* Landscape Designers
If you want to satisfy your end client, consider your partners. Build those relationships. Invite new relationships to the table. Make their job as easy as possible. At the bottom of this post you'll see a video with some takeaways relative to partners.
Case Study: The Horse Racing Mosaic
We recently finished a great project, a custom Horse Racing Mosaic. The project challenged us in many ways, and our client actually summed it up well. We are always humbled when clients take the time to write a review of their experience with PAVERART.
2 days ago "I needed to redo the sidewalk in front of my house, and wanted to do a horse racing mural in pavers. I found Paverart in the spring of 2020 and picked them to do the work. I had an art workup of what I wanted done, but it was the Paverart guys that really made this project succeed. Mike and Mark helped me understand what was possible, and listened to me to make sure I got what I wanted. The project was ambitious and technically challenging, requiring patience on Paverart's side as I went back and forth on design and what I wanted. But Paverart delivered. They cut and sorted the pieces, loaded them on pallets in reverse order of installation, created detailed instructions and videos on how it should be installed, and frequently consulted with my hardscaper (DNHardscaping in Albany, NY) to make sure the job was done correctly. The whole team at Paverart did a fantastic job - I highly recommend them for any paver project you have. The more challenging the better!"
Here's the install pictures and internal video with some shop scenes showcasing the truly striking design that is sure to amaze the pedestrians walking by.
Inside PAVERART: The Making Of The Custom Paver Design
* Most projects succeed or fail based on quality communication where expectations among all parties are crystal clear.
* We think ZOOM is great, although people are probably suffering from ZOOM fatigue.
* We try and use as much video as possible to show and tell what's coming there way
Here's a technical 5 minute video sure to bore those not in the world of Landscape Architecture or Hardscape Installation! But it's a detailed review of custom installation instructions used to make the job as seamless as possible when the design arrives to the job site.
Last on Communication?
The Post-Mortem Call. No matter how hard it is to find the time, it really does matter to get everyone together to learn about what worked, what didn't. And inevitably, you'll get a pulse check on IF/HOW MUCH your companies should partner going forward. In the world of custom manufacturing, you can't afford to do everything right and have your hard work fall apart at the critical moment of execution. That's a reputation hit for everyone.
Back to our Client: We are equally as thrilled that our Hardscape Partner on the Install side, DN Hardscaping earned the praise of our client.
"I hired D.N.Hardscaping to install a sidewalk mural I had commissioned. It was a challenging job. The mural was made of irregularly-cut pavers that had to be positioned precisely - one mistake would ruin the entire thing. Overall, the job involved removing 29' of old concrete, prepping a base, installing the 23' mural, and pouring another 6' section of concrete sidewalk. Dan and his team did a great job. They gave me a fair price, had great references, worked closely with the company that created the mural, executed professionally, and worked well past dark more than once to get it done on time. I'm very happy with the results. I recommend D.N.Hardscaping and would use them again."
When our clients are satisfied with the install we are thrilled. And that installer makes their way into the PAVERART list of proven contractors we are happy to recommend. It is good business (and more fun) to bring future business to people that you know will come through.