How To Make Commercial Work Pay?
Following last month’s appeal for commercial installers, we discuss with Ideal Window Solutions how to make commercial work pay.
In the government’s 2018 Housing White Paper, it set out a series of measures to increase the supply of new homes, with the aim of 300,000 a year in 2021. This includes increased use of compulsory purchase orders to force housebuilders to release or bring sites to market, as well as a relaxation of planning laws on smaller sites. This latest demand has already made the new-build market a lucrative hunting ground for installers.
With so many new projects, Emplas was receiving a large number of new build enquiries, offering specification, training and support to enter the commercial arena. In October, the business called upon installers to take advantage of these commercial opportunities. Already, members of the Emplas Approved Installer Network are taking advantage of these leads, making it a success. This includes Ideal Window Solutions, who became an Emplas customer in 2017.
Established by Chris Palmer and joined by former Masco director, Thom Emerson, as sales and marketing director in 2012, Ideal Window Solutions had sub-contracted in the commercial sector to Speed Frame until its administration in 2008. Thom said: “Chris saw an opportunity to go direct to the housebuilder as a sub-contractor.
“There were lots of other people who were also sub-contracting to Speed Frame, who didn’t go direct to market because of the required shift in thinking. Chris saw an opportunity and he brought a very focused and process-driven approach to commercial supply.”
More than a decade on, Ideal Window Solutions has developed an impressive portfolio of blue-chip new build clients, such as Berkeley Homes, Persimmon, Legal & General Homes and David Wilson Homes, amongst others, with Emplas now its main commercial supplier.
Thom continued; “We wanted someone with scale, who was big enough and who had an entrepreneurial flair, and was investing. We also really liked the fact they [Emplas] were family-owned.
“We gave them our ‘ransom note’ (I think it had about 40 demands on it) and they worked with us to address each point. The attitude of each and every member of the team was great.”
The focus on process has been critical in Ideal Window Solutions’ success. This includes the development of a highly sophisticated CRM and business platform, Contor. This gives Ideal Window Solutions full visibility against orders, deliveries and installations, used throughout its operation.
“You need processes in new build in order to manage lead times. Those checks and controls are critical. Site managers will call off plots and say they’re ready and they won’t be, the stairs won’t be there or the scaffolding will be in the way. You have to conduct checks or else any margin is going to be swallowed up very quickly.”
This also makes how windows are delivered very importantly. This includes not only just-in-time delivery but down to the way stillages are packed.
“We’ve been very happy with Emplas but they would acknowledge that there has been a learning curve. It’s critical to us that stillages are loaded correctly and ordered by plot because you can imagine that if you’re fitting windows in 200 or more properties and the frames you want are on a stillage on the other side of the site, it’s going to be a pain. The site manager doesn’t care. You’re the sub-contractor and it sits with you.
“We definitely went through a learning exercise with Emplas but the culture and attitude of the team were great and they rose to the challenge.”
While the process was not without challenge, Thom argues that the case for working within the commercial sector still stacks up. Housebuilders are prepared to pay for quality service and ultimately kerb appeal. He highlights a live project the business is in process of delivering, which includes the supply of Emplas/Optima flush casements in grey into 1,500 new build properties on the site of the former Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) site at Crowthorne, Berkshire.
Thom added that focus, in part, was being driven by increased application in the new build housing sales of option-selling, with developers offering standard specifications but up-selling to a higher standard of specification, including windows and doors. Emplas has an established track record of supply into new build, from supporting the development of specifications to just-in-time delivery to site. This also includes dedicated SBD, PAS24 and Document Q ticket-box ordering on Window Designer, simplifying specification.
He concludes: “For us, it’s about the supplier and process. Also, that willingness to walk away from business that doesn’t stack up financially.”
If you’d like immediate commercial leads, or if you’d like to find out how you can become a member of the Emplas Approved Installer network, contact our team today. You can fill out our online contact form or call us on 01933 674 880.