The installer and fabricator relationship is one of the most vital partnerships in the whole chain. If an installer is to do a good job for the homeowner, they need the tools and support from their fabricators to make that task as easy and profitable as possible. So these are five main things that an installer looks for from their fabricator. And by the way, I work for an installer! ;-)
Regular product innovation
As an installer, it’s imperative that we stay ahead of our local competition to make sure we sign up as much business as we can. But we can’t do that with products that are years old and haven’t had an update for the past five years. Installers needs to have regular product updates, and brand new products on rapid basis.
It doesn’t take that long for your competition to catch up with the new things that you’re doing, so you need your fabricator to help give installers more reasons for homeowners to sign up with them, and you do that with new and constantly improved products.
That means constantly upgraded energy ratings, better hardware, better lead times, more colour options. The list could go on but I’m sure you all get my point.
Many of the industry’s installers are small and medium sized businesses. Therefore the amount of money that is able to be spent on marketing of any type is comparatively small to what a fabricator can afford. So it’s a huge help for installers when their fabricators can step in and help them with their marketing.
They should be on hand to help out in almost any way. That means free literature, web support, leaflets, adverts and everything else. At the end of the day, you as an installer are selling the fabricator’s product. Any help they can give you must surely help them in turn?
This is one of my biggest points. If a fabricator wants to help you do well as an installer and sell plenty of their products, then they need to get some of their products in your showroom, for free!
I understand that it costs the fabricator to produce the showroom samples, whatever they may be. But the outlay for the fabricator is far more manageable than it is for the installer, who again is probably a SME. So if a fabricator really wants to help an installer boost sales and push more of their products, a showroom that has been heavily supported by their fabricator is an absolute must.
Visits by the rep
This might sound a bit bland, but regular visits by the area sales rep to the installer really does make a difference. They are the face of the company for the installer and quite often the best point of contact if the installer wants to ask something or report anything.
Regular visits should be around every 8-10 weeks or so. Not so many that it starts to become inconvenient, but just long enough so that there is enough new news for the rep to tell the installer, and enough time for issues to collect for the installer to then pass on to the rep.
It also gives the rep a chance to pass on any spare literature that the installer might need at short notice.
Reliable, quality customer service
Last but not least, quality customer service is the defining feature. Last year much was made of the strain on the industry when things got busy, and customer service dropped at the same time. I cannot stress enough how important it is for an installer to be able to rely on the fabricator for customer service.
Installers are at the sharp end, selling to the demanding homeowner who expects the very best at all times. And when something doesn’t go well, it’s the installers that are the first to hear from it. They then go to their fabricator if the issue is fabricator related. They need to be on hand to be able to assist the installer with whatever problem they might have. The longer a problem continues to go unresolved, the greater the chance the homeowner becomes unhappy with their overall buying experience, which is of course helpful to no one.
These are just five of a long list of what an installer needs from their fabricator. To add yours, please leave them via the comments section below.
I agree with all of the above and would like to add support on non standard products.I appreciate they don’t make up a large proportion of business but when a potential retail customer has a request that involves a technical spec that isn’t ‘off the shelf’ it is so helpful when your supplier has the knowledge and information available to help you give the retail customer the correct technical response. Far too often in the past when we have needed something non standard previous suppliers stalled or worse altogether ignored my requests for product details because it wasn’t something they… Read more »
Your comments are valid – I would say the face to face contact is crucial and often under rated ( sometimes by both parties……I would also say technical support eg pre contract, at survey/ordering and afterwards if there are any issues.
These issues relate to all kinds of window fabricators but specially to those involved with conservatories.
Also, some retailers really value local proximity – the ability to drop in and collect orders, replacements or missed items.
Very valid points Mark. Technical support is becoming even more vital now as the number of products become more varied and more has to be known about them in order for them to be sold right by the installers in the first place.
Thanks for your regular comments this year, they’re much appreciated!
You missed the most important one. Delivery on time and in full. Without doubt the most annoying thing a supplier can do.. Or not do , in this case !
Nige, you’re absolutely right! A late delivery can muck up a whole week’s schedule, never mind just for that day!
Technical support is vital , I get absolutely racked off with fundamental product problems brought about by suppliers who don’t actually understand the product they are trying to make . It happens far to often in this industry. I have a number of cases in point where we have been appointed agents for the installation of products that I seem to be spending far too much time effectively developing for the supplier. Also how many times do you find the installer / end user instructions to be useless as they have not been updated since product introduction and here we… Read more »
As a householder trying to get replacement windows I would like it if the suppliers (or someone) created some more meaningful catalogues and brochures with real details and close up photos of what they offer, a bit like one would have for floor tiles perhaps. I find the catalogues aimed at the consumer really patronising with their vague shots of vague windows and no technical and aesthetical details, whereas the technical stuff on their websites, eg cross sections, in isolation does not make sense either.
Your feedback on the industry’s marketing to homeowners I am sure will come in handy to many of this site’s installer and fabricator readers. I know personally that there has been a concerted effort by the industry to improve the marketing, although I know much of the industry will admit that it’s still not where it should be.
Out of interest, what types of products have you been looking for your replacement windows, i.e. PVC, aluminium, timber etc?
Thanks for your comment!
Hi DGB Thank you for your prompt response and also for putting up this very informative website. I am looking for the best windows from the best installers, that best match my house’ style – just finding it difficult to locate them. Ideally I want alu windows for the front of my house (modest ex council 1926 or so), and alu or plastic for a rear extension. Some (pre 1995) plastic windows to the rear will remain as they are still serviceable. What I would also like is a 10 year guarantee on everything, like I say on Nick’s excellent… Read more »
Hi Anna Where are you located? I know a few good names I could pass on to you, but it would depend on your location to them. As for guarantees, the minimum guarantee on most products is a decade, with some offering a bit more on certain products. But it’s worth checking out the T’s and C’s for anything that is longer than ten years. Sometimes hardware can come with 5 years, occasionally less. But as you have already said, you now know that it’s down to the manufacturer as to what length of guarantee they give. As for manufacturers… Read more »