Peter Matthews, the BMF’s secretary, explains the finer points of renewables at the conference.

Sustainable event ticks all the boxes

Published:  28 April, 2010

Merchants have ‘reach’. It is easier for them to get directly to their customers than it is for the supplier, said George Matthews of Thermasol, one of the day’s speakers.

He encouraged merchants to capitalise on the fact that the renewables market was still in its infancy. "There is an opportunity to make margins before this sector becomes a commodity,” he stated. Mr Matthews warned delegates that the number of installers who were buying direct was a growing threat.

“Merchant knowledge is another advantage. Your customers don’t have it. So, if you can increase your staff’s knowledge, that will definitely help you,” he added. “Look at your customer database and identify those people who do not yet have their supply routes sorted out. Take those customers with you as you develop this market.”

Merchants should get back to working with their suppliers as true partners, Mr Matthews said. He urged delegates to ‘facilitate the enquiry'.

“Don’t just give your customer a supplier’s number or you will lose the sale. Youmake that phone call. Keep control of your sale,” said Mr Matthews.

Stewart Pierce, financial director of Parkers Building Supplies, deep in discussion with delegates on the day.

According to Chris Ingram of the Underfloor Heating Manufacturers’ Association (UFHMA), merchants who feel frustrated by a lack of help can contact his members who, he said, would willingly offer assistance and even training – provided that the merchant had the time and a venue. Phone support was also available and merchants should make use of this, he stated.

“There is no need to get a rep on your site,” he added. Like Mr Pateman and Mr Matthews, Mr Ingram was passionate to point out that merchant must not let this market slip through their fingers. The conference over-ran by nearly 45 minutes. Although many delegates had other meetings that day, they decided to remain till the end – testament, if any was needed, about how important the issue of whether or not to stock sustainable products will be.

It’s the hot ticket for 2010 and beyond.

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NMBS managing director, Chris Hayward and Alumasc managing director Paul Hetherington pause for a chat between the day’s presentations.

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