Don’t be fooled into thinking all aluminium window and door suppliers offer the same opportunities to boost profits, warns Sternfenster’s Sales Director Nathan Court. We report.
But this presents a dilemma for some window companies because sourcing aluminium products may not give them the profit opportunities they were expecting, according to Nathan Court, Sales Director at Sternfenster.
“Done right, aluminium can offer a perfect opportunity to build-in a healthy profit margin into your product and service offer,” he says. “Unfortunately, it is easy to do it wrong, and find yourself eroding that margin because of the many inefficiencies that some suppliers have not ironed out.”
Nathan points out that while aluminium products are now supplied by many more fabricators than were supplying the market ten to 15 years ago, there are still many suppliers that operate inefficiently, which could impact their customers’ performance.
“We approach aluminium supply in the same way we do our PVC-U operation, “Nathan says. “This means we build in lean manufacturing techniques, and pass on the benefits of that approach to our customers.”
Sternfenster manufactures and supplies the Visofold 1000 Smarts Bi-fold to the trade, which has had a design upgrade to include time-saving knock-in beads and co-extruded gaskets.
“On traditional aluminium bi-folding doors, fitting the gasket separate to the bead is a faff and can result in lost components,” Nathan says. “Knock-in beads with co-extruded beads means there is no time spent hunting for parts, and hours can be shaved off a job. Our customers can spend less time on site, which means getting paid quickly.
The Lincoln-based trade fabricator promises delivery to site in just five days – complete with the glazing, and other aluminium products and PVC-U casement windows. Building on this, Sternfenster has launched a vehicle tracking service, which gives customers greater visibility of their deliveries, and feeds through to improved profits and opportunities.
Sternfenster was the first PVC fabricator in the UK to use barcoding tracking all the way through to delivery. It has used barcoding to track frames and glass through production, onto vehicles, and out to customers since 2008.
“Our two-hour delivery window has been our standard for years,” Nathan says. “Drivers plan their journeys several days in advance, so they can give our customers a two-hour window for delivery, which allows them to plan their days more effectively.”
Sternfenster’s latest improvement gives customers real-time tracking of their vehicles so they can see where their delivery is, how many deliveries the driver needs to make before getting to them, and provides an updated delivery window so they can spend more time working and less time waiting.
“Time spent on site is expensive,” Nathan says. “If our customers know that we will be arriving on site in a two-hour window, it allows them to plan their day productively, either by scheduling time on another job, or by finishing on site early.
“Time spent unnecessarily waiting is wasted profit, so we are putting money directly in the pockets of our customers.
“Many aluminium suppliers still take weeks to turn around orders,” Nathan says. “Not only do we do it in days, we give full visibility of the process via Sternfenster-Plus (SF+) and EasyAdmin.”
EasyAdmin allows businesses to produce professional quotes very quickly for homeowners. It also allows window installation companies to have complete oversight of their profit and loss. This information is updated daily and allows business owners to see the health of their accounts in real time.
“More than 50% of our orders now come to us via EasyAdmin, and we are in the process of upgrading the software so that will integrate more closely with our other IT services,” Nathan says, “as well as giving them more control over their operations, saving money in the process.”
EasyAdmin works with SF, which improves communication with customers and gives them greater insight into the fabricator’s manufacturing capacity, and the new virtual showroom, which was completed earlier this year.
“Aluminium still offers great opportunities for homeowners to improve the look and feel of their homes,” Nathan says. “But it only provides real benefits to installers if efficiencies in selling, ordering, delivering and installing are also maximised.
“Thanks to our investment in IT and infrastructure, that perceived high value aluminium is renowned for can be reflected in a healthy bottom line.”
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