Page 1



No. 9

30 minutes update

Spring 2014

stomer u Cservice


When toys become tools



How do you want your

How to get

LOVE from


FOCUS: Customer Service

Ta ho ke m m e e

Wood Today?




How to get love from customers? Solve your customers’ headaches — they will love you for it

them like your friends 6 Treat

You have to be 100% dedicated to your customers

toys become tools 7 When The future has already arrived at Tobler Service

8 HardTalk them helping their 10 Help customers

with Patrick Headon

12 Run Karine, Run In the weekend, Karine the business woman transforms into Karine the athlete

Wasco launches a new version of their website

you buy from these guys? 15 Would 16 Bessermachen wait to get my hands dirty 17 Can’t Fittings survey

do you want your wood 18 How today? In ISB, size matters

with big bait 20 Fishing sales, sales 23 Sales,


+41 44 735 50 00 +31 88 099 5000

Chief Editor

Customer service is a joint responsibility

future is responsive 14 The

If we want customers to do business with us, we have to give them a good reason

customers don’t want to 11 Picks pay for

Tobias Roser

OÄG ISB Wolseley

+43 50406 0 +33 0299856167 +44 118 929 8700

THIS ISSUE of Fittings is about customer service. We gathered stories from different parts of our businesses - and mapped how we aim for one mutual goal: offer customers the best service possible. Great customer service drives loyalty. Loyal customers spend more time with us than with our competitors. Hence, customer service, is a key driver for our business. We have a tendency to leave the responsibility for customer service to sales. After all, they are the ones making promises to our customers. But we should remember that they make promises on behalf of all of us. It’s up to you and me to deliver these promises. Our leaders are responsible to set a clear direction, the customer segments we prioritise, the service level

we provide and the price. Sourcing makes sure we have the right product mix. We have excellent logistics, making sure that all supplies reach the customer on time. We have people taking care of invoices, returned goods, staffing - ISB has people in production dealing with quality and so on. What it comes down to at the end of the day, is that we all understand this - no matter where in the organisation we work - customer service is a shared responsibility.

Tobias Roser You can write to Tobias at Feel free to share your ideas and comments – both positive and critical.

Fittings issue 9 · Distributed May 2014 · Fittings is the employee magazine for Wolseley CE staff in Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands and France. Publication by Wolseley CE. Circulation: 3,300. Available languages: English, German, Dutch, Italian and French. Editorial responsibility: Wolseley CE/Tobias Roser. Journalistic production and project management: Radical Communications/Patrick May. Design and layout: Johnsen. Photography: Martijn vd Griendt, Caroline Ablain, Eduard Meltzer, Günter Wohlschlager. Print: CoolGray. Editorial committee: Wolseley CE/Tobias Roser,; OAG/ Christine Scharrer,; ISB/; Wasco/Sacha Büchele,; Tobler/


Fittings 9 · 2014

50 deliveries a day

“I love driving in the city. I don’t understand the logic of the streets and the house numbering in the country side. They can jump from 16 to 37. It makes no sense”, says Josef Eichberger, lorry driver for ÖAG. A veteran — he’s been with the company for 15 years.

Champions of customer service

“SEVEN years on this route now, in the third district in Vienna. I know the city like the back of my hand. What’s changed is the intensity of traffic. And the amount of customers. I have up to fifty deliveries on a busy day. It used to be 25. The deliveries are smaller, the products cheaper. I have excellent relations to most of the customers. They know me, they trust me. Even with the keys to their premises. This way I can deliver their supplies, even when they’re not around. Sometimes you meet a customer who looks down on us. To them, I’m just a simple lorry driver. That doesn’t really bother me. I treat all

customers the same.” “If there’s anything wrong with the delivery, I fix it. Depending on how urgently they need the product, I deliver it either later the same day or the next day. Alternatively, I make sure we send a courier. There’s always a solution. Due to the nature of my job, I don’t see many of my colleagues in person. But this doesn’t mean I don’t have good contacts. I’m on the phone with colleagues a lot.” “Lonely? My god, no. There’s always the radio. Pop and rock are my favourites. If it was up to me - I would still be driving this lorry, even fifteen years from now.”

Josef Eichberger

Fittings 9 · 2014


How to get

LOVE from customers?

93.000! The number of books on customer service available on The best advice however, you won’t find in books. It fits on the back of a napkin: Solve your customers’ headaches — they will love you for it. More importantly, they will give you their business. Is it really this simple? YES. No. Confused? Both answers are correct. If we can solve our customers’ problems, they are going to be pleased with us. The trick is, we have to be able to do this for all of our customers, all the time. At the same time, we have to make money too. This requires a strategy and a systematic approach towards what, when and how we provide service. It requires dedicated people, like you. People who understand how to serve customers. Because one


Fittings 9 · 2014

thing is certain, a friendly smile, when meeting our customers, is not going to cut it.

We need to know our customers If you want to make your customers happy, you need to know what makes them happy. “We put a great deal of effort in to knowing our customers”, says Heinz Wiedmer, Tobler’s CEO. “Both, locally, and from a central perspective. Our local sales and service people, are the

first point of contact. It is of vital importance that they know our customers and their individual needs and wishes. In addition to the knowledge we gain from our sales force”, Heinz explains, “we conduct customer surveys. We’ve been doing this for a couple of years now, asking our custom-

Champions of customer service

ers what they rate to be the most important aspect of our service. The result has been consistent - both over time and through geographies: availability. Here’s where we as a business must excel.”

ket. Instead we put energy in those service feautures our customers think are important to their business. We have developed measurable objectives for all all three service aspects. This enables us to monitor and drive quality.”

Give customers what they want

We must be alert

“The surveys tell us what kind of service feautures customers want us to focus upon”, says Heinz. “As such, they give us an opportunity to differentiate ourselves from competitors. Especially from those using pricing to muscle their way into the mar-

CE scores are high, but we must strive to keep improving them together. This means that customers are happy with our services. High scores can make it hard to improve, but according


is what customers prioritise:


PRODUCT AVAILABILITY - they want us to have the products on stock they need the most


ON TIME, IN FULL DELIVERY - they hate it when we are late, or worse, when we have forgotten something


COMPETENT SUPPORT FROM STAFF - they like us when we are able to give professional advice they can use in their jobsstock

to Heinz, there is no way around this. “The market is changing and we need to challenge our services all the time. Customers change their behaviour, competitors challenge our services - we experience regional competitors delivering twice a day - we have got to stay alert and, based on our strengths, decide on the service level that is aligned best with our customers’ needs.”

Fittings 9 · 2014


Champions of customer service Wouter Quiros

Treat them like

Your Friends Six years ago, the future for Wasco’s branch in Amsterdam Zuidoost was bleak. The branch was facing near close. Wouter Quiros accepted a mission impossible: make the branch profitable. Today the branch is performing in the top ten, the number of staff increased to four and customers happily drive additional kilometers to meet with Wouter and his team.

“THE SECRET is hard work”, says Wouter. “You have to be 100% dedicated to your customers. When they visit, make them feel welcome. Take a sincere interest in what projects they are working on, and the products they are working with. Get familiar with their problems and make them yours to solve. Good product knowledge is essential if you want to be successful. We make every customer who comes here (which on peak days can be up to 150) our best


Fittings 9 · 2014

friend. That is the feeling we want to convey to them.” An important brick in his strategy is to meet customers on eye level. Our customers don’t have academic degrees. Their language is not necessarily sophisticated. “We speak their language. It creates a feeling of being in this together”, says Wouter. “Always be fair. If they order products that are on sale, but they don’t know about the campaign, I tell them and they get

the products at the reduced campaign price. Be honest, at all times. When they ask you something you don’t know, admit it and tell them you will find out. Customers appreciate honesty.” When Wouter started in Zuidoost, he was no industry rookie. He had tried various functions in different organisations. At Wasco he started as an outbound sales rep. “Customers from my time as sales rep. happily drive a few extra miles to re-

main with me.” Something Wouter can be proud of. But that’s not his nature. Instead, he likes to give credit to his team. “Everybody here is top motivated. We meet customers with a lot of positive energy. If a colleague ifor some reason is low on energy, we send them to the back”, Wouter says laughing. “No, seriously, this is an important part of being a team. If one of us needs a ‘day off’, the rest of the team will cover for him and make sure our customers get the service they’re used to.”

Champions of customer service

When toys become

s l o To

WHILE workplace experts predict tablets to replace laptops in the medium term future, the future has already arrived at Tobler Service (Formerly Sixmadun). 150 technicians are equipped with Panasonic tablets that are linked to the intranet and the local mail server. The service technicians are on the road a lot and having a mobile office that enables them to upload technical specifications

on the go, is a must. Before the tablets were introduced, they were hooked up through a device the size of a smartphone. But due to their small displays, these devices are not ideal for viewing technical documents. The tablets save time, paper and they increase the quality of

While workplace experts predict tablets to replace laptops in the medium term future, the future has already arrived at Tobler Service (formerly Sixmadun).

our service. Before, technical information was send by snail mail. This took time, and it required print. Now, new customer appointments are automatically added to their calendars, together with the specifica-

67% Gaming is responsible for 67% of time spent on tablets

10% is used on social networking.


tions of the customers’ installation. They come prepared. If something is missing, they log into the intranet and fetch the missing documents on location. And customers? They experience that we are faster and finish the jobs without interruptions due to missing documentation.

The tablets used by Toblers’ service technicians however, do not feature games or social media.

Fittings 9 ¡ 2014


HardTalk with Patrick Headon


If you could have a dinner party and could invite anyone, living or dead, who would you invite? At a party you want a couple of good laughs. Groucho Marx, he has been able to make me laugh ever since I was a kid. Still does. Slightly rude, and entertaining. I think I would want to invite him. And Oscar Wilde, who had a dry sense of humour and made jokes I wish I had made! We need a few interesting characters, people we look up to. I’d like to invite Winston Churchil and Queen Elizabeth the 1st. Impressive person-


Fittings 9 · 2014

alities, and both changed their country. Sports … I’m going to be a bit selfish here and invite Bradly Wiggins. I love cycling and getting a few tips from Wiggo, would be great. Of course, Charlie George, the legendary (!) Arsenal forward. When I was a kid, I thought he was the coolest man in the world.


How much profit have you made in the past 6 months and how does this sit with the owners? We’re on target for trading profit. A bit ahead even. This is an important key performance indicator that interests our shareholders. Its particularly encouraging to see


In an enterprise with more than 3,000 employees, the top management may seem very distant. With HardTalk, you get close to top management, because here we put you in contact with CE’s most senior manager. Patrick Headon answers you and your colleagues questions, however searching they are.

ISB ahead of budget after a tough 2013. But its more than just the financial aspects which matter. Employee engagement is measured once per year; we have good score but want to keep improving. We monitor customer satisfaction – the theme of this issue - , where we continue to make progress in all markets. We are driving forward on key medium term initiatives, focusing on our gross margin and making the organisation more efficient. E-commerce: here we are taking a common approach across all CE businesses as well as sharing ideas, expertise and resources – which is encouraging to see. Finally, a concern for us all is “doing the right thing”. Do we comply with laws and regulations, are our products safe, do we take care of the environment? The lat-

ter is of great importance to Wolseley. If one market does not live up to its obligations, it reflects on the entire group. I am committed to make sure that in all markets all teams ‘do the right thing’ .


What is the one thing in your leadership toolkit that you lack, yet wish you would have? That’s a fair question for everybody. Nobody has the perfect set of skills – I don’t either! As far as leadership capabilities go, I can say that as a leader, I have a certain style I have developed over the years. This works for me and I try to be authentic to this. If there are any holes here, it is because of me be-

ing Patrick – but luckily I have a strong team around me to plug the gaps! Seen from a business point of view, I would have to say I have less direct experience in sourcing. Thanks to the experience from previous jobs, I have had a reasonable exposure to sales, marketing and strategy. Buying, is another story altogether. Fortunately, I was not brought into Wolseley because of my buying skills. It is a crucial part of our business though and I am happy that we have skilled and qualified people at a local business level and also at CE and on a global level.


What tops your personal bucket list?

I love cycling and on top of my list is cycling in the Himalayas – ideally with my son. We love doing things together. I really enjoy our cycling tours around the lake of Geneva. But I have to drag him sometimes, since he prefers skiing. Number two on my list is cross country skiing, maybe on the Arctic or in Norway with the whole family. May take some convincing them, though! There’s one final huge wish on my list. Four years ago, I spent a month in Kerala, India, teaching young social entrepreneurs. They were all blind. That was in many ways a very rewarding experience. Humbling, too, as these people fought to overcome adversity. I promised that I would go back and spend six months with them. So I must do that.

Fittings 9 · 2014


Champions of customer service


them helping their customers

a Veren l Red

“We have the same products as our competitors. If we want customers to do business with us, we have to give them a good reason”, says Verena Redl, the branch manager for IZ3, one of ÖAG’s 44 branches. “Fortunately, we’re busy. We get between 50 and 60 visitors a day. On top of that, we have customers calling in orders, we prepare orders and we manage a small stock. We’re three people doing all this.”

ÖAG is Verena’s second home. She’s been with the company for 16 years, in different departments. It hasn’t always been easy, Verena admits. A woman doing a man’s job, was something both, colleagues and customers, had to get used to. “My colleagues had a bet go-


Fittings 9 · 2014

ing on when I started. They thought I was not going to last three weeks”, Verena says laughing. “Our customers are challenged. There are many new products on the market and they need to know them all. And their customers are more demanding than ever. Fortunately we can help. We’re a big company with a lot of resources. We pass on

our product knowledge, so our customers can then pass it on to their customers. We make sure they get their supplies on time. Without any mistakes in the delivery. And if there is a mistake anyways, we move heaven and earth to make it right.” “Two weeks

ago, one of our drivers called me with a problem. A customer did not get his supplies. It was outside of opening hours. I called a colleague who runs a branch in the neighbourhood. He was on his way home, but returned and made sure the customer got his supplies. It’s moments like this when I feel the team spirit.”


Picks customers don’t want to pay for EVERY DAY a small army of pickers in our organisation are making sure that each single item our customers are ordering, also makes it to their delivery. But there’s a different kind of pick - the so called ‘replenishment pick’. The products picked here are being distributed internally, to our own branches and to other dis-

tribution hubs. In other words, they’re not picked for the customer. At least not directly. While replenishment picks are necessary to balance stock in the branches, these picks cost money. The problem is, that the customer doesn’t necessarily perceive these picks as a service worth paying for. Therefore, reduc-

e r e h W rom? f e m o c y do the 5k7ers






ing these picks is important. There are different ways of doing this. Tobler, for example, has increased the amount of fast moving products to keep on stock in the branches. Now pickers in Däniken gather a larger amount of items per pick, but there are fewer pick lines - and this reduces costs. ÖAG and Wasco have applied similar solutions.

14.200 picks a day 14.200 12.300 picks picks

10.000 picks

Fittings 9 · 2014


Kariney Dema

Run Karine, Run On normal work days, Karine Demay sits at a desk, handling customer claims. On the weekend, Karine the business woman transforms into Karine the athlete. She finds a pair of running shoes and drives to the country side - to do some serious running. Trail running, to be specific. Trail running?

“FOR MOST people”, Karine explains, “running is something you do on asphalt. Trail running is taking running into the nature. Preferably on hilly tracks or mountains.” And whereas normal runners run distances between 5 and 42 km, trail runners go the extra mile. Many ex-


Fittings 9 · 2014

tra miles. Karine is currently training for the Transvulcania Ultra Marathon. An 83 km! trail on La Palma (Canaries), including more than a 8 km mountain track and the highest peak being at 2460 meters. “I have always run. Two years ago I started trail running. Thanks to friends who encouraged me. My man runs too, but he’s faster. Some-

Meet your colleague

times when training, I take my two sons along. They follow me on their bikes in the forest. It’s addictive. Once you’re trail running, you never want to go back to normal running. You’re active while enjoying the fantastic nature around you. Since I’ve started trail running, my weekends have become small holidays.” Last year, Karine ran the 85 km in Madeira and the 95 km at the Ile de la Réunion, both well known trail events. “It takes good physical health an a strong mental condition. Sometimes you run for 20 hours or longer. You can get close to giving up.

I’ve been there myself. I wanted my medal so badly, I had to push myself beyond what I thought was possible. The kick you get from finishing after such a battle is incredible. You see very few runners under 35 years. It’s mentally hard. Last year, in La Réunion, two guys at 72 years of age participated. They ran the 168 km distance and finished in the middle of the field. Impressive.” After a run it can hap-

pen that Karine is physically worn out. “I go to bed early the following week. I would love to get into better shape. But I also have my job and my family to

take care of. And, believe it or not, I have a social life as well”, she adds laughing. “Everyone can get started with trail running. You don’t need to run absurd distances. Just find your running shoes, find a forest and run. At some point, it catches you and you want more. For a lot of people, trail running is more than a sport. It’s a life style.”

Fittings 9 · 2014


Champions of customer service

The future is


Wasco is launching a new version of their website. This is not just an average update. No, the new website will leave competition biting the on-line dust. The website is designed to do well on a regular computer screen, and also on any other, smaller screen. A must, since we know that customers increasingly use mobile devices like smart phones and tablets to visit “THE NEW site is re-

n Nordi er b Ben Ja


Fittings 9 · 2014

sponsive”, says Nordin Ben Jaber from Wasco’s IT team. “This means that, whatever device you use, the website adapts and you have all functionalities at hand. We increasingly receive orders through our online store. Most of

the online purchases are still done on computers and laptops. For example, when our customers come home in the afternoon or early evening. Thanks to the new release, it’s a lot easier to order parts on the fly. Either on their smartphones or tablets. Freeing valuable time for our customers.” Before Nordin started at Wasco, he worked at the e-marketing department of Wehkamp, a well known Dutch mail-order com-

pany. Wehkamp has made the step from post-order to online order long time ago. “It’s exciting to adept the experience I have from the business to consumer market, to our business-tobusiness environment. One thing is certain, what we’re doing at Wasco, no one else is doing. And especially not our competitors.” The next step is under construction too: one-toone marketing. “Thanks to our customers increasingly using our online facility to deal with us, we get to know their online habits. This knowledge we use to offer them products, services and campaigns - tailored to their situation.” According to Nordin, this step will help with the relation to our customers. “While customers use our online facilities for the more rudimentary inquiries and orders, we can put more focused energy in our one-to-one contacts and get closer to their businesses.”

Champions of customer service

Would you buy from these guys? IN YOUR daily work, Wolseley CE is probably not on the top of your mind. Business is local. Obviously, that is where your focus is. But while making sure our local customers get the supplies they need, the

team above makes sure that the organisation around you is geared to giving you all the support you need and has a clear vision for the future. A lot of the challenges we’re dealing with are similar, whether you’re ISB, ÖAG, Tobler or Wasco. For example pricing and efficiency are relevant to all our businesses. Discussing and working on these across all our markets makes sense. Partly, because different people will bring different perspectives, experiences and compe-

tences to the table. Partly, because sharing good ideas or best practices helps you overcome obstacles or jumpstart a new initiative. Last month, they met in Urdorf, in Switzerland. As you might know, that’s where the Tobler headquarters are. What few people know, is that this is also home to the Wolseley CE team. The picture is taken on the rooftop of the building and as you can see, they’re eager to show that they’re pretty hands on with the products we sell to our customers.

NAMES FROM LEFT TO RIGHT, STARTING IN THE BACK: Tobias Roser (HR Director Wolseley CE), Peter Jirasek (FD Wolseley CE), Alexander Ritter von Weinzierl (Logistics & Sourcing Director Wolseley CE), Patrick Headon (MD Wolseley CE) FRONT ROW STARTING ON THE LEFT: Rob Goldsmith (Head of Legal Wolseley CE), Heinz Wiedmer (CEO Tobler Haustechnik AG), Felix Froehner (MD ÖAG), Pierre Gautron (MD ISB), Herold van den Belt (MD Wasco)

Fittings 9 · 2014



Besser machen

Half of the participants are from

You’ve got to love Volkswagen. If not for their cars, then for their ability to make complex things simple. Where Japanese manufacturers (Toyota) use lean methodologies to make the processes in the factories slim and efficient, Volkswagen simply calls it ‘Bessermachen’

ÖAG Christine Scharrer, editorial board member for ÖAG, is proud of the fact that ÖAG readers care to share their opinion. “It’s important that initiatives like Fittings, which should improve overall communications, are evaluated. This is the only way we can continuously improve the quality”.

That’s the spirit for Fittings as well. We want to make the world’s best staff magazine. And your opinion counts. That’s why we continuously do reader surveys.

“THE FIRST survey”, says Tobias Roser, the editor in chief of Fittings, “is always the most difficult one. Our readers have to get used to us asking for their opinion. And then of course they also have to experience that we actually use their input to im-

prove the magazine.” 110 readers took the survey. Half of them online, the other half used the paper version in the last magazine. “This is obviously not impressive”, says Antonia Trollius, who’s responsible for the project management of the magazine.

More than half of the participants read Fittings for 20 to 30 minutes on average 10 minutes or less


More than 30 minutes I did not read the magazine


22 4

Fittings 9 · 2014

“It might not provide enough statistical evidence for radical changes but the feedback has been interesting nevertheless. As a result we have, for example, shorter articles and more pictures.”

Excellent Good Fair Poor

How do people rate the quality of the magazine? The magazine overall


Between 10-30 minutes

We want your feedback!









Design Picures/ illustrations




41 24

6 41





Looking from the outside in Berndn Röttge

Can’t wait to get my hands dirty A process engineer with a huge appetite to learn new things has recently joined ÖAG. Meet Bernd Röttgen, the new logistics manager. He comes from the fast moving consumer goods industry, and it will be interesting to get a fresh perspective on ÖAG - seen through his eyes.

“GETTING the job I went through five interviews”, Bernd says. “You’re very thorough, I’ve learned. What also appealed to me, when I was waiting in the reception for

my second interview, I overheard the two ladies at reception discuss an issue. They were working together to fix this issue in a very pleasant, positive and constructive fashion. This is another

reason that convinced that I wanted to work for this company.” Bernd is married to a judge (just so you know), he has two kids and a dog. He’s got a weakness for Quentin Tarentino (Django Unchained). “It’s the absurdity in his movies that appeals to me”. He runs 10K, three times a week, “to stay fit”. And though it’s not fair to ask him before he is even started what he’s going to prioritise at ÖAG, we couldn’t resist. “So far, I have been given a thorough introduction to the business and specifically the logistics practice. I joined a teammeeting at Wels - which was very operational - and got a good chance to get necessary insights. Of course I need to get acquainted better with all the ins and outs, but my first impression is very positive. The team seems very competent and I am looking forward to getting started.” Bernd can’t wait to meet customers and learn what their requirements are in terms of delivery. “I need to understand what their expectations are. For now, but also for the future. For me it’s about pulling the shared experiences and competencies together, and designing the best service at the best price for our customers.” Fittings 9 · 2014


How do you want your

Wood Today?

t Lauren Ogès

At ISB, you can’t discuss customer service without discussing wood specifications. Ensuring availability of the right sections and lengths, Laurent Ogès says, is a major challenge. “If we’re not able to match the specifications our customers require, we will be out of business.” LAURENT is managing the four main distribution hubs in Saint-Malo, Nantes, Honfleur and Bordeaux. All wood, both raw and finished (for example panels), arrives here and is redistributed to ISB’s production facilities, branches or customers. So far so good. Add 1.000.000 m3 of wood, the amount ISB sells approximately per year 12% of the entire market for wood in France. Now you add customers. Laurent: “In an ideal world, our customers buy the specifications we have available. Unfortunately, it does not work that way. They require many different specifications for all the different projects they are working on. At the same time, we have an invento-


Fittings 9 · 2014

ry that we want to be able to sell. This requires tight planning and continuous quality awareness.” Most of the wood comes from Russia, Finland and Sweden, arriving by sea in large quantities. Logistically it is complicated, especially for the wood from Russia. “If we were selling French wood, it would be easier to manage specifications as well as logistics. But the Nordic wood is of a better quality, a quality that we absolutely need. It’s more challenging to deal with Russia. You need to know the culture and the language. At ISB we do. Therefore, we are able to offer customers a superior quality and availability. We consider this an important competitive advantage.” “Our customers are in-

creasingly relying on us to having their wood in stock. We need to be efficient when forecasting and flexible and creative in finding solutions. Planning requires good communication between the Hub, supply chain, purchasing, production, sales and customers. We can’t afford to not stock the specifications our customers request, and we can’t afford the risk to stock large quantities that nobody wants to buy either.” With a 20% (import) marketshare, ISB is obviously good at managing this complexity. But the market in France is tough. ISB continuously looks for

new ways to stay ahead of their competition. “The fact that we’re so big helps us, too. Thanks to the amount of customers we have, it can pay off for us to offer many different specifications.

Champions of customer service

Getting everyone on board


In the beginning of this year, ISB got a new marketing director, Gwenolé Lees. Coming from Wolseley France, he’s not a novice in the timber industry. Gwenolé launched three initiatives that will take ISB’s service to the next level. All cross organisational, involving different functions and people from different parts of the organisation, and challenging.

“ONE OF THE problems we encounter”, Gwenolé says, “is that there’s an inconsistency in our delivery time. This is a problem especially when dealing with nation wide customers. For them it’s difficult to understand why our delivery times differ from area to area. This is not acceptable and therefore we’re trying to get everybody on board to solve this. The objective is

to be able to offer ten days max delivery time for products on stock. Competitors are offering the same conditions and being the market leader, we cannot afford to fail here.” Another initiative Gwenolé is keen on succeeding with is customisation. “Standardised products are being abandoned increasingly whereas personalised shapes and colours are popular. We

have to stay curious, listen to customers, look at what the market wants and use this feedback to develop new, innovative products and solutions. We have a new solution mixing insulation and cladding in the pipeline. We’re considering to import timber waste to be used for heating systems and a factory to cut beams into the right size.”

Fittings 9 · 2014


Fishing with

Big Bait Installers are Wasco’s most important customers. Project developers hire installers, who in return purchase the necessary supplies from Wasco.

Ad rs Bresse

Or not. The one million dollar question here is, how can you get rid of this uncertainty? For Wasco the answer is a no brainer:

1 Approach the

project developers directly.

2 Make yourself independent from the installers in the decision making process. A brave move, but does it work?


Fittings 9 · 2014

Champions of customer service

“THIS approach is new to us”, says Jan Bijnen, Wasco’s Sales Manager. “If we’d tried this five years ago, the installers, our primary customer segment, would have slaughtered us. But the financial crisis has changed the balance in the market.” Responsible for catching the big fish for Wasco is sales rep. Ad Bressers. Back to the question whether it works: like a charm. In the past 18 months Ad’s focus on hotels has paid off: the list of hotels we’re dealing with is growing and this

list tops chains like Citizen M, Van der Valk hotels and even youth hostels (1.000 rooms).

6.000 bathrooms a year “The potential”, says Ad, “is enormous. Every year, a small number of 6.000 hotel rooms are built or refurbished. And they all need a bathroom, which in fact, together with the heating installation, is the largest investment in a hotelroom. We want to cater to these. And we can take it a step further by tak-

ing care of maintenance as well. When something breaks, it needs fixing right away. You can’t rent out a hotelroom with a broken bathroom. Thanks to our ‘in night’ delivery service, we’re faster than any of our competitors.” “These customers are not used to Wasco contacting them directly. I have to use whatever tricks I have up my sleeve to get my foot in the door. I activate our network as well, for example suppliers like Hans Grohe, who have helped me get impor-

tant meetings with potential customers. This is also new to our organisation. Everything needs to be thought through and built from scratch. Support, until recently, was limited. I’ve been making leaflets in both, Dutch and English, myself to give you an example.”

Internationally yours “A lot of the players in this segment have an interna-

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Small customers = good margins, Large customers = Survival Josef Mayerhofer is responsible for large projects at ‘Region Ost’ in Kontinentale, ÖAG. His region includes the Vienna area and is home to quite a few large companies, and …some of the largest customers. In fact, a relatively small amount of these large customers both, private as well as public, are responsible for approximately 50% of the region’s turnover. “TRUTH be told, we can get better margins from smaller customers”, Josef admits, “they purchase smaller quanti-

ties, they need more help and therefore are less price sensitive. For large customers, the price is decisive. Not to say

everything. Of course, quality, delivery and service are important parameters, but price weighs at a full 70% in their

Fittings 9 · 2014


Continued tional footprint”, Ad explains. “We have to show them that we can cater to their needs regardless of geographic implications. But we’re not geared to handle this segment yet. Not even at aWolseley level. The latter surprised me. In my opinion internationally operating hotel chains are an obvious customer segment to benefit from our group synergies. We had to develop our own solutions, work together for example with the Polish construction company used by Citizen M. We’re now able to deliver to Citizen M worldwide. They love

us for it because they now have one supplier for all of their hotels, which makes life a lot easier for them.”

Solve their problems Ad, who started at Wasco two years ago, is impressed by Wasco. “We’re doing so many fantastic things. Our showroom for sustainable energy, the WEC, for example. It’s second to none. But we’re too humble about it. Sustainability is an issue for hotels so of course I am happy I can play that card.” “I am lacking the necessary knowledge about heating products, but of

decision-making processes.” There’s a significant difference between working with public or private customers. Whereas the public customers invite suppliers to an open tender, privately owned companies invite suppliers to come with an offer. “To start with, it is important that we identify that there is a tender. The next thing is the deadline. We send the offer in a closed envelope. It’s a public budget, tax money, so the supplier with the best price offer, wins the tender. Fair and square. When dealing


Fittings 9 · 2014

course these also have to come into play with our hotel customers. There are more than 65.000 hotel rooms in Holland. They spend a fortune on maintenance. The potential is huge and we have only just begun. In this pioneering phase we’ve got to seize the opportunities that present themselves.” “Recently I visited the Ambassade hotel in Amsterdam, a posh hotel with sixty rooms. All of them have luxurious bathrooms with golden taps. I had ten minutes to pitch our business - so I asked the customer what his biggest problem is. Delivery time for

with private customers, there’s more room for negotiations. Especially, if you have a good personal relation with the customer and understand their needs.” Once the tender or the bid is won, the real work starts: the after sales. All promises in terms of quality and delivery must be kept. “An area where we at ÖAG are extremely good”, says Joseph. “The departments work well together - I feel we’re a good team.

Josef fer ho Mayer

the taps, he told me, was two weeks. So if one broke, they could not rent out the room for two weeks. I offered him to take these taps on stock, if he considered doing business with us.” “The dream scenario? Hilton hotels are THE benchmark, of course. I’d love to land them as a customer. I made the first move but the timing has to be right as well. Approaching companies of this caliber you have to be able to introduce yourself as Ad Bressers, project manager for international hotels at Wolseley. And you have to live up to it, too.”

We spend a lot of time on the large accounts. We visit them more often than we visit the smaller customers. But when we get the orders, we also talk about large numbers. Actually, if we would not pursue these orders, we would loose significant market share. Basically the large customers help us financing for example the fine mazed distribution network we have. It’s all about finding the right mix between the smaller and the large customers.”

es, alsales Ssales,

Champions of customer service

While in 2011/2012 the customer strategy at ÖAG was all about partnership, today the focus has expanded to getting new customers and … to challenge the competition. “THAT DOES not mean at all that customer service is not key any more”, Lukas Schreiner, ÖAG’s HR director says smiling. “We still want our customers to feel great about dealing with us, of course. But the market situation is still challenging and we need to react. The message is to know your customers, manage your facts and figures, identify opportunities and get new customers on board. We want to lift relationships from a predominantly emotional level to an even more

professional level. It’s not only about where our customers go on holiday and what their kids are doing, we need to know how we can support them in jointly gaining business and thus making profit.” “Our sales managers are currently undergoing an intensive sales training, including individual coaching, and

we expect them to pass on their knowledge to their staff. Along with this we facilitate trainings for all our field sales agents in all regions, a joint approach with mixed training groups from both ÖAG Haustechnik and ÖAG Kontinentale. An important aspect is that everybody is getting familiar and comfortable with using our business intelli-

gence systems. They need to know how they can use the system to prepare for their sales meetings. There’s also a lot of attention on approaching new customers and regaining old customers we lost to the competition. It’s about being much more pro-active than we used to be. And just as important is for our people to feel confident, always well prepared and positive. Customers want to buy from winners and that’s the vibe we want our people to radiate.”

Fittings 9 · 2014


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