In a recent evaluation of companies claiming to be conservatory blind “specialists” we were again reminded that home owners are often being offered some poor choices and also poor value for money. Who you are buying from?
The blinds market is dominated by a small number of very large players such as Hillary’s, Thomas Sanderson and the E-commerce, supply-only site, Blinds2Go. These three companies represent 50% to 60% of the blinds market and are wholly owned by Hunter Douglas, the world’s biggest blinds company, whose corporate interests are to serve the shareholder.
Hillary’s and Thomas Sanderson manufacture conservatory blinds and sell via self-employed sales people who work on a commission-only basis. Typically, they run permanent ‘50% Off’ or ‘3 for 2’ offers which are not real. The commission-only sales people they use are only paid on results and using tactics such as giving high starting prices, only to reduce them by up to 50% if you do not sign straight away. We at Oakhurst Blinds will never do this as our pricing is based on our cost of sales and margins associated with employing all our staff in-house.
What you are buying?
Are you being offered blinds that span more than one window when they should be made for individual windows? Some companies offer this to increase their profit margins, but this can leave you with blinds that are awkward to operate or not placed in the correct position to operate the window effectively.
Are you being sold unsuitable lightweight fabrics, wholly inappropriate for conservatories? This again is a tactic to lower prices and increase margins. It frequently happens with motorised options and you can be sold blinds that do not have the solar or thermal properties necessary to be effective in the summer and insulating during the winter, as they are generally just voile (net) type fabrics. Voiles are the cheapest option., solar protective fabrics are in the mid-range, with blackouts and honeycombes being the most expensive.
Many companies claiming to be ‘conservatory blind experts’ lack the product knowledge or expertise required to give the right advise for conservatory blinds. Our recent review has revealed that the commission only companies are not demonstrating the product knowledge required to fulfil the complex criteria a conservatory or lantern demands to achieve the best outcome. A local, general supplier of blinds, for instance, may sell conservatory blinds as part of their offering, but they may be buying the blinds from one of the large Hunter Douglas manufacturers and they may lack the expertise to measure and fit these blinds to deliver the best outcome for you. Oakhurst is one of only a handful of companies in the UK that solely manufacture, supply and fit conservatory blinds.
The Oakhurst Difference
As a professional company that survives and grows on its reputation we will only offer you fabric and blind solutions that are suitable for your conservatory type, style and situation such as the contrasting temperatures experienced in a conservatory over the summer or winter months. We will do this rather than just supply what satisfies the commercial needs of a commission-only sales person. As a truly independent company, Oakhurst has access to all system and fabric suppliers worldwide. We will not sell you products that will fail and which are backed up by incomplete guarantees designed to pass off inferior goods to boost corporate profits. We will provide you with independent, expert advice to ensure that you gain the best outcome and a quality product that is truly fit for purpose and which will serve you for many years to come. This pledge is also backed up by our after-sales support and guarantee.
The growth in on-line retailing has meant that there are many websites offering conservatory blinds with low cost pricing, or even DIY solutions where you measure and fit the blind yourself. Online etailers offer a small range of fabrics at low prices and you measure and fit the blinds yourself. They tend to target blinds for side windows and will offer inferior configurations as that keeps the prices low.
Beware of being drawn into the illusion that this is a product that is easy to measure and fit. The complex nature of shapes and angles within a conservatory, even the sides, requires the attention of a true specialist with the skill and knowledge to measure, make and fit blinds that fits properly. Saving money by going for the cheapest solution or trying the DIY route may lead to buyer’s remorse!