You wouldn’t have thought that our granite worktop quotation process (and quartz worktops, for that matter) would have been affected by Covid-19, but it has. Time away from the granite-face has allowed for some overdue rethinking of our quoting method. As a result the pricing guidance pages on this website, for granite and quartz, are about to be fully overhauled.
Our aim has been to keep close to the pricing level for a medium sized kitchen as seen on that page, but to bring our quoting more into line with how we actually work these days. We also wanted to streamline the quote process, making us more responsive and efficient in serving our customers.
A crate of worktop blanks
When Affordable Granite began, back in 2002, we imported all our stone direct from China and India. On this website, there are still a few older articles which hark back to this process. We inspected our suppliers ourselves, and brought the stone in, a container at a time. It was economical, efficient and profitable, but it couldn’t possibly handle today’s wildly diversified market with the massive choice of stone colour that customers want and expect.
Back in the day, we imported most stone as “worktop blanks” – pre-cut 2500x650mm lengths with the front edge already polished. Large sizes were looked after by buying in pre-cut island sections at 2100×1300, 1800×900 and 1550x1050mm. For each colour we also bought in a few 2900mm blanks, which were significantly more expensive than the 2500s. We also bought pre-made upstand lengths (1250x100x20mm) and a few slabs of 20mm material, at 2400x1200mm. The arrival of a container was a big day for us – unloading, checking and storing could take most of a day, and other jobs (like fitting granite worktops!) were interrupted.
Our pricing was based on our usage of those blanks and island slabs. Kitchen plans were annotated with 2.5, 2.9, 1.8 or 2.1. Smaller runs were allowed for in steps of half a 2500mm blank, or islands in proportions of a 2100×1300 slab. It worked well, giving us a straightforward quote process, and a fair and competitive price to our customers.
Crates of worktop blanks lined up at a Chinese processing plant
Unloading day – 3rd June 2011
Worktop and upstand blanks await warehousing as a crate of island slab is lifted into the old barn by the JCB
There are two answers.
First of all, customer tastes diversified. The relatively narrow range of natural stone materials that we were buying in from the Indian and Chinese processing plants didn’t satisfy the widening demand, and we found that people who had very clear ideas of the stone they wanted (and weren’t especially turned on by the restricted range) were ready to pay the extra for us to buy big slabs from UK wholesalers. Big granite slabs are very often over 3000mm long by 1900mm wide. A whole small kitchen can come out of one of those!
For a long time we still quoted as if those big slabs were composed of imaginary 2500 and 2900 runs, with 1800 and 2100 islands. But as the years ticked by, it became more and more meaningless to think in that way, and we have tended to look at actual slab use on a case by case basis. But THAT is in itself very time consuming and slows down our quote process.
A big slab of Magma Black – it would be an unusual worktop fabricator that chose to stock this kind of wild stone!
Quartz slabs in our warehouse
The second answer is one word – quartz. The growth and development of the quartz market has meant the biggest change in the realities of our business, and of our pricing structure.
Quartz slabs come in very regular sizes – and they are generally smaller than the big granite slabs. “Standard” quartz slabs are 3000x1400mm, although many manufacturers make “jumbo” slabs at 3200x1600mm or so. Buying this kind of regularly shaped material in large quantities has an impact on pricing and profitability.
For instance, it is obvious that it makes no sense to have a 2500mm run at a lower price per unit length than a 2900mm or 3000mm worktop, when you are cutting from a 3000mm slab. The opposite should be the case – customers should get the very best price for the most efficient use of the material.
At the same time, that 1400mm width is a bit limiting when it comes to islands. With a 1900mm granite slab, you can get a wide island at 1200mm AND a standard worktop run out of the slab. With a quartz slab, islands and peninsulas at 1000-1200mm wide, it is obvious that wastage can be really serious from the side of the slab.
For some years we have been imagining kitchens in terms of nominal worktop blanks and island slabs which bear no relationship to the material we actually buy. This can work, and it has done. We have priced fairly and competitively, but the system has left us vulnerable to overpricing some jobs and underpricing others. Lockdown was the golden opportunity to turn everything off, have a rethink, and redevelop our pricing structure from scratch. With the added help of a more highly automated quotation process, with our database producing the quote letters, quoting has got easier, faster and more secure.
Our quote process is now based on use of a standard quartz slab. Quartz is such a proportion of business now that it is very reasonable and fair to allow the standard quartz slab to become the basis for all our quotes. Where a wider granite slab would allow for greater efficiency in the process, that can be allowed for on a case by case basis. But as a rule of thumb:
Worktop (650mm) runs are calculated as a linear proportion of a 3000mm run. We round up to the nearest tenth of a slab.
Islands/peninsulas (anything wider than 650mm) is priced in terms of the area used of a 3000x1400mm slab, again, rounded up to the nearest tenth.
Upstands are still calculated on the basis of nominal 1250mm lengths, as that works very fairly in most kitchens.
Throughout our history, Affordable Granite has been committed to quality and value. That commitment still applies. We want to be more responsive to customers, more efficient in our processes, more caring in our service, more skilled in our installations. This change to our granite worktop quotations policy is another step along our road of growth and development. In the competitive market that is certainly coming as the economic consequences of Covid really start to bite, we hope that we will be as lean and keen to win your business as we ever have, without compromising the excellent customer service and high quality that people have come to expect.
We are Affordable Granite, the leading granite installer in Surrey, Sussex and across the South East. We offer excellent quality at a competitive price. Give us a call, or come and visit with your kitchen plan for granite worktop quotations while you wait. For advice and help on your stone worktop installation, don’t hesitate to contact us on 01293 863992 or by email on firstname.lastname@example.org/ .