Lead on quality and service and keep your customers onside

Jeremy Phillips, Group Chairman of leading specialist aluminium fabricators CDW Systems, reflects on a new installer survey which indicates that even in tough times, it’s not always price that is the winning factor…

With times getting tougher over the last year, it is certainly the case that there is less loyalty in the industry now, with some installers will have changed supplier because of price or lead times.

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Which is why Insight Data’s recent ‘State of The Industry’ report, particularly a survey carried out among a sample of more than 2,000 installers, large and small, in September, made such interesting reading.

Each installer was asked the same four questions around enquiry levels, change of suppliers, projected growth and what drives supplier choice and the findings provided a fascinating snapshot of where our industry is right now.

While there are clear indications of a general trading slowdown and industry jitters, there are also one or two rays of sunlight which, we hope, points to a better future for us all.

Of these, the one I found most interesting was ‘When choosing a supplier, what key aspect is most important to you?’

Now, in these challenging times, you might expect many replies to centre on price, as we are a very price focussed industry. Surprisingly, this isn’t the case. Only 13 per cent of respondents mentioned price as a factor. The majority (55 per cent) focused on product quality, with 22 per cent, the second highest, citing customer service.

Now, let’s consider that in terms of another stat the survey uncovered, which was that more than three-quarters of respondents (78%) said they had stayed with the same supplier over the previous year. Stitch this and the previous stat together, and we can see that if suppliers are consistent with the quality of their products and customer service, installers will not desert them on the grounds of price.

It’s a lesson to learn, especially for suppliers newer to the market. Competing on price alone – trying to undercut everyone else – simply isn’t sustainable. This is something we’ve taken on board since we began more than 30 years ago, which is why at CDW Systems we have always focused on product quality and customer care, knowing that we stand or fall by these measures.

I’ve often said that as a fabricator, you need to be far more than a supplier. Quality products, lead times, and reliability must be backed up with the right help, advice, and support. We understand this completely, and it’s why we try to offer a broad range of products, so our customers have everything they need.

We have been continually trying to get our lead times down, having reduced our lead time of three weeks on “house” colour Dualframe aluminium casement windows, while we have recently extended our office hours for customers, with the office now opening at 7.30am instead of 8am so staff are available for the times when customers need them the most.

Yes, price is important, but it’s by no means the end of the story – and these statistics prove that competing on quality and service will go a long way to not only winning more business but, more importantly, keeping it when you get it.

Established in 1992, CDW Systems aluminium products include sliding patio doors, bi-folds, windows, commercial entrance doors and curtain walling. For more information visit www.cdwsystems.co.uk or call 01452 414853.

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