Date posted: 16th June 2018

Double glazing sales and how windows are sold

Should you trust a double glazing salesman?

Well that’s a question that can be answered, but not in one sentence.

A double glazing salesperson is often derided within the media and sometimes for good reason.  National double glazing firms employ commission only sales staff sometimes with minimal training on products as they largely supply just one or two ranges of windows.  The majority of the training given to commission only sales people from larger double glazing companies is focused on sales tactics, like how to counter objections, sell finance and close the sale on the night. This is why they will usually insist that both parties (if you are married or have a partner) are present at the sales call. The easiest objection from the consumer is “I can’t place an order until I have approval from my partner”, so this is why you both have to be on the sales call.

A salesperson who spends a great deal of time “rubbishing” their opposition, maybe doing so to justify their sky high prices. Double glazing products certainly can differ, there is a vast range of different profile systems available on the market, some are better than others, have more insulating chambers or are able to accept larger triple glazed units for instance. Locking mechanisms can vary especially on doors. Cheap euro-cylinders typically imported from the Far East can easily be snapped with a pair of mole-grips, whilst a decent lock can withstand multiple attempts to snap or drill them out.  Beware of the salesperson that tells you aluminium suffers from condensation or that timber rots, yes once again there are differences, a cheap softwood window will rot, whilst a softwood like Accoya can last for decades.  All products regardless of material come with guarantees and routine maintenance guidelines to ensure long service life.  Disregard anyone that tells you their products are maintenance free. It’s a term often used within our industry but the truth is no door or window is a totally maintenance free product. They will all require some form of cleaning, lubrication or adjustment at reasonable intervals during their lifecycle.

Pricing or getting a double-glazing quotation?

This is where you can see vast differences between firms. Many commission only sales staff, use age old tactics and start with a sky high price. As the sales call progresses the price starts to drop, to a “special one-off price than can never be repeated” If that does not work the next part of the sales process will be a call to their manager (this can often be the wife at home) The call will go something like this “I’ve reached the bottom of my allowed discount structure, if there anything you can do?” There will be a silent pause, after a while they will say “oh that’s good they will be delighted” and put the phone down. You may then be told they have managed to get some additional discount from another area or a different part of the budget. This however will be time limited and only available on the night. Putting even more pressure on you to sign there and then!

Sales-people can promise the earth.

Windows that are installed in render, will probably require re-rendering, most companies won’t include to decorate, the same can be said for the internal plaster work. To some degree a minor amount of re-decoration will be required and this is usually never included. Why? Because it’s impossible to source matching paint finishes or say twenty year old tiles running around the bathroom window. It is always possible that these can be dislodged when removing a window; they could be attached to blown plasterwork. A good company or sales person will warn of this at both the point of sale and this will be repeated again at survey stage.

What design should I choose for my windows?

Another thing to be wary of is what design of window the salesperson is recommending. They can often recommend very basic designs and suggest that you lose unnecessary opening windows to reduce costs. Whilst it is true that opening windows add to the cost, the aesthetics of the property should also be considered, changing windows to just large panes of glass can ruin the look of your property. So whilst openings may not be required, you need to consider what the final look of the property would be, with these changes. You should also consider the window types like flush casements, stormproof windows, sliding sashes. The ranges of windows and doors vary, a conventional uPVC window to say a Residence 9 window can have a huge variation in cost. Alumium and timber windows can also cost a lot more but in some cases, may need to be the material of choice.

Salespeople often believe certain responsibilities are down to the surveyor and many surveyors believe it is down to the salesman.  This conflict in who should finalise the specification can cause problems for the customer with some companies.  At KJM Windows and Conservatories we usually send both the surveyor and original salesperson to finalise the contract, this way anything that has not be covered by the sales team can be sorted with the surveyor before a contract is signed.

I would recommend that you ask these questions of any company before asking them to provide you with a double glazing quotation

  • How long have you been trading?
  • A follow up question to the one above, have the company ever been in administration or changed their name?
  • Do you have any recent customers that we could visit and look at a job similar to what we require?
  • Are your fitters employed or subcontractors? Subcontractor’s don’t necessarily mean a poor job will be the result.
  • What are your payment terms?
  • Are your sales-people commission only?
  • Are your windows, doors and conservatories manufactured in the UK?
  • Do you have a showroom?
  • What are you warranty terms and can I see a copy of your terms and conditions?
  • Are you a member of any trade bodies?
  • Do you have online feedback or customer satisfaction results?

In the early 80’s there were many small PVCu window manufacturers but over time this has diminished to very small numbers. This is because “super fabricators” as the double glazing industry calls them, set up in business to manufacture thousands of windows a week to supply companies like KJM.  The investment in machinery and the buying power of these companies meant we could buy in the same window system they were manufacturing for much less than it cost us to make it.  The machinery, premise, labour and factory overheads this did not make it viable for small to medium sized firms to continue making their own PVCu windows and doors.  In KJM’s case it also meant that when we were manufacturing, we only really wanted to sell what we made. Today, as there are so many specialist systems in the marketplace, its gives us a much greater choice to offer the consumer.  When we manufactured our own windows I did believe it was a marketing advantage that a company made their own windows, but this is no longer the case.

As long as the product quality is good and you are getting the product you want, there is little to fear about where your windows will come from.

Conclusion

Its often worth getting other quotations, never go for a sale on the evening, ask for a full written quotation first, to clarify exactly what's quoted for and what's not. Finally don't compromise on the designs of the windows and doors, you might just regret it.