Noting that it is often the fundamentals which can define a business partnership, specialist merchant DMR Roofing Centre says its relationship with Flex-R has thrived because of the “customer-first approach” taken by the respective teams. PBM reports.
Since opening in 2006, DMR Roofing Centre says it has always prioritised its people, whether that’s staff, customers, or suppliers. It starts with strong relationships and it was during its first few years of supplying councils, local contractors and house builders that the company began to explore its options for supplier partners.
During this time, the business had been through a period of ever-changing roofing suppliers. Sales Manager Sam Hellewell explained: “We had been having trouble with the trims we were selling, from quality to availability, and it was becoming unworkable. On top of this, we had difficulty getting in touch with reps and when you can’t pick up the phone to anyone you start to feel less of a priority.”
DMR Roofing Centre first made the move to Flex-R in 2013 and as the firm grew, so did its need for a broader product mix and stronger, and more reliable, communication from suppliers. This marked the point where Flex-R began to stand out from the crowd.
Sam said: “It was about two years ago that Rubber really started to come into the market for us. The demand was increasing, and it was clear we needed to expand our offering. We had been selling EPDM previously, but it hadn’t been in high demand until a few years ago. The majority of our contractor customers would still be using traditional methods like hot works, but the trend started to shift and so did we.”
In 2020 the company reached out to Flex-R to better understand its product range and the support offered by the team. Sam recalled: “We were impressed by the range on offer but it was the structure of support and communication which impressed us the most. It was a clear choice.”
The number one priority for Sam was being able to have a direct line to representatives for questions or updates. He said: “If one of the team or our customers are waiting for an order, I need to be able to call up and speak to someone. Flex-R is always at the end of the phone for this and any other customer queries and we really need this support as a company. At our size we’re running at maximum capacity, so having that helping hand is critical.”
Training and specification
Sam explained that this support is amplified by the team having access to specification experts: “When a customer comes in with an obscure roof or specification question that I’m not able to answer, I’ll call Flex-R and it will work through what’s needed and help deliver it to the customer.”
And when it comes to the product range, specifically RubberBond FleeceBack, having trained and knowledgeable staff is important to ensuring the product offer is maximised. Sam said: “We sent our sales staff up to Flex-R for a training course to ensure they were well versed in the product range. The training team also came to our warehouse to run sessions with some of the local roofers in our system.
“Feedback all around was positive. Our staff were more confident in selling the system and the roofers were more qualified in installing to standards.”
Training served a dual purpose for DMR Roofing Centre as aside from ensuring the products were specified and installed correctly, it acted as an effective way to retain customers. Sam noted: “We noticed that the roofers we sent off for the training course really valued the support on offer and were more likely to return as regular customers. For us, this was a huge bonus. It meant we added value to their skillset and ensured they got the products they needed. It was a win-win.”
Circumventing stock shortages
It would be easy to assume any merchant who consolidated suppliers in 2020 could be caught in a spiral of stock issues thanks to COVID and the resulting fallout, but according to Sam, this wasn’t the case for DMR Roofing Centre: “The team at Flex-R never stopped communicating with us. We knew we were being placed on allocation for product but that never left us short. If we had larger jobs coming up, we’d give them plenty of notice and likewise, when it was a last-minute request, they’d always help us out.”
Fundamental to making this work was treating the supplier relationship more as a partnership. Sam added: “Flex-R has really proved it is our partner over the past few years and helped us when we needed it. Getting us through stock shortages and growing our businesses has really cemented us as a team.”
It’s easy to assume the optimum supplier/merchant relationship is a commercial one where deals are strong and margins high, but in this transactional scenario it is easy to lose sight of what matters most — people — and the communication, trust and partnerships that drive long term business growth.