Exhibitor case studies series: Custom Rooflights review

"We were also searching for good products and then we saw an opportunity with glass". Read the full article.

Exhibitor case studies series: Custom Rooflights review

Interview with Derek Custom Rooflights

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Derek, the Managing Director of Custom Rooflights, a company based in Dorset that specialises in providing rooflight solutions for commercial and residential projects. As an experienced exhibitor, Derek understands the importance of standing out in a crowded market, and he shared with me some of his insights on how you can get instant sales from exhibiting at trade shows.

(Q for Question)

(A for Answer)

Check it out the interview with Derek.

Hi Derek. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me considering your busy schedule. As a marketing strategist, our goal here is to help companies who exhibit in trade and consumer shows with their marketing plans. As you have already exhibited in the Homebuilding & Renovating Shows the last 3 years, I am pretty sure you’ve got precious takeaways from those experiences. But more than that, the work that you put in before and after a show, it’s critical to ensure you get a flow of leads coming in throughout the year.

Q: But before digging into it, can you pls first tell us a little about you and your professional journey.

A: Sure, Abdul. My name is Derek and I’m the Director of Custom rooflights since 2017. So my journey through my working career started in a hotel at the age of 17 doing admin work. And by the age of 21, I was general manager of a 103-bedroom hotel. Customer Service has always been a big key part of my sort of business life. Since the hotel I’ve progressed into different jobs, mainly working for myself since the age of 25. I have had various businesses to from a estate agency, to travel business, pure hardware, computer refurbishment among others. I had a contract with the Kingfisher group in another business and currently my focus is on manufacturing and delivering rooflights to residential and trade customers, along with our range of products among bifold doors, Juliet balconies, walk on glass and roof lanterns.

Q: That's amazing. And how did you start? Like, the whole project? Were you looking to solve a problem? Or did you find a gap in the market? What was the main goal for opening this company?

A: Yeah. Well, I'll tell you the truth. When I think about it, we were looking to solve a problem for many homeowners, which was to find solutions to have a brighter space in their homes. That's how we got involved in the glass business. So, we're very fortunate that this happened. The best thing to say is that myself and Danny, my business partner, we were also searching for good products and then we saw an opportunity with glass. We thought to ourselves, this is a massive market. And homebuilding is a huge business sector. We were lucky enough to come up with this idea. We saw a niche in the market, and we jumped upon it.

Q: Thumbs up Derek. Nowadays, we see more and more the trend of having natural light and saving on energy bills. Can you tell us about your experience at the Homebuilding & Renovating Show?

A: Okay, so regarding the homebuilding & renovating show, we were approached to exhibit about four years ago. And I've done exhibitions before in other businesses. I've always found them very, very, very hit and miss. So, I was reluctant on myself and business partner, Danny was reluctant as well to go down the route of exhibitions, because I didn't think it would bring any sales. But the thing is, with COVID and seeing so many people more and more interested carrying on with their building renovations, my thinking sort of proved as wrong. I wish I would have done it four or five years ago for the first time. And I also think it's how you approach the exhibition as well. I mean, we were very active and proactive at the events. We put a lot planning into, so the result has been very good. And we have seen instant sales from exhibiting at the different shows they have across the UK.

Q: That's great. And how do you keep your customers engaged after a show? Or let's say throughout the year, because you have many shows during the year, correct? What are your preferred marketing channels to promote your company?

A: We’ve recently hired a gentleman called Abdul who used to work for the homebuilding & renovation show.

Q: 😊

A: Abdul is leading our marketing campaigns and has a strong focus on keeping our customers engaged year-round. Our preferred marketing channels include Email, social media, SEO, and content marketing to promote our company and events.

Q:  That’s good to know. 👌. What kind of product innovations or new projects you have in the pipeline?

A: With the pandemic, it's been a little bit difficult, sort of held us back 24 months. But the last six months, we've added a new system of bifold doors to our portfolio, with Juliet balconies into the mix. We're looking at putting the sliding doors in the portfolio as well. In the last couple of weeks we’ve been talking to some other companies to get few more ideas. Now that we've added more products to our portfolio, we have completed the process of updating our offerings for this period. We are excited to showcase our expanded product line to our customers and hope they find something they love. And the idea of that really is if someone's going to buy a rooflight from us, 9 times out of 10, that set of doors will be the add on product. Our goal is to provide a convenient and comprehensive shopping experience for our customers. By offering a one-stop-shop, we can showcase all of our products and services, and potentially upsell additional items that complement their purchase."

Q: For sure. You’ve been getting good feedback from your customers as well. How’s been the experience with using Trustpilot?

This reminds me of the old hotel days when we used to ask each guest to fill out a questionnaire as a standard procedure. Nowadays, the same process is done through online reviews. We have discussed this topic numerous times over the years. If you have a review channel, you must be prepared to handle both positive and negative feedback. Our approach is to address any negative reviews promptly, such as the recent one-star review we received. Danny and Alex (from our team) addressed the issue directly with the customer to determine the problem and find a solution. Even if we have a list of issues, we understand the importance of providing monetary value to the customer in order to change their perception of our business. Sometimes, people who leave reviews are just trying to act tough behind their keyboards. We believe that most problems can be resolved by speaking to the customer directly or over the phone. However, it can be difficult when someone decides to leave a negative review after chilling in their sofa on a Thursday evening. Despite this, we are very active in addressing negative reviews, even if they are on channels like eBay. In fact, eBay has been a good test for us as we have maintained a 100% feedback rating for four or five years. It hasn't always been easy, but Danny and I are always working to communicate with our customers. Review channels can be great, but you must be prepared for any negative feedback that may come your way.

Q: I completely agree with you. It's important to address both positive and negative feedback because if you don't follow up on the negative, it will remain there. When you do follow up, it demonstrates that you care about your reputation and prestige. Giving attention to the customer is crucial in today's business landscape.

A: It's not an easy decision to make, but it's often necessary to address problems that arise. Danny is usually the one who handles these situations because he has a calm and relaxed demeanour that helps him find solutions. When faced with a difficult situation, Danny is very good at turning it into a positive resolution. It's important that one of us takes the lead and gets the job done, and Danny is great at handling these types of challenges.

Q: Well, this interview has given us a lot of perspective about the business, the market and your fantastic efforts to grow the company. Thank you very much Derek, for sharing your insights and experience with us.

A: My pleasure Abdul, thank you for having me.

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