Why enquiries are steadily building

Apeer’s managing director Asa McGillian discusses the new normal.

At a normal social level, a pandemic is not something that any of us is set up to deal with, and so when the curtain came down most of us (with the exception of a few village idiots) locked down and followed the advice.

Which means that, from the point of view of the replacement window and door industry, no home presentations, no visits to showrooms, no anything.

Except that as time wears on, and we are becoming used to a new normal and new routines, we are adapting. As we feel safer, our minds have been wandering and wondering about normal things, at least for when the restrictions are lifted.

And that includes home improvements, with growing anecdotal evidence of larger numbers of homeowners actively enquiring about new windows and doors and even the odd conservatory.

We formally suspended manufacturing operations but enquiries are building steadily. From Easter our consumer leads have definitely increased, with significant numbers of leads from homeowners who have had the time to look at what they want for their homes and who are fortunate enough to be confident enough to make plans.

Only this morning we had an enquiry from someone in Lincoln who wanted a price for a stable door, with a view to firming up the order when lockdown is lifted.

Enquiries for trade accounts are also growing. It seems that a number of residential composite door makers have shut up shop completely and, again, first thing this morning I took calls from two companies that, feeling a bit neglected, wanted to open accounts with us. We cannot supply them until lockdown is over but they are covering their options for when some sort of normality is resumed.

We had to suspend manufacturing just as most other companies, and with a large despatch area almost full we cannot add to it until we can clear those orders. But we took the decision to continue our marketing, and two sales managers have been keeping very active, and we are receiving progressively increasing enquiries from all areas: the UK mainland, Northern Ireland, and the Republic.

Apeer’s marketing manager Linda Tomb said: “Leads are coming through Doorbuilder on our site, Facebook and calls via the Apeer sales line, which I am answering. Our new videos are drawing a lot of attention wherever they are seen.

“TheDoorbuilder leads took a massive dip initially but as people spend more time at home, they are researching new doors and windows with a view to purchasing once the lockdown is lifted. I’ve had a lot of emails and calls asking if their local approved dealer is open to even give out quotes at the moment.

“In fact, I have had a few homeowners demanding that someone comes out to survey and fit their doors as they need them urgently – not for security reasons, just because they want it done and now. I then explain how a lockdown works, politely.”

Ultimately, until the lockdown is lifted and our dealers can enter houses to do surveys there isn’t much we can do. But we will continue to push leads as far down the sales funnel as possible, so when our dealers are back in action they will have a load of nicely qualified prospects to follow up.

It will be physically impossible to wind things up as quickly as they were switched off. But pent up demand can be managed and must be infinitely preferable to no demand at all.