We’re getting busier, there’s no denying it. It’s a clear sign that our industry and the wider economy has well and truly turned a corner and the return to the good times might not be that far away. But there continues to be an underlying problem that is becoming more of a tremor than a rumble. I have written about it before, but the subject of under-staffed businesses is a growing concern for me. Here is why.

Mistakes. Some Costly

I think it is fair to say most of us cut our cloth during the recession. The lack of work warranted less staff. Businesses needed to keep their heads above water so shed employees to conserve cash. Not the nicest job in the world to do but vital if companies were to be saved from going to the wall. But we’ve come out the other side now. The UK is one of the strongest economies in the world again (China and India being obvious exceptions) and is even outperforming America. And therein lies the problem.

The strength of the recovery has surpassed most people’s expectations, and probably has caught many off-guard. What this has meant is it has put businesses who had downsized under an increasing amount of strain. The staffing levels at most places are suitable for recession-levels of work, not recovery levels. Fewer members of staff are being asked to do far more than one person’s job. In turn, this is going to mean mistakes, and I am seeing this already.

I am seeing silly mistakes from suppliers. Missing items, scuffs, lack of return phone calls etc. They’re not massive errors, not yet. But it is evidence that businesses are starting to feel the strain of the extra work load. I hear it from plenty of others I speak to as well. Mistakes and errors due to businesses not having enough staff to cope.


Any honest business out there that is busy right now, be it systems house, fabricator or installer, will probably tell you that they’re making mistakes. Small errors here and there that have crept in where they weren’t there previously. It’s the result of increased business on smaller sized companies. In all honesty it’s probably a nice problem to have, to tell people that you’re too busy.

Hand on heart, we have been struggling too, in a good way I guess. For example, before the economic recovery, I would always be up to date with my pricing. Usually, I would be able to get a quote off to a customer the same day as I saw them. I had a nice little efficient system going on. Now though, for almost all of the year I have been about 3-4 quotes behind. Some of you might think that’s not a problem. But we have always made a habit of getting our prices to people in writing, quickly. Now though, potential customers are having to wait longer than I’d prefer to get their quotes. My brother and Dad are exactly the same. Having more leads is great, but more leads means less time to work on them. Not only that, our installers tell us that if we get any busier we’ll need to get another team. Again, nice problems to have, but it’s also evidence that everyone in our business is working flat out right now. Any busier and things might not be so smooth.

The Time To Employ Is Now

How long should we all leave it? Until customers up and down the chain are kicking and screaming? Or do we nip this in the bud now and prevent a growing issue becoming even bigger? The time to invest in new staff is right now. Not at the end of the year, not in 2015, but now. This is the height of our busiest time of year, and it’s not going to calm down until Autumn. It would be unwise to not spread the burden of extra business on to new staff.

From what I see, both in first hand experience and from speaking with others, we all need to start taking on more office staff, more fitting teams, more surveyors, more service engineers, more factory workers, more delivery drivers. Every single department in every part of the fenestration chain is feeling the heat by the recovery. It’s a nice problem to have, but it will stop being a nice problem when companies start to lose money because of stupid mistakes and decaying customer service.

It’s time to cut our cloth again ladies and gents, and the cloth needs to be a bit bigger this time.