The meaning of value

The meaning of value

Merchants have always had a valuable role to play in the plumbing and heating industry. Debbie-Sue Price looks at why Graham has decided to completely re-invent the way it rewards its loyal customers with the launch of The Plumbers’ Club.
There are many factors that contribute toward making a good merchant. Availability and immediacy of product will always be high on the agenda as is the need for knowledgeable, un-biased advice when it comes to which product is best for the job at hand. Whatever the reason cited, it is underpinned by one essential aim – to make the customer’s life easier.
Anyone who deals regularly with a merchant will know that how this is achieved is changing all the time. Who would have thought five years ago that social media and e-trade would have had such an impact on our daily business? It just serves to demonstrate that the relationship between an installer and plumbers’ merchant doesn’t simply revolve around what goes on in the branch and over the counter.
Loyalty schemes are an ideal example of how times are changing. The majority of installers would have probably experienced a reward scheme before –  whether it was because they opted into it or because a purchase automatically set them up for rewards and they thought ‘why not?’.
However, what often happens is that the rewards are perceived as so minimal, it seems more trouble than it is worth to take advantage and busy installers don’t want to spend time chasing them down when there is business to secure and jobs to complete.
At Graham, we felt that loyalty schemes should work a lot harder, and we decided to embark on a project to look at what installers really wanted. We held a number of one on one customer interviews and engaged with our branch staff at a local level to understand what was perceived as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ about traditional loyalty schemes and, in fact, if they were required at all.
Customer Feedback
The feedback from customers was both invaluable and honest and it was clear that although they did use loyalty schemes – there was a lot they felt could be improved. This research was absolutely crucial and it meant that we could respond with the launch of The Plumbers’ Club.
Fundamentally, it’s about adding real value – and understanding what ‘value’ means will differ from customer to customer. Therefore, once registered in The Plumbers’ Club, installers can take advantage of a wide range of real benefits and rewards specifically tailored to them. This is why the information given at the point of registration is so important as it means members actually gain the type of benefits that they personally want.
For example, if an installer completes the short questionnaire and states that he or she enjoys motor sports, then one of the offers tailored to that installer could include motor sports. If someone else states that they are a film fan – then regular cinema tickets might be the most useful reward for them.
Furthermore, what makes this new type of loyalty scheme unique is the fact that the package has been developed with both the business and the individual in mind – with members gaining access to a range of commercial offers as well as the more traditional high street rewards.
A merchant’s primary function is to support its customer, and, in today’s tough economic climate, it must help them to become more profitable and productive, knowledgeable, and secure more business.
Today it is incredibly important to do whatever you can to improve your business, make savings and increase profit. Therefore, a modern loyalty scheme should work harder for the installer, providing a better balance between rewards that can benefit them and their families as well as advantages that really help their business.
[box type=”success” align=”alignleft” width=”500″ ] To have a real impact on an installer’s business, Graham developed relationships with specific key partners. Among them are ways to help installers get paid on time and using credit, debit and Paypal accounts with PayPal Here, special subscriptions rates with CIPHE, discounts on MCS renewable membership, training, ‘corporate’ rates for commercial vehicle leasing, Public Liability insurance via the NICEIC, and discounted line rentals with O2. Customers can now get up to 2% on all sales at Graham and over £500 annual savings on business essentials. In addition, customers can also take advantage of a 7% instant discount on high street shopping at thousands of outlets including Argos, Boots, Halfords and Toys R Us. The Plumbers’ Club offers are available online, with some exclusive offers that are only available for a limited period of time, so members need to ensure they regularly check the website. [/box]