This week has been rather positive in terms of economic figures and FENSA’s quarterly growth report. It all spells good news for the industry and indicates there is plenty of new business to be won out there. But is it really as simple as that? Probably not according to some recent YouGov results also published this week.

58% Don’t Trust Us

In a new YouGov poll published this week, they report that 58% of homeowners find difficulty in finding a trusted builder to carry out home improvement and renovation works. Now immediately the thing that jumps out at me is that YouGov talks about builders, rather than our industry specifically. But if we’re going to be honest with ourselves, it would be probably accurate to say that if they did a poll on us guys specifically, that number probably wouldn’t be much different.

So why is this number still so high? Well, I can think of two fairly obvious reasons. The first being that TV programs will continue to pump out anti-trades television apparently doing the public a service by painting all tradesmen in a bad light by exposing some rogue trades people. Many of you will know how irritating I find this. I even challenged Dom Littlewood as to why they won’t make programs which demonstrate the better side of us. To which his response on Twitter was that they think no one would watch that sort of show, so why bother making it. Pretty limp excuse if you ask me.

The second reason that comes to mind is that our industries continue to use archaic selling techniques which continue to erose the hard work done other businesses determined to sell and provide a service to the educated consumers of 2014. Whilst door knocking, hard sell closes on the night, 4 hour sits and ridiculous discounts and sales continue to operate in our industry, consumers will still always be very wary of us.

You’re Not A Sales Peron Any More

Are you new to this industry? Have you been working in this industry all your life and have become part of the wood work of your building? Either way, you’re not a sales person any more, you are a design consultant. You don’t sell, you advise. You don’t close, you guide.

I don’t care whether you agree with me or not, but the days of conventional selling are over. What the internet has done is helped to reveal the shoddy sales people who sell just on price and no other factor. It has educated all and sundry as to exactly how much choice, quality and customization there is out there. It is showing people that they don’t just have to go for a boring white front door, but to be brave and go for that custom door they have always wanted.

And that is where knowledge and an eye for good design is going to become increasingly vital in securing business in the future. People don’t want to be told what to go for, but they do at times wish to be guided. Remember that most won’t have a clue what they can an cannot have. It is our jobs as experts to guide them through the various options and discuss with them what design, colour etc would suit their property, but also their own personal tastes. What this also means is that there isn’t room for the hard sell or drop close. When you spend two hours designing out of this world windows and doors, you can quite easily ruin a sale by then pressurizing the homeowner to buy right there and then.

For example, if I go see a customer and their requirements are specific to them and they are after something unique, it is my job to sit down and help design and plan the look they are after. I’m not going to go down the route of discounts and sales as that is not what they have come in for. Quite often now price rarely gets talked about in our showroom right up until the very end, where at that point it has almost become irrelevant because we have managed to design and quote for new windows and doors exactly to their requirements.

So if you’re a dinosaur of this industry and still only like to sell products YOU like instead of what your customers like, you’re going to very quickly find life difficult. Times they are a changing, and if you don’t, you’ll find yourself falling very quickly behind, if you aren’t doing so already.