New video: Sliding Table Alignment

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snipped-for-privacy@ts-aligner.com wrote in
<snip>

Well, Ed, here comes another opinion, unsolicited...
That marketing plan is no more a single, unchanging document than the engineering plan is that the propellerheads slave over in the lab. It develops, matures, changes and responds as tha market, competition and the surrounding environment change. It is no more a 'do it once' effort than anything else in business. Aged marketing plans are of little use.
So it always takes someone interested in the success of the business to keep the marketing current and fresh, just like the engineers keep chasing the next, important development in the product. And the finance folks try to keep profit together, pay the taxes and employees and suppliers, and hopefully, save a little to grow on.
It can be one person, but they have to care about everything, and it takes a dedicated one to make it work. And probably a few good counselors, advisors and subcontractors, too.
I've found this thread interesting. Hope I'm not alone. ;-)
Patriarch
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Patriarch wrote:

That's what the newsgroup is for!

Couldn't agree more.

Absolutely. I have found such individuals but they are all me. The next best thing to do is find other people who are interested in getting paid for bringing success to the business. In general this is a very difficult task. Many want to get paid but few are interested in the success of the business.

One person can make it work on a limited basis but things are always on the edge of getting out of control. So, it becomes a monumental task of keeping lids on about six boiling pots.

A lot more interesting than I thought it would be! I hope people are enjoying the video and the discussion.
Ed Bennett snipped-for-privacy@ts-aligner.com http://www.ts-aligner.com
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This really sounds like you are looking for people in the wrong places. Typical professionals are very motivated by the success of the business - often even more so than by the compensation. I would bet you might be looking at people who are more like you professionally than you are at business types. The other problem with small scale businesses is that they either don't want to or haven't properly financed themselves to be able to pay for what they want. There are real world wages to be considered and they are often out of reach of the small business. Unfortunately there is some truth to the old axiom that you get what you pay for.

Very true. And... that one person can only manage things to a certain point of growth. Not because it's overwhelming in terms of work but because they typically lack the vision, the understanding or the insight into how to get to the next level. Any one person can only truly be good at one thing. Mabye a couple, but not all.

I've been waiting for the scenes with the nekkid wimin. Which tape is that on?
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-Mike-
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Mike Marlow wrote:

I think you hit the nail on the head - "small scale business". I don't think that my situation merits a full time professional salaried Marketing person. So, I've been trying to find an agency to help me out. For some reason, agencies are being rather selective. I started out thinking that they had to sell me on their ideas. Now I learn that I have to sell them on mine. These are the folks that want me to come to them with the Marketing Plan (complete with market research). Go figure. Somebody obviously has far too much business. This is a lot like the tax prep service which says "You need to organize all your records like this and then tabulate these categories and bring them to us on summary sheets. Then we will fill in the forms." Well, the hard part ain't the little boxes on the forms!
I've solicited for independents. Problem is that a lot of these are the dregs. The first thing I look for is an ability to represent their own services/business. If they cannot promote themselves, then they cannot possibly promote my products. So far, exactly zero have passed this first qualification. Am I expecting too much?
The ideal "perfect" candidate would be a woodworking enthusiast who can comprehend the products, their uses and need. He/she would likely be retired or have some other reason for not being interested in a full time position - just something to keep them busy and bring in some extra money. Perhaps they would even be interested in a profit sharing or limited partnership arrangement. I like this because then they have some stake in the success of their own efforts. Nothing would make me more upset than to pay for a whole bunch of "work" which results in absolutely no positive impact on sales (except maybe a negative impact on sales!).

You definitely have your finger on the pulse. I have a facility which is capable of pumping out 10 times as much as it does today. I just don't have the marketing know-how to grow sales to meet this capacity. I'm sure it will eventually get there if I keep plodding along. But, this is sub-optimal.

Sorry, this is one aspect of the videos which is bound to dissappoint many. No nekkid wimin.
Ed Bennett snipped-for-privacy@ts-aligner.com http://www.ts-aligner.com
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> I think you hit the nail on the head - "small scale business". I don't > think that my situation merits a full time professional salaried > Marketing person. So, I've been trying to find an agency to help me > out. For some reason, agencies are being rather selective. I started > out thinking that they had to sell me on their ideas. Now I learn that > I have to sell them on mine. These are the folks that want me to come > to them with the Marketing Plan (complete with market research). Go > figure. Somebody obviously has far too much business. <snip>
No, it is their way of finding out "Is this project funded?"
Are you for real?
What investment have you made to get your idea this far along?
From my perspective, they are just being prudent.
Lew
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Well Lew, I've been doing this since 1991. Do you think that's far enough along for these guys? When I started there was no such thing as a commercially made dial indicator alignment tool for woodworking machinery. TS-Aligner was the first. I invented the whole category. Now there are about a dozen competitors. If you're right, and they are just fishing for the deepest pockets, then I don't need anything that they can possibly offer. From my perspective, they would be parasites looking for a big, fat, lazy, juicy host with far more money than brains. They don't want to help grow a business, they want to see how much they can get from it right away.
Ed Bennett snipped-for-privacy@ts-aligner.com http://www.ts-aligner.com
Lew Hodgett wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@ts-aligner.com wrote:
> Well Lew, I've been doing this since 1991. Do you think that's far > enough along for these guys? When I started there was no such thing as > a commercially made dial indicator alignment tool for woodworking > machinery. TS-Aligner was the first. I invented the whole category. > Now there are about a dozen competitors. If you're right, and they are > just fishing for the deepest pockets, then I don't need anything that > they can possibly offer. From my perspective, they would be parasites > looking for a big, fat, lazy, juicy host with far more money than > brains. They don't want to help grow a business, they want to see how > much they can get from it right away.
You have a right to be proud of your accomplishments, but that doesn't include the right to have a chip on your shoulder.
These people who you are trying to find to help you don't know you from a hole in the wall.
They want to minimize their risk. You can't blame them.
Time for a little salesmanship.
Document your history, then ask for some help by asking a questions such as, "This is where I've been, where do WE go from here?", "How do we get to the next level?"
You would be surprised at some of the loony birds who have this latest and greatest gadget that just needs a little marketing help to make a million dollars.
Most of them don't have enough sense to come in out of the rain.
Ever wonder why there are so many late night TV commercials offering to help "inventors"?
Lew
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That seems to be typical these days. You need to prove that you are good enough for them to take your money.
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Lew Hodgett wrote:

There is a great deal of annoyance, but it's not a "chip" on my shoulder. I confess, your efforts to find fault with everything "engineering" and defend/promote everything "business" has become just a bit exasperating. Perhaps I can explain in my reply here.

Everybody in business needs to to check out clients/customers or even suppliers at some time or another. It only takes a few minutes to do an Internet search to find out almost anything about a company. For example, a search on the brand "TS-Aligner" yields some 500+ references. This is perhaps the best way to get info on the cheap. If the deal is substantial enough, one could cough up $80 to get financial data from a D&B report. The report on my company would tell them that I'm not a huge outfit but I have successfully completed some rather sizeable financial responsibilities and that I always pay my bills on time.

So, instead of doing a quick web search or running a D&B report, they ask the client to do the work, and then they ask the client for money. And, when the projected sales don't materialize, I'm sure they say "Well, it was your Marketing Plan. We were only implementing your ideas." Hmmmm......I guess it's a way to get money from people without ever doing anything for it. That's just about minimizes the risk to zero.
I think their share of the blame is pretty heavy in this situation but I'd have to assign some to any bone-headed idiot who falls for such a scam.

Yes, they need to convince me that my money is well spent on their services. I'm the customer, they are supposedly trying to sell me their services. If they decide that they don't want me as a client, then they can very politely tell me so and I will be happy to go find someone else.

They can find out as much as they like without my lifting a finger. I'm not asking them to buy anything from me. I don't need to convince them of anything. If I'm looking for a partnership, and they are looking to assume some of the risk, then I'll use the word "WE". Otherwise, I expect them to act like a company trying to sell me a service. "WE" doesn't apply to anyone trying to minimize their risk to zero.

I would not be surprised at all. You forget, I've been doing this for quite some time. Over the years I've had many people approach me looking for some manufacturing capability for their ideas. I'm willing to make their widgets for a price, but many want me to make them and develop the market and sell them and then pay back a royalty. In other words, the risk is all mine. Fortunately, I'm not in that business and it saves me from most of these people you refer to.
So, in case you missed it I'll summarize. I'm annoyed because you claim to be very business savy, complain about the lack of business acumen among Engineers, and yet this extremely basic and elementry business topic seems to elude you. In fact, you defend and would probably fall prey to these parasites. Have you checked your shoulders for chips lately?
Ed Bennett snipped-for-privacy@ts-aligner.com http://www.ts-aligner.com
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Ed, I've been kind of hit and miss in this discussion, so apologies up front if this is ground you've already covered.
There is one thing that has somewhat haunted me while I've watched the pieces of this thread that I have. I keep seeing your desire for a partnership and for a risk buy-in. Don't get me wrong... I don't believe those are inappropriate ambitions. I do wonder though, if maybe you aren't looking in the wrong places for those contributions. That's more the kind of thing I would expect out of an investor - a venture capitalist. It just seems to me that you might be mixing up a need for marketing with a need for a business partner. Those two are really different animals. Typically, if one is able to secure financing the marketing comes much easier, as the proof of a good business plan, etc. are theoretically already established.
Frankly, I'd want to keep apples in the apple basket and oranges in the vodka if I were you. I'd be looking for investment/risk partners in the VC space and then going after marketing once positioned. I'm a sales guy and the last thing I'd want is to entrust my business development to a marketing group. Their focus is just not in that place. By its very defininition, Marketing has to assume the marketability of a product (proof already established) and assumes the creative responsibility for making that happen. If it is simply the study of marketability that one is engaged in, then that's a service to be paid for and typically from a different organization. It would be hard to hope for risk sharing at that point.
Like I said - if I missed the obvious points by not staying closely coupled to this thread then feel free to discard my ramblings. Well, at least some of them. I'm sure there *must* be a nugget or two in there somewhere though...
--

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Hi Mike,
I think you and I are in perfect sync. I has been pretty obvious that you have some real experience in these matters. I am looking for an agency to help with the Marketing. These would be folks who look at the product line, understand the target market, do some market research, put together a Marketing Plan with recommendations for an approach, a theme, an ad campaign, web-site look and feel, awareness activities, etc.
For example, I read an article once about how the "Redbow Popcorn Company" got started. It was founded by the guy who worked out a unique hybrid poping corn (a "propeller head" no doubt!). They had a lot of trouble selling it at first. Finally, they went to such an agency for advice (a "Marketing Plan"). The agency advised them to use the founder's name: "Orville Redenbacher" and refer to the product as "Gourmet Poping Corn". Packaging was designed (jar, label, etc.), an ad-campaign was created, and the rest is history. I'm sure that the very article I read was part of the marketing plan that the agency developed for him.
I would never want to partner with such an organization - just pay for their services. I have approached a few and they want me to provide them with the Marketing Plan. Lew seems to think that this is an entirely acceptable practice designed to "minimize their risk". At the very least, he believes that I should help them get to know me and treat them like a partner (the "WE" stuff). I don't think I want to pay anybody for doing work that they should be doing for me. I also think that they should be trying to get my business, I shouldn't be trying to get them to take my business. And, finally, I don't ever want them to forget who is paying the bills!
On the other hand, there are organizations where such a "partnership" of sorts is entirely appropriate. For example, an independent Sales Agency would certainly need to see a Marketing Plan. Such a thing is absolutely necessary for a sales force. They should certainly be included in and coordinated with any advertising and awareness activities. The word "WE" would be very appropriate and probably get used quite often. Perhaps Lew has confused the Marketing Agency with the Sales Agency. It's my understanding that HPs first sales rep was an independent named Norm Neeley. The whole deal was made on a handshake and Norm went off to sell oscillators to Disney!
Fund raising is another completely different topic. Some people will grow a business by taking on partners (or acquisitions). I always consider this when it comes to adding complimentary skills but it hasn't happened yet. Some people go to the VCs. Some people go into debt. Some people issue stock. So far, I'm self funded. And, since my resources are fairly modest, it means growth needs to be slow and controlled. I learned this lesson the hard way in the spring of '01 when I really screwed up my reseller channel. So, I'm not looking for someone who will come along and turn my small shop into a multi-bazillion doller operation. I now have a lot of excess capacity which isn't getting used so it's time for some growth. I want an agency to help me develop a new plan, point me in the right direction, and get me going on the right foot. Everything to date was developed in a vacuum by one individual (me) whose speciality isn't Marketing. I haven't done too bad but it's time to pop the lid on this vacuum and let some air in.
Thanks, Ed Bennett snipped-for-privacy@ts-aligner.com http://www.ts-aligner.com
Mike Marlow wrote:

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Not really. Marketing and Finance types typically have Business Degrees. That is what makes them more likely to become upper level management.

Yes it does.
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Mike Marlow wrote:

One would like to believe this. Experience and observations are to the contrary. Business skills often (very often) interfere with upper level management activities and objectives. I have been personally informed that they are "threatening" with an official reprimand to reinforce the message. This may not be apparent to someone with a few years (or less) in the corporate environment. In a small company the effects of a bad business decision can be absulutely devastating. The same decision might go completely unnoticed in a big company. In fact, I've seen countless such blunders spun in such a way that they were praised and rewarded. Such situations are not conducive to the topic of Business School basics. Bringing them up isn't exactly a good career move.
Ed Bennett snipped-for-privacy@ts-aligner.com http://www.ts-aligner.com
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Degrees.
I've got over 30 years of corporate experience. Our experiences may differ in some respects but my observations and experiences bear testimony to what I've said - at least as much as yours do.

That would be what we call... politics. You are right that politics do often prevail but that's something of a peripheral point.

I've seen this sort of thing as well but that is not an indictment of what I stated earlier, which was that business degrees are what advance managers more than the politics and proximity of certain departments like Marketing and Finance. What you suggest is a personality issue and not really reflective of who gets where based on the department they work in.

Very true. The beauty of starting your own company is that you can learn from mistakes observed in others and hopefully not step into those same potholes.

Well, I never suggested that everyone with a business degree is above the human shortcomings of ego and the rest. These things do happen every day, as do a million other types of bad judgment calls. There are bad designs created every day. That does not suggest that engineers are a bad trade. They are equally defended by the author of the design, very commonly in the face of empirical evidence that the design should change. You know - the "it's my baby" syndrome or NIH. These are people issues, not issues of degrees.
The best part of having been part of corporate environments where one has observed behaviors they consider reprehensible is that one now has a mental image of the offender in their mind, and they can daily compare their own actions with that image front and center.
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Mike Marlow wrote:

The generalization is probably invalid. I suppose that this sort of thing is dependent on the individual(s) running the organization and making the promotional decisions. I would seem to have been exposed to more than my share of those who weigh visibility very heavily and value a team of "yes men".

Not necessarily. I think it's exactly my point. I think that politics plays a far bigger role in upper management decisions (like promotions and assignments) than academic records. At lower levels I believe that people are more likely to be evaluated by educational background. A lot of Engineers are getting an MBA added to their portfolio as a result. But, my observations over the last few decades lead me to believe that choices for execuitive management positions rarely take into account the educational background. The effects (knowledge and expertise) of that background might or might not have an effect depending on the local politics (perceived as an asset or a threat).

What I'm saying is that business degrees are like personality - both dependent on local politics. I'm the sort of guy who doesn't mind working with an abrasive or offensive individual that is the best at what they do. I seek out people who demonstrate high qualifications. Someone else might prefer to disreguard talent and qualifications and decide against such a person. They often choose from among the "top of mind" individuals that they best get along with. I've seen virtually none of the former and a boatload of the latter. It does color my view of the world.
<snip>

Absolutely.
Thanks, Ed Bennett snipped-for-privacy@ts-aligner.com http://www.ts-aligner.com
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snipped-for-privacy@ts-aligner.com wrote:
> The reason you see more Marketing/Finance people in mid/upper level > management in large companies is purely political. These folks tend to > do a lot of presentations to executive management and receive a lot of > visibility for it. It colors everything that that top management sees. > Promotions naturally follow.
IMHO, rubbish.
Engineers tend to forget to ask the basic question, "Why are we here?"
They are to busy getting lost in the details.
I have found that Business types at least try to think along these lines.
Basic reason I got out of pure engineering and into sales/application engineering. Chased details to death.
As a sales engineer, probably got to do more creative engineering in a month than most engineers get to do in a year.
The first question you ask as a sales engineer is, "Is this project funded?"
If it is, it now becomes a fight about money between you and your competitors. That requires being creative and quickly finding the right solution.
If it isn't funded, be polite and move on and come back when it is funded.
>>The big problem I see with engineers is a tendency to sneer at the marketing >>people and the bean counters and the other non-engineering specialists who >>are necessary to actually grow a business instead of filling a warehouse >>full of widgets that nobody buys.
That is a management failure to show the way to the goal, IMHO.
Nobody asked "WHY".
> I am one Engineer who really appreciates the disciplines of Marketing > and Finance. Out of necessity I am forced to cover these functions > myself and I know they suffer as a result. Unfortunately, it's > difficult (impossible?) to find people in these disciplines who are > willing to "risk" some of their time and effort on their own abilities > (i.e. "pay for results"). The latest challenge has been developing a > Marketing Plan with which to attract the services of a Marketing > Agency. It's quite a "chicken and the egg" situation.
Had a district manager who used the following sorting system for all incoming mail. (This was long before the internet)
1) Checks. 2) New Orders 3) Change orders to existing orders 4) RFQ's
Everything else went in the circular file.
When asked if he might not be throwing something important away, he answered, "If it's that important, they'll send it again."
He made regional mgr in record time.
Lew
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Hi Lew, glad to see you were able to reply.
Lew Hodgett wrote:

Some do. Some don't. I've seen the same trend in all areas including Marketing, Finance, Sales, Manufacturing, etc. The generalization isn't necessarily valid for any single group. Having spent many years as an advocate for customer needs, I've seen just about every single discipline exhibit complete neglect for this question.

Many are. But, this is what they get paid for. You don't want Engineers who can't tolerate the tedious details. Leave the "big picture" to the project managers.

Not sure I follow. I've observed a lot of "Business types" who think only about stuffing their own pockets and promoting their own agenda. Like a parasite, they don't look far enough into the future to realize that they will kill the business they feed on. I wouldn't say this is characteristic of all "Business types" or even a majority. Such generalizations would be absurdly simplistic and completely invalid.

Some people are detail orientated. They are very comfortable and successful in situations where every detail is extremely significant. But, it inhibits them from getting their heads around large and complex systems or situations. Some people are very frustrated by details and need to see the big picture. Like you, they are much more comfortable (and successful) in environments where details are few and insignificant. Both types of people are needed in a successful business. Two clichs come to mind:
"The devil is in the details" "Can't see the forest for the trees"
The challenge is to learn how to appreciate both types of people and apply their skills so that they excell at what they do. Their efforts should compliment eachother, not clash. That's what a good management team is supposed to be doing.

I've been on the receiving end of many such efforts. Trust me, the details often matter a great deal.

Perhaps there is more here than appears. It sounds a lot like the simple example you used in your first reply.

A lot of these problems are management issues. Unfortunately, a lot of what passes for management in the US corporate environment has become nothing more than politics. Organization and control of the business is often completely neglected.

Personally, I would say he was lucky. He could have easily been surprised by a number of extremely important things (like customer complaints, legal issues, cancellations, regulatory issues, company policy changes, organizational issues, etc.). I suspect that his rule wasn't quite so hard and fast as you remember it to be.
Ed Bennett snipped-for-privacy@ts-aligner.com http://www.ts-aligner.com
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snipped-for-privacy@ts-aligner.com wrote:

The trouble comes when engineers get promoted to project manager without adequate attitude adjustment. At Enormous Aerospace one guy would routinely sabotage bids because "there wasn't any money in them" (a few tens of millions of dollars "wasn't any money" to him). He honestly believed that some day the Air Force was going to come in with an order for airplane propellers of the same magnitude as the ones that they got during WWII.

At the other extreme there are the ones always in search of the magic bullet that will make them the next Microsoft, and will spend vast amounts of money on that bullet that would have been better spent on boring mundane things like advertising and sales staff.

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--John
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J. Clarke wrote:

True, but I don't think that this particular problem is exclusive to Engineers. I can think of a lot of Business oriented people who drop anything which isn't an instant success. Won't look at anything which doesn't have the obvious potential of being an instant success. Quick, snap judgments without any willingness to spend time or effort to evaluate and develop new business opportunities.

In a way, it's the same thing. The guy turning his nose up at every opportunity which isn't "perfect" will spend his fortune on the one thing that he thinks is.
Ed Bennett snipped-for-privacy@ts-aligner.com http://www.ts-aligner.com
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snipped-for-privacy@ts-aligner.com wrote: <snip>

Better not look at that video, Ed. Unless the guy tapping the fence into a new position between measurements has calibrated knuckles, he's certainly doing trial and error. ;-)
My approach was to do the five cuts, then measure the taper on the strip with a digital caliper. I put an indicator with magnetic base on the outboard end of the fence, then try an adjustment, say 10 or 20 thou. Then repeat the five cuts, and measure the new taper value. If 10 thou fence adjustment reduced taper by X thou, then adjust the fence another (current taper/X) x 10 thou. One more test cut, and Bob's yer uncle, it should be right on.
This morning I tried a modification to this. Instead of putting the indicator at any position along the fence, I put it L inches away from the fence pivot, where L is about the length of each side of the test panel. With my 10 thou fence adjustment, I was basically finding a calibration factor for the system with the indicator wherever it was and the test panel whatever size it was. By keeping these dimesions the same, the calibration factor is just 4 (the amount of the squareness error is increased going around the four corners of the panel).
I roughly squared the fence with a $6 combination square. The first test on a ~24" panel gave 0.180" taper. I put the indicator 24" from the pivot, adjusted the fence 0.045" ( = 0.180"/4) and the second test gave me 0.005" taper over about 24". Although I've heard of a guy who aligned his contractor saw to within 0.000050" of true, this squareness is good enough for me. (I wonder what ever happened to him? ;-)
I expect some cosine error since the fence pivot point is offset from the fence face, and my magnetic indicator base isn't terribly rigid, but even if a third test cut was required it would be no biggie. I didn't time it, but this probably took me ten minutes to square the fence from scratch.
Now, if I had a TS-Aligner and an 18" precision square to square a sliding table fence, for instance, rather than measuring, tapping, measuring, tapping, etc., until I was happy, I'd try a little different process:
1) Measure out-of-squareness. Call this X. 2) Move the TS-Aligner to the sliding table. Use one hand to hold it against the fence at a position 18" from the fence pivot. 3) Use the other hand to tap the fence a distance -X and lock the fence down. 4) Re-check out of squareness. It should be zero, or pretty close to it. 5) Done.

There's no magic to a test panel -- it's just something of convenient size that comes out of the offcut bin for a few minutes and goes right back slightly smaller.

Actually, the right setting with the least investment in time and money is my definition of better. I don't have the square, so test cuts is better for me. You do have one, so no test cuts is better for you.
A corollary is that if your customers have 18" precision squares, the method in the video will help them, if your customers don't have such squares, the video won't help them.

Sorry, I didn't express that well. I have the medium size Excalibur table. With the fence at the front of the table there is about a 27" cross cut capacity. I also have a bunch of 2' x 4' masonite offcuts from some years ago that I use for 2' square test pieces. This size also serves when the fence is at the back of the table, even though it then has 48" crosscut capacity. Because error is multiplied by 4 each time around, it turns you you don't need a big piece to get good resolution. I haven't tried it, but 12" pieces would probably work just fine, too.

It sounds like you don't have a rotating stop for the zero position on the fence. I'd strongly suggest looking into one. I set mine two years ago, and after resquaring the fence this morning, the stop was still dead on. This is with moving the fence between the front and back of the table very frequenly over that time. If someone was resquaring the fence from scratch each time it was moved, I could certainly see why they'd avoid using the 5-cut method to square it. With the rotating stop, set the fence against it and you're squared without any measurement or adjustment.
The scribed line would then be a nice back-up to periodically check the rotating stop hasn't moved.
Cheers,
Tim
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