Sternfenster’s Managing Director, Mike Parczuk, says that the industry should be ready for a period of change when the Covid bubble finally bursts and that installers should be looking to adapt their business model to ensure they remain as competitive as possible. He says:
The summer holiday period is traditionally a time of year where demand from retail would start to cool off, but as I write this, the orders are still coming in thick and fast.
This is great, but to reiterate what I’ve already communicated in a recent open letter to the industry, the boom we are currently experiencing comes with a number of challenges. These include the unpredictable nature of the ‘pingdemic’, and the inevitable rise in Covid cases as restrictions are relaxed and people return to normality.
It also includes the supply chain problems, price increases and lengthening lead times that have been evident since the latter half of 2020, and how these issues have highlighted the need for installers to protect their margins.
I can’t stress enough how important it is, especially as the forecast is for more price increases in the Autumn. Installers need to be factoring this into jobs that are priced now, to ensure they still have a profit margin when it’s completed in 12-weeks’ time.
And there’s another challenge on the horizon – what happens when things go back to normal and leads are no longer landing in your lap?
We will, eventually, emerge from the bubble that has been created by Covid, and I predict that it will be a period of real change in the industry, where companies are going to have adapt once again, to ensure they are operating as efficiently as possible in order to be competitive and remain profitable.
At Sternfenster, we are constantly looking at ways in which we can help our customers run their businesses more cost effectively. At the start of lockdown we introduced a live production capacity feed on our SFPlus customer portal to give complete transparency on order to lead times.
In addition to all the other benefits of SFPlus, such as the news feed, downloadable content and ability to track the progress of orders and deliveries, we also offer our installers access to EasyAdmin. This is our unique CRM system that allows installers to generate quotes, place orders online and generate invoices and sales reports.
And we’re now in the process of introducing a new element into our existing package of digital resources that will create a complete, ‘cradle to grave’ solution for our retail customers, from lead generation right through to delivery.
This will begin with an online homeowner enquiry, which is directed to our customer’s website. At this stage a homeowner can generate an instant quote, by simply inputting the dimensions of windows and doors, along with any foiling and glazing options.
This quote will then replicated in our customer’s CRM system, taking into account specific pricing and discounts. In the past, this would have prompted a phone call to the homeowner, to follow up on that enquiry and maybe send a revised quote.
However, we will be transforming this opportunity with the introduction of our new Proposal Builder. This will generate a bespoke, digital quotation pack, that can be tailored precisely to the prospect. For instance, if they are interested in flush windows, you can send them videos and gallery images focusing purely on that style of casement. Or, if the enquiry is less specific, you can package up examples of our complete product range.
Proposal Builder will also include accreditations and customer testimonials, as part of a real time quotation system that is designed to lead a homeowner into booking a survey, paying a deposit and placing an order remotely, at the click of a button.
And once they do, that order will be instantly transferred to our customer’s EasyAdmin system, and from there it can be sent straight into production.
Ultimately, the system will also include our new virtual showroom, complete with CGI videos of our complete product range and the ability for homeowners to configure products for colour, hardware and glass specification – in exactly the same way that consumers can already configure a new Audi or BMW.
It will also include a digitally animated salesperson, to present product features to homeowners as you would expect from a ‘real’ rep, but minus the associated costs and sales commission.
It sounds futuristic, but it’s just another example of how we are constantly looking ahead, to take a more progressive approach in terms of our service and support and how we are empowering our customers so that they can adapt their business model without even having to think about it.
Enjoy these boom times while you can, but change is coming. And we’re ready for it!
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