My profile is that I am a 50 plus female who now works for an Independent company that up until 2 years ago I had very little knowledge of.

With the knowledge I now have of the Independent Company I looked at what was my previous perception of buying from an Independent company compared to a National company.

Even though cost is obviously a frequent reason for not moving forward on a project, I do not feel that you can look at cost alone as it works hand in hand with many other factors………

Below are a list of questions I would now be asking and the reason why………

Q. Do you feel that you trust the company you have selected and do you feel that the price you are being quoted is a fair price for the product / services required?

If I were the customer I would be looking for a Company that I trusted and felt comfortable with and who I felt were offering me a good service / price, without feeling that I was being over charged / ripped off.

It has always been the case with myself that I buy from the person and not the company. If the person that I am dealing with doesn’t sit comfortable with me then I will move on to another company, and it is highly lightly to be before cost has even been discussed.

If I felt I was being overcharged I would then start to lose some trust in the Company. This would then lead me to question and doubt a lot of what I was being offered & told thereafter. I feel that once the trust has been lost it is very difficult to win it back as this takes time. There is always someone else waiting in the wings – and you only get one bite at the apple.

Q. Are you feeling pressurized into increasing your budget, or is the company helping you to work within your budget and guiding you on where changes can be made?

Personally I feel that when dealing with an Independent company it is a far more personal experience compared to a National company, therefore the level of trust I would expect from an Independent company is far higher than when dealing with a National.

In my head National company prices are far more fixed with their prices and there is less room for manoeuvre, therefore other than the normal deal that is offered to everyone who walks through the door it is not personal to me. My view of an Independent company is the complete opposite – it is personal & personalised to me.

If I were working to a tight budget I would expect the potential company I was using to give me the best that I can possibly get within my budget in achieving my end goal, and to advise me where (if need be) reductions could be made without losing the final impact I’m looking for.

Q. Is it your belief that Independent companies are more expensive than National companies?

I always thought that Independent companies were more expensive than Nationals, a bit like the local village store is more expensive that the larger Tesco. I thought that a National company would be able to offer a cheaper price initially because like the large supermarkets they buy in bulk, which would make the product cheaper with the saving being passed on to the customer.

How wrong was I……. it was not until I worked in the industry that I realised that this was not the case and that you can go as cheap or expensive as your budget will allow, without affecting the quality of the products when you are working with an Independent company.

Q. Do you feel that you are “safer” when using a National Company rather than an Independent?

I have always felt that when customers work with a large National company they assume that they will get a stronger support team for aftersales, complaints, etc .for when things do not go as planned.

The normal things the customer will say to a National company when things don’t go to plan are along the lines of, “I want to talk to your Manager”, “I will contact your Head Office”,” etc……. the ability to be able to do this with a larger National company somehow makes the customer FEEL SAFER , a little like “safety in numbers”….……..

Whereas with an Independent company the customer knows very little about them and the “feeling safe” is lessened (unless it is repeat or recommended customer). Plus it is the general belief that with Independents companies you have only one route into the company if things go wrong – through the owner.

This can be as much a positive as a negative as it means that the customer is not given the run around and they can go straight to the decision maker which saves time & frustration.

At MBK as a CPA (Customer Protection Association) approved craftsman your deposit is covered. It is standard practice that many trades take a deposit before starting the job, with CPA’s Deposit Indemnity Insurance you won’t lose your money should the company fail.

Every company wants the customer to return to them at a later date, but none more so than an Independent company where they work and live locally. Reputation to them is everything and excellent customer service is high on their list, therefore they normally bend over backwards to resolve issues “if” they should arise.

Q. Why do previous customers come back to MBK?

“Repeat Business” customer enquiries who came back to us again in 2019 to do more projects for them was 68% (of those that enquired), whereas new “Internet” enquiries for the same period where a new project was agreed was a lower figure of 41%. This leads me to believe that price / trust play a large part in the Internet customers declining.

The “Repeat Business” customers know and trust MBK plus they know that MBK were able to work within their budget and understood the price they were expecting, whereas the Internet customers did not have the same knowledge of the MBK experience.

At MBK you deal with the same person along the whole journey, so the person who comes out and measures up for you is the same person who does your quote. They will understand your needs and budget so if changes need to be made to suit your budget they can advise you. You have the comfort and safety of knowing that they have been to your property and that they understand your needs and priorities.

Many National companies have different people doing different roles and you can lose touch with the person you first dealt with. It becomes a little like Chinese whispers where as your project gets passed around it becomes misinterpreted and it loses the personal touch.

Q. Questions I would want answered before “I parted with any money”?

  • Are your prices fixed in stone and is their room for manoeuvre?
  • How do your prices compare to the larger National Companies?
  • Are there any unexpected costs I can expect to get once the project starts?
  • Does “cheaper” mean “poorer quality”?
  • Do I get the same guarantees on less expensive products?
  • Do I liaise with the same person all the way through the project regardless of the price I pay?
  • What happens if I have a problem with the fitters you have recommended?
  • If you are recommending the fitters, how long have you used them?
  • Will the fitters be solely working on my project or do they have other jobs on the go plus will I see them every day until the project is completed (other than circumstances beyond their control)
  • Who do I contact if anything goes wrong within the guarantee period?

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