Recent research from worktop supplier Maxtop identified wonky walls, supply delays, poor quality materials and managing customer expectations as some of the biggest bugbears for installers. This has sparked calls for a more collaborative approach. Maxtop MD Stephen Moss (pictured) believes mandatory training on new products could help
The team at Sheridan Fabrications recently pointed out that retailers, kitchen designers and installers should all work together to ensure the best working relationships, high-quality products and appropriate training. They hope this will lead to fantastic customer experience and overcome the previously mentioned issues.
They stated that this is preferable to placing blame on others in the industry and creating an ‘us and them’ scenario. We wholeheartedly agree.
Suppliers and manufacturers should take more responsibility for ensuring the installers they work with have the right equipment – but that’s not to say it isn’t an industry-wide issue.
Everyone involved in the process, from the manufacturer to the templating team, needs to consider the equipment they’re using and if it will provide the best outcome. Manufacturers need to make sure they’re supplying all the correct information and equipment. Designers and installers should follow the advice. It really is that simple.
Delegates attending Maxtop’s free training sessions receive discount on installation kits, even though the equipment provided in the kits isn’t the only apparatus installers can use. For us, this is about ensuring installers have the chance to use the tools designed especially for the surface, as diamond blades are required for use on Maxtop Quartz surfaces.
Many new and innovative products are coming to the market now. These materials have different properties, benefits and methods of installation, so it’s very important that those in the industry know how to work with these new surfaces correctly, make the most of the benefits, and discuss the surface with customers properly.
Manufacturers need to recognise when they’re launching a product that’s structurally different from all others on the market and provide the training. The installers, designers and retailers that are willing to undertake the appropriate training and get an in-depth knowledge of the products are the ones that will reap the rewards.
It’s an industry-wide, collaborative effort and understanding that will really impact the industry.
It starts with research and conversations like this. As a manufacturer, we’ve started this conversation, but we’re certainly not the only ones with ideas on this. Manufacturers don’t need to be the starting point of this change just because they’re at the start of the production line. If a designer or installer has an issue, they should be heard by their suppliers. We need to take the thoughts, ideas and suggestions of everyone in the industry to improve how we work together and ensure the whole installation process is as seamless as possible.
When it comes to restrictions of worktops, both have responsibility here. The only issue is if the manufacturer doesn’t provide training.
For many manufacturing companies, it won’t be an easy problem to fix, as providing this training will require company changes, by freeing up time for planning and implementation. But it’s important for manufacturers and retailers to recognise this training as a business opportunity, to allow more people to understand the product and listen to customers’ questions and opinions.
Even as a young company, Maxtop Quartz has prioritised training early on, encouraging everyone, from installers to interior designers, to ‘have a go’ and get ‘hands-on’ with the product. The training benefits both Maxtop and its customers. With a delegate-focused approach, the courses mean everyone involved in the selection and installation process knows the ins and outs of the surface.
When dealing with new products that are different from the ones each installer or designer is used to working with, then training is the best way to work well with the product. It would certainly be no bad thing for the end customer if this kind of training were mandatory.
Long production times are certainly not inevitable. With products like Maxtop Quartz you can get the quality and benefits of standard quartz without the long wait, as the surface is supplied straight from stock to site.
With other products like standard quartz and granite, production times will be longer purely because the surface is made bespoke to each order, so you have to wait for it to be manufactured from scratch. The best way to keep this time to a minimum is to work collaboratively with all suppliers involved in the project and make all deadlines clear.
Though poor planning can obviously impact this, the long production times are down to the process itself. Granite and quartz create a fantastic finish, but obviously lengthen waiting time, especially if the order is not 100% correct.
These delays aren’t always because of the production line either, as waiting for other suppliers and fitters can also make a difference – this is where clear communication and planning are key.
When it comes to managing consumer expectations, honesty is the best policy. It’s not about talking about delays, though – it’s about providing a realistic time frame so the customer knows what to expect from the beginning.
Sending out designs and templates for feedback and technical advice before a product is ordered would definitely be a step in the right direction. It’d also be a great way for installers to ask any questions before they start the installation, although there’s the chance that this could add more time to the production process.