Article by - Andy Lovett Senior Business Development Manager
I have just celebrated my 22nd year of working at Thomas Dudley Limited, I started on 10th May 1999. I have worked in one Sales Capacity or another and have been asked to reflect on my time within the business and what has driven me to be so passionate about passing on the product knowledge that I have gained over all those years.
Even as a child I was very interested in how things work. It would not be long before any mechanical toy that I had been given was taken apart to see how it all worked. Unfortunately, I was not that good at putting them back together again.
That interest in the workings of all things has followed me into my working life, being intently interested in the products that were manufactured and that I was going to be selling to the customers.
When I joined Thomas Dudley the Turbo 88 was still relatively new to the market. Changes in the Water Regulations (January 2001), were about to change the flushing cistern market In the UK as we knew it.
This change brought about the introduction of exciting new products. I saw the introduction of the Dudley Vantage Cistern, which was unique to us at the time, as well as our very early steps into the world of In-Wall Frame Systems, with the introduction of the Illusion Range. This also meant for me, that I had plenty of new product features and benefits that I could talk to my customers about.
The role of Business Development Manager to the OEM sector, sanitary ware and bathroom manufacturers, as well as bathroom retailers, meant that I could use my technical knowledge. What it did highlight to me at that time was that there was a lack of technical knowledge within the industry.
As part of this BDM Role, I was asked to develop our contact and engagement with the Plumbing Colleges, where we encouraged the students to start using Thomas Dudley products in their day to day work. We hoped that this early introduction would continue with them once they had qualified.
The business could see the benefit of the training and invested in a Product Training Room in 2006. This gave us the opportunity to invite customers, installers and plumbing students to the site in Dudley. This gave them a first-hand experience of not only our products but also our UK based Manufacturing & Testing facilities.
Being able to show customers and installers first hand has always been an advantage, but not everyone could get to the main office. In 2015 we took the show on the road, with the introduction of the Dudley Display Vehicle. This enabled us to take our range of products to those merchant customers, installers, and Plumbing Colleges who were unable to come to us.
When we opened the Main Office Building in 2018 a large part of the ground floor was handed over to a showroom display area. During the Covid lockdown we added to the experience by introducing a fully functioning product training room.
Recent changes within the business has meant some changes to my role and during Covid I was asked to take on the role of Technical Support, which I have now continued to do, working for the Tyde Business Unit, part of Thomas Dudley Group of Companies.
The Company has recognised the need to ensure that all staff (new and old) are fully up to speed with our product range and the importance of product training has, once again become a priority. This will make the customer experience of dealing with Tyde a smooth one.
I have prepared eight training modules covering the 6,000 products lines and have begun rolling these out to both our internal and external sales. It has always been my experience that when it comes to training, it is best to start at the very beginning and assume that the people you are training know nothing about your products or even the terminology used.
My intention for the training is to give the knowledge of; What is it? What does it do? How does it do it? And why do we sell it?
Hopefully once our sales staff have been through these training sessions, they will be in an even better position to be able to answer these questions, not only for themselves but for the range of customers that phone us every day.
I would like to think that I have been able to pass on the knowledge and experience that I have gained over the years ensuring that there is a smooth transition from the Old School to the New Generation.