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Customer focus at Haldane Fisher

Investment at the company’s shop areas is making a real difference

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Wednesday 13 January 2016


Haldane Fisher prides itself on service and a significant investment at the company’s shop areas is making a real difference to customers. Over the years, Haldane Fisher has evolved, with the company as equally recognised for its prestige in timber as it is as both a leading builders’ merchant and plumbers’ merchant. This has led to a significant array of products in every branch which is constantly evolving.

In a bid to make its product offering more coherent, the company recruited ‘The Retail Consultant’ Des Mulholland to work alongside a dedicated team from Haldane Fisher. The result has been a significant investment in the company’s shop areas, all of which is aimed at making every customer’s visit that little bit more straightforward.

“Our investment in recent years in refurbishing our bathroom showrooms gave us an insight into what can be achieved by delivering a more customer-focussed approach, so we were conscious that our shops were not laid out as well as they could be,” explained David Haldane, Managing Director of Haldane Fisher in Northern Ireland.

“Our customer service and product range are second-to-none, but due to the sheer scale of our operation, everything had become a little disjointed. This investment has now delivered a consistent approach across all our branches that recognises the pressures our customers are under. When they are waiting at a trade counter, they aren’t making money, so this new approach is focussed on ensuring they get in and out of our branches as quickly as possible with a complete order and the best possible prices and service.”

So far, the merchandising programme has been completed at Belfast (Ladas Drive), Lisburn, Bangor, Coleraine, Larne and Newry. The two Portadown branches at Castle Street and Mahon Road along with the Ballymena and Balmoral (Belfast) branches, are set to be completed in due course.

The changes are the result of the work carried out by a project team, led by David, that also included Associate Area Directors, the Buying Team, Marketing Team and appropriate Branch Managers. This team was supported by Des, who has extensive experience not only in general retail but also the merchant sector.

Meeting every month, the project team worked on a branch-by-branch basis as part of an exhaustive process that included gaining input from staff and customers. The team also reviewed the product categories the company had on display and looked at the exposure each product had.

Des, who has worked extensively within the builders’ merchant sector and who is also a social media expert, praised Haldane Fisher’s positive approach.

“Haldane Fisher is very customer service driven and they embraced this process positively to make a series of wholesale changes,” he said. “Key to this is changing the dynamic on the shop floor. Previously, customers had to speak to staff at the counter to request a wide range of items. We’ve now changed this dynamic to create a more positive, welcoming atmosphere that is easy to navigate.

“New signage clearly defines each product range and we have strategically placed associated products alongside each other. This has been enhanced with the introduction of dedicated areas for seasonal products and for the Trade Best Buys deals promotions.

“By lowering the shelf heights in the central areas, we now have clear sight lines for both customers and staff, meaning it is easy for customers to find the products they need and for staff to see if someone is in need of assistance.

“Again, this all adds to the welcoming atmosphere for everyone from the trade customer through to the DIY customer and adds to the overall level of effective customer service.” This evolution will be a continual process, with all branches audited every quarter on merchandising standards against pre-agreed targets.David concluded, “This has been a long process but we realise that some areas will need to be refined. The initial roll-out has been a great success and customer feedback has been excellent, so we will continue to listen and learn.”

*Article as appeared in Northern Builder magazine.