Daniel Collins, director at Certass member Daylight Installations, talks to Total Installer about confidence, Covid challenges, and his frustrations over competitors who sell their products for ‘next to nothing’…
What was your path into the glazing sector?
When I was younger I didn’t know what I wanted to do. My first job was in a sponge factory,
but it was just to pay the bills really! I wanted something that would lead to somewhere, so I joined a fabricator, making the kind of windows and doors I now install. I worked my way up to factory manager, running the whole factory. From there I worked with other installation companies in roles such as installations manager and project manager. I always knew the money was in installations, so I started my own business, Daylight Installations. Our mission is to provide the best possible product and service at an affordable price.
If you had one piece of advice about starting a glazing installation business, what would it be?
Don’t put any restrictions on yourself. When you’re running a business, every job is important and small jobs can lead to bigger projects. And don’t ever be afraid of the bigger projects that come along – have confidence in yourself and your team.
Tell us about a recent project…
We replaced windows and doors at the Hockley Day Centre not long ago. We’re based in Hockley, so it was great to work on a project that’s a key part of the local community. We have had lots of referral business and recommendations from it too.
You must have worked on some difficult projects over the years. Does one in particular stand out?
There was a job where we were replacing the windows on some residential flats, and the supports for the bay window hadn’t been put in properly when they were built. We were there till 8pm building new timber sections and installing them so that the window had proper support, but it’s always worth taking the time to get it right and do the best job.
What’s the most frustrating thing about your job?
Other people in the industry! It’s very frustrating when companies sell products for next to nothing – explaining to customers that our prices are based on the best quality workmanship and essentially a service for 10 years after installation with our guarantees. We’ve had so many calls from homeowners who have gone for the cheapest offer, had windows fitted badly and when there’s a problem, the installation company doesn’t want to know.
…And the most satisfying?
When we are recommended by a customer, or they send through really positive feedback. A lot of work goes into delivering the service levels that we offer and it’s always nice to get that extra recognition from a happy customer. Recommendations and reviews are so important for helping keep our business going. It’s also nice when everything goes to plan! Having a day on site where there are no nasty surprises is always a better day!
What’s your most important tool?
What’s the best social media platform for your business?
Facebook. Especially since Covid-19 and Certass introduced the members forum. Having a direct line to the team is great because your questions get answered straight away.
What’s the biggest issue currently affecting you as an installer?
Covid-19 has had a massive impact on the way we work. We’ve worked around it, putting the extra systems in place to keep our customers and team safe. We’re doing all of our quotes online to reduce the number of visits we make to a property. But in this line of work, meeting people face to face is really one of the most important things – it’s much easier to chat through their options with them and give them the chance to decide if you’re the right person to do their work. My Certass membership has come in really handy. They’re used to putting these kinds of documents together and all the resources have been brilliant.