Sell on quality, not price

Paul Higgins, commercial director at TuffX, says that more challenging trading conditions post pandemic are putting pressure on the industry to sell on price, not quality – including for products such as self-cleaning glass. He argues that such a false economy will only create problems further down the line for installers. 

The glazing industry was very fortunate to enjoy a boom period during the pandemic, as cash rich consumers diverted huge amounts of money into home improvements.

But with the hospitality and travel industries once again free to compete for the pounds in our pocket, and with fabricators and installers finally clearing the backlog of lockdown work, the boom has most definitely waned.

A return to normal trading conditions was always to be expected, but this has now been compounded by rising interest rates, the cost of living crisis and the impact of the war in Ukraine.

As a result, the start of 2023 was relatively quiet for the industry, even when taking into account the usual post-Christmas / New Year lull in orders.

That in turn has meant greater competition for leads, and increased temptation to try and win sales from homeowners by offering a more affordable deal – or undercutting rivals – rather than selling on quality.

It’s a poor sales tactic at the best of times but when it comes to high performance products such as ‘self cleaning’ glass for conservatory roofs, it really does introduce a greater risk of costly remedial work and reputational damage, further down the line.

It’s very easy to see why installers could be tempted to offer cheaper self-cleaning glass, because the genuine product – which carries BS EN 1096 certification – can be up to 20% more expensive than cheaper alternatives.

And it’s very hard, at the point of sale, for homeowners to see any difference between the two unless they have really done their homework – so a sales person could simply gloss over the technicalities and present their client with an attractive saving on the bottom line.

To be clear, the difference in genuine and ‘sort of’ self-cleaning glass is significant. True self-cleaning glass works by a ‘photocatalytic’ process where the effect of the sunlight on the specially developed coating causes the surface to become ‘hyrophilic’.

That means it clings to water, forming a flat layer, that then removes dirt as it flows away.

The cheaper alternatives, which are usually just liquids that are manually applied by the glass processor, actually create the opposite effect. Water is repelled, forming droplets, which means that most of it simply runs off the surface of the glass.

This might be enough to convince a homeowner that they’re new conservatory glass roof will be much easier to maintain and that they’ll be able to enjoy clear views of the sky all year round, but the reality is that these cheaper products are more likely to create additional problems.

It’s a classic case of buying into a false economy.

Yes, the initial outlay will be less but in order to maintain any kind of performance, inferior products will need regular maintenance or additional applications in order to continue to repel water effectively.

And for properties that are situated in locations that have harsher weather conditions, typically near the coast, that maintenance schedule will be even higher. It’s likely that homeowners would start to see a blotchy or streaky effect on their new glass within a matter of months.

Genuine self-cleaning glass on the other hand, not only comes with a 10-year guarantee, but could last a lifetime if properly maintained.

All TuffX conservatory roofs are manufactured with hydrophilic glass that meets the standards of BS EN 1096 and we would encourage all our customers to highlight this quality standard to homeowners, so that they can sell on its benefits, rather than lose out to a race to the bottom on price.

Being in a position to confidently sell on quality, is not only an important factor in maintaining a healthy profit margin, but it’s vital to ensure positive long-term relationships with customers and goes some way to enhancing the reputation of the industry at large.

The alternative is a short-term fix, one that almost guarantees additional remedial costs and reputational damage.

In tougher times, companies that adopt the longer view, will be the ones that continue to flourish in the future.