Cheap Thrills: The Pros and Cons of Low-Priced Budget Blinds

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June 21st 2019

By Greg Worthington, Rullgardin UK

Rullgardin Banner Image

One of the most recent partners we’ve added to the LNPG roster is Rullgardin Blinds, a family-run business specialising in all things blinds and window coverings. It’s one of those things that typically gets left at the bottom of the list when you’re taking on a new refurb. However, as with most things, setting aside the right budget in the in the first instance can often save you a lot of time, money, and headaches down the line.

Thankfully Greg Worthington at Rullgardin UK has years of experience and stacks off passion for this field and has given us a thorough breakdown of top tips and best practices.

For more information, or to get in touch with Rullgardin UK directly, check out the Rullgardin page of the LNPG website (make sure to sign in if you’re a member!).

How to tell a Rolls-Royce from a Reliant Robin: Spotting the Real Value in Blinds

What’s the real difference between an expensive blind versus a cheap one? They all do the same thing don’t they?

Well here in the UK, there are companies that invest a serious amount of time and money making vertical and roller blind component parts. These are patented and tested to destruction and will far outlast any of the imported parts coming into the UK.

I’ve manufactured blinds myself, so it’s obvious to me when I come across a substandard product. Cheap plastics in a south-facing window will probably only last a year or two before becoming brittle and breaking. At least they’ve got the warranty backing the product up, we can just get the guy to come back out and fix it, right?

Well, whose to say they’re still in business? A lot of businesses will jump from company to company supplying the same products but invalidating any warranties they may have given in the past. Even if you’re lucky enough to get in contact with the same company you got your blinds from a year or two ago, you might end up being turned away under the pretence that they don’t make that very specific type of blind anymore, you’ll just have to get a new one instead! It’s something I’ve come across time and time again.

So what do you need to know? Well first of all, big manufacturers don’t just change their component parts every two years, and if they do change them, the new models are almost always compatible with their old parts which are still kept on for years.

…you will soon find out that the tracks

and components are the most expensive

parts you can buy!

On the other side of the spectrum, the cheap components that flood the market from time to time tend not to be compatible with our major UK manufacturers. This is particularly frustrating for customers as you will soon find out that the tacks and components are the most expensive parts you can buy! The false economy is that the cheap untested parts which simply don’t cut it (especially in a commercial, HMO, or rental setting) are worth ‘saving’ a few quid for in the first place.

After all this, you’ve got the age-old fabric debate, and this is a great one. Did you know that some of the market leader in fabric production are based right here in the UK and Ireland? These companies invest heavily in the testing of fabrics to ensure longevity, fire-resistance, and resistance to fading.

The remaining percentage of fabrics tend to be imported from China and India – in the vast majority these are not tested or manufactured to any typical standard or specification; they’re just cheap copies. In the interests of fairness and transparency, I will say that a tiny percentage of these fabrics are made on licence, but it’s incredibly difficult to know which ones these are, especially if you aren’t looking at these fabrics every day.

You won’t have to look too hard to find multiple manufacturers selling the same fabric at vastly different price points. This all points toward these manufacturers buying from the same wholesaler and rebranding the fabrics with a fancy new logo to push up the price. It should go without saying that any reputable company stays well away from this practice and will stand by their products, normally warrantying against any non-destructive faults.

Rullgardin Collection

What Dave Down the Road isn’t Telling You…

It’s something most of us in any industry have come up against in the past. We measure up, recommend the best options, and quote, only to be told that Dave down the road is coming in £300 cheaper. After all, he can do three blinds for £99 and fit tomorrow!

I’ve laughed about this many times myself – it simply doesn’t add up! If Dave can do it for that price then he must be the biggest manufacturer of blinds in the UK; he must not have liability insurance in case he drills through a pipe etc.; he must not have any VAT or overheads to pay, nor vehicles to keep on the road! No company can survive on this margin and still manage to keep all of their promises to clients.

In the last two years alone, we have seen perhaps 30 companies pop up offering crazy deals: 3 for £99, 5 for £150, a whole house for £299! Unsurprisingly these companies don’t last long. For most, they go into this business expecting easy money, but the reality is the easiest thing is actually putting the blind up. Even for a small project you’ll spend a minimum of three hours sorting samples, site visits, and making sure you’ve got the right products for the right customers – it all takes time and money, but is well worth it if you know you’re getting the job done right.

…we’re available outside of regular

office hours because there simply

isn’t enough time in a working day

This is part of the reason why we make such a point to be contactable outside of office hours, as well as being available to install out of hours, because there is simply not enough time in a working day.

Now, I wonder if Dave down the road is willing to come out on a weekend to repair those £99 blinds? Well, we know the answer to that, just listen to the Spanish dial tone!

The longstanding businesses in this industry are predominantly family-run businesses for good reason. The reason businesses like ours don’t disappear over night is because we know the ins and outs of the industry and are prepared to charge a fair price for our work to ensure the job is done correctly. We use good quality components and fabrics, and most of all look after our customers!

We Need to Talk About Child Safety Laws

It seems at times that many people tend to switch off when it comes to child safety laws in the blinds and window coverings industry. If your properties cater to young families, it’s so important to be getting the right products for the job.

Only a few months ago I was asked by a client to sort out a problem with another company’s installation. The customers had three toddlers and the company had installed venetian blinds throughout. The trouble was that they had put the safety bracket behind the blinds leaving two metres of cord hanging down just waiting for the kids to get caught up in! Not only is this dangerous, it also meant that unnecessary holes were drilled in the customer’s brand-new windows. It just goes to show that even the companies that claim to be child-safety aware sometimes allow things to slide, which is why it’s so important to make sure you know the facts yourself before allowing yourself to get swindled.

If you know there are likely to be children in your properties at some point, you need to make sure your contractor is aware and installs the appropriate child safety devices, as they are required to do so by law (this does not apply to your own home when you install yourself).

Product Shot

The Self-Installation Money Machines

Talking of self-installation, you’d be hard-pressed in this industry to come up against some of the huge retailers both online and offline that try to price out the rest of the market by using the self-install model.

The sad reality of these businesses is that despite their reputation for value, once you go above the insanely cheap low-quality ranges, they are in fact no more competitive than anyone else. I mentioned the rebranding of imported fabrics earlier in this article, and this is one of the many cases where you’ll need to keep a sharp eye to avoid being stung. As with everything, it always pays to shop around.

There will always be a place in the market for high volume, low quality, self-installation blinds, but when you’re looking to rent out a property the risk of having no fallback, warranty, and a possible improper installation far outweighs any reward that might be gained by the small saving you get in the first instance.

Closing

I think it’s fair to say I could talk about blinds and the window coverings industry all day long and still not run out of things to say. It’s an aspect of the rental products market that can sometimes be a little hard to understand and I want to do my bit to make it as transparent as possible and keep my clients happy and within their budget.

The best advice I can give is to pay that little more for quality products to make sure you won’t have to revisit the job in six months’ time when you should be focussing your time and attention somewhere else. Fortunately, LNPG members are in a unique position to benefit from getting the best products available for the job while making a saving from the everyday price across this and many other industries.

For more information, or to get in touch with Rullgardin UK directly, check out the Rullgardin page of the LNPG website (make sure to sign in if you’re a member!).