President’s Letter – June 2017

Defining a “Best in Class Tile Contractor”

You have heard me use the term “Best in Class Tile Contractor” in past letters. So, what does that term mean? How do we bring our companies to that level of achievement? These are very good questions, and I’m glad you asked.

In a nutshell, the working definition of a “Best in Class Tile Contractor” is a professional contractor committed to excellence in every phase of their business, utilizing industry best practices, and has been recognized by its customers as a preferred contractor.

Other aspects of a “Best in Class Tile Contractor” are to use the right materials for the application and intended use, and carrying themselves in a professional manner, interacting respectfully with the client and other trades. And “Best in Class Tile Contractors” draft proposals and contracts that are well written and clearly identify the specific scope of work, while quoting a fair price — not a cheap price.

One of Stephen Covey’s principles of highly effective people is to “Begin with the end in mind.”  If we want to be successful, profitable, trusted, respected and preferred tile contractors, we must build our businesses on each of these principles. To become a “Best in Class Tile Contractor” we must be willing to invest in every aspect of our business. This means providing the best trained and skilled craftspeople, installing the best materials for the given application, while utilizing the current best practices of the trade.  Each of these elements requires consistent education and updating. Have you heard the statement, “I’ve been doing it this way for 20 years and never had a problem?” I’d say chances are high this individual is not part of a “Best in Class” organization.

Foundational to this is striving to hire and train the best people, and giving them the opportunity to stay on top of the latest industry standards and best practices. If we aren’t aggressively seeking to keep up with these improvements, we will quickly be left behind. Our level of professionalism will gradually decline until we become reactionary in nature rather than proactive.

When I visit job sites and talk with crews of installers and finishers, it becomes clear very quickly that they have received minimal training. They may have had a mentor for a short time, but most have just figured it out in the field, picking up a little here and there. Most of these crews are eager to learn “best practices” because they want to walk away from every completed job with pride in their finished work.

The NTCA has many options for you to take advantage of when considering training and education curricula for your craftspeople. The Finisher Apprenticeship on-line training program is an excellent place to start. Participation and involvement at Total Solutions Plus, Coverings or TISE West (Surfaces) can supplement your regular educational activities. Getting copies of the TCNA Handbook and ANSI A108, and beginning the process of learning how to use these industry recommendations and standards is another great step forward.

We all need to evaluate our businesses and find the areas where we aren’t using best practices and implement procedures to move us toward the goal. The health of our companies is at risk and so is the health of our industry. We all know that skilled craftspeople are in short supply and the only way to improve this is to train and educate those we have and those entering the trade.

Let’s all make a commitment to see the NTCA logo carry recognition and respect from the customers that employ us. Keep on tiling!

Martin Howard, president, NTCA Committee member, ANSI A108

[email protected]