Product switch-out, or switching specification, is a common occurrence in the UK construction industry.
Initial project specifications and designs will be created with a specific product in mind, where the architect or design professional will engineer a product into the design plans. At this stage, they will have either:
– A previous relationship with a product supplier, therefore confident the product and brand are technically a good fit for the project.
– Carried out product research, usually through search engines, social media or trusted construction portals/websites.
– Gained technical advice from specialist consultants e.g. fire, sustainability, acoustics, and other specialist areas.
If you are successful in getting your product included in early design details, then great. But, unfortunately the specification process evolves as the building takes shape and develops. And this means product selection changes as product equivalents are sourced by contractors and sub-contractors.
Why are products switched out?
Products are switched during a specification due to the following reasons:
- Price: where sub-contractors value-engineer lower-cost product alternatives
- Technical competence: where products are changed due to compliance with relevant Building Regulations or where they demonstrate levels of innovation
- Availability: where products can’t be supplied on time due to bespoke requirements
- Relationship with other product supplier: if contractors or sub-contractors have a strong relationship with another building product manufacturer who they feel will provide a technically reliable solution, products will be switched
It is important to realise most product decisions evolve, from the early design stages right through to the construction works. At each stage, construction teams will influence the product selection.
Right at the beginning, the client defines the brief and their requirements. They will have an idea of what they are trying to achieve, and may have already seen products in place in other projects.
Next, the architects or design engineers will specify a product based on its performance and aesthetic qualities.
The Quantity Surveyor will then look at product selection and ensure they represent value, based on initial construction costs as well as the lifetime of a building.
The contractor and sub-contractor will look at product selection to see if they can value engineer a more cost-effective solution. They will also base their decisions based on products they have previously worked with and installed.
How to avoid product switch-out?
Having a good specification strategy is the best way to avoid product switch out. It can help not only defend your product specification (i.e. avoid your product being switched out), but also attack specifications where your competitor products have been selected.
Your specification strategy should outline:
- Each of the specifier types within a specification process.
- What stages do they get involved within specification?
- What are their individual requirements?
Obviously it is important to ensure your product offering is technically sound, complies with the relevant UK Building Regulations, is readily available or lead times aren’t too long, and price is reasonable for the overall project requirements.
But if you fulfil all of the above criteria and cover all bases, the most important strategy you can implement to avoid product switch out is setting a clear specification strategy.
What does this mean?
Your specification strategy is a plan of action for building your brand, developing key relationships and communicating with your audience. By doing this, you increase sales by increasing product specification, and reducing product switch out.
Here are two crucial factors you should consider for avoiding product switch out:
1) Consistency in your communications
There are thousands of marketing messages out there in the construction sector every day fighting for attention.
If you’re posting over social media every now and again, writing new blog posts every few months, or sending out emails whenever you have time, this isn’t going to work or build awareness.
To get noticed by your audience or customers you need to be consistent.
Trust is a major barrier to a sale. The best way to build trust with your audience is by being consistent with how often you communicate with them, while also making sure your message (e.g. tone, language, benefits) is consistent too, which takes us on to the next factor:
2) Clarity in your communications
Clarity is everything. Don’t use fancy language or too many insider technical terms, as this may confuse your audience.
If you confuse them, you’ll lose them.
We realise there are certain technical terms you may need to mention, but it’s all about balance. Don’t overload whatever you’re writing with technical language as it makes your message less clear.
Also, when you are posting to your audience – social media channels, email campaign or a website blog; make sure you are writing about what your customers want, rather than what you have to offer.
Don’t focus on your product features, focus on what problems it solves for your customer.
“Our glass balustrade systems feature stainless steel handrails, 10mm toughened safety glass and a variety of glass clamps.”
This statement doesn’t capture attention as it talks about a product, which doesn’t relate to your audience.
Your audience wants to know your glass balustrade system will ensure their project complies with all UK Building Regulations, is aesthetically on point for their client, and will stand the test of time.
This is what captures attention, builds trust, and helps your business to stand out.
And importantly, will ensure your product stays within the specification and isn’t switched out.
Consistent and clear communications should be an important consideration for your specification strategy. It is a crowded marketplace in the construction sector, and as a result it is important to build relationships and increase awareness through regular marketing activities.
Specifiers choose products from manufacturers they know, like and trust. And this stems from a consistent specification sales strategy.
Time54 can help you avoid product switch out and sell more products
Time54 is a specialist marketing agency that works exclusively with construction industry clients. We can build your brand awareness through strategic marketing that leads to specification inclusion and the avoidance of specification switch out.
Time54 works with and has helped many building and interiors companies raise their awareness in the marketplace and increase their specification inclusion on numerous projects.
We are a specialist building and interiors marketing agency and help brands to:
- Increase specification.
- Influence architects and interior designers.
- Build authority.
If you are interested in how we can help your business grow with specification led marketing, get in touch to organise a Power Hour zoom meeting.
This is a one hour zoom meeting where we listen to your plans and ambitions to understand your products, services, and route to market. It is aimed at directors, marketing managers and business owners within the construction and interiors sectors who are looking to raise awareness of their business, generate leads, and improve sales.
The Power Hour is free to all building and interiors based businesses looking increase awareness, leads and sales through effective, long term marketing strategies with experienced building and interior marketing specialists Time54.