We are fortunate in that the recession seems – so far – not to be affecting us. Our sales are up 20% from the same period last year, something we are very proud about. But we are also aware how tough it is in the market right now and we are doing everything we can to support our customers. When times are hard, it’s the little things that matter. You need seamless and professional customer service with quick and reliable deliveries. We have got the infrastructure in place to ensure we can meet customer requirements – even down to making daily deliveries if necessary. We rely on the success of our customers’ businesses to make our own business a success, so it’s important that we support them as much as we can. We see ourselves as part of their team.
We also try to make life as easy as possible, because we all lead busy lives these days. We have a comprehensive product range and everything is manufactured in house. It means customers can order everything they need quickly and easily. It also means they can be secure in the knowledge that the Modplan quality and reliability they need will be there.
Of course, offering that reliability is easier said than done, but the benefits in being able to guarantee it are enormous. Our decision to offer the widest possible range of products was the right one for our customers, but it took months of careful planning to ensure it could all be manufactured efficiently in-house because a large product range impacts on everything from production to IT. Today, we have a series of bespoke production plants that manufacture our total range in an orderly and controlled fashion, while our daily production meeting keeps everything on track. We have also invested heavily in IT, including giving our customers the facility to order any product in any size and colour 24/7.
For some time now, installers have turned to fabricators to support them in all aspects of their business, not least marketing. We offer a comprehensive marketing package and offer training and sales support too, all tailored to meet an individual business rather than being one size fits all. Our Product Technical Guide, a onestop guide to all our products, is just about to be launched, as well as a high quality retail brochure to enable our customers to showcase our range to the consumer.
Proactive not reactive
We know from talking to our customers that it’s the most proactive ones that are doing the best. Sitting back and doing nothing is a recipe for disaster. All companies need to remain proactive, visible and really market themselves in order to drive business growth. It is tough out there, but we have customers who reporting 30% growth year on year. They are the ones working hard with suppliers like us to build strong, reliable networks and marketing themselves to make the most of every opportunity. Following the market trends Even in a recession, you can still identify trends and market yourself to meet them. Events such as the Royal Wedding and Diamond Jubilee did result in slower sales, but overall, it’s easy to see a picture emerging. More and more people are choosing to add on rather than move on, so sales of conservatories and garden rooms are up. Sales of our Vertex tile-effect roof are also up 47% year on year – proof that the opportunities are definitely still out there, you just need to be proactive in getting out and finding them.
Train to gain
Our staff are our most valuable asset and we invest in them. Having the right people in the team adds value to our business by adding value to our customers’ businesses because they are willing to go that extra mile. Most senior managers at Modplan has achieved the Institute of Leadership and Management Level 5 in Service Improvement. On the shop floor, members of the team are undertaking a range of NVQs from Level 2 to Level 5. The training develops the skills that our team has and helps us to improve the quality of our products.
Finally, it’s all about the margins
Margins and cashflow are crucial to all businesses. You can choose to sell on price alone, but in our experience, customers will always choose quality, service and support at a fair price over simply the cheapest price. To achieve this, you need to work with the right people and build strong relationships. No matter what the economic climate is like, it’s in everyone’s best interests to pull together and work together and that’s what we try to do. From the installer to the fabricator to the system’s house – everyone works together as a team. It may sound like a cliché but the results really do speak for themselves, and at the end of the day that’s really what matters.