Owain Harrison, country manager, Novy explains why clear lines of communication and honesty are key to building successful relationships
It could be argued that specialist appliance brands like Novy have had a smoother time of late than our volume manufacturing counterparts because we have been able to react and respond quickly during the health emergency. For us, it has been imperative to ensure that our retail partners have received priority treatment in terms of customer service and we have rapidly turned around deliveries from time of order so that their relationships with their customers have not been disrupted by us.
During the first lockdown, as soon as projects went on hold and showrooms had to temporarily close, we took a positive stance to the outcome of the situation in business terms and we forecasted accordingly. We firmly believed that not only would installations start again very quickly when lockdown ended, but news-based research indicated that there would be increased demand for new kitchens, therefore new appliances in the near future. While studios were closed, most business owners kept their operations open so it was important to us to be able to help them both with orders and also with technical advice. None of our staff were furloughed so effective communication with our retail partners continued throughout lockdown and has done so since.
Many of the projects where our extraction appliances are specified involve kitchen designers, architects, interior designers and installers so we offer to provide high levels of technical service, often on-site, if needed. During the summer we focused on more virtual staff training to ensure that each member of the team had all the expertise required about our extraction, recirculation and vented downdraft induction appliances to impart to all parties, especially installers, when projects began again. When it was safe to do so we also started visiting our retail partners in their showrooms, and we helped with the installations of our display appliances too.
I believe that providing continued communication, being able to supply on time and endeavouring to go the extra mile for independent retailers has been the reason why our sales have increased and why we have taken on more display partners since lockdown ended. We also choose to treat our partners with honesty and respect as that engenders loyalty – and that is the most important part of a successful long-term working relationship.