It’s that time of year again. It’s time to look back on 2012 and decide whether it was a good year or not.
Given that the start of the year was predicted to be apocalyptic, with hundred of double glazing companies set to go to the wall, the start of the year actually started less quiet than was anticipated.
Lead levels both here, and from what was reported by the industry, were actually quite healthy. We were expecting January to be a really slow months. Occupying an office rather than working in it. But happily, January turned out to be a decent month. Not a month like June or July, but better than the predictions stated.
February is one of those months where it’s either going to be really poor or really good. Sometimes a decent January creates a bit of a February hangover in terms of sales as people continue to get back into the yearly routine. But February turned out to be a really strong month. We totally smashed our sales target. And it seems the industry was having a similarly positive month. Twitter is a great place to gauge the industry. There’s a degree of honest on there that other mediums within our industry don’t have. If it’s poor, Twitter will say it’s poor. But joyfully, the industry online was reporting good news.
March was just the same really. Targets beaten, lead levels good, positive news from the industry all round really. You got the sense that as the first quarter was ending, ourselves, as well as the industry, were starting to think that maybe, just maybe, we might have turned a corner and that better days might be ahead of us. Quarter two would give the clearest indication of that.
In the background, the Green Deal started to get more focus from the industry and the media. Regular meetings were happening and more questions were being asked of the scheme in general. The industry at this point remained positive but started to show some reservations as to whether the scheme in it’s current form would work or not.
On the economy front, the UK was still firmly in a double-dip recession. There was very little good news to cheer coming out of George Osbourne and the public were wondering how long we would have to put up with such negativity.
This was the Jubilee quarter. It was going to be a busy year throughout. The Queen’s Jubilee meant we have an extra long Bank Holiday weekend. We had the European Championships, with England predicted to do just as poorly as ever. Then there was the Olympics in July and August. There were fears that the extra holidays and national public events were going to dampen the spending spirits of the general public. And to a degree they probably did, but more on the high street side of things. In terms of big ticket purchases like new windows and doors or a conservatory, they appeared unaffected.
April turned out to be our third best month of the year. Again, targets beaten and there was a general buzz about the place, almost like the pre-reccession days of 2007 and before. Because we have beaten all our targets up to now, we were happily getting ahead of ourselves so we were able to feel less stressed. We didn’t let up by any means, but we were feeling more confident about achieving our overall goals by the end of the year. It was clear to see that the rest of the industry was feeling the same. The general commentary was that 2012 was going to be a much better year than expected.
May and June were both very similar months in terms of sales and lead levels. June had the potential to be slightly better than May but the long Bank Holiday put paid to that. Still, it didn’t dent our month too much and it seemed that on a national level June held up well despite the Jubilee celebrations.
In Green Deal developments, initial positivitiy about the scheme had very much drained away and gave to doubt, criticism and anger. Anger mainly because what seemed like a good idea to begin with, was now turning into a farce, with the Government’s own departments now saying that their research was indicating that it would fail. Talk about a own goal!
The economic news was still very poor. The Chancellor was trying to blame everything but himself for the dire state of the economy. They even sparked panic buying of fuel at the end of the quarter to try and boost growth. Needless to say it didn’t work!
July was quiet for us in comparison to the rest of the year so far. On a monthly basis, we missed our target. But because we were so far ahead of ourselves already, this didn’t matter so much. Personally I was putting this down to the football and the Olympic build up. National sporting events always seemed to have had a negative impact on the sale of windows and doors. No idea why. Sport isn’t on 24/7, so I’m sure people would have had time to go window shopping, as it were!
In August however we bounced back with a bang! August was our best month of the year so far and our best month for at least two and a half years. I felt that the general mood around the UK was lifted due to Team GB’s success at the Olympics. Whether that directly boosted sales of windows and doors I don’t know. But whatever the reason, we certainly had a busy August. Again on a national level our experience seemed to mirror what was going on around the UK.
September was a little quieter but then again it always is as the kids go back to school and home life becomes hectic again. Still, targets were beaten and we were very close at this point to achieving our yearly goals already! The rest of the year would be spent trying to get as far over our targets as possible and make the most of the positive business out there.
The big question was if this quarter was going to see economic growth return to the UK? And what of the Green Deal? It was already running behind, with increasingly less and less sections being put off till the end of January 2013.
Good news! The UK officially came out of recession with a positively roaring growth rate of 1% in the third quarter of 2012! Businesses rejoiced, the consumers felt a bit more confident and the Chancellor could breathe slightly easier…for now.
As for the Green Deal. It whimpered into being at the end of October. Primarily, all you could do was do the paperwork for any Green Deal work (no Green Deal work registered yet by the way) and wait until the end of January to get any funding for the work. The industry called it a joke, members of the Government said it was in tatters and up to now, the consumer has no idea what the Green Deal is!
On the selling front, October was a quiet one. Hangover from a strong September? Probably. I think October is one of those months where it’s either going to be a really good month or poor. In this case it was poor. Year to date however, this was the month where officially moved past our yearly target, so not a bad month on balance.
November however was stellar! It was our best month in 65 months! It also made it our best year since 2007! The place was buzzing! Smiles all round! And it wasn’t just us having a bumper month at the end of the year. If you sat back and watched the world of Twitter, it seemed like most of us were making the most of the positive vibe and selling like there was no tomorrow.
Then December came! December, like every year, gets quiet very quickly! It is a good month however to tie up loose ends, get the Christmas tree up and make sure the staff are allowed to wind down a little and have a bit of fun. December is an important month to relax. Everyone has spent the previous 11 months making sure the business does as well as it can throughout the year, the guys and gals deserve a break.
2012 has been a year of surprises. Suppliers and manufacturers have spent time and effort bringing excellent new products to market. Loggia’s, new wood grains, heritage style windows like Residence 9 and Evolution are products that spring to mind when thinking of the impact they have been making throughout the year and I’m sure the companies selling these products will agree that they have performed well for them.
I think the best success of the year for our industry is how well it has performed against a backdrop of economic uncertainty and gloom and doom predictions at the end of last year and the impending implosion of Europe. To have outperformed such strong negative vibes is a testament to how well we have done to dispel those fears and prove that our industry is one hell of a gritty, determined and innovative one!
I think it has to be said that the Green Deal and it’s launch is probably the biggest failure of the year. What started out as a good idea was gradually ruined by the Government’s inept ability to create something useful and straightforward. Their total lack of public awareness effort and the immense amount of hoops businesses would have to jump through to make it work meant that the industry dealing with residential properties have shunned it.
I think what our industry would have preferred is if VAT was lowered to 5% on all energy efficient windows and doors. It would have been far easier to implement, been much easier to publicize to the public and would be far more popular with the industry.
All in all, it has been a pretty good business year on reflection. Plenty of positive stories. yes there have been bankruptcies throughout the year, but not on the scale that was predicted. I think it is fair to say that we have turned a corner. The worse of what the economy has to throw at us has passed and I’m confident that 2013 could be the best year for some of us since the last best pre-recession year of 2007!
I’d like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a fantastic New Year! Thanks to all that have taken the time to read my site, pass links on and leave your comments! They mean a great deal to me and it means that this site can carry on growing! I hope you will all continue to visit this site next year!