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August 2012

Protecting Reputations, a Cautionary Tale About Specification

Reputation is not what the leaders of a business insist it is, but what others perceive it to be. That’s really important, because the knock-on effect of a customer who has had a bad experience will eventually hit your bottom line.

The overarching philosophy of DORMA product development is, “We engineer to a standard, not a cost”. So when DORMA receives a call telling the company its product has failed, it’s a kick in the guts and answers need to be found.

This happened recently in an Auckland city refit project, barely six months after practical completion. Naturally, the caller (a QS) was slightly harassed, and quite rightly needed to find out why these failures had occurred. One frameless glass door had fallen off and many more of the floor springs were squeaking and creaking through their opening and closing action. It was important to conduct a site visit as soon as possible and see if the situation could be remedied, while trying to figure out why these failures could have occurred in the first place.

On site, the problem became immediately evident: these were not DORMA Floor Springs. The QS asked, “How can you tell?”; the company rep replied, “There’s no DORMA crown on the cover plate.” The QS rifled through his papers and pointed to a drawing. “But they’ve been specified DORMA . . .” and so began the explanation about what happens between specification of a product and practical completion.

(Out of interest, it wasn’t the floor spring that was squeaking and cracking, it was the substituted patch fittings (usually asbestos) that had worked loose and allowed the glass to move in the fitting. The fittings have since been tightened.)

So far, the company that did the work has managed to keep the increased margin it took by using its proprietary product (substituted as a DORMA “equivalent”) instead of what was specified by the designer. DORMA is expecting a call to its service department in a few months to fix further problems.

On the face of it, everything is now OK, but a number of reputations have been damaged during this process: the designer, who received a call from a very disappointed customer; DORMA, having been identified in the first instance as the manufacturer of the floor spring; and the glazing company, which arbitrarily substituted a specified product without the designer's knowledge.

Thankfully, DORMA's reputation is intact and the company's reponse was fast enough for the air to be cleared. The point of the story, though, is that no matter what you specify at the front end, you should get it and there is a way to ensure this happens.

DORMA can specify and write door hardware schedules for your projects. DORMA can write these schedules to a PC sum, a design aesthetic or for functionality.

It's a great place to start in terms of quality, practicality and functionality. DORMA will write a schedule fit for construction purposes, complete, compliant and fit for purpose. This means the schedule you receive will be very accurate for budgeting purposes, so the costs are apparent right at the start.

Secondly, DORMA can monitor the project for you and make sure you are receiving what you specify, and what the customer is paying for. It’s a simple process because at some point the schedule needs to be quoted. If we don’t get an enquiry for pricing, something’s wrong and we can let you know.

Thirdly, you can protect your reputation with ours. DORMA product should last the life-cycle of the structure. Its BTS Floor Springs, for example, are CE certified and stringently tested before receiving that certification. The last thing DORMA wants you to deal with are phone calls from unhappy customers.

Fourthly,  DORMA manufactures under strict ISO conditions:

  • 9001 Systems Management

  • 14001 Environmental Management

  • 16001 Energy Management

Some of our products are even certified with ISO 14025 Environmental Product Declarations, which means they are true cradle-to-grave products that will stand the test of time.

Lastly, you’re backed by a family-owned business, represented by 6500 employees from 49 countries. DORMA lives or dies on its reputation, and after 104 years specialising solely in architectural hardware, the company is happy to add to your reputation with theirs.

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