Business magnate Alexander Turney Stewart once said: “You must never actually cheat the customer, even if you can. You must make them happy and satisfied, so they will come back.”
These wise words served him well. The Irish entrepreneur grew from humble beginnings, running a lace and linen store in New York in 1823, to eventually amass a fortune worth $90 billion by 2012 prices, making him one of the twenty wealthiest people in history!
But what has this got to do with the fenestration industry? Surely a philosophy of exceptional customer service concerns every company in every industry, particularly one such as ours that is often tarred with an unsavoury reputation.
One of the biggest problems for fabricators in the current climate is when their systems house competes against them by manufacturing windows for their own trade counters – directly selling to installers and cutting out the middle man.
Competition in business is good and healthy, but competing against the same people you are buying your profile from creates a very difficult situation. ‘Selling to’ and ‘competing with’ your customers can’t be a sustainable strategy.
If a systems house manufactures complete units and sells them direct to the trade, why would they buy from a fabricator?
There are obviously a finite number of potential customers and winning business can be difficult enough against local competitors – but when a systems house sells direct to a fabricator’s customers, it will be almost impossible for everyone to make a profit.
Howard Hirst, Sales Director at Liniar, explains:
“In business you need to give careful consideration to who is selling what and to whom.
“There are several ways that some systems houses are jeopardising the business of their own customers. Obviously, those that have their own trade counters are selling directly to installers, creating a problematic situation.
“But a lot of systems houses also have large fabricators of their own. This can cause a conflict of interest if they have customers serving the same area as one of these firms.
“Inevitably they will be getting the best price possible, enabling them to be extremely competitive in the market place and making it practically impossible for smaller companies to contend with.
“Also, any leads that the systems house receives would surely be passed straight on to one of their own manufacturers. I’ve even heard of occasions when a company has lost out on a contract because they’ve tried to negotiate with the systems house on price, only for the systems house to go directly to the prospect and undercut the customer!
“These situations are a nightmare for sales personnel. When you call in to see one of your customers and they start to berate you because they’re losing out on work, you’re fighting a losing battle.
“Thankfully, at Liniar, our expertise lies in new product development and PVCu extrusion.
“Our customers can be sure their margin is safe because rather than competing with them, Liniar assists them with business growth through providing a high quality product range, innovation and development, as well as offering a whole host of marketing assistance and sales support. We’ve chosen to develop other ways of helping our customers grow without competing, such as offering machinery and service options.
“My own philosophy, and that of my colleagues here, is to build and develop relationships with our customer base. It’s our job to service their needs, to find out what they want and to spot opportunities based on our knowledge and experience to assist them.
“The more successful our customers become, the more loyalty is generated, and the more success we all gain as a result – it’s a win/win situation. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work it out!”
To find out how Liniar can help you to grow your business click here.