A trusted Which? hunt

Becoming a Which? Trusted Trader has been great for business, and being voted Trusted Trader of the Year 2017 saved the company, explains Chigwell-based HomeGlaze Home Improvements owner Colin Morgan.

After Brexit and the general election, leads and quotes from every other source dried up overnight, taking weeks to come back on stream. These votes played havoc with our sales as homeowner confidence was rattled. Until a year ago business was booming and everything seemed to be going along very well indeed. And then we had these moments of madness that have unsettled everything.

Fortunately, I had the foresight to become a Which? Trusted Trader, joining in 2015. It involved processes that, while tough to process and maintain, have brought great rewards for the company. We had to jump through hoops to become accepted in the first place, and we have to work hard to continue with them. Membership involves financial checks for the company, Trading Standards intelligence checks, and random checks with customers. They even demanded changes to our terms and conditions.

I joined Homeglaze in 2011, and my experience of high-pressure selling was all based upon closing the sale there and then, and the number of cancellations we received the following day was ridiculous; many people, having been brow-beaten into a sale the evening before, then backed out. It was frustrating and I knew that it didn’t have to be this way. These were wasted opportunities.

However, in the days following a customer meeting after joining Homeglaze, it went against every instinct to leave them alone to come back to us when they felt comfortable with their decision. We committed to holding a quote for a year so it could take months before we got an order.

Persisting with the ‘no pressure’ approach brought its rewards. A comprehensive product offer, treatment of potential customers with respect, and a growing reputation for installers that would go the extra mile to ensure a great job completed, brought increasing numbers of positive referrals.

We joined other referrals schemes and our recommendations grew quickly. People really responded to us treating them courteously, advising them of what we believed the best products for their homes were but respecting their choice. And when we installed, our fitters were careful and thoughtful and took care of all the details, something that our customers responded very positively to.

We have a very comprehensive offer for our customers because we want to be able to say ‘yes’ to anything they ask for. But in this very competitive area Pioneer’s Signature sash has been a big seller. It is very well featured and looks great. But what really works for us is its limited availability. As we are the only seller in the area no one can compete against us like-for-like so direct price comparisons are impossible. Our customers like the exclusivity.

Likewise, the Deceuninck Flush window has allowed us to pick up a lot of orders as this type of window has become more popular. It’s very well featured, looks great against some more established products but is very competitively priced. And Pioneer can turn around orders for this product very quickly, which our customers love.

Customer choice is also very important, and we make sure we offer what we believe to be the very best products in every category. You can’t move here at the weekends there are so many people visiting. People enjoy browsing at their leisure. We were told that showrooms were old hat but we have completely the opposite experience.

Homeglaze became Which? Trusted Trader of the Month in April 2016, which means there is never a job, a quote, or even a phone call where we don’t have to be at our best. It helps us maintain the best possible standards we can. We are all too aware how quickly a good reputation can change and we are always looking for ways to improve. We are striving to make a difference in how our industry is perceived and, although nobody’s perfect, we aim to continue stacking up the positive reviews.

We were voted Which? Trusted Trader of the Year for 2017, mainly because of the large number of positive reviews left by customers.

I went to the awards ceremony as finalists with head designer Paul Eyles and social media manager Dean Thurogood. We were competing alongside companies such as Samsung, Apple and Marks & Spencer. When our name was called, and I went up to collect the award, I found myself – for the first time ever – tongue-tied.

I now plan to open more branches, starting with Bromley in Kent. I will be careful to maintain the standards that have brought us to where we are now – I don’t want to grow too fast and lose sight of that.