This is a guest post from Alan Burgess, Chairman of Masterframe:
Someone once said the world has changed more in the last 400yrs than the previous 4,000yrs, more in the last 40yr than the previous 400yrs, they would surely agree that its changed more in the last 4 months than the past 4 yrs too!
Do you recall the time when retail customers walked into a showroom, they’d stop and browse, have a coffee and a chat, then invite you back to their place for a product demo and measure up? It was only a few months ago!
Because of the Covid 19 virus and lockdown, we’ve all learnt new skills, changed our ways and hopefully invested in the ways we communicate and interact with customers. We’ve become proficient with Zoom, Teams and Skype. Showroom visits are now personalised, timed affairs. Having showrooms to oneself is much more enjoyable and add a layer of seriousness, the one on one service makes visitors feel special too, and so they should.
It’s very interesting to see how consumers trust has increased, because we now share documents, buyers guides, downloadable brochures, with them, all things we had before lockdown but rarely used.
During the lockdown every company had to review its costs, its structure and frankly its outgoings. Yet the wise ones took the opportunity to invest in new methods of communication like promo videos, virtual tours of customers showrooms, video content and better web sites.
The best suppliers have invested in filming their installers showrooms to provide a digital copy, a virtual tour highlighting everything their installation partner has to offer, so that prospects can inspect products virtually, when they wish, without being pestered. Whilst anyone can take a video on a phone, its far more professional and frankly a better experience, to have interactive hotspots, ones which feature the key benefits like Timberweld, and options like London sash that are vital for clients see and understand, before making their decision.
Once, estimates were back of fag packets or scraps of paper, today any installer worth their salt has manufacturers software to accurately price every style of window or door, with margins and markups to suit their business.
This software should also allow consumers to configure their own designs on the installers own, unique, configurator site.
Not only do these professional quotations have product specifications in detail, they also carry the installers logo, their own T&C’s and can be viewed on or offline. They also ensure that each person in their business is working from identical information, without having to re-key or reprocess anything. Each lead is managed through sales, the surveyor has their copy and amends the contract sizes, adding photographs for unusual or record purposes, even arranging the fitters schedules.
Clients can upload a photo of their home, then use the “visualiser*” to transpose images onto the picture so that they can imagine just how nice their home will look, once the new windows and doors are fitted.
Being driven by manufacturing restrictions eliminates the possibility of selling something that cannot be made. Accommodating survey sizes with packers etc, ordering products safe in the knowledge that the window order, is identical to the “sold” specification agreed with the client and schedule fitting teams and contract installation dates, and then register contracts with competent persons schemes*.
Exhibitions like the Home build and Renovating Show have also had to change, they’ve become virtual too. Rather than wait for exhibitions to return we’ve chosen to invest in this new platform on 24th & 25th July making everything digital!
With email more popular than ever, the transmission of documents, brochures, video tours has never been more simple or important. Online meetings, make sales pitches far easier, customers are relaxed because they control the “off switch” so if they stay engaged, they are still very keen. It’s really interesting that clients trust has increased because of the information we now share with them, upfront.
Undoubtedly, quality products still need to be touched. There really isn’t a substitute for seeing a sample up close, feeling the weight, the rigidity, the sturdy build which comes with well made, quality products.
So it’s clear, that the world has changed, we have started to interact differently with prospects. The new normal accelerated the pace of change. We’ve each considered different ways to communicate and there’s no going back, this is the new way installers will win business.
Supporting our customers during these challenging times, keeping good customers happy with new websites, increased expenditure on lead generation programmes and sponsoring free showroom tours for them, just seems right. We see these costs as positive investments, yielding significant long term growth, for us and our installation partners.
So much has changed, in just a few short weeks but all of it for the better.
So, the question is, has your current supplier invested in you? Have they helped you by filming your showroom with the hotspots of the products you sell?
Everything mentioned above is available today from Masterframe Windows Ltd or (*or will be in the next couple of months). If you’re serious about selling sash windows, or interested in becoming an elite partner via our Master Installers network, then we’d love to talk, virtually or suitably distanced in person!
See how we promote installers to homeowners on www.masterframe.co.uk or to find out more about our trade ranges, our new trade site www.masterframetrade.co.uk will be live in a couple of weeks time. You’ll see how we help your business, with virtual showroom tours, actual showroom samples, access our software or just download some brochures.
Alternatively, there’s always the phone, those haven’t changed as much recently. We’re ready for your call on 01376 511211.
* available later in 2020.
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