‘Hearing people go away happy with their choices, having enjoyed the experience – that’s what I find most satisfying…’
Ray and Paul – named after Managing Director Paul Shaw and his dad Ray – have been helping people achieve their ideal homes for 30 years now. Their name has become synonymous with quality and decent service when it comes to supplying and fitting carpets and flooring, or curtains and blinds – and it remains very much a family affair. ‘My brother Mark is now our Installations Director, and runs the fitting teams,’ says Paul. ‘My sister Kim is our Accounts Director, and Darren looks after the commercial clients – it’s a real family business.’
Ray and Paul is also firmly rooted in Peterborough, with a loyal private and commercial customer base here – but its reach now extends far beyond that. ‘We’ve worked all over the UK, although our main focus is North London up to Derby.’ In fact, whilst it maintains a friendly, family image and has stayed steadfastly true to its personal approach, Ray and Paul is now the biggest carpet company in the region in terms of volume. The key reason is the service it provides to commercial customers. ‘We’ve become the preferred supplier and installer for many of the region’s major builders and developers,’ says Paul, ‘clients who need good quality and a highly efficient service at the right price.’ This may involve anything from carpeting an entire estate of houses to 50 rooms of a hotel – and that buying power as a commercial operator means Ray and Paul has been able to pass savings – as well as industry expertise – straight on to its private customers.
But there was one problem: they couldn’t get premises until the business started to grow, and the business couldn’t grow until they had premises…
It’s proved a win-win for the business and its clients. Ray & Paul’s beginnings go back 30 years – or, actually, a little further than that. ‘I started the company with my dad, Ray, in 1982,’ says Paul. ‘He was a carpet fitter by trade. I was 18 at the time, but even before then I used to go out and help him after school and at weekends. I could actually lay a carpet properly by the age of 15!’ It was this understanding of the product and the process – literally from the ground up – that laid the foundation for the successful business you see today. But it wasn’t always quite as slick as it now appears. ‘It was my suggestion that we start supplying the carpet as well as fitting it,’ says Paul. It was a logical step for growing the business, and they knew they could do well on price. But there was one problem: they couldn’t get premises until the business started to grow, and the business couldn’t grow until they had premises. So, a little improvising was required.
‘We had carpet everywhere around the house! You could hardly get up the stairs… Eventually, my mum insisted we get a shop so she could have her house back.’ Premises in Millfield was duly secured – a gamble for the young business. The shop was really long, and we only had enough stock to fill the first 20 feet of it, so we put a false wall in at the back! But the approach we have now was there from day one, valuing the customer from the moment they walked in.’ That gamble – and the approach – paid off.
‘We’d rather risk losing a sale than give someone a product that we know is not going to be good for them’
Within that three months the company got the contract for Rinaldo’s nightclub in Peterborough, which secured its immediate future. It grew steadily from there – and also started to establish the reputation that has stood it in good stead ever since. The secret? ‘Straightforward, honest advice. Too often in carpet stores you encounter people who are not trained, but expertise is important when customers are making big decisions about their homes. For example, there may be carpet that is recommended by manufacturers for a lounge, but which we know is not really good enough. We’d rather risk losing a sale than give someone a product that we know is not going to be good for them.’
For Paul, it’s all about the relationship, not just the next sale. ‘From the moment you first contact us right through to installation, you will get exceptional service – but at no extra cost. We price check all our ranges against competitors. Call-outs and measuring are free. We’ll even… [cont]
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