Meeting customers' needs


Travis Perkins plc is one of the leading UK building and plumbing merchants. The company operates using a number of different brand names. These include:

  • Travis Perkins
  • TP Hire
  • Keyline
  • TP Plumbing and Heating
  • CCF - Commercial Ceiling Factors
  • City Plumbing Supplies.

Travis Perkins is a public limited company. The business accounts are available for the public to inspect and it is important that the business is seen to be financially successful.

Its customers represent all the different sizes and types of business within the building industry including large national house builders - plcs such as Barratts, Persimmon Homes, Taywood & Wimpey. Such businesses may never visit a branch with all transactions processed electronically using trading accounts. Smaller local building companies may be private limited companies. Such businesses are expected to be financially secure and to produce annual accounts. They will require regular supplies for contracts they are undertaking. Travis Perkins will provide account facilities for such businesses as long as they pay their bills on time. Other customers might be sole traders - 'one man bands' working for local businesses and private customers. Travis Perkins would require such businesses to demonstrate their financial stability before agreeing to provide account facilities.

The business sells bricks, blocks, sand, cement, insulation, plasterboard, timber and sheet materials such as hardboard, plywood & MDF, doors and windows, hard landscaping products for the garden, bathrooms, showers, kitchens and central heating systems. They are also providers of small plant for hire to assist the professional in carrying out his work.

As a wholesaler/retailer Travis Perkins operates in the tertiary sector; purchasing its products from manufacturers who operate within the secondary sector of industry or directly from the primary sector.

Travis Perkins purchases merchandise from a wide range of different secondary and primary sector suppliers. It is important that the goods purchased are of high quality that will satisfy customers' needs. It is the responsibility of those who negotiate with suppliers to buy quality products from fully reputable and environmentally friendly sources, at the right price. It is also essential that supply is reliable so that the product is available for the customer on demand.

Following a period of growth through acquisition Travis Perkins now has a complementary strategy to grow organically. To do this the business must continuously improve the product and service offering at each outlet, encouraging new customers and ensuring that existing customers keep coming back. It is also important to ensure that customers can always find what they want and are encouraged to buy everything they need.

Travis Perkins is aiming for market leadership and financial strength. Its mission is: 'to maximise market strength through profitability whilst offering optimum returns on investment'.

The Internal customer is all employees and associates of the business are important, they are the point of contact with the external customer. The External customer buys goods from the business. They are also the potential customers the business hopes to attract in the future.

Travis Perkins must strive to continuously improve performance and be better than the competition to keep existing and attract new customers. In order to pursue competitive advantage Travis Perkins is constantly reviewing and adjusting its marketing mix, paying attention to the little things that make a difference.

The marketing mix is also known as the 4Ps:

  • Price
  • Product
  • Place
  • Promotion.


Travis Perkins does not aim to be the cheapest, its aim is to provide value for money and a service customers can rely on. Customers may have tight deadlines. A reliable supply to finish the job is therefore essential.

Some customers are more price sensitive than others. Account customers are given preferential rates depending on their product requirements and purchasing habits - volume and overall spend are two key drivers to create the correct price levels for a specific customer. Goods can also be delivered from the yard or direct from manufacturers to produce the most competitive rate.



Accessibility for customer and supplier is vital to the success of any business. It must also consider how to display goods within its premises, for instance, placing similar or complementary products close to each other and labelling products clearly.


All businesses need to tell the customer what it has to offer. It is important that Travis Perkins considers carefully the most effective methods of promotion to maximise sales. Strategies might include; special offers, on line ordering, point of sale offers, trade shows and exhibitions.

The marketing mix for Travis Perkins has:

For price

  • standard prices for one-off customers
  • differentiated discounts for account holders/frequent purchasers
  • many products are discounted
  • offer value for money and an excellent service.

For place

  • branches need to be accessible by road
  • adequate car and van parking
  • space for loading/unloading
  • complementary products need to be near each other
  • impulse buys at point of sale
  • associated services such as hire, kitchen planning where appropriate
  • safe & friendly environment.

For product

  • needs to reflect lifestyle changes
  • needs to reflect legislation and technology advances
  • added value products such as pre-packed bags of sand and cement for easy transportation
  • ready-made wooden constructions such as trellis, fence panels, doors & windows
  • link selling to ensure the customers buy associated products such as fixings & finishing materials.

For promotion

  • website
  • online ordering
  • tool hire online
  • exhibitions
  • customer surveys
  • special offers and value lines - Spotlight and Red Hot Offers feature the very best deals each month
  • catalogues/direct mail
  • sports sponsorship.

In January 2003 Travis Perkins launched excel an integrated customer service programme across all branches. The Managing Director, (Operations) of Travis Perkins, John Carter, explained to staff within the business that: 'excel is all about each and every one of us "making a difference" by working together to provide customers with a quality of service that outstrips their expectations'.

Key performance indicators include:

  • Quote conversions: Using the quote system to raise a customer order ensures customers get served promptly and pricing is consistent.
  • Link selling: Offering additional related products to the customer, saving them a second journey and increasing the total value of the sales.
  • Invoice accuracy: Making sure that goods are not faulty or sent out wrongly and paperwork is accurate.
  • Core range availability: Always having core stock available to meet customers' requirements.
  • Pricing consistency: Ensuring account customers have pricing terms loaded onto the IT systems to suit their requirements at any branch nationwide.
  • Positive attendance: Encouraging every member of the team to be at work and helping each other out.
  • Trading accounts: Encouraging account customers to spend more.

The Customer Service Group is led by at least four members of staff who meet regularly. The purpose of the meetings is to:

  • plan research
  • review the results of research
  • review actions taken to improve customer service
  • review performance against KPIs
  • plan activities to further improve customer service
  • prioritise the top three actions
  • prepare minutes of the meetings.

In order to understand how well a branch is performing it will need to conduct some research.

Research at each branch has three strands. This approach is different from many other businesses. Many businesses will use Market Research organisations to conduct in-depth research to find out the buying potential of the customer. This might be primary research where the customer is asked directly for their views in a survey or questionnaire or it might be secondary research to find out more general information about the buying habits of different sectors of the population.

Travis Perkins has used this approach in the past. It is, however, its belief that the business will benefit from finding out the views of the customer at the point of sale, building a relationship directly with the customer in a much more personal way. Markets differ and this approach allows local needs to be met. Employees are also more likely to believe and implement results of research they have carried out themselves.

Travis Perkins has to maintain profitability in order to keep shareholders happy and to develop and grow in a sustainable way.

excel was launched expressly to enhance customer service across the network of branches, communicating the value and importance of attention to the customer. The research is very focused on determining customer needs, branch by branch. It is also important that there is a designated team in each branch which can communicate the customer service strategies to the rest of the staff thus ensuring ownership at branch level.

The ultimate aim of excel is to increase sales through total customer satisfaction, resulting in continuously improved business performance.