A perspective on today’s Conservatory market from Joe Martoccia – Sales and Marketing Director, Ultraframe Limited
Apparently, selling conservatories used to be easy – the product was positioned as aspirational, a conservatory was the must have accessory to your home throughout the 80’s, 90’s, and 00’s – A whole industry was born founded on supreme salesmanship, for many companies delivering the sale was more important than delivering the basic customer needs and wants in any transaction – value for money, security, satisfaction and a lasting addition to their home. A lot of people made a lot of money, nothing wrong with that, but I see very little historic evidence of investment back into the product and back into the market. I can’t help feeling that part of the problems we are facing in the sector today, a market size running at 33% of peak (source Palmer), is due to this incredibly selfish approach in the past.
Those hedonistic days are well and truly behind us, is that a bad thing? I don’t think so. The prize for succeeding in a tough environment is always larger than when things come easily. Sadly there isn’t a magic bullet to fire, quite simply, you have to graft and do the hard yards well, actually better than well, better than your competition for sure. I believe the key is to continually reevaluate your business and if necessary, reinvent it to survive, ultimately you have to push hard in the really tough elements of your business – the basics – Your service and quality, your value proposition, product and service innovation, your go to market strategy and finally nail down your costs.
So who is the competition? It’s not such an obvious question, it certainly isn’t Bloggs Double Glazing down the road. Think of it this way, we have to compete for every pound a household spends these days, our proposition has to be better than buying a new car, a family holiday, a new kitchen, even down to investing in an ISA. The money is there in the economy, what we have to do is divert as much of it as we can into our sector. Make the proposition of a new glazed extension so compelling that we reignite this market and maybe we can all start to prosper once more.
I may be coming across as a little negative, but I can assure you that I am not. I am passionate about our industry and even more passionate about success. As I visit our dealers, I can see a new generation of glass and glazing professionals really beginning to get it. An open mind to new products and a new way of working – what’s the alternative? Sit there waiting for the market to recover? Forget it, you will die! Employ even faster talking double glazing salesmen? Forget that too, because guess what………..the consumer has moved on, direct sales businesses that think this is the solution will be as extinct as the Dodo soon, sure there is still something in the dying embers of this approach, but I see some fantastic retailers, as good and as professional as your local car showroom or kitchen studio – these are the retailers diverting the cash into our sector, via their bank accounts. But let’s not make the same mistakes as in the past, reinvest some of this profit and we will continue to secure our future.