Image Above: Hayley Barker
Hayley Barker, head of marketing at Hurst Doors explains how it’s helping its customers to win and convert more business despite tougher trading conditions.
Retail leads may have dropped in 2023 but those that exist are better quality and the homeowners who are making them are serious about spending.
According to industry figures, installers are converting almost 44% of enquiries (Business Pilot Barometer August), its simply that there are fewer of them.
With the current economic headwinds likely to be with us for some time to come, this appears to set the scene for the run into the close of this year, and the first half of 2024, at the very least – fewer leads but higher quality ones.
“Things are a little sluggish out there”, says Hayley Barker, head of marketing at Hurst Doors. “Inflation is falling but still high, and the housing market has slowed.
“Many homeowners are feeling the pinch and we’re fishing in a smaller pool – at least for the time being. The flip side is people who are still enquiring are largely insulated from the effects of inflation and serious about purchasing.
“The difference is that they’re approaching that purchase differently. It’s a design choice, they’re doing more research and have a new expectation of the sales process.
“People want to be able to express a far more individual style. They don’t want to be sold to. They want the tools at their disposal to help make an informed decision about choosing the right door for them and their property, a sales experience that guides and provides all the information they need rather than a cold hard sell.
“That’s what we’re working to help our customers to deliver.”
Cue Hurst’s new composite door retail sales support package. While Hurst may have built its reputation on PVC-U panel supply, it manufacturers and ships 500 composite doors each week alongside 3,500 door panels, and has big ambitions for the future.
To power its growth, Hurst is not only investing in new machinery and equipment but also a next-generation customer support package.
This includes the launch of its new collection, which integrates ‘traditional’ printed literature with video – and ultimately new digital tools, opening up a completely new level of dialogue with the end-user.
It’s built around the ‘You’re Home With Hurst’ composite door brochure. This is in a sense what you would expect – a well-structured brochure, which walks homeowners through the technical performance, colour and finish options available in the Hurst Composite Door Collection.
What makes it stand out in the first instance is image quality. The product of major investment and an 18-month programme, Hurst has invested big in high-end and highly aspirational lifestyle imagery.
“We wanted to create content which really helps the end-user to imagine what their home could look like, giving them design inspiration, not only technical detail”, explains Hayley.
Hurst takes this to a new dimension with its integration of professionally created product presenter videos. Key sections within the brochure feature QR codes. Homeowners scan them with their phone camera and it links through to a video.
With high production quality, the films take retail prospects through options and considerations in more detail, including design, colour, hardware and glass choices, from Hurst’s expansive glass offer.
“It’s about helping the end-user to make a design choice that reflects their personal taste and which complements their home”, Hayley explains.
“Using video in addition to the brochure brings an added dimension to the sales process, helping to inform and educate and help people understand what they’re buying from a technical perspective but also depth of choice available to them.
“It’s a little bit like having an additional salesperson in your team. The professional presenters explain in very clear terms the options available to homeowners and walk them through the sales process.”
Hurst also has plans to expand on this offer further with the launch of a new cutting-edge augmented reality digital sales tool, scheduled for later this year.
Hurst’s composite door range includes four distinct collections. The Hurst Classic Collection, is the mainstay of its offer. “Offering numerous traditional styles it now includes the new Composite Two Thirds” Hayley explains. “With its large glazed panel, it allows lots of natural light and Hurst are expecting this new door style to prove extremely popular”.
The Hurst Cottage Collection is designed to replicate traditional timber installations with a more rustic tongue-and-groove appearance. Homeowners looking for a more modern finish can choose from either the Contemporary Collection or the new Designer Collection.
Developed to emulate the appearance of aluminium the Designer Collection has been carefully curated by Hurst to support its customers in tapping into the demand for the aluminium aesthetic, but at a more accessible price point.
It features four different styles, including solid and glazed options, which Hurst has paired with a contemporary and carefully selected colour palette, maximising design reach, with a choice of flat colour finishes in greys and black, plus Hurst’s wider colour offer.
“The range emulates aluminium finishes”, Hayley explains. “We’re also matching it with a contemporary range of glass options, for example minimalist etched finishes, which contribute to a very clean simple and ultimately contemporary aesthetic, creating an opportunity to up-sell a complete offer to the end-user.”
To underpin its growth strategy Hurst announced significant investment in its composite door manufacturing capability in the summer, with the addition of a new beam saw and two edge-banders to its state-of-the-art facility.
The new beam saw moves door cutting-to-size to a dedicated process, freeing up capacity across Hurst’s three pre-existing CNCs, also reducing wear and tear on parts.
The two new automated edge-banders, further improve quality and support product development including the addition of the SFS Dynamic 2D-C Hinge, to Hurst’s composite door ranges.
“We’re building for growth. We have a great manufacturing facility, lots of expertise and a core cultural understanding of what people want from their trade composite or panel manufacturer”, says Hayley.
“Building on this heritage, we’re providing an even more extensive customer support package, to make sure that Hurst installers have the tools and resources that they need to maximise conversions.”