2012 is now starting to come to a close. Wow, can’t believe I’m actually writing that! But it is, and as far as a year goes, it’s not been bad at all really!

At the end of 2011, arguably one of the worst years the industry has ever gone through, the predictions for 2012 weren’t good. ‘Bloodbath’ and ‘flat lined’ were terms that were often used to describe how 2012 was going to go. Luckily, the predictions turned out not to be so dire and 2012 has actually ended up being quite good.

We have seen this year that the depressed housing market has finally seen the drip down effect of people staying in their current properties and improving them finally hit the double glazing market. 2011 for us was easily the year of doors, 2012 has been the year of house-fulls. We have installed a lot of full houses of windows and doors for people that have chosen to stay where they are and make changes to their properties. We’ve seen lead levels roughly the same if not slightly higher and the amount of sales slightly up too. But the main difference has been the much higher average order value. And this is what is going to be key for 2013.

Growth in a business for one year after a bad year is easy. The harder task is making sure it is sustained. We can’t rely on the economy becoming suddenly better because that moment is way, way off! Customers aren’t going to start rushing through the door. But what is going to make 2013 a success is product options. That ability to cover every single base with a product that will solve every customer’s home improvement issue.

Options is the key now. Customers are asking for much more less ‘out of the box’ products and solutions. The days of the white window and door are over and the industry is now in an age of colours, funky opening doors, super energy efficient products, new ‘heritage’ looking products, more advanced conservatory options like Loggia’s and orangeries. These products are the ones that bring that extra added value and that extra boost to everyone’s dwindling profit margins. Adding, well, replenishing your profit margins for the company is just one half of the idea.

The good news is that the customer base is also after these products. It’s not as if the industry is trying to push these products to a consumer that isn’t interested. Over the last couple of years our industry has seen the demand for items like orangeries, bi-folding doors, coloured windows and doors and super efficient products rise quite dramatically. The problem our industry has had overall is that while some companies have been quick to capture that interest and make the most of the opportunities. But as we will all admit, there are plenty of companies in our industry that are inherently lethargic and slow to adapt to change. This is what will hurt companies in the coming year.

2012 is/was a successful year because of the larger contracts and the extra added value products. 2013 is going to be a year where that trend continues and becomes more the norm. So the key is going to be expanded product portfolios and varying options to help bring in those extra valuable contracts and the more specialist type of work we are all going to have to be open to.