SERVING THE LOCAL COMMUNITY
Investing in the local community in time and money is not just about how much press coverage you get but an underlining desire to do things differently. Whether it’s support of a local charity with an event, donation or gift or offering over 15 work experience placements a year to schools and colleges in our five departments.
Its not only about how the company can boast that we have provided services on such a varied scale to so many domestic and commercial customers for over 95 years and still hold fast to the traditions of honesty, integrity and a sense of doing what is right. Our products may have changed but our customer service has not. One of the reasons our customers come back to us again and again is we’ve learnt how important it is to offer a friendly, personal and reliable service that doesn’t just get the job done but lets you know we’re always here for you, whatever happens.
A Statement from our MD: Robert Chapman
OUR COMPANY’S HERITAGE
The Company is established in 1925 and is mainly concerned with wiring for factories and domestic customers. Electricity is a brand new technology. Practically no houses at this time have electricity – most use coal for heating and gas for lighting. Factories & foundries lead the way in the demand for the installation of electricity.
The wiring side of the business continues to grow and in 1934 Mr. Chapman opens a shop. This is mainly to sell peripherals to the wiring activities, such as bulbs, fuses and plugs. It also sells radios and sells and provided a charging facility for the accumulators that most people use to run their radios. Items such as electric irons, hair dryers, kettles and toasters are beginning to emerge and are offered for sale, but as so few homes have an electricity supply, they are not common.
WWII 1939 – 1945
The business is mainly concerned with the war effort ensuring that electrical supplies are maintained in factories. Electricians are not required to go to war.
1940’s and 1950’s
After the war there is a boom in product availability and demand. The shop now sells TVs, gramophones, radios, portable record players, vacuum cleaners, washing machines, spin dryers, fridges, electric cookers, food mixers and so on, as well as continuing to supply light bulbs, fuses etc.. As a spin off of domestic electrical wiring the Company also began to sell light fittings.
All of these products are completely new to the public and so demonstrations of how to use these products take place regularly at the shop and in people’s homes. Company employs a team of demonstrators.
Again, the electrical contracting side of the Company continues and a Service department to fix all of the emerging technologies begins to develop.
In 1944 the company is incorporated and so becomes a Limited Company providing financial protection to the owners.v
The second generation of Chapman family joins the company.
Commercial contracts with local factories were becoming very substantial and beyond the means of the business to finance. Another local electrician, Mr. Jones, was struggling with the same issues and so the two companies joined together to start a sister Company “Chapman Jones” which was capable of handling very large commercial electrical contracts.
As well as sales of appliances, the Company also saw opportunities to sell “add-ons” such as vinyl records and, another emerging technology, pyrex cookware.
1970’s and 1980’s
There was another explosion in new technologies during this period with the emergence of video players, tumble dryers, washer dryers, dish washers, personal computers and games consoles. Chapman’s sold all of these and stocked peripheral products such as vinyl records and games – and even set up a small video rental library in-store.
In 1970 Chapman’s became part of a new buying group “Birmingham Combined Independents”. This enabled a group of independent stores to join together and buy in bulk – thus enabling better prices. This buying group was one of the 1st and biggest in the country. Today we see buying groups such as “Euronics” still operating to enable independents to be competitive on price.
In the early 1980s Chapman’s bought out a competitor and opened a second shop in Blackheath.
The mid-80s saw the emergence of satellite television. The skills of Chapman’s staff meant this was an easy and profitable area to move into. This area of the business has expanded rapidly ever since, particularly with digital switchover and has seen the Company take on some very large contracts up to £1 million in value.v
1990’s and 2000’s
The company maintained strong departments covering retail sales, service and aerial & satellite. Contract sales, particularly to new build houses, increased to become a substantial part of trading and in 1995 a warehouse was built to house this activity.
We expected that the arrival of a large Tesco store in Cradley Heath might have an impact on sales of smaller items such as kettles, irons, toasters etc… Whilst the Cradley Heath branch of Chapman’s tended to sell mainly items much larger products than this, the Blackheath branch tended to sell low value items. As a result it was decided to close the Blackheath store in 2007.
Large factory electrical installations had declined as manufacturing had declined since the 1980s. This meant that our sister company, Chapman Jones’, activities, whilst buoyant, were now not big enough to operate effectively as a separate business and so in 2008 was merged into Chapman’s Electrical and became a department within the main business.
In 2011 we became MCS accredited to install Solar Photovoltaic Systems and began to help our customers to generate their own electricity – a huge move forward from where the company started wiring homes and businesses to receive the “new energy”, electricity.
We expect to continue to see the development and introduction of new technologies in our sector – such as the recent evolution of 3DTV and Smart TV. As always, Chapman’s will change and adapt to keep abreast of new inventions and technology and use this technology to serve our customer base in every possible way.
We anticipate growth in the demand for “Smart Homes”, whereby all heating, lighting, security and entertainment is controlled from a central unit.
Also, we see growth in the energy efficiency markets including micro generation (Solar panels, wind turbines etc…)
The current Company Directors are now in their 60s and so succession planning is now underway to decided who will lead the Company into the future.
Being a longstanding part of the local community, it is only natural that we should want to build strong links and give something back.
We work closely with local educational establishments in many areas including; offering work experience placements across all our departments; helping locally with the development of the Retail Diploma framework and providing input into the curriculum of local schools who are now delivering it; providing staff and input to Sandwell Education Business Partnership with everything from mock interviews to “Dragons den” style business enterprise days; making staff available to STEMNET (Science, Technology, Education and Mathematics Network) as STEM Ambassadors and much more. We are also pleased to support South Birmingham College as Gold Members of their “InBusiness” group.
We are also pleased to support local housing associations with their “back to work” programmes by offering their tenants work placements, mock interviews and places on our own training courses.
Supporting Young People
Throughout its history, Chapman’s has always seen recruiting and training young people as key to future success. We have always delivered apprenticeships and have many senior members of staff who joined us from school, working their way up through the Company. At present 10% of our workforce are apprentices benefiting from a combination of workplace mentoring to learn their trade and day release to various colleges to achieve their industry qualifications.
Supporting Minority Groups
We recognise that parts of our industry can be male dominated and so support a local networking forum “Women Working in Construction” (WWIC) by enabling a member of our staff to sit on its steering group. The aim of the group is to raise the profile of women in the region working in the sector by integrating more fully into the construction community locally and to provide a platform by which women can demonstrate and inform local educators and students about the opportunities within the sector for females.
Research suggests that there is a strong correlation between the number of visits to the customer and their overall satisfaction with the repair service. By advising the customer that you cannot fix the issue without obtaining parts or a return visit is never good but it is obviously impossible to keep all parts for all products in the van at all times. They key is to ensure that at the very least you can book a prompt return and achieve a second-visit fix.
For every extra day taken from the initial service visit to completing the repair process, customer satisfaction decreases incrementally. If it takes five days to return to the customer, you will see a noticeable drop in satisfaction. Stretch that out to the following week or a third call-out, and there will be a very significant fall-off in overall customer satisfaction.
Questions that rate ‘engineers efficiency’ and ‘engineers overall performance’ are open to broad interpretation by the customer. However, the sheer volume of data allows accurate conclusions to be drawn.
It is clear that high scores in these two vital areas of the engineers personal performance are key to achieving good customer satisfaction overall.
This statistic underlines how important well-trained and experienced engineers are to any service operation. Chapman’s put a lot of effort into training and the benefits are great. Not only does this increase productivity in terms of a quicker diagnosis and speedier fix, it plays an important part in overall customer satisfaction and hence the amount of work you will pick up through repeat business and recommendation.
They key to keeping your customers happy is fast, efficient repairs undertaken by trained and experienced engineers with the minimum of delay between subsequent visits if a first-visit fix is not possible.
Delays in answering the phone, being put on hold or asking the customer to leave a message on voicemail will all adversely affect customer satisfaction.
Psychologically, the customer is already in some distress because the product has already broken down. Perhaps food in the freezer is rapidly defrosting or the kids school uniforms need washing and the washing machine is not working. In such circumstances, being kept waiting on the phone or not being able to talk to a ‘real human being’ will only exacerbate the anxiety.
The ease of contacting The Chapman’s service centre throughout the repair process is vitally important to our customers.
ONSITE RECORDING SYSTEM (ORS)
Hand-held devices are only as good as the design. We have worked closely over a period of many months to design and build a system that suits our customer needs and provide instant data capture so as to provide good and accurate information in real time activation.