I have been seeing a few tweets in the twittersphere over the last week or so indicating that some companies are now fully booked up until Christmas. This is good news it seems, but a pinch of salt should be taken with these sorts of statements.

For example, a company with only one fitting team can quite easily be booked up for six weeks in advance, while in comparison a company with two or three fitting teams will only have two, maybe three weeks work booked in advance. There is though a positive and a negative way to look at work booked in advance.

First the positive. If you do have worked booked in up until Christmas, that is a demonstration of how well your business is performing, whether you have one fitting or ten. Your products are clearly flying of the shelves as it were and will have plenty of cash coming in during the quietest part of the year. It’s nice for people outside the business and within the industry to see you busy.

Now the negative. It isn’t the end of the month yet, and if you’re having to tell people that you can’t fit their new windows and doors until the start of 2014, you may risk upsetting the customer, or worse, making some customer look at alternative that can fit before Christmas. Yes there will be some people who won’t mind them being fit before Christmas. But more often than not, people are still coming into the showroom with the intention of their windows and doors being fit before the holidays, in order to benefit from a warmer house. Having a long lead time while great for cash flow in the medium term, can be potentially damaging if it is allowed to get too long.

Let’s take a look at where I work. At the moment, from memory, I think we have work booked in up until the end of November, with the odd free day knocking about. So at the moment I’d say we’ve got a 4-5 week lead time. As far as we’re concerned, that is a nice manageable lead time for us and it’s just about long enough for people to be happy with. And, we are still able to tell customers that we can fit their new windows and doors before Christmas.

Agree or disagree? The longer the lead time the better, or is 10 weeks too long? Please leave your comments below!