Focusing on the ever-changing needs of your customers will keep them coming back through your doors. So say Flexseal’s Ricky Hasprey and Ben Beatson, who tell PBM about the ways in which the company is working with merchants to make life easier for the end-user.
With the civils and drainage market coming into focus for increasing numbers of merchants, the competitive outlook for the sector looks to intensify. Indeed, more nationals and independents than ever before are all fighting for dominant positions and ways to differentiate themselves within the market.
Accordingly, making life easier for contractors and saving them time and money will be key drivers for merchants to succeed in establishing and maintaining market dominance. And understanding and reacting to the changing wants and needs of contractors is an area that Flexseal says it excels in.
Ricky Hasprey, the manufacturer’s National Sales Manager, comments: “We’re a 30 year old company which has been serving the civils and drainage sector from day one. Although our product portfolio has expanded massively, the ways in which we go about identifying new product opportunities remains the same at its core. We’re in constant contact with end-users at all levels from civils engineers to groundworkers, and we’re always open to feedback — both positive and negative.”
Interestingly, Ricky argues that the latter has been especially important in terms of product development or refining existing designs. “It’s the negative feedback which drives change at Flexseal and almost all our innovations are a result of either negative feedback or on-site problems.”
Similarly, Flexseal says that the benefits of a product designed with the end-user in mind can significantly outweigh competitive like-for-like material pricing — if the point is communicated effectively. For example, a product that significantly reduces installation time offers contractors far greater value in practice than a few percent cost-saving on traditional materials.
To help merchants maintain a competitive edge in servicing their civils customers, Flexseal has compiled a list of key products to put forward to those working on drainage projects:
Lateral Connection Saddles
When connecting lateral (or branch) pipes into main systems from houses or road gullies etc, the go-to methods involve a pipe junction of some sort. Installing these into existing systems involves removing a section of pipe and replacing with the junction. Doing this, from excavation right through to backfilling, is a time consuming and costly process.
Switching a junction for a Flexseal Saddle achieves the same end result but the product has been designed to streamline the whole installation process, offering the following process benefits to an end-user:
- Reduced excavation time as only the top section of the pipe needs to be excavated.
- Eliminates need to cut and lift out a section of pipe — this is replaced with a core hole cutting in the top of the pipe which takes a fraction of the time.
- The pipe remains undisturbed, so time tampering pipe bedding is eliminated.
- One Saddle fits multiple size pipes and in some cases all sizes. Junctions are pipe size specific.
- When using a Flexseal Saddle, the Saddle is the only product needed to make the connection, most junctions require couplings to connect onto cut plain ended pipe.
- More flexibility in the position/angle of the lateral pipe.
Icon ‘internal’ couplings
Unearthing unexpected problems after excavation is all too common for most contractors. One of the most common problem scenarios includes drainage system pipes that have previously been encased in concrete.
When a connection onto one of these pipes is required, the previous solution was simply to chip away the hard surrounding concrete and make the connection using a traditional coupling. Icon Couplings, however, have been designed to quickly connect pipes that have been encased in concrete and the product allows the method of making the connection to change by eliminating the need to carefully chip away the concrete backfill.
The new method requires the concrete and pipe to be cut flush using a Stihl Saw to expose the plain ended pipe, and connected onto using an Icon ‘internal’ Coupling and new pipe. For the end-user, this will:
- Eliminate the need to expose external surface of the pipe and thus significantly reducing connection time.
- Ensure that problem pipes have less impact on overall project timing and budget.
There is often uncertainty when excavating drainage pipes as to precisely what pipe material will be unearthed. When connecting onto an existing 4” pipe using a Standard Coupling, various bushes will be required depending on what pipe materials are to be connected.
For example, a 6” Clay to PVC connection would require an SC200 and BC12/166, a 6” Clay to GRP would require an SC200 and BC06/178 and so on. With Flexseal Multibush, all 6” pipe materials can be connected in any configuration using only SC200 and MB150. MB100 is also available for 4” pipes to be used with SC137. End-user process benefits include the following:
- Contractor stock management is streamlined.
- Provides a universal solution, regardless of what pipe material is excavated.
- Get the job done ‘there and then’ rather than sourcing specific bushes.
Emphasising its strategy of finding new product opportunities that are designed around the end-users wants and needs, Flexseal’s Product Development Manager Ben Beatson said: “Our motto of ‘always adding value’ runs through the culture of our business. We have multiple teams interacting with customers at all levels every day, from our sales teams, technical, project support and more, all collecting feedback and insights to help us bring new products and services to market.”
Ben continued: “We look at how we can make the life of our end-user customers easier – and how we can support our merchant partners with new opportunities to sell more.”
To support its merchant partners with insights and techniques to add value to end-users, Flexseal can offer free access to its new training platform — the Flexseal Academy. The platform includes more information on the products mentioned above as well as a multitude of other products and services available from the civils and drainage specialist. Merchants can apply for a free account online at academy.flexseal.co.uk