Sunday, April 02, 2017

Reviving the neglected bathroom

"They don't pay much attention to bathrooms on TV programmes about home refurbishment," muses Ger Dooley of the Kildare Bathroom Company. "Yet they're the most cost effective way of giving a home a lift."

He's right. Even TV guru of home makeovers Dermot Bannon doesn't give bathrooms much programme space. Living rooms get into dispute, kitchen handles raise controversy, the colour or size of windows can apparently almost close down a build. But bathrooms just get, well, flushed away?

Not at the Kildare Bathroom Company. Business has grown steadily over the last three years at their premises in the Link Business Park, with customers visiting from an ever widening geographical base, stretching from Dublin to Kilkenny and Tipperary as well as significantly distant points east and west.

"Personal service. Styles variety. And value." Three core reasons why Ger and his team are finding themselves busier. And a fourth which may be as important as all three together. "Referrals from satisfied customers. One refurbishment leads to another, and that to others, and so on. It's the best kind of advertisement."

The term 'refurbishment' is not accidental. As the country pulls further out of recession, there's one particularly noticeable change. "People got used to there being no money to enable them to move, and became more interested in refurbishing their homes. That increased the individual customers coming in to our showroom. Looking for ideas, advice, often wanting a full turnkey solution."

With some 30 years experience in the plumbing, heating and bathroom business, Ger can offer that too. "As well as supply only, we can also
organise the full package of plumbing, tiling and electrical, to completely transform your bathroom."

People are watching the TV shows, reading more magazines, even bringing in pictures of ideas they see on social media like Pinterest. "The internet has changed things, people have done their research before we ever see them. Their lives are busy, they fit it in between the school runs, career commitments, their leisure and family time."

Then they arrive in Ger's showroom saying "this is what I'm looking at ... what can you give me like it?" Sometimes 'it' might not be what they need. May not even be suitable. "One of the big things at the moment is wet rooms, but often there isn't the space to make them work. I've talked myself out of several such sales, because you have to make sure that the customer will eventually get the right solution for their space and their needs. People come in with their thoughts and we spend time to help tease them out. I'd hope they leave with a better idea of what they need than when they came in. The personal touch is something we feel we can do better than any of the larger chain stores, and our customers appreciate that."

Ger's showroom in the Link offers a wide range of options in bathroom fittings, accessories and styles, attractive both to individual customers and the increasing number of interior designers he now deals with. Suites, cabinets, lighting, complementing tiles, proper extraction systems. Even bluetooth has made it to the bathroom in bluetooth-enabled speakers. "Some people just can't be away from the music on their phones or iPods even in the bath," Ger says with a bemused grin.

Other trends include underfloor electric heating pads for bathrooms, not much more expensive than, say, an electric towel rail. Apart from the comfort, they'll help reduce excess humidity and the issues which can result from that.

Tiles are an essential for bathrooms, and there is a large selection to choose from on display in the showroom. But even if you don't see what you want there, Ger has access to more than 4,000 styles and patterns which will surely meet any customer's needs.

Apart from the bathroom sector, the Kildare Bathroom Company has also built up a steady customer base in solid fuel stoves. There's particular interest in the inset variants at the moment especially in modern styles and colours. It's no longer a case that you can have any colour as long as it's black ..."

The Trade Counter continues as a key part of the Kildare Bathroom Company's operation, underpinned by similar principles of good customer service and a full inventory of a professional contractor's needs. The counter is also open to the public for DIYers, so there's a constant stream of business across it.

All in all Ger Dooley's Kildare Bathroom Company is pretty much a one stop shop for all bathroom, tile and stove requirements. "With a keen eye on trend and budget we will endeavour to make the shopping experience with us a pleasurable one."

And remember, as their slogan says, 'Dooley Does Great Deals'.

Ger on right with Joe Nolan and Shane Finglas.