Harp’s showroom is the extra sales exec

Gary Hays
Gary Hays

Watford-based retail installer says his showroom is superb for passive extra door sales.

Harp Windows’ Gary Hays is the classic joiner-turned-retail-installer success story. Growing up in Harrow, Middlesex, Gary set up Harp Windows in 1989 after moving towards the leafier avenues of Watford and the surrounding areas, and has not looked back, either geographically or metaphorically.

After 35 years of selling windows, doors and related home improvements, Gary has seen many changes in the way things are done within the industry, such as the move from doorstep canvassing and cold calling towards targeted social media – but he believes that his showroom remains a major asset in his marketing and sales.

“We sell to people that happened to be walking past our showroom, despite it not being located in a prime town centre location,” he explains, “though most of our showroom visitors are attracted by our social media, recommendation or word of mouth, which is still our strongest source of leads.

“We have had showrooms for over two decades now and it works as well for us now as it has ever done.”

The Harp showroom is stocked with the company’s mid to upper-market windows and doors, which Gary finds is his forte in an area that is predominantly middle class.

“Watford and the surrounding areas are commuter belt; just 20 minutes from Euston by train. And even though commuting has changed since Covid, property prices remain very high, with even basic one bed flats going for £250,000. Million-pound homes are typical. Homeowners in this bracket have come to trust us and we have evolved a range of products that suit these homes, as well as a level of service that they are very comfortable with.”

Rather than centre on single brands for each window and door type, Gary spreads his bets across a number of brands, with three key producers for box sash alone –  but it is residential doors that dominate the Harp showroom.

Gary has selected one key supplier for conventional composite doors but has stepped out from what he agrees, are the ‘tried and tested’ brands, to add a relatively new name to his portfolio – Gerda Engineered Doors.

Gary explains: “We have been selling Gerda since August 2023 as our premium entrance door. They are unusual in that the door facings are aluminium or even steel, built on aluminium frames and insulated with foam cores. They have become immediately popular with our customers and have sold very well in the showroom. Customers can immediately feel they are different from anything else, by the sheer heft and quality of the doors, the way they feel to the touch, the way they operate, the hardware. They are clearly upmarket.

“But,” adds Gary, “whilst they are obviously a premium door, the retail cost is surprisingly competitive. The visual and tactile quality of Gerda is as high as anything in the market, including doors that sell at the top end. We have found that whilst they are more expensive than the better composite doors, people are willing to upgrade to Gerda as they know they are getting a top quality product. People have walked off the street into the showroom, tried Gerda and bought them. Obviously we love products that sell themselves!”

Gary says that whilst Gerda is a relatively new brand, the customer support Harp receives is first rate. “We are now an ‘Exclusive Dealer’ for Gerda for which we receive showroom products, brochures and branding. Plus, we receive decent sales leads. But it is the fit and finish of Gerda doors that clinch the deal,” added Gary.

“I work with a local developer of luxury homes, and he was telling me over a beer about a property he was building. I told him I had a new resi door for him. I persuaded him to come and have a look, and he immediately bought the Gerda door. He has since specified Gerda for a new development of six high end properties.

“Gerda doors are not just a pretty face,” says Gary. “Every homeowner’s first response is to the aesthetics. But then they will justify their choice by looking at the technical performance. Gerda has thermal efficiency across a range of 0.79 W/m2k to 1.3 W/m2k, which more than satisfies those people that research everything thoroughly.

“Gerda is a great showroom product,” summarises Gary. “It is visually distinct from traditional composite doors, and once people have the opportunity to touch and try a Gerda door, it sells itself. What more could you ask for?”