Ask Danny: Finding a new window supplier

“I am a small/medium builder and home improver in Warwickshire. I buy around 600 frames a year and doors from my local trade fabricator. But they have messed up for the last time and I am looking for another supplier. What are my options? “

– JB, Warwickshire

You have the world at your feet JB! In the UK there are around two and a half thousand trade fabricators, most of whom will sell their old mum for your business. It’s very competitive out there and installers are now regarded as VIPs.

You have a huge choice, especially within the 100 miles radius that I believe is a reasonable catchment area to draw from. I know that many fabricators offer a national service but a couple of hours delivery time is the most you should expect. On the odd occasion you have to remake, it would be nice to get the window whilst you are still on site. If it’s coming from the other end of the country, that gets more complicated and limits the fabricator’s willingness to send out a van just for one frame!

Another question is ‘How important is the system you install?’ If you are committed to a specific window system because you like its qualities, image or something else about it, consider that there is no such thing as a bad window these days. And when was the last time you actually looked around at what’s available? Have a read of the dozen or so trade magazines out there (yep, Glass Times might be at the top of the pile (that OK Ed?) but there are others, which can be found of course by looking online. Check out the ads and actually, even pick up the phone to installers in another region and ask what they think of the system they use.

If you sell windows and doors only, an important factor is the literature and marketing back up the system supplier – and indeed the trade fabricator – provides to you, to help you secure business and grow!

The rest is common sense really: How long have they been in business, what do their financials look like, and take the tour…go an see what their premises and especially their production set up looks like (the more automation the better, generally). And thereafter, whatever deal you get, tie them down to a contract with proper performance benchmarks and how they will deal with the inevitable cock up. In my view that is the crucial factor, not how a supplier performs on a normal day.

Crucially, you are entering a partnership…don’t screw them down for everything; stay worthwhile to your supplier and they will – or should – climb mountains for you.

And lap up the adoration of being that elusive ‘New Customer’.

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