Why Are Gate Companies Often Not Local?
Should this be a concern?
We are frequently asked by prospective new customers where our office is and when we tell them, they will often reply ‘that’s a long way away’ from us.
It started us thinking as to why this might be an issue and possibly a barrier to securing their business.
So we thought we would explain a little bit about how the automated gate industry is structured and works.
What do gate companies actually do?
In general, gate companies might offer a number of services, from full installation and after sales support to those that only offer maintenance and emergency call outs.
You will often find that other organisations from associated industries such as Fencing; CCTV and Alarms etc. will also offer gate services.
We would like to make the comment at this point that there is a lot of truth in the adage ‘Jack of all trades and master of none’.
In our experience, successful gate companies focus on their core business, which for Pearly Gates case is gate maintenance. To compliment this, we partner up with other organisations who are experts in their own particular area.
The result is the customer gets a one-stop shop for ease of communication and administration but the benefit of expert support from professional organisations.
How large are gate maintenance companies?
Most gate maintenance companies are relatively small, ranging from the one man (or woman) in a van through to businesses with up to 50 employees.
Larger organisations might have a division within their corporate structure that is gate related but again, it will be relatively small in size when compared to the total number of people it employs.
Surely someone offers National cover?
Whilst you may see websites stating full National cover, normally this is going to be either a large corporate entity which has a small subsidiary or a set of independent businesses which have agreed to support each other.
We must stress that there is nothing wrong at all in this approach, however we are aware of only a small number of genuine organisations that effectively cover all of the UK.
So where do gate companies cover?
The one man bands will tend to focus on their local area only, say a 50-mile radius of their base, especially if they reside near a major city such as London, where there are literally thousands of gates.
On the other hand, the majority of gate companies will take a regional approach, covering a larger area with a number of employed engineers.
We at Pearly Gates, for example, cover London, the Home Counties and the South East of England.
But my plumber is local?
This is very true and the reason for this is due to scale. Estimates vary but it is reckoned that there are around 280,000 automated gates in the UK. When you consider there are around 26.5m homes, all with a water supply, you can see that the volume of business available to plumbers is so much larger.
What happens if the gate breaks down?
Most gate maintenance companies will offer some level of callout service, many with 24/7 support. Depending on the nature of the problem and their existing workload, they will give you an estimated lead time to when they can get to site.
For example, at Pearly Gates we generally can get to site within our area in a maximum of four hours.
The advice to all gate customers is to have them regularly serviced and to know how to open them in an emergency, so that should a problem happen, they can get out. You would be amazed at how often people get trapped behind in-operative automated gates; check out our Twitter feed for some ‘amusing’ examples.
If in doubt, ask us for some free manual release advice.
Will I be charged more if the gate company is further away?
Unfortunately, gate companies are businesses that have to make money and they will charge a fee to service or repair automated gates.
The one man in a van might be cheaper but it will totally depend on how close your automated gate is to their base. The further away it is, the higher the invoice is likely to be.
With a regional approach like ours, the fees are averaged out across the territory. So we will charge you the same amount, regardless of how far you are away from our offices. This is common practice in the industry.
So distance is not an issue?
We do not believe so. In our experience, there are many small professional gate maintenance companies to choose from, who tend to operate in larger areas (such as in either the South, Midlands, North of England for example) with fixed rates.
Our advice is just when you find a good one, recommend them to friends and colleagues and cherish them.