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INDUSTRYNEWS


CONSERVATORIES: STILL PLENTY OF OPPORTUNITIES


No-one can deny the fall in demand in the conservatory market in the past couple of years. But that makes it even more important to seek out all the positives in a changing situation.


Unstable house prices, rising inflation and potential interest rate hikes mean more homeowners are staying put – at least for now. So they are more likely to be extending and improving their existing house rather than moving on.


Adding a conservatory (or indeed, an orangery) is an excellent home improvement by providing extra space and light, a versatile additional room, better access to the garden –and adding to the re- sale value to the property.


But to fulfill all that, it must be a job well done. And as many of today’s demanding consumers are aware, this is a highly competitive market, so they will be looking for the best possible package.


Increasingly, homeowners want to see companies with proven accreditation to a reputable trade body or bodies; good guarantees, testimonials from


satisfied customers; a good choice of designs and materials, help in deciding the style appropriate for the house -young homeowners with a modern home will probably want a sharp, contemporary edge and maybe some colour, rather than the traditional style. But a very modern extension may look disastrous on a period style property. Britain’s housing stock varies enormously so a wide choice and good advice is key. Fortunately, that choice is today better than ever before, in designs, materials, finishing touches.


You should be prepared to advise on heating


and ventilation, security, blinds, flooring; they will expect sound guidance on all aspects of the job; assurances of quality, safety, durability and green credentials of products used; they are entitled to expect a high standard of workmanship, detailed quotations with no ‘hidden extras’, clear, unambiguous contract terms and conditions, prompt delivery and installation timetable, progress report, attention to detail AND good after-sales.


Phew. It’s a lot to ask. But remember, such installations represent a substantial investment for


the homeowner. And for the trade, every job well done is a potential opportunity for more business - recommendations, to use testimonials and photographs in promoting more sales. In other words, a positive outcome for everyone.


Last but not least, the market for upgrading


or replacing existing conservatories is a healthy and growing one and certainly a route worth considering for any forward-looking business looking to diversify. But more of this on other pages in this special feature.


CONSERVATORY OUTLET DEFIES ONLINE


DOWNTURN IN CUSTOMER ENQUIRIES On average, members of the of the Conservatory Outlet network received 179% more internet leads than last year, with one regional installer recording a 344% improvement.


Conservatory Outlet dealers experienced an unprecedented increase in the number of online enquiries for their products in January and February 2011 compared to the same time last year, despite reports that overall internet leads for conservatories were down by more than a quarter.


On average, members of the of the Conservatory Outlet network received 179% more internet leads than last year, with one regional installer recording a 344% improvement.


These results have been achieved during a time when internet searches for the phrases ‘conservatory’ and ‘conservatories’ have declined, as well as online enquiries for these products which are reported to have fallen by 27% in just 12 months.


Matthew Glover, Conservatory Outlet MD, attributes this success to a series of website re- designs that have taken place across the network in recent months, as well as the continual investment to maintain and improve search engine rankings.


‘Despite the slump in online traffic and enquiries relevant to our industry, the internet remains the most fruitful source of leads for installers and retailers, if used correctly.’


But what worked last year may not necessarily


work today because the internet is such a rapidly changing medium, which is why were constantly updating, improving and adding to what we already have in place to generate leads for our installer-customers.’


One such addition has been a new consumer orientated site, www.doubleglazingoutlet. co.uk, which majors on Conservatory Outlet’s comprehensive double glazing window and door offering, and also features triple glazing.


‘We felt that a separate website showcasing windows and doors more prominently would enable us to capture a bigger proportion of online enquiries for these products, and increase homeowner awareness of triple glazing.’


‘Double glazing’ is such a commonly used term in the UK and many people from outside


the industry may not know of the availability of triple glazed windows and doors’.


What’s more, our dealers now regularly receive leads from three online sources; the main Conservatory Outlet website, their own bespoke website and the new doubleglazingoutlet.co.uk.’


Readers can view the new website by visiting www.doubleglazingoutlet.co.uk, and learn more about Conservatory Outlet at www.conservatoryoutletdealers.co.uk.


‘Today’s demanding consumers are looking for the best possible package’


26 « Clearview NMS « April 2011 « www.clearview-uk.com


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