Friday, 11 May 2012

We've moved!

Time moves on, and so did we, please visit our brand new internal blog here:

We hope to see you soon!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Our top tips for moving your business

Now we certainly are not a professional removals company, and the extent of our shipments around the UK thus far have been based around pallets, so this blog post isn't a definitive guide by experts in the know, however, if you want some real honest advice from the point of few of a group of novices who had to work all hours to move, then read on.

For the past few months we have been going through the painstaking process of relocating our whole business, imagine the stress of moving house then multiply that by 100, then add some more.. Essentially the opposite method to all business forecasting! 

We had to change everything, even thinking about how the staff get to and from work. Moving is never quite as easy as it seems!

Obviously we knew we couldn’t just waltz in and start working; the building was literally stripped of everything, it was a shell, it had nothing, not even electrics, so we had to get to work turning it into a habitable environment, effectively running two warehouses at once.

There were priorities into what we went ahead with first, like getting the electricity up and installing the alarm system, which weren’t too much hassle but you can’t get any insurance without one and you can’t get into the building without the other!

So here is your first top tip, and we guarantee you won’t see it anywhere else. If someone called the Meter registration board, or Commercial Energy rings up, claiming as a new tenant/owner you need to register your meter with them, don’t. They do not work for any energy companies and are simply trying to get you into long term energy contracts without even realising it!!

Our second priority was to get the other essentials sorted before we could actually move in, such as a telephone line and broadband, but also to lease a forklift to operate the warehouse. 

So here’s your second top tip! Do a lot of research into who you use for your telephone lines. BT has had to split into two parts, the actual lines company is now separate to the billing side, so there are now a lot of companies that can get you some excellent deals out there! However, be warned, always read the small print. These offers that look great often aren’t. Optimum Calls for example will tie you into a five year contract and the deals only last for one! When in doubt, ask an expert, we used Red Maple Consultants for our telephones, but then we did have to wire them in too!

Never to be defeated by the essentials, we actually drew up our expansion plan before we moved in, meaning everything we have set up is designed to be replaced or added to. Now that might sound a tad over the top, but in our business we know we won’t be able to contain our growth plans in the current building, or at least with the building in its current shape. 

So here’s you third top tip, after such a big move, we would rather expand on site than go elsewhere; so make sure you plan ahead! If you’re not sure of where you will be going next, it’s always still a good idea to plan how everything should be laid out in both the warehouse and the offices when you actually move in! There is nothing worse than not being able to fit!

Quite handily, the issue of not being able to fit leads us onto top tip number four; there is ALWAYS more to move than you expect! 

Our tiny office alone went from four crates of bits and bobs to twenty six in a very short space of time. We originally planned to move everything in one day via a 40ft arctic truck; however at the last minute we were offered a double deck arctic so decided it was better to have the extra capacity if necessary! That turned out to be the right idea, we worked constantly in both warehouses for 16 hours and only just managed the move. The moral of the story here is; get the biggest truck you can!

So finally we are in, and we still haven’t managed to unpack properly! For those of you that would like to visit us the address is: Unit 4B, Admiral Point, Spectrum Business Park, Seaham, County Durham SR7 7PP, but please give us prior warning as we might need to clear you a path to the coffee!

So there you have it, four top tips and some photos to boot, well except we have one tip more. Leave time to unpack too! It’s all very well leaving your old life behind you, but you still need to operate out of the new one! So don’t do what we did and move on a Sunday!

Monday, 6 June 2011

What women want... K&B News June 2011

I recently finished the arduous process of designing a new brochure, potentially one of the most important tools manufacturers have to influence the sales process.

Throughout this process I have learnt many things, but none has struck me as much as how the industry seems to be selling to the wrong people. Why are the majority of brochures designed with only men in mind?

Admittedly this might seem a strange question at first. In an industry where males greatly outnumber their female counterparts it is only natural that brochures would be presented from the male viewpoint.

From a male perspective, the artistic design of a brochure is often thought to be the key to sales, yet there are 
hundreds of brochures out there that don’t actually sell the product.

While artistic design is important, it must be tailored to the end customer, yet there is little evidence that manufacturers know who they are selling to. Why design a brochure for men, when the key decision maker is often female?

With our latest brochure I have decided to try to ignore the examples of the past, to ignore the standard A4 glossy 
brochure and start afresh to see if a brochure could be produced that was solely designed to attract the fairer sex.

Unfortunately, as a man I have a limited insight into the finer workings of the female mind. In order to design an effective brochure we must therefore attempt to imagine how women would approach the process of purchasing a bathroom.

Imagine for a second a man wants to buy a new car. The sales process is quite simple, he first buys a car magazine and reads about the supercars cars, then he goes to the car dealer and gets in the most beautiful car there (which coincidentally is usually the most expensive). After a short while he consoles himself with the fact he cannot afford it and then finally moves on to the car he can afford.

So as men we can only presume women who want to buy a new bathroom follow a very similar process. First she buys a home magazine and reads about the nicest bathrooms, then she goes to the bathroom shop and looks longingly at the most beautiful bathroom there (which coincidentally is usually the most expensive). After a short while she consoles herself with the fact that she cannot afford it, and then finally moves on to the bathroom she can afford.

So what can be learnt from this? Essentially everyone looks for inspiration first, with this inspiration coming not from the cheapest products, but from the best.

In recent years the “Ikea effect” of inspiration through the lifestyle shot has found its way into our brochures, and while this is a good thing for sales in general, as an industry we fail to understand the reason for this. Ultimately we feel it is to show off what we offer and as a result products become lost within a sea of surrounding alternate sizes or colours. Lifestyle shots should be used to inspire, yet as men, we fail to understand the importance of inspiration in a woman’s purchasing decision.

The problem lies in the simple fact that men and women react very differently to inspiration. Men can be inspired to buy a bathroom, but if they can’t afford it they could equally be inspired to buy a cheaper completely different one. Yet with a woman, the entire future purchase is guided by that initial flash of inspiration, if they cannot afford the original bathroom they will seek to replicate it at a lower cost. This is illustrated perfectly by the alternate approaches men and women take to the normal weekly shop.

When shopping for groceries, a man starts at the front door with vegetables, finishing the shop at the back of the store in the wine section. This is a logical process, usually involving matching product choices to a budget wholly inspired by the need to eat.

But a woman although having the same ultimate goal to eat for a week shops completely differently. When women shop for food, they shop with meals in mind, generally inspired by magazines or TV programs. She will spend the most on the main ingredients of each meal, and compromises on the supporting bits in order to be able to afford it. It is also important to note that as a result of focusing on meals, women often miss the little things like snacks, they essentially get distracted by achieving the end meals they have already decided upon.

Men shop to solve a problem, give them a budget and they will most likely fit the task to the budget. Relate this to bathrooms, and if they are spending £10k on a bathroom they will most likely spread that evenly around the room.

Women on the other hand, will shop with an end idea inspired by the home magazine in mind, picking one or two products they like, for example a shower or a bath and then allocate the remaining budget across the rest of the room.

It is therefore our job as manufacturers to inspire women with our brochures from the outset, to establish our products as the focal point of their bathroom. If we do this, they will build their bathroom around us.

The key to a decent brochure is not to inform the plumber, but to inspire every woman. Remove all the useless product variant shots, put in the nice quote, evoke those flashes of inspiration and a woman will compromise on everyone else’s products to get yours.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Did you know we do tiles?!

As Dovcor grows, we are starting to add new products to our range and this less than wordy blog is here to show you 3 brand new additions to the Dovcor brand, only a tiny part of our tile ranges!

For a long time, the idea behind Dovcor has been to provide a whole bathroom, not just some unique furniture, or the odd bath... if you are going to bath in luxury, you need the whole bathroom to be right.. but equally from a business point of view (and a green one too!) if we are delivering a unit 300 miles away, surely its more economical to deliver some tiles, taps and a bath too..

So over the past few months we have been working away to bring you the best quality tiles, at some very competitive prices.. we even created some that had Swarovski Crystals in (see below)

The beauty of the Swarovski Crystal tile is quite literally that it sparkles against the black background. Even in this low res format, these tiles offset the Curved White Gloss Moreno unit perfectly! (with a bit of a hand from some lovely white tiles too).

But not everyone can afford to have Crystal in their bathroom, so to inject some normality into a bathroom we have an Autumn Slate tile that goes perfectly with our White Gloss Tolima Unit! Everyone knows how versatile white is as a colour, but this slate look is truly stunning and makes the unit stand out without the need for the contrasts in colour seen above!

Of course, to date, beige has become a winner in the tiles sales stakes, being the number one tile (next to white), but we didn't want to bring in any old beige tile! This Earthstone tile is available in three shades and with a matt or polished effect. Its not a stand out tile like the slate or the crystal, but thats where its charm lies, the ability to portray a warm home like feel, while making the furniture stand out as being different.

Pretty soon we will be adding more photos of our unique tiles to the website, but heres a few more for you to look at while you wait!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Is branding just a sales tool?

Have you ever noticed that people prefer to buy a bottom of the range 3 series rather than a top of the range focus? As much as people deny it, image matters..

Image is so important..when your building a brand it affects everything you do as a company..ultimately with a brand, in the customers eyes 2+2 must equal 4..

As a brand we stand out because we're different, we innovate, and we're not afraid to try something new..but so many people fail to understand that its not just the obvious things like a brochure that need to match your brand.. its everything, right down to the clothes you wear and the cars you drive... if your brand says your different.. so must everything you do.

I never fully understood that when I started out, I thought if you had the best products at the best prices then you would succeed regardless.. with the benefit of hindsight I can't stress enough how vitally important reaffirming your image at every stage is..if you sell designer bathrooms, you need to look like a designer.

So many organisations have a brand image these days that is presented to the customer initially, but isn't replicated in their after care service, or in how they deal with their own staff. In order to ensure that our brand image is addressed right throughout the company, I have started to split Dovcor up into four component parts, linked by a central communication system.

We now have operations, design, sales and branding departments, run by their own managers. Thanks to our new central communication system, each department could theoretically operate anywhere in the world and still maintain the same level of communication as if they were in the same office.

You will notice there isn't a sales and marketing department in this set up. While a well thought out marketing strategy is vital to a successful sales drive, personally I believe a true salesman is good at sales, not necessarily designing a brochure and creating a brand. Maybe the reason branding often never filters from sales through to the rest of the company is because it is created by a sales department for sales reasons, preventing the rest of the company to really take ownership of it.

I think in the past, too many companies have seen branding as a way of enhancing current sales, rather than as a mechanism to define an organisation as a whole.

By putting the branding into the hands of someone else, branding becomes a tool for the sales team to use just as before, but as a tool in its own right, it can be applied to other departments as well.

The key to successfully applying a brand to the organisation therefore becomes an issue of communication, not an issue of ownership.