It’s perhaps one of the most devise issues our industry faces, the battle against the hard-sell. It’s been by far the most discussed topic on DGB over the past couple of weeks, with the GGF and NFG both weighing in on the issue. Yet, whilst we all talk about it, with most of us condemning it, the issue of the hard-sell simply won’t be going away.

Morals vs law

The frustration of this issue lies between the companies who strive to do business the honest way versus those who use typical hard-sell tactics. In essence, moral business versus business strictly within the law.

It’s great that many companies go about their business in an honest and relaxed manner, it works for them and there are plenty of long established, profitable window and door companies doing great work. But, there are those companies, and we all know who they are, who use highly inflated discount structures, high pressure sales tactics and all sorts of uncomfortable closes in order to get the business on the night.

A lot of us don’t like that way of doing business, not when it’s proved day in and day out that you can still run a business doing it the right way. But, strictly speaking, the companies who continue to use the old fashioned, distasteful methods, aren’t doing anything wrong in the eyes of the law – as far as I know any way.

It’s not illegal to inflate a price structure by 50-70% then to take that imagined discount off again. It’s not illegal to try and get someone to sign up on the night. It’s not illegal to bug a home owner the day after a sales rep visited their home. Until practices like these are made illegal, nothing will change.

Code change

Nothing the above not being illegal makes it OK, it most certainly is not. It’s definitely not right to be in someone’s home for four hours making them feel uncomfortable. It’s definitely not alright to quote £50k for a house full of windows and doors to then drop it stage by stage to £8k. It’s certainly not alright to nag people on the phone, day after day in the hope their will breaks down and they agree to buy from you.

It’s pointless to think that big companies who we all know do the exactly what is stated above will ever change. I had a sponsor on here once, a big one, who claimed that they were on the road to change and to move away from such archaic tactics. I’ve seen no evidence of that. These types of companies are built on these sorts of underhand tactics, almost ingrained in them. They will be like this until they close their doors.

So, where do we turn to try and curb these sorts of sales methods? You can’t approach the companies doing it. You probably can’t approach Government either, they have bigger problems on their hands and won’t have the cash available to be able to police the things we want policing. You could however turn to the groups and organisations they are part of.

In the recent discussions held by the NFG, GGF and others on DGB in recent weeks, this paragraph, part of a wider reply from the GGF, jumped out at me:

Each company, whether a GGF Member company or not, decides on its own business model as to pricing and discounts. It is not a dishonest practice provided the trader is clear to the consumer as to what the list price is and what discounts apply. We appreciate that many in the industry have an opinion on traders which have a list price with substantial discounts available, however this practice is also common in many sectors such as automobiles, kitchens, furniture etc., and is not illegal or unethical.

It’s clear that some members do indeed use inflated pricing structures and high pressure sales methods, no point in denying that. And as a sales person who sees home owners day in and day out, I hear regularly the same stories over and over again about the various irritating ways companies try and win their business.

But what I would say to the GGF, and all trade organisations for that matter, is if we’re all genuinely serious about cleaning our industry up, is it not time to change the rules of membership? It’s 2016 and we live in a modern sales era. Would it not be helpful in the wider context of this issue, as well as the general perception of our industry, to disallow companies to join any window and door sector trade body if they do indeed conduct their sales on inflated pricing structures, high pressure sales methods and generally underhand tactics?

I understand fully that it’s not illegal, but just because it’s not illegal does not mean it is right. I would call on all trade bodies to seriously look at this area of membership. Look long and hard at the damage these methods do to our industry, and the bodies that these companies are attached to. Is it really worth it? There’s no legal framework against it, but that doesn’t stop us from trying to do something about it ourselves.

Something to ponder on perhaps.

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