The Fabricator Magazine - Everglades 2016 Annual Conference

Everglades 2016 annual conference, its tenth in 36 years of trading, sent over 100 delegates home with the inspiration to make their own businesses 'legends'.

The conference theme, presented by Jay Patel, was 'become a legendary business'. Patel opened the conference with a picture presentation showing the Everglade 'legend' from its founding directors – then and now through the factory to social events.

Then there were presentations to inspire the audience form Anne-Marie Waugh discussing the advantages offered by GGF membership to product up-dates. During the afternoon Jay Patel demonstrated the advantages of using First Degree Systems software for estimating, placing and tracking orders. Something Everglade encourages all of its customers to adopt.

Sarah Ball from Balls to Marketing delivered a presentation showing what you can achieve in an hour a week on social media. Aside from showing the number of platforms currently available she pointed out how consumers are influenced by what they see. Using Facebook and Twitter in particular but also Google and the other platforms would build consumer familiarity with and confidence in your company.

Nobody likes disputes with customers so Don Waterworth's presentation was probably the most eagerly followed of the afternoon.

Waterworth is the principal of HAS Resolutions and also runs the Master Window and Conservatory Installers Association. He stressed the importance of having a signed contract with the customer. He said that current consumer legislation is confusing. The government has combined five acts of parliament into one. Waterworth said this was a bad mistake and left the consumer in a state of confusion about his rights.

When selling to a customer first of all make sure that you listen to what he wants and show him samples. An obvious point but Waterworth cited an instance where the customer had asked for a grey profile. The one supplied was grey, but with a woodgrain; the customer was expecting a smooth grey.This was a dispute that was entirely avoidable and cost the installer dearly. Another vital point is to establish from the outset how the customer intends to pay for the windows. Many disputes arise over withheld payments usually of spurious grounds. Waterworth cautioned that there are people out there who pride themselves on using disputes to avoid paying for goods. So it is important to talk to the customer and get a 'feel' for him. It is better not to have the order than to end up fighting for your money.

With the current legislation an installer has almost no rights so being professional is important. Don Waterworth's advice is to make sure your fitting teams are clean and tidy – a company uniform is a good idea – train them to be polite, preferably to carry ID. Most importantly train them to work cleanly and clear-up afterwards.

He concluded that the best way to avoid disputes is to set out not give your customer reasons to complain.
Product updates launched at the conference included Kömmerling's Invisifold system, Edgetech's TruFit foam tape installation system, and the launch of Ultion locks as standard on all of Everglade's doors.

After the speakers, customers were given the chance to meet suppliers in the expert marketplace which was set up in the Everglade showroom and featured all products in the range.

Artical first published in The Fabricator Magazine, June 2016