Tilerworld forum

A new world of tiling ... with tilerworld.com

What do Richard Knight, in Sandbach, and Lionel Sheppard, in Bristol, have in common? The answer concerns tiling ... and the Internet. It sometimes seems as though all human knowledge is now available online and there has been a revolution in how we can obtain goods and services. With a PC in almost every home, people think nothing of sourcing products from every corner of the globe. It takes just a few clicks of a mouse to locate virtually anything from a left-handed corkscrew to a second-hand beehive.

During recent months, another computing revolution has begun to move. The computer has already made it easier to search the world for hard-to-find items or information. Now, it is becoming an essential tool in choosing between products and services which are right on our doorstep — and tiling is leading the way.

How did a consumer find a tiler five or ten years ago? They asked around, hoping that friends or acquaintances might know somebody. If they were lucky, they might have a fixer recommended to them. More typically, they would have to search. It could mean looking through the advertisements at the back of their local newspaper. A nearby newsagent might have a card in the window, placed by a tiler wanting to promote their services. Finally, and most commonly, the consumer would check the local directories for tilers’ telephone numbers.

If the local listings offered just two or three names, the consumer would ask them all to visit and quote for the tiling work. The listing of more than a handful, though, raised a problem. How could the consumer decide which tilers to invite to quote? As often as not, the choice would be random: the first or last five listed or, perhaps, the five who lived nearest to the consumer. As selection methods go, it was hardly scientific. The consumer would make some calls. Then, each tiler would come around, take a look at the job and, almost invariably, give an on-the-spot instant quotation, typically comprising a single all-inclusive figure. The consumer would rarely have any idea how the total had been reached. If they were lucky, one or two of the tilers might offer some previous customers as references. By and large, finding a tiler was a hit-and-miss affair.

This seems like an area where the Internet ought to be able to help consumers. In fact, a number of tiling-related sites had come and gone during recent years, all promising much and delivering little. Most had been promoted as offering a way for consumers to find local tradesmen, including tilers. In reality, fixers and others were being charged £200 and more to be listed, so the limited take-up by tradesmen meant that even the best sites could offer only a few names. Often, the people listed openly admitted to being ‘jacks of all trades’ who would undertake tiling jobs alongside bricklaying, plastering and decorating, rather than being professional fixers. More importantly, these sites rarely offered the browsing consumer anything more than the same details already available from their local telephone book.

That changed at the beginning of 2009. Now, consumers will find it simple to find a tiler to trust, thanks to www.tilerworld.com. This new service for fixers and their customers was launched with an immediate advantage over every other tiling site, being free for both fixers and their customers. This is possible because it is supported by BAL, the long-standing market leader in tiling adhesives, grouts and associated products, which is putting its considerable marketing experience behind tilerworld.com.

The site enables any consumer to enter their location and call up a list of local tilers, complete with satisfaction ratings from the tilers’ previous customers. It also allows the consumer, once their tiling job is completed, to add their own rating for their chosen fixer.

The major benefit to the consumer is that tilerworld.com removes guesswork from choosing a tiler. Searching the local telephone book, or scouring the local press for advertisements, can only deliver a list of names. With tilerworld.com, the consumer can see what other customers have thought of each tiler’s work. With each listed fixer allowed their own site within tilerworld.com, the consumer can browse through illustrations of previous tiling projects completed by their local rated fixers. In addition, as the site builds, consumers will also be able to look through other customers’ projects for inspiration for their own tiling work.

Lionel Sheppard can testify to the importance of a further incentive to use tilerworld.com. He used the site when re-tiling his kitchen. He was impressed with his chosen tiler’s excellent work, remarking that he was “prompt, efficient and always neat and tidy.” As the icing on the cake, Mr. Sheppard was also the first winner of the tilerworld.com prize. Every consumer who gives their fixer a rating on the site is entered into a free draw. Every month, one consumer is selected at random, with the lucky winner receiving repayment for their complete tiling project . Lionel Sheppard’s view of tilerworld.com is no surprise: “We were really pleased with the results, but winning the cost of the job back makes it even better! It is definitely a site I would recommend to others.”

Fixers also gain from tilerworld.com. The immediate benefit is a regular source of new customer leads, which can be sent direct to the fixer by email or text. They can have their own web site within tilerworld.com, where they can upload their own photographs of completed tiling projects. The service also offers resources for the design of company logos, together with access to discounted printing services for such work as business cards and stationary. It will give access to free advice and tricks of the trade, an ‘ask the expert’ function for fast, accurate answers to technical questions and free online ‘Master Class’ training for specialist topics.

Fixers, too, can benefit from recognition. Every fixer receiving a rating is in line for selection as ‘Tiler of the Month,’ an award which is already gaining prestige. The first winner, Richard Knight, serves business and domestic customers throughout Cheshire and the surrounding areas. He received his award for his abundance of positive customer reviews. He says, "I am really enjoying using tilerworld.com and the opportunity it brings to consumers to make an informed decision. The opportunity for so many potential clients to contact me is fantastic. For consumers to see previous feedback straight away, along with pictures of work, means they can be assured of receiving a high quality service.”

Every fixer benefits from membership, regardless of whether they win the ‘Fixer of the Month’ award. As part of the registration process, they nominate their preferred local distributor of BAL products. Whenever they subsequently log in to tilerworld.com, they are automatically advised of exclusive special offers from that distributor.

Joining tilerworld.com is easy and fast and offers tilers further access to tools such as BAL Quote Builder. This powerful addition to Powerspec, the unique online specification tool, enables a fixer to produce a clear, professional-looking quotation at the click of a mouse. Showing how easy it is to use, www.bal-quotebuilder.com offers simple ‘get started’ information. It also has details of simple live demonstrations, ‘webinars,’ alongside pre-recorded online demonstrations to guide new users through the free web-based tool.

Presentation is vital when it comes to impressing customers, particularly when consumers are comparing quotes from different fixers. If the amounts are roughly similar, supporting documents that clearly show what work will be carried out, when and in what manner will always beat something less professional.  BAL Quote Builder boosts credibility and customer confidence, helping even the smallest of tiling firms to present itself in a professional manner.

BAL Quote Builder has been designed for ease and speed of use. The first time the fixer visits the web site, they register and follow the simple on-screen instructions to enter basic company contact details and logo. Default product prices are already pre-loaded for adhesives and grouts but can be changed by the user. All the information is saved and securely stored online, protected by the fixer’s chosen password.

After that once-only information storage, the fixer just enters the details of any new job: area to be tiled, type of tiles to be used and so on. They follow easy instructions to enter everything within seconds. Immediately, a complete job specification is produced, with details of the correct adhesives, grouts and preparation products required, including quantities. Easily completed boxes for the tiler’s labour and ancillaries complete the inputs needed. This converts into a complete quotation, laid out in a professional manner and customised with their company details.

At the same time, with no further input, a method statement in line with M40 specification is created. Both the quote and method statement are ready for printing and are saved for future reference in the fixer’s own secure area of the Powerspec site. It gives the fixer a fast, simple way to complete paperwork, with the opportunity to review saved quotes, tracking their success and viewing ‘active’ quotes.

From talking to hundreds of fixers every day, BAL has a good idea of what they want and often hears that the hardest part of any project is winning the work in the first place. As far as BAL is concerned, a fixer using the best products deserves to have an advantage. This was the rationale behind its support for tilerworld.com, which BAL firmly believes offers fixers and their customers the ultimate tiling site, of benefit to all users.

The site is already proving a success, within just a few weeks some 6,000 fixers already registered, with more joining every week, and members starting to create their all-important profiles. The number of individual visitors to tilerworld.com is already measured in thousands and data analysis shows that these are not merely prompted by curiosity. More than one-third of visitors are visiting directly, rather than being referred from other sites or search engines and the average visitor is spending almost eight minutes on the site.

The launch of tilerworld.com is already a success. It will become more popular with consumers as the year continues, being supported by a nationwide promotional campaign involving a variety of media. Importantly, there is already evidence that word-of-mouth advocacy is spreading the message. The site’s continuing success, though, is in the hands of the fixers themselves. They need to register, to complete their profiles and, most importantly, to upload their customer ratings for jobs completed. The fixer has been given a powerful tool to boost their business, but it needs their input if it is to achieve its full potential.

Prize up to a maximum of £1,000. Terms & Conditions apply.

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