Shape Your Fit-Ness
As the replacement window market has matured, installation companies have had to evolve and by and large, they have done this well. It’s been nearly 20 years since ‘window companies’ did just that, just install windows. But now composite doors, conservatories, roofline, energy rated windows and also shaped frames are now part of a diversified product portfolio aimed at the consumer.
Companies should now be regarded as home improvement companies at the consumer level, helping remove the tarnished image of the ‘double glazing company.’ We need to communicate trust and confidence back in the eyes of the consumer.
The opportunities for shaped frames were once shied away from by salesmen, but now they provide the opportunity to make a good margin and with products now available in a plethora of designs within around 7 days, the logistics are comparable to the standardised product within the industry. This is an impressive performance for the bending sector which cannot readily benefit from highly automated production lines.
Colours are now taking a significant proportion of sales in the bending industry and not only can we process foiled products for our customers, but at Universal Arches we can offer fully glazed and coloured frames within 7 days and through our new delivery system. But how have we communicated the changes, investments and developments?
We have always believed that marketing is fundamental to any business and it’s a core business process for communication. Not only do we advertise, but we also harness PR very effectively, have developed a ground breaking website and have even taking a leading stance in social media through Twitter. Direct mail and customer correspondence also form part of our communication activities as will the FIT Show in 2013.
The new website at www.universalarches.com not only incorporates online ordering for both standardised and bespoke products, but it incorporates 2-way HD video. This acts as a virtual salesperson as customers can have a face to face conversation about how to order or any specific questions about particular designs. Rather than have several faxes going each way, customers have already used the facility to interact with Universal directly, helping speeding up the ordering process, simplifying queries and building a stronger customer relationship.
We’ve also leapt into the social media universe with our Twitter account at first as something novel, but now it works as a genuine business tool. We’re now rapidly heading towards 1,000 followers and love it or loathe it, Twitter is a powerful means of communication. It’s quick to digest, instant and not necessarily the domain of celebrities such as Lord Sugar. It’s proven to be a great way to break down the corporate barriers and to see what goes on in a day to day basis and in a more informal manner.
The industry has always pride itself on being a people driven business. It’s not just a cliché, but something I genuinely believe sets this industry apart. With the demise of Glassex, the industry has been bereft of a large national show, though the G Awards have been great in terms of getting the very best of the industry together for an awards night. We quite rightly should reward what is a great industry, with prestigious awards for those that clearly stand out.
The FIT Show has now been launched and from the outset not only was I convinced about the benefits of exhibiting, but I’m now taking an active role in promoting the show to the customers of Universal Arches and my own personal contacts. The industry needs a national show to show face to face what we are, what we do and how it can help our respective customers. If we can all come away from the show with new information, contacts and ideas for products, then it will make for a far more healthy and rewarding industry.
While there is still talk of a relatively stagnant economy, it’s proven that those that commit to marketing during such times come out the other end in a far better position. Talking to some of the more proactive players in the industry I can see a lot of commonality in terms of their respective successes. Each company invests heavily in long-term marketing, not just a short fix to fill the sales tray.
Whether you Tweet, advertise use PR to shape opinion or are looking at the FIT Show, there’s never been a better time to look at your marketing activities.