Adding Value with Invisible Solutions
To most people, the functionality of window coverings pretty much stops and starts with blocking out the sun and providing privacy. Recently, I’ve become fascinated with the less obvious features and how window blinds can really be put to use to make life better.
It’s easy for many of us in the industry to sometimes overlook the value of the products and services we’re offering. It’s a shame, as we all know that business essentially boils down to providing value for money. If you can add more value at the same cost, you increase your chances of securing that exchange of goods and services for a client’s hard-earned cash.
When it comes to extolling the virtues of window blinds, we should always remember that the average consumer isn’t initially considering much more than how that blind looks and feels. Introducing them to some of the hidden features in the products they are already taking an interest in is perhaps the best way to show them just how much more value they’re getting than they first realised.
With that in mind, here are a few features that are often inherent in the blinds and fabrics we use every day and how best to put them into practice.
Whether protecting the environment or their wallet, consumers are more attuned to
their energy-use than ever and, with UK energy suppliers aiming to install smart meters in every home by 2020, this is set to continue.
Slowing the loss of heat energy through windows is a great way to cut growing bills in the winter, and it serves to remember that window insulation works both ways, providing sanctuary from the hottest summers too!
Traditionally, Roman blinds and curtains have provided great insulation because of their thicker fabrics and we’re now seeing an upward trend in cellular pleated blinds for the more modern market. Designed specifically for increased functionality, pleated blinds with cellular fabrics, like Hive, can also include additional layers of reflective materials that not only provide further heat insulation but UV protection too.
I’m sure nobody reading this blog will have anything to learn from myself on the importance of fire retardant fabrics, the legislation attached to them or how sensitive an issue it can be. Your clients, however, may not be so clued up.
Commercial clients will often be driven by the need to comply with legislation and bring the subject up themselves. Residential clients, however, will often we entirely unaware of benefits of FR fabrics even though we would all appreciate the products we purchase being as safe as possible.
Bring the matter up during consultation. Even if your client doesn’t seem to be particularly interested, they may choose a fabric purely on aesthetics that turns out be FR anyway and it will be a nice bonus.
This one is something of a given - we instinctively reach for our blinds and curtains when there’s something noisy going on outside. It’s usually a fruitless endeavour but there some blind types that will cut noise to an extent. Again, cellular blinds and those with thicker fabrics will help with noise pollution and could be something to discuss with clients who live in busier urban areas.
There is currently some very interesting research being conducted on the sound dampening properties of window coverings and how they can be utilised fully. Preliminary findings are indicating that some fabrics are inexplicably more absorptive than others and, already, these fabrics are used in the development of blinds that are ultra-efficient in soaking up noise from within the window as well as without – perfect for modern open plan homes and offices with lots of sheer, solid walls that create a minor echo. We’re watching this with a keen eye (ear?) and will have more news soon.
Much like fire retardancy, child safety regulations are most often the consideration of those in the business but, if sufficiently explained, will certainly be important to any commercial or residential client who may have children on site.
Window blinds manufactured with cords and chains that comply with regulations are essential (and something we take very seriously at Decorquip), but they’re not flawless. Nothing can protect from the inquisitive ingenuity of a child and, to be honest, all the added measurements and calculations can be a pain, increasing manufacturing and fitting costs.
The best way to overcome all these issues, for yourself and clients alike, is to provide blinds that are inherently child-safe. From manual controls like wand operated vertical blinds and spring-operated rollers to motorisation and remote operation via handhelds, wall mounts, apps and even your voice, it’s easy to help your client to find a blind that will provide peace of mind. You’re not going to find a blind that is accidentally motorised but this is certainly a feature worthy of a sales pitch – to the right clients of course.
Okay, I know I said that privacy was one of the most basic features that consumers know about but they’re usually not aware of the options available.
With so many variants in openness factor available, from the sheerest of voiles to blackouts, you should have a perfect solution for your client’s needs.
Take a room with two windows – one facing a busy footpath and one with a spectacular view. Utilising a screen fabric like Quad, which has multiple openness factors in each colour allows for the fitting of two matching blinds but with a more obscured view of the thoroughfare (in and out) without sacrificing the stunning view.
Here’s a top tip I learned recently – for these semi-opaque fabrics, you can improve the view of the outside world without sacrificing privacy simply by using the darkest colour you can get away with. The closer to black, the better, as the eye will naturally look past the fabric itself and build a more complete image with what it can see through the ‘holes’. Try it out!
Ultimately, the one-to-one interaction you have with your clients will be the most invaluable tool you have in providing them with the perfect window blinds and curtains. But, remembering to introduce them to the features they are often unknowingly already paying for will reassure them of the great decision they’ve made in choosing you as their supplier/manufacturer/fitter.
What other features do you think usually come as standard but are often overlooked by most average consumers? Do they help swing a decision when brought up? Let me know.