Service matters as much as product when it comes to suppliers, and sometimes that means serving a remodeler’s customer directly as well as serving the remodeler.
"We want our name to be synonymous with service," says Betsy Sikes, the new national showroom coordinator for Hughes Supply Inc., a $3.3 billion wholesaler of plumbing, construction and infrastructure materials based in Orlando, Fla. "We want to take the hassle factor away from remodelers. We wait on customers from day one through the remodel. We protect their prices for as long as we can, we tag and hold their product, help with installation if they need it. And we keep the file and handle all the warranty issues."
As manager of Hughes’ Charlotte, N.C., BathStyle showrooms, Sikes implemented a service program that took over responsibility for bath product selection from remodelers who steered their clients to BathStyle. Once the selection is complete, BathStyle sells the product to the contractor - and only to the contractor - at wholesale prices, allowing the contractor to mark it up for what might be the easiest profit in the project.
"The BathStyle people know the products really well," says Damen Rumsch, owner of Coral Construction, a Charlotte remodeling firm. "They’ll do the research to get something out of the ordinary for my clients, and they are great with delivering on schedule."
He also appreciates the backup he receives if problems arise with the product. "The general service support makes a big difference," he says. "If I have a problem, they’ll go to bat for me. They’re able to reach the manufacturer’s rep quickly."
Although this concept is unique to Hughes’ Charlotte showrooms now, Sikes expects to standardize it across the company’s 41 showrooms as much as possible.