Are installers giving homeowners what they want?
As a businessman, I understand that the customer is my priority. I also know that should I fail to balance customer expectations with the needs our fabrication operation we’ll be in a pickle. Success is about give and take. It’s about the right prices, not the cheapest ones. It’s about knowing when to go the extra mile, and about being able to spot the potential customer who’s only going to cause you trouble. Business is a balancing act.
Of course, this principle works right through the supply chain. By the time the installer is talking to a homeowner about new windows or doors, there are two different wish lists. The installer wants a straightforward job, window styles and colours that are easily sourced and a customer who is realistic. The homeowner wants their home to be warmer, more secure, more attractive. They want to feel they can trust the installer to steer them towards exactly what they need. Again, it’s a balancing act, but I believe that some installers aren’t offering their customers the best options for their property.
In my hometown – no doubt right across the country – are many older properties that at some stage had their sash windows removed and replaced with simple timber top-hung casements. PVC-U windows came along, and the cheap timber was replaced. Now many of those early PVC-U frames are coming to the end of their life. Customers want better thermal performance, smart new colours, improved security and that’s great, but too often they choose to copy the layout of the windows they’re replacing rather than choosing the more appropriate style of the sash window.
The same situation is happening with cottages and barn conversions. Lipped PVC-U casements are replacing lipped timber casements – despite modern flush casements being durable, high-performing and architecturally sympathetic.
Now it is true that in certain cases installing heritage style windows can take a little more time and that the frames can cost more, but the results are worth it. With the authentic period proportions, colours and hardware, they enhance properties and deliver lasting customer satisfaction as well as 21st century standards of performance.
We’re proud to offer Smartsash™ and Viewpoint™ windows to our clients and love to see images of their completed projects. But we know that there are many installers, working in towns and cities across the UK, who don’t bother to offer anything beyond their standard range. No doubt they’ll justify their approach, claiming the limited options make for better sales prices and more efficiency. They might even say that there isn’t much demand for anything else.
I’d argue that if more homeowners knew about the alternatives, more would choose them. Few will have been following the technological developments of the glazing industry and many will readily trust the competent installer to give them the right advice on everything from sealed units to handle finish. But somehow installers aren’t having the conversations about the architectural integrity of properties and as a result, the appearance of homes remains compromised. That’s a great shame when the windows that have just been installed have been designed to last for decades.
I know that there are hundreds of reasons that affect the choice of windows, but I don’t think that ignorance should be one of them. I understand that the economics of running a business means that the amount of choice offered must have limits, but installers don’t hold stocks of windows. They do, however, hold the key to transforming the appearance of millions of older properties for the better.