Published On: Wed, Apr 19th, 2017

Time to get on board with aluminium

Gareth Thomas, Sales and Marketing Director at Customade Group, doesn’t think aluminium has to be complicated

It’s encouraging that our recent political and economic upheaval doesn’t appear to have deterred UK homeowners from improving their properties with more than 50% of consumers planning a home improvement project this year. And with the latest report from mortgage lender Nationwide revealing that annual house prices have risen by 4.5%, it makes sense to invest in bricks and mortar.

Consumer demand for premium home improvements is growing – great news if you’re lucky enough to have customers with money to spend on luxury products like glazed extensions and aluminium windows and doors. Not so good if most of your customers are cash-squeezed and can’t afford those big-ticket items. A polarised market has led many installers operating in the saturated PVC-U arena to ask if they could secure greater profits by progressing to aluminium. Despite the higher profit margins of aluminium, it can be a daunting prospect for an experienced PVC-U installer to consider it. No one wants to get left behind in the marketplace but aluminium can seem a gamble, particularly as it has been plagued with a reputation for long lead times and complicated pricing structures. I’ve worked with hundreds of PVC-U installers over the years and I understand what they dislike about the aluminium supply chain. They always ask ‘why can’t aluminium fabricators turn around quotes quickly and offer the same lead times as PVC-u fabricators’?

Last year, we made a step-change for the industry with the launch of ‘REAL Aluminium’. Designed to help installers or retailers to enter the lucrative aluminium market with complete confidence, this exciting development made pricing, quoting and promoting aluminium easier than ever before and cut aluminium lead times to just two weeks. Many PVC-U installers want to diversify into the less competitive and fast growing market of aluminium but they just don’t know how it works. The message with REAL Aluminium is ‘don’t be afraid’!

The team behind REAL Aluminium is there to guide installers into the world of aluminium. We provide the installer with all the tools they need to promote and sell the most extensive range aluminium windows, doors and lantern roofs and we help them to use those tools effectively.

We provide a comprehensive and personalised marketing support package for installers, which includes the UK’s first retail brochure dedicated to the full range of aluminium. We also treat installers to one of our REAL Customer Days which gives them the chance to view the REAL range, see our impressive manufacturing capabilities and ask any questions about aluminium. These workshops have been a resounding success among our customers, helping them to increase their aluminium sales by an astonishing average of 281%. At our customer days, we help installers to understand how to sell aluminium as a lifestyle product to the homeowner. With homeowners potentially making a much greater investment with aluminium products that will make big impact changes to their homes, the pitch is not based on price but on product quality, aesthetics, performance and longevity.

Craftsmanship is another important element to consider. No homeowner wants the look of their sharp, clean aluminium frames spoilt by poor installation and we urge installers to ensure that their fitting teams have the skills to fit aluminium to avoid costly mistakes. We also advise on how to accurately survey to minimise the need for remakes. We do hold high stock levels of aluminium and this gives us greater flexibility to respond quickly if customers change or add to orders. And if replacements or re-makes are required, these can be turned around in just a week, compared to up to six weeks for competing systems. With REAL Aluminium, an installer can make an easy and seamless transition into aluminium and take advantage of the greater profit margins it brings. Our customer spend on aluminium – a 60% rise on last year – is proof that it is simple to make that leap.