Treat yourself to repeat business

Treat yourself to repeat business

BLOG · BY TTF CEO, DAVID HOPKINS · FIRST PUBLISHED IN BUILDERS MERCHANT NEWS MARCH 2021

Equipping your staff with timber treatments knowledge can enhance your reputation and lead to repeat business

This summer’s launch of the Code for Construction Product Information (CCPI) means we will all have to be much more up-front about the depths and limits of our knowledge. Timber suppliers are there to help you, the merchant, to provide accurate information to customers and this is particular relevant when it comes to ‘treated timber’. Familiar descriptions such as ‘green treated’ will need to be replaced with much more precise information, detailing the official ‘Use Class’ (or application to you and me) for which the preservative-treated timber is intended.

The term ‘green treated’ has become part of the lexicon of the trade, but what does that mean precisely? There’s often a green tinge to preservative-treated softwood but the colour imparted by the treatment is not an indicator of the loading of preservative within the timber. This varies according to the end use to which the timber is being put. Nor are terms like ‘green treated’ or ‘brown treated’ any kind of indicator of likely performance or desired service life.

At the TTF’s annual general meeting back in November, members agreed to formalise what many are already undertaking: to identify, on stock and sales documents, the Use Class which the treated wood being supplied is suitable for. All members supplying treated timber should have completed this change to their systems by the end of March. Merchants should therefore be able to tell one type of treated timber from another, and thus to be able to point their customers even more easily to the right treated product for the right job.

To ensure merchants are ahead of the product information curve, TTF and our partners in this campaign, the Wood Protection Association (WPA), have produced a joint leaflet which can be downloaded from the TTF Merchants Resources web page. This opens up into an A3 poster which you can display at the trade counter, so you can help to educate your own customer base. Helping you to train your staff, a training presentation, freely available to merchants, builders – and even householders should they be interested – is also being made available through both the TTF and WPA websites.

The presentation goes through the reasons behind timber treatment; how timber is treated; and the different areas of a house and garden which need timber treated to the three key Use Class applications for domestic work: UC2 for dry interior situations; UC3 for external timber used above ground (e.g. decking boards and cladding) and UC4 for softwood products that rest on or are used in the ground. This UC4 category includes decking joists, even if they are placed on top of a weed-proof membrane on installation. Download a copy and make sure your staff is prepared and able to answer any questions. We all know that merchants trade on their knowledge and customers are likely to come back again and again if they feel they’re getting good advice. Creating the opportunity for repeat business with treated timber adds further value to the profitable timber products category.

Preservative treatments for softwoods help to make the most of a valuable resource.  Extending the potential service life of timber to 15, 30 or even 60 years enables the CO2 within the wood fibre to remain locked in for longer. Yet it’s not just in terms of wood where resources are being optimised.  Unlike brush-on coatings, the pressure treatment of wood minimises human contact with preservatives. There is also little waste involved in the industrial treatment of timber, if carried out under factory-controlled conditions.

There are other methods of treating softwoods for decking and cladding:  the ThermoWood® process, pioneered in Scandinavia, uses thermal modification to extend the potential service life of the timber. Other modification processes, such as Accoya®, Lignia® and Kebony® also offer longer life-spans. There is the additional option – and opportunity – to sell hardwoods to any potential timber users wanting extended longevity in their timber, and who wish to invest for the future.

All of these present merchants with added-value selling opportunities. Here again, though, staff need training to be confident in selling a fit for purpose product. It all goes to show that, as American racing driver Bobby Unser once said: “Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.”

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