I have long believed that any company wishing to succeed, whether it is a new start-up or a long-established, well-known company, it must provide great service. Of course, the right products are important; price is vitally important, especially in the construction industry, but what pulls all this together is great service.
You can have the best products in the world, at the best prices, but if you cannot get these to your customers in a timely manner, convenient to them, rather than you, the business will eventually fail.
Moreover, an even greater service a company can offer is to help its clients to help themselves. I believe online software tools are the way in which we can help clients to do that. Ideally, a good quality online tool should not even increase the work or tasks the client must perform in order to get an answer. The same process that a client must go through to send an enquiry to our technical department can be done online, though now with instant results rather than waiting for a response.
Online software solutions
We designed our QuantSpec online tool as an aide to anyone wishing to do a quick quantity estimate for an extension or other simple roof shapes. Aimed particularly at merchant counter staff, QuantSpec enables them to provide an instant quote for their customers walking in with a rough sketch of their project. Three years later, it has blossomed into a major tool that can provide assistance for many projects.
The tool also satisfies the merchant’s desire to ‘upsell’ by ensuring that every roofing component, not just the roofing tiles, is included in their quotation. Equally, the roofer can start the job safe in the knowledge that every component is on-site, ready for installation, thus reducing downtime in not having to go back to the merchant for missing materials.
It has long been the case that BS 5534: the British Standard code of practice for slating and tiling, required the number and type of roof tile fixings to be calculated for each roofing project, taking into account various local geographical and topographical factors. The method of calculating the necessary fixings for a project is relatively complex, with a considerable amount of information required to calculate the theoretical windload for any given building and location. In practice, this was rarely done until tile manufacturers were able to offer free fixing calculation design services. However, enquirers could be waiting several days for a fixing specification from a tile manufacturer’s technical office.
Wienerberger has responded to this by introducing the online FixSpec tool, which now means that enquirers can achieve instant results by inputting some simple information online, such as the site postcode, tile type, roof pitch, and building dimensions to generate a site-specific fixing. We recently updated this tool to ensure that enquirers rarely need to contact the office for the majority of their projects.
The third technical tool in Wienerberger’s online service offering is RoofSpec. This service is ideal for a client who wishes to produce bespoke specifications quickly. By asking a few simple questions, the software can produce an instant comprehensive specification. Anyone can use the service and, for registered users who log-on, the system will generate a bespoke RoofSpec guarantee certificate.
The great thing about RoofSpec on-line is that it has safeguards in place to prevent inappropriate specifications. For example, it will only allow the use of correct fittings, systems and accessories with each tile type, and will prevent the specification of a tile or slate for an unsuitable roof pitch.
The control of condensation within a building is extremely important, given the level of insulation and airtightness now required. RoofSpec ensures the correct amount of roofspace ventilation for the appropriate roof design and ceiling type, combined with air and vapour-permeable underlays; an issue that is still very confusing for many people, particularly with the bewildering number of vapour and air permeable underlays currently on the market.
Behind RoofSpec is a comprehensive development and testing regime to ensure that all roofing components and systems in a specification truly perform together correctly and durably to form a weathertight and long-lasting roof system.
All the tools discussed above and many more besides are freely available on the Wienerberger website at www.wienerberger.co.uk and provide great building blocks for future developments.