Dos and Don’ts of Winning Interior Outfitting Contracts… with Trimline
Interior outfitting experts, Trimline, tell us how to land contracts
With more than 54 years’ experience in the world of cruise interiors, Trimline prides itself on its ability to create world-class interiors for cruise customers on a global basis. Known for their ability to provide quality finishes and apply innovative thinking to interior refit projects, Trimline encompasses a dedicated ‘Innovations Team’, who are tasked with continually researching, developing, and processing products and services to save their customers both weight and money.
With such vast experience in the cruise interiors world, we knew Trimline would be able to answer our questions about how to stand out in a competitive market. With lighting, flooring, textile, and furniture suppliers all vying to be included in the next big project, it can be hard to know where to begin, for both the supplier and the interior outfitter. So, we spoke with Key Account Manager at Trimline, Simon Dawkins, in the hopes of discovering exactly what it is an interior outfitter wants from a supplier, the dos and don’ts of trying to win a contract, and what one piece of advice he’d give to a supplier hoping to work with Trimline. Read on to find out what he had to say…
Cruise Ship Interiors Expo: What goes into deciding which materials to choose for a project? Is there anything you’d actively avoid?
Simon Dawkins: When working in marine interior outfitting there are various standards that must be met when considering materials; IMO fire ratings, which relate to everything from curtains to carpets, are the main ones as we need to ensure core materials and finishes meet regulations. Durability is another key consideration as we want to offer clients longevity with our materials and finishes.
We also work closely with some clients to introduce lightweight material alternatives. One example is lightweight porcelain tiles printed to look like marble. These were fitted in the suites during a recent refit, saving around 100kg of weight per shower, as well as a huge cost saving.
As for materials we would avoid, this would simply be cheaper materials that do not offer the quality specified above.
CSIE: What are the “dos” and “don’ts” when trying to win a contract with an interior outfitter?
SD: Do give a quick response time, do give clear all-inclusive quotations, do give accurate delivery dates (rather than a general 8-10-week lead time), and do provide quality service! I’d say, don’t hard sell and don’t overpromise.
Time is always an issue. It’s simple really, the more advance notice we receive, the better the service and the more competitive the price we can offer.
CSIE: Can you name some of the key challenges faced by interior outfitters, for example, time constraints? How do you combat these?
SD: Time is always an issue. It’s simple really, the more advance notice we receive, the better the service and the more competitive the price we can offer.
We now work 12 months or more ahead with some of our regular clients. This enables us to have a clearer understanding of the scope of works, to book in the best labour in advance, to reserve manufacturing slots and to shop around for most competitive pricing. The success of this approach has been evident in our refit delivery and having now gained the confidence of the clients they return to us time and time again.
When given minimal notice, our experienced team sits with the client to offer realistic solutions in the time available. We then work closely with our established supply-chain to reduce the standard lead times to ensure client satisfaction.
CSIE: Can you tell us about a project where things didn’t go to plan and you had to use on-the-job problem solving to fix it?
SD: We have been working with TUI and Marella Cruises for several years now but when we carried out their first major refit at Navantia dockyard in Cadiz we experienced material movement access restrictions, which caused delays to all contractors on site.
Learning from this issue, during all subsequent refits at this location we have set up a self-sufficient infrastructure dockside, allowing us continual access to our materials and therefore maximizing efficiency onsite throughout the refit lifecycle.
Another example was during a recent refit in Freeport where extreme wind conditions caused the cranes to be out of action. This had consequences for all contractors as there were delays to our materials movement. Once conditions eased, our agile team drafted in extra labour to make up the lost time and enabling us to complete the refit on time.
CSIE: From your perspective as an interior outfitter, what would make the process run more smoothly when undergoing a major project?
SD: The refit decision-making process can often be very lengthy, with several stakeholders within the client’s organisation needing to be satisfied with the proposed refit scope before we can commence purchasing and manufacturing.
We partner with many clients and designers to offer our expertise in defining the scope of works and to offer practical solutions to the overall vision. This, in turn, can enable us to maximize the time we have for refit preparation.
Having a clear budget in mind is also helpful as by knowing this we can make suggestions which best fit the budget available.
CSIE: What one piece of advice would you give to a supplier hoping to work with you?
SD: The suppliers we have the most successful relationships with offer us a quick response time, competitive pricing, and accuracy on lead time. They also understand that sometimes we need them to support us on smaller works as well as large orders.