June 2020

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Colourful Opportunities

Dan Sullivan, DOORCO MD shares the latest developments in colour with Total Fabricator Magazine

Designer Colour

Around 45% of all the doors DOORCO supplies are painted – whether to order from our premium or bespoke ranges, or special RAL’s as one-off orders.  Colour is very much still at the top of the agenda for the composite door market and the ability to deliver on it is fundamental. We must look beyond fast turnaround and choice; there is a growing desire for something more.  Take our new Patina range for example.  Launched at the beginning of the year, it is proving hugely popular and grabbing the attention of the more aspirational followers on our social media.  The finish can only be achieved on Monza II, a product unique to DOORCO, so it is totally exclusive.

 

Back to Basics

DOORCO loves to innovate and come up with these exceptional products but we also pay attention to the finer details that make commercial sense to our customers.  That’s why we’re amongst the few that offer Anthracite and Chartwell Green as part of our standard colour range to make the sales of these popular choices better for our customers.  Our standard colours negate additional paint charges and are available from next day delivery. During the lockdown period, we took the opportunity to do some further research on our colour range too. In a recent poll, DOORCO invited its customers to vote on the next standard colour for us to consider adding as a standard colour offer. Out of the four top colours offered, Slate was voted in unanimously; it is the most requested colour and now outsells standard red and green. We will look to add this colour later this year.

We have also been working with a new paint supplier to upgrade our current paint product.  HYDRAPUR from Teknos is a water-based, highly durable, low-VOC paint which is not only better for our staff from a health and safety perspective, but will also transform the quality and choice of colour available from DOORCO.

Colour Match Revolution

Many suppliers boast a colour matching service, and most of them work fine. The reality is that lead times are extended and the cost can rocket as the product is shipped out to specialists to paint.  DOORCO has pioneered with an in-house offering for a long time – ‘any colour, your choice’ has been a company byword for ages.  But what a homeowner could point to, for example, a leading paint supplier’s brochure and say, “I want my door to be that colour” and without paying the earth and waiting a long time for the exact match, get it? DOORCO’s new paint product can do exactly that.

Pick a colour, any colour

Initially, we will be introducing the new paint in line with our current colour range, and the majority are an identical match or as close as possible. Where this is the case, we believe the colour has more vibrancy/density – exact matches are pretty hard to achieve but we are matching as closely as we can and are updating our brochure and colour swatches for the future. Disclaimer: some shades may not match the printed catalogue entirely!

Pretty soon we will be extending the offering with more shades from the current ‘Top 100 list’ – which includes colours inspired by designer coating specialists. Thanks to work by Teknos on the science of colour, we are not limited to RAL/BSI codes and will be able to match any colour. And vice-versa: we can tell the customer the exact colour and identification so they can buy paint to co-ordinate their windows, facias, fences, garage doors etc, without any issue.

It’s an exciting shift in our colour offering and opens up many opportunities for us to move away from the constraints of premium, bespoke, luxury or heritage colour ranges.

A Question Of Balance

Jayne & Dan Sullivan discuss with Windows Active how finding the balance – not just for them but the industry as a whole – is the key to surviving COVID-19

A question of balance

A successful business partnership could be compared to a good marriage.  When things get tough, the individuals pull together and find solutions based on mutual trust, understanding and appreciation for each other skills and traits to get through. Jayne & Dan Sullivan, are well versed at dealing with business issues over the years of working together, and it’s this and DOORCO’s extended family team ethos that has helped over recent months.

Jayne We have always viewed the team as extended family. They share our ethos and passion for the business, so selecting the team to work through the lockdown was easy and hard; easy as we are lucky to have experienced leaders to choose from, hard as we couldn’t keep everyone from Furlough . Those that remained, brought the skills we felt were necessary to support the business and add value through the unprecedented (overused, but still true) situation we faced.

Dan: The team have been amazing throughout.  Each facing their own set of circumstances, they’ve bought perspective to many Zoom discussions that have been on a ‘warzone’ footing. As it has been for every manufacturer, these discussions centred on how our business would survive in the short-term and how we’d restructure and remodel to achieve this.

It was vital for us to stay open remotely for numerous reasons: communication to our customers and suppliers, making payments to the supply chain, planning and preparing for a return, supporting colleagues and peers, and overall making sure people knew we were there.  Our ethos has always centred on being open and straight, confronting issues head on, and “picking up the phone” even if in this scenario, we didn’t always have answers. The main office phone was diverted to my mobile so we could communicate first-hand. These conversations took place in our hastily re-configured dining room (or more often than not in the garden, thanks to a new daily annoyance of poor mobile phone reception). We got on with steering our way through a whole new set of challenges and tried to remain positive (mostly), be supportive, work together and think creatively.

Jayne: This adage of family can also be widened out to the entire supply chain.  The biggest strength of the industry is its community spirit, and although still present through lockdown, some interesting variations emerged as the situation intensified. The true ethos of any business – good or bad – is totally exposed in difficult times, and there was no place to hide with this one.

Dan: Some businesses never left work: fielding calls, taking online orders and working out a way to get back to normal as soon as physically possible. These companies were amongst the first wave back and their spirit was clear to see.

In contrast, some procrastinated. Waiting for someone to tell them what to do and following the majority but shooting down from the side-lines by questioning those who were trying to make decisions and pave a way forward.

Then there were those that have simply disappeared. Having furloughed most of their staff, there was no one to talk strategy with, and even worse, no one there to deal with customers.  There was little compassion: if money was owed, they wanted it now.  If orders were on the books, they were just cancelled. No conversation.

Jayne: Our view was that it was only down to us to make the right decisions for DOORCO. All the talking and planning can only result in action.  The balance of protecting the workforce from health risks, whilst ensuring financial security and ultimately their jobs, was a tough call for every business owner.

Dan: A very fine line to navigate for certain, but to me, those that demonstrated strong leadership and kept the lines of communication on and at volume 10 will be the ones that survive. Or at least, will not go down without a good fight.  These companies have shared direction and strategies, but most importantly have listened carefully to the needs of customers and suppliers. Never has a true entrepreneurial spirit been more important.

What happens next?

Jayne: The impact of COVID-19 has interestingly led to a much more complex set of dynamics, situations, decisions, relationships. None of which can be approached in any one way and has really put the spotlight how the ‘whole sum is greater than its individual parts’. As of May 4th, we were back up and running.  There are strict Safe Working Practices in place, and many of the team continue to work from home. We are monitoring the business every day, ensuring we have the correct level of staff against the orders being received.  Some staff remain furloughed, and some are unable to return until lockdown is over – the situation is fluid.

Dan: Business is far from back to normal, but the green shoots are there, and orders, although creeping up, will not return to normal for some time. The decision to come back when we did was not one made from greed, it was to practice and stress test all our planning we had done during lockdown, a safe time to instil best practice for the new way of working with a small trusted team with minimal risk.

There are lots of question marks over how consumers will behave and how we will recover financially. We are all still watching the daily bulletin and hoping that the plans the government have outlined can be adhered to; Our son returned to school this week with mixed emotions, shops can open, people will start spending. Broadly though, we are still here, and we will do all we can to remain so: take every opportunity that presents itself, keep the lines of communication open, and have conversations, especially the difficult ones. Our key take-away from this situation is to find the balance that keeps your business moving forward through the short-mid-long term…whatever that will look like.

Driving Forward

As market demand starts to return for composite doors, DOORCO is starting the phased reinstatement of their transport department with 70% of the company’s fleet due back on the road by 19th June. This is part of DOORCO’s return to work strategy which aims to focus on staff welfare while we monitor customer demand.


Dan Sullivan, DOORCO’s MD comments: “Since starting a phased return to operations on May 4th, we’ve been carefully considering our position daily, centering on the welfare of our staff with being able to meet customer demand. Business is far from ‘back to normal’, but there have been some really positive signs over the last week or so, and we feel that it is the right time to reinstate our transport department and recommence UK deliveries. DOORCO originally invested in our own fleet to ensure our doors were delivered with the personal touch, so it is imperative that this level of service is available to our customers as soon as is safe and viable to do so.


“We’ve seen a rise in orders over the last couple of weeks. In fact, numbers of prepped doors are currently exceeding pre-COVID levels, which is really encouraging. Close relationships with our external transport partners have been maintained and they have supported us throughout the re-opening of our business. But bringing down lead times and fulfilling our normal delivery promises is reliant on our in-house transport team. They have worked hard on the logistics of a phased return, as well as ensuring our drivers are fully equipped with the personal safety equipment and procedures. These include hand sanitisers in every cab, stringent and regular cleans, as well as new ways of delivering: our drivers will not exit the van when they make a drop off but call the delivery in and wait for the van to be unloaded. No paperwork will change hands, it will all be dealt with electronically, so we all have a record of safe delivery.


“Our plan is to have 70% of our fleet back by 19th with the intention of having the full fleet back in the near future to cover our usual delivery network. This remains fluid as we continue to monitor health & safety and sales, but we are delighted to be able to make this announcement as it’s another step towards our business, and indeed industry, recovering from the Coronavirus Pandemic.”

For more information about DOORCO’s products and service, call 01625 428955

A Shade Ahead

MD Dan Sullivan talks door colour with Glass Times, and shares the latest developments from the DOORCO’s colour portfolio.

A Shade Ahead

Colour is still a hot topic in the composite door market, and despite everything, this isn’t going to change! Around 45% of all the doors supplied by DOORCO are painted to order, whether from a premium colour range or bespoke, and “special RAL’s” are appearing more and more.  The ability to deliver colour is fundamental – offering choice, on a fast turnaround, is now just the norm.  The desire is growing for something different too – like DOORCO’s recently launched unique Patina colour range for the Monza II door, which has proved to be hugely popular both in the industry and with the more aspirational followers on our Instagram channel.

During the lockdown period, we took the opportunity to do some research on our colour range – in a recent customer poll, DOORCO invited its customers to vote on the next standard colour for DOORCO to consider adding as a standard colour offer. This would mean making it available from next day delivery and reducing additional paint charges, which makes commercial sense for us and our customers.  Out of the four top colours offered, Slate was voted in because, unanimously, it is the most requested shade and now outsells standard red and green. We will look to add this colour later this year.

When it comes to colour choices, greys and blues are the current favourites – collectively DOORCO has nineteen shades in the current collection.  Many leading colour experts agree and have included blue, in particular, in most of their 2020 colour collections.  So, as a homeowner, what if you could just look to these collections and say, “I want my door to be that colour” and without paying the earth and waiting a long time for the exact match, get it? DOORCO’s new paint product can do exactly that.

Next generation colour matching service

Many suppliers boast a colour matching service, and most of them work well, but delivery time is often delayed, and the cost can sometimes rocket as the product is shipped out to specialists to paint.  DOORCO has pioneered with an in-house offering for a long time – ‘any colour, your choice’ has been a motto the company has worked to for ages.  But we are now taking this a shade further, with the launch of a new paint product that opens up all sorts of colour opportunities for the market. Water-based, highly durable and low-VOC, DOORCO’s new paint offering is going to transform the colour match revolution.

DOORCO has teamed up with Teknos and adopted their new HYDRAPUR paint which offers an advanced single layer coating which is highly weather-resistant and lightfast (meaning the colour will not alter when exposed to light), with long-term elasticity.  Maintenance is minimal, and scratches are simple to rectify. Plus, from a Health & Safety point of view, it is better for our team to work with.

Any colour you want… as long as it’s any colour

Initially, and purely for easy transmission, we will be launching the new paint in line with our current colour range, and the majority are an identical match or as close as possible. Where this is the case, we believe the colour has more vibrancy/density – exact matches are pretty hard to achieve but we are matching as closely as we can and are updating our brochure and colour swatches for the future. Disclaimer: some shades may not match the printed catalogue entirely!

We will soon be expanding the offering with more shades from the current ‘Top 100 list’ – which includes colours taking inspiration from designer coating specialists like Farrow & Ball – and beyond. We’ve opted for generic RAL / BSI colours and codes because it is widely recognised in this industry and the main way colours are specified by architects, etc. But thanks to work by Teknos on the science of colour, we are not limited to RAL and will be able to match any colour – be it your favourite flower or your garden fence.  And vice-versa: we can tell the customer the exact colour and identification so they can buy paint to match and co-ordinate their windows, facias, fences, garage doors etc, without any issue.

The future for premium, bespoke, luxury, heritage colour ranges is looking bleak…

Explore our colours and see them on our doors using our online door designer: https://retail.doors.door-co.com/doorco/designer 

 

Covid-Trends

In the GGP magazine regular column Jayne Sullivan, Operations Director of DOORCO, usually looks at the trends in the door market. This month she’s taking a wider view.

Covid-Trends

It seems odd to report on the trends of doors whilst the market has been shut down, so this month we’re offering insight into something different: the trends that have observed in business behaviours during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

 Our lockdown story

For DOORCO, we shut down manufacturing in-sync with the rest of the sector on 25th March, which inevitably meant furloughing the majority of our workforce outside the Senior Management Team.  Dan & I set up shop at home and quickly settled into making a plan of action to get through this unprecedented situation – words perhaps heard too often but still very real.  For us, the impact of COVID-19 has interestingly led to a much more complex set of dynamics and situations, none of which could be approached in any one way and has really put the spotlight how the ‘whole sum is greater than its individual parts’.  We’re grateful to have been in the same room (as opposed to many business partners being locked down on opposite sides of the country and communicating via webcams) and assume our roles (me focused on the finances and HR, Dan dealing with the supply chain and customers), mainly due to the fact that we have mutual trust and understanding of each other, as both husband and wife and business partners.  Don’t get me wrong, there have been some fireworks and very tense moments in that shared office, but overall, it has worked because we have the same end goal – survival.

We’re also thankful that we decided to keep a larger than average team in place from the outset (10% of staff) while other companies cut it right to the bone.  They were all amazing despite each and every one having personal challenges to face. They’ve been flexible, positive and supportive throughout which led to us being part of the first wave to open back up.

Movers and shakers

What has been fascinating to watch and will continue to be interesting, is how the pandemic has exposed the true character of many organisations in our industry. There are leaders, demonstrating strong direction and moving strategically and nimbly through this ordeal.  We’ve spoken to many our customers and suppliers regularly (some almost daily!) as we work together to navigate our way through the crisis.

Then there are the followers: waiting to see what everyone else is doing, hesitant and following the majority.

Social media, LinkedIn particularly, has been a real point of information. The media has reacted well too, adapting to sharing instant news from across the industry. Some organisations have maintained a positive presence throughout and the sense of ‘togetherness’ that exists in this sector has been extant.

Then there have been the negative comments, shooting someone down for ‘trying’ or even worse, those that have gone dark.

The true ethos of many businesses has been exposed – good and bad.

Where next?

For DOORCO, we re-opened on 4th May with additional unfurloughed staff joining the trenches. We have strict Safe Working Practices in place, and we are monitoring the business every day, ensuring we have the correct level of staff against the orders being received and making measured decisions as we go.

The longer-term effect is hard to judge. With reports of a recession like we’ve never seen before and rumours about companies being in dire straits financially, giants like Everest, who at the time of writing is on the brink of collapse, and Insight Data’s latest report saying that 12% of the fabricators and installers they analysed the credit rating on posed a high or very high credit risk.  No one is unaffected and it is a worrying time for all.

Will homeowners invest in their properties, or are they too worried to spend? Will they spend more as they redivert holiday funds to home improvement?  Some say that September will be the real pinch point, and it you can make it through to the Autumn, you stand a good chance of being ok.

Survival of the fittest

Even though most of us are operating, we certainly aren’t out of the woods yet.  Whatever the short to mid-term looks like, one thing is sure: businesses with strong leadership, the ability to flex and adapt and grab opportunity are the ones that will survive.  Never has a true entrepreneurial spirit been more important.