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Honesty: the best sales policy
20th May 2021

Honesty: the best sales policy

Honesty: the best sales policy

BLOG · BY TTF CEO, DAVID HOPKINS · FIRST PUBLISHED IN BUILDERS MERCHANTS JOURNAL APRIL 2021

“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom,” early American president Thomas Jefferson once said. And there’s a lot of honesty and wisdom needed in selling construction products, particularly in a merchant setting. Merchants are expected to be experts in everything from taps to timber. I’m pleased to say that we’re about to lighten your load by helping you to sell fit for purpose treated timber products this summer season, providing you with precise information and marketing material you can use with your customers. 

Honesty is also the principle behind the development of the Code for Construction Product Information, which starts its roll-out across the building supply chain, amongst firms large and small, in June. Brought into being following the Grenfell disaster, the Code, being co-ordinated by the Construction Products Association, voluntarily yet morally obliges everyone from suppliers to merchants and builders to provide customers with product information that is: ‘clear, accurate, up-to-date, accessible (so that it can be understood by anyone using or installing it), and unambiguous’. Getting in early, then, with accurate, clear information about preservative-treatments for softwoods, and making sure all your staff are up to speed on the topic, will be of benefit to your business.

Terms like ‘green treated’ are not specific: they don’t tell you or your customer what you need to know about the level of treatment that product has received. In fact, the standard BS 8417 arranges timber products into ‘Use Classes’. Each Class of timber product may have a very different level of preservative loaded in when under pressure in the treatment tank. Products may end up looking the same, but they may not last in use. Confused? You need be no longer. The Timber Trade Federation members supplying preservative-treated softwoods are marking on their sales and delivery notes and invoices the Use Class application for which the timber has been treated. This will enable you to sell it correctly at the trade counter.

Merchants can play their part in providing accurate information to customers by passing on that information. The TTF and our colleagues at the Wood Protection Association (WPA) are providing a free leaflet, opening out into a poster you can display at the counter or near your timber racks, detailing the Use Classes: UC2 for timbers to be used in dry interior situations, where the only water contact might be, say, an occasional leak from a pipe; UC3u (the ‘u’ standing for uncoated) for material like shed or building cladding or deck boards used outside but above ground, and UC4 for any material that sits on or used in the ground, such as fence posts and deck joists. There’s also a training presentation for your staff and other resources on the TTF website’s Merchants Resources page.

The Code for Construction Product Information is the start of a movement we should all applaud.  Easter and the start of the outdoor timber products selling season is also something to celebrate, and there are business benefits in the added-value represented by the right treatments. As our April-born bard, William Shakespeare, succinctly put it: “no legacy is ever as rich as honesty.”

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