New technologies, emerging market trends and a rise in a multi-trade approach are creating more opportunities for both installers and suppliers to diversify into new areas.
At The IPG Conference, Installer spoke to Sarah Jones Co-Director of Bathrooms at Source in South London, about how her business is adjusting and supporting a new wave of engineers.
Q: What is Bathrooms at Source?
Sarah: “Bathrooms at Source is a family business based in Wandsworth that’s been trading for 25 years. My brother Terry is my business partner, and he started working in the bathroom industry when he was a teenager cleaning showrooms. He worked his way up to bathroom sales, working for other people, before setting up on his own. I was an auditor for a big company but I took a sabbatical to help him out. I ended up buying into the business, and we’ve been working together for 20 years.
“We’ve been growing steadily, we have a bathroom showroom, a tile showroom, and we’ve recently opened a plumbing and heating trade counter. We have our own installation teams so we can install bathrooms for customers, plus we supply heating and plumbing engineers with the products they need to get their jobs done.”
Q: What makes your offering different?
Sarah: “We’re a bit spit and sawdust but we like that, we don’t like it too polished. Sometimes you can go into a fantastic showroom but it can be uncomfortable and can put installers and customers off. Our trade counter was only just finished at the back end of 2023. We’ve hired Tom to head up our plumbing and heating offering and he’s worked in the industry for a long time. Alongside him is Charlie who will be running the trade counter.
“Charlie is young but he’s great at interacting with the installers who come in. He’s really calm under pressure as well, and it can be stressful taking deliveries and orders when the engineer needs things ASAP. It’s a new venture for us but it’s working well so far. We decided to open because we would have plumbers come in to buy their bathroom products and tiles, and then ask us, why don’t you have these products. They want to buy everything in one place from people that they know, and because we didn’t stock certain things, we would watch them walk across the road and spend hundreds of pounds with our competitors. It didn’t make any sense for them or us, so that’s why we opened the trade counter. As we are traditionally a bathroom showroom, you do have to learn quickly what to stock, what they need and things like that, but we’re investing in training and we’re investing in our people.”
Q: Is that where your link with The IPG and its supplier members is a real advantage?
Sarah: “Absolutely. I initially met Robin Beal and Kevin Oaks from The IPG and then they did an interview at that stage. They don’t take everyone into the group so they wanted to see if we would be a good fit for each other. We were one of the first bathroom showrooms to join the group at the time, but it’s worked well and many more have been added since us. It opens the door to lots of opportunities for us. Before we joined The IPG, we were quite single-minded. We did what we did well and that was selling bathrooms. Through The IPG, we get to talk to their suppliers, and see what products they have that we can add to our offering. Plus we get really good rates so we can pass those savings onto our customers. We are proud members, we have The IPG on our uniforms, we work with their marketing team to help us expand our brand, it’s a sign of quality so our customers who walk in know they’re going to get great service, product selection and prices.”
Q: What are your plans for the future?
Sarah: “We’re growing our offering and training up on new products. We’ve never sold boilers before, but it’s just another product. We will train our staff and get our offering in place, and then we’re away. Renewables are another big opportunity as well, with the government targets and the grants on offer. If our customers want to use us to get those products, then we’ll look into it. For us, it’s all about, service, service, service. With care, good pricing and integrity, we build a better relationship with our customers, and that’s a win-win for everyone. “
To find out more about Bathrooms at Source please visit: bathroomsatsource.com