LJN Blog Posts

Garden arches Guarantees and Warranties

I have started reading a book called Ogilvy on Marketing by David Ogilvy, David Ogilvy was considered, I am told to be one of the leading men in his field and a great source of inspiration to the world of marketing. One of the first adverts shown in the book as an example, was for a Rolls Royce with the headline “At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce is the ticking of the clock”. At the time of the advert a new roller cost $13500 and had a warranty of 36 months. I wondered what today’s warranty is; 48 months, price tag £330,000, so the guaranteed life of an expensive vehicle is 4 years. Kia on the other hand make less expensive vehicles a £7500 starting price and a 7-year warranty.What does that say about confidence in your product? Rolls Royce who make the best car in the world (their opinion), will only guarantee the best car in the world for 4 years, Kia on the other hand guarantee their cars for 7 years.I started thinking what I could give in the way of guarantees for my garden arches and garden products, should I be working on the Rolls Royce principal offer a shorter warranty than my competitors? What should I guarantee my product against? Rust perhaps? I have an arch on order from a customer who wants it left unpainted so it rusts, one of my customers offers his arches (some made by us), naturally rusted. So rust for some people is not important, should I guarantee longevity? If a £330,000 car can only be depended on for 4 years how long should a £67 garden arch or a £36 obelisk last for?So I had a look round at some of the other people in my field to see what warranties they were offering. I found none above the fourteen days defective materials and workmanship, I am not saying that there aren’t some companies offering longer guarantees, I am just saying I didn’t find them.I could offer a warranty that all our standard products are made from solid iron or steel, not thin tubing, which means they won’t corrode from the inside or fill up with water when it rains then freeze and split in winter. I could say that they are guaranteed to have as few as possible parts so they can be assembled easily and quickly. I could guarantee that you can normally stand on the bottom bar of an arch or gazebo side and it won’t collapse. I could show people the way we have tested some of our gazebos for strength, I could, well, all right this is how we have done it on occasion.

Its a very crude method but fifteen and a half stone seems a fairly good test, our customerthought so too, the gazebo in the photo was to replace a tubular one that had blown down.This was the first use of this test process but we have used it since on new designs andspecial sizes. I don’t know whether the thin tube gazebos are tested like this, perhaps they are, most of ours have been.I am still left with the problem of guarantees. Do people who buy Kia cars think that they must be more reliable than a Rolls Royce because the manufacturer has the confidence to guarantee them for seven years? Three years longer than Rolls-Royce?I don’t know, David Ogilvy went on to say “ I resigned the Rolls-Royce account when they sent five hundred defective cars to the United States.”Why do people buy a product? A guarantee doesn’t always seem to do the trick; I have been offered marketing courses that guarantee my money back or double my money back if I am not satisfied with the results. Would the guarantee persuade me? Not so far, it’s about confidence in the product, that is what is lacking for me, with their marketing courses.Would the Kia drivers prefer a Rolls-Royce to their car even though it has a shorter warranty? Do Kia have to offer a longer warranty to inspire the confidence in their brand they feel wouldn’t be there, if they had a shorter Rolls-Royce length warranty?So what can I offer my customers in the way of a guarantee?If you buy our gazebos most have them been tested by having a fifteen and a half stone bloke hanging from them? Could I guarantee that our products can be assembled quicker than a lot of the thin tubular ones? those ones with a gazillion bits and pieces, (most of our arches have a maximum of five main pieces, many of them as few as three (plus nuts and bolts between four and six of those).Could I say that if you live in the fens put one of our arches up and grow roses over it, then there is a very good chance it will still be there sixteen years later?Perhaps I should say all of these things.
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  • PRO
    A good post Phil and you ask some thought provoking questions about guarantees. To my mind it's all about managing client expectations.

    If you wrote about the conditions that your gazebos have to endure during its lifetime and then ask your client to consider what it is they expect to receive from their purchase then I think you will be 90% toward them not coming to expect a lifetime guarantee on your product.

    It's as simple as writing a short statement about how metal reacts, over time, to certain weather conditions and different climates in the UK (or elsewhere). Once a client realises that if they live on the west coast and within a few miles of the sea that the combination of higher rainfall and salty air will corrode certain metals at a greater rate than a sheltered position in a garden away from the sea, they will automatically consider the lifespan of the product and not expect anything unrealistic.
  • Thank you Phil.
    I do try and get coastal customers to buy galvanised products. Most of my clients and customers are older and are willing to listen to advice, they are not overly price sensitive as long as they are content with the quality and think the product offers good value for money.
    The blog was really a thinking aloud excercise. Marketing courses I have attended place a lot of emphasis on guarantees but to my way of thinking a guarantee is an incidental, an add on to add reassurance, it should not be a central component of a product. I hope other people may add their thoughts, their views would interest me.
    The business link marketing courses are all about giving you a leg up moving your thinking forward, I would pay for courses some of these people who presented these workshops offer and have bought their books. They wouldn't need to give me a guarantee.
    I have attended other low cost or free courses where the object has been mainly to sell you another more expensive course and from that to enroll you onto a more expensive still programme. The guarantees have not persuaded me to join, lack of confidence in them has discouraged me despite guarantees from signing up.
    The David Ogily Rolls-Royce advert, despite being probably forty years old started the hare running in my head. The book is an interesting read recomended in a book on marketing I have been rereading.
  • Very good blog post Phil, and thank you for letting us know about a good book.

    It may sound silly but you will find that another thing that people still think that means quality is a price. Do really a £200,000 worth it in value? no, and I have few friends that build these cars. But for any customer that is looking for low cost you may find one that will say he is looking for quality and that means more expensive.

    So what to do : I think the best is what you actually do , offer all qualities and prices levels- and be bold so you can offer a Rolls Royce product at a Rolls Royce price and a Kaya for a kaya person.

    But you probably know it all, long before me, Wonderful photo that will work far better than low a price and a must I think on your home page.
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