The downturn is behind us and the good times mean we can relax – wrong! As Michael Gannon found out when he attended Everglade Windows’ Customer Conference
Held at its headquarters in Perivale, West London, this was a second conference in a year organized by the trade fabricator. While the first had concentrated on what turned out to be the successful launch to its installer customers of the Air aluminium bi fold and sliding door system, this one in September offered advice on how to manage the businesses in a more favorable trading climate.
Entitled ‘Upsell in the Upturn’, the conference might have been guilty of being a self-congratulatory exercise. After all Everglade itself has been able to grow throughout the recession, not made anyone redundant and seen both its PVC-U and aluminium business more then hold its own in challenging market conditions.
As its Operations Director, Yogesh Gopal, explained to the audience: “The market looks a lot more positive with installers working flat out.”
Sales of Air had been “encouraging” and there was an improvement in the PVC-U range with more choice of colours and Secured by Design for its hardware (SBD) for windows. Everglade has worked closely and beneficially with Kommerling to achieve significant improvements. It has been Kommerling’s oldest customer in the South East for over 15 years. Working together, the two have been getting across the message that a window is more than just a window. The range Everglade can offer to its installer customers now can claim to have the highest quality in terms of security, energy ratings, and comfort to the end user. Added to this, Kommerling profiles are now lead free.
Where the conference diverged from what could have been an afternoon sales speech, was in what followed.
Andy Ball of Balls2Marketing explained that post-recession can offer more challenges than during one. This may come as a surprise but according to a Plimsoll report, 34% of window manufacturers were at risk of failing at the start of an upturn.
The reasons are more obvious than having to batten down the hatches in the bad times. For example, businesses can be slow to deal with a spurt in demand after a long and flat period, especially if staff have been laid off. Failing to deal with more enquiries and sales can and is, compounded by materials and skills shortages. Debt levels may increase and while still in a highly competitive market, margins can come under threat.
Using social media to best effect was explained jointly by Sarah Ball and Jemma Bradley from Ball2Marketing.Social media has opened a whole new way of communicating with potential customers and acquiring new business. For example on Facebook, over 750 million log in every day and women over 55 years of age often use Facebook for purchasing products. It may come as a surprise but already 48% of tradesmen win new business via social media and that architects are using Twitter and Facebook for conveying their views on products and systems.
There are an estimated 200,000 different search engine platforms with industry professionals and trade people opting for Twitter, Facebook and Linked-In. At the end of what proved to be a presentation that offered some surprising aspects, one could only agree with the assessment made by Sarah Ball: “social media is now an integral part of business.”
The conference also dealt with the matter of health and safety at work. Everglade’s Sailesh Chudasama pointed out that the government was looking to exempt 3.1 million self-employed from health and safety legislation that currently applies to them as long as it did not deal with actual work that could endanger life.
It is clear that events like this organised by trade fabricators, can offer enormous assistance to installers by dealing with matters that deal with more than just what can be sold but the value that can be provided to customers in a more general way.
Caption The latest Everglade conference proved to be a success with an impressive range of topics discussed.