From hairdresser to cement big wig

on 13 February, 2017

Hairdressing and construction are two industries you wouldn’t usually put together in the same sentence. Yet, the skills I developed as a hair stylist has led me to become an established construction industry professional.

In this blog, I am going to share the secrets behind my growth within the industry and what builders’ merchants can do to increase their customer loyalty and sales.

After leaving education, I began working in a hair salon, increasing a part-time role to a full-time role. Like many, I was unsure of what career path to take, but with a natural ability to build a strong rapport with customers, I craved a position that brought fresh, exciting challenges.

Starting my career at CEMEX in 2007, I worked in London Concrete’s sales team. Alongside this role, I studied concrete, cement and aggregates at the University of Derby in 2011, and then joined Hope Cement in 2013.

During my different roles and time at university, I developed a thorough understanding of construction methods and site practices, which enabled me to effectively resolve issues and provide solutions to building industry problems.

But what can builders’ merchants learn from my story?

I always put my customers first by being one step ahead of them to make their jobs easier.

Believe in the products you’re selling

To successfully sell products and increase customer satisfaction, you need to believe in your products and ensure that they are the best available on the market.

Hope Cement launched a new range of bagged construction products last summer, featuring 11 key products including Professional Grade Cement, Rapid Set Post Mix Concrete, C40 High Strength Concrete and Kiln Dried Sand. The launch of the range followed 18 months of research and development, which saw us interview hundreds of builders’ merchants and professional builders to understand what really matters to them.

It resulted in our full product range being packed in weatherproof plastic packaging, which ensures better durability in transit and storage, in turn, increasing the overall product shelf life and improving inventory management options for stockists.

Added to this, Professional Grade Cement, has a consistent cement colour, great workability, frost protection and a reduced bleed.

Create value for customers

The second key consideration to customer service success is careful supplier selection. Once you’ve selected the correct product range, you need to ensure the manufacturer meets your supply requirements. With nearly 10 years’ experience working alongside professional builders, I know that there are some challenges when it comes to construction materials supply, particularly reliability, availability and delivery.

My advice to them is to choose a construction materials supplier you can depend on and that puts your customer at the centre of everything they do.

Hope Cement is manufactured at Hope Works in Derbyshire, which operates 98.9% of the time. For builders’ merchants this means that our stock and supply won’t run out and we’ll ensure we can deliver time and time again.

The company uses a state-of-the-art packer, which is capable of packing over 200,000 tonnes of cement every year. That’s 1,300 bags (32.5 tonnes) every hour. Additionally, we can store 18,000 tonnes on-site, so we’ll always have 10 days of bagged cement and 15 days of bulk cement available.

Maximise your sales

As well as increasing customer loyalty, you’ll want to see an increase on your bottom line. Select a construction product supplier that has an extensive inventory of products across the UK. The wider the range, the greater the chance of you meeting your customer demands.

Point-of-sale material is extremely important, and good items will grab customer attention and be an additional touch point leading to a sale. One of the quickest, most efficient ways you can achieve this is by working closely with your construction product manufacturer to utilise your expertise and drill down into what’s going to appeal the most to your customers.

Last but not least, thank and reward your customers. A well-run promotion can increase a brand’s sales by up to 20%. At Hope Cement, we’ve launched an incentive scheme that rewards builders’ merchants and professional builders. Accessed through the company’s smartphone app, the loyalty scheme is the first of its kind, bringing a new approach to the market and driving traffic into merchants’ stores.

Elizabeth Richardson is sales and customer experience manager for packed products at Hope Cement (part of Breedon Group plc).

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