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The hunt for the right customers

Barry Ashmore provides some perspective on how flooring contractors can find a better class of customer.

IT’s estimated that it costs £7 per item to sell fashion items online. This includes packaging, getting it to the customer, and the very high risk the item will be returned to store for whatever reason.
Britain’s largest clothing retailer, Primark, sells items for £7 and less, so it cannot afford to sell a £6 product online and potentially lose money by making a profit of just a few pence per item. Which is why it’s done things differently and doesn’t have a sales website.

In this month’s column, I want to briefly set out some of the ways you can find new customers by focusing on and selling your own unique selling proposition (USPs) and how Primark delivers their USP to customers who visit their stores in droves. First, however, I want to talk about a few specialist contractors we have helped to be that bit different and generate more sales leads.

Flooring contractor
One flooring contractor wanted support with a data capture and telephone sales calling service to enable them to generate new leads. Using their Glenigan data license and an agreed criteria for filtering the variety of different contracts and projects in their area, a list of new prospects and live projects was completed.

Using this newly captured data, our phone salesperson, who specialises in the construction industry, was able to make calls and introduce himself as the business development manager for the company in question. This enabled him to build a relationship with specifiers, estimators and QSs on the identified projects and in due course, build a new database of live leads and call records on behalf of the flooring contractor.

Following the initial phone calls, personal emails were then dispatched and over time, the business development manager began to receive calls and tender documentation for live projects in the agreed geographical area. These were then passed to the flooring contractor’s project team who would call the prospect direct to discuss specific issues relating to tenders, budgets, scope of work, project timelines, etc.

Once tenders were submitted by the flooring contractor the business development manager would then be responsible for liaising with the main contractor or end-client to gather feedback from the estimating or surveying team to identify how competitive the quote was and if the flooring contractor is in the running to be appointed on the project. Also, the BDM would ensure queries are dealt with promptly by liaising with the flooring contractor and main contractor/client.

Specialist building company
This example relates to a company that specialises in building care homes. They have a small and skilled team that’s very clear about where their expertise lies; from building the entire care home, to handling major refurbishment and extension work, as long as the work is above a minimum sales value. They’re very specific about what they tender for and this is where we helped.

By using Glenigan research we identified the types of projects they’re best suited to and opened a dialogue with the care-home operators, contracts managers, estimators and QSs of these new prospects by phone, e-mail, and regular e-newsletters.

The result is care-homes within an agreed radius of the company’s offices that hadn’t previously known this builder are sending tender requests, phoning to arrange meetings and through the e-marketing, have been able to view many different interior and exterior images that show the high quality of the projects they’ve completed.

Dry walling company
This particular company had reached a point where they realised they needed more leads from projects in London and the southeast.

Having contacted StreetwiseSubbie, we used online research to source as many live projects as we could find in their area and, after filtering the data by project type, location, and value, sent an email out to the most suitable specifiers we had identified. This was done on a weekly basis.

Each month, we spent a couple of days on the phone, contacting the new prospects, validating the most appropriate decisionmaker then introducing the company and its skills to this new audience.

The data was then captured and a regular marketing email was broadcast to a continuously growing list. Again, this resulted in a flow of leads for this company, which was then able to make personal contact with the new prospect and quote accordingly.

Glass facades manufacturer and installer
This is another success story and one I’ve referred to previously but is well worth mentioning again.
This company told us they were inundated with leads and the business owner was tearing his hair out following up and tendering for each. He had no time to manage the volume he had on his desk. He then also told us most were from main contractors he didn’t wish to work with anyway, so could we help make his life easier.

We sourced a database of architects located in east England and north London and leased a thousand contacts. Each of these contacts were phoned by our data team to check and verify that the data was correct and if not, make the required updates to it. Once this verification process was completed we then held a master list of live and up-to-date contacts for the company to work with.

Our client also had a list of his own comprising around four thousand contacts, so integrating the separate lists into a bulk email system, we emailed company introductions and case studies showing examples of recently completed work.

This targeted and regular email marketing activity resulting in the company being able to pick and choose which projects they wanted to work on and tender accordingly. With at least two marketing emails being broadcast each month, the result was a ‘better-paying’ customer, a full order book and increased profit.

Finding your USP
As you can see, the common thread relating to each of these examples is dedication, accuracy of data, showing an interest in working with these new customers, building, and maintaining relationships, then keeping in contact until a tender proves successful.

Then, when a tender has been won, it’s all about good project management, record-keeping, taking evidential photographs, ensuring variations are recorded, quoted, and approved by the authorised person before extra work is carried out. In the event of possible delays and problems, that the right people are notified with records of events kept safely.

Each of the businesses discussed here has a clear understanding of what makes their customers return time and again. The building company dedicated to care homes has completed so many projects they are able to anticipate problems and overcome them through knowledge and experience. This helps them deliver their USPs of speed, cost efficiency and quality.

Likewise, the glazing business knows what their customers want and use their skills to consistently deliver this.

How does the retailer do it?
Finally, to go back to the Primark example, it’s found that selling exclusively instore, not spending money on traditional TV or print advertising, and leaving its loyal customers to promote Primark products on personal social media channels – Primark’s Instagram account has about 9m followers – has all contributed to delivering their USP of quality products at the cheapest prices.

Can you identify your benefits – the reasons customers buy from you? Are there things you regularly come across in your projects that mean you can deliver high quality work faster? Or do you have a particularly efficient way of working that, through repetition, can make you different and increase your profits?

All these are questions we can help you answer and once you and your team have a clear understanding of your strengths, we can help you differentiate features and benefits, enabling you to then embark on your own targeted sales campaigns.

If you’d like to find out more about how we can help you with your own sales programme and e-mail marketing, or, would like assistance with any other aspect of your marketing, then as ever, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.
01773 712116
Barry Ashmore is managing director
and co-founder of

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