A strain on loyalties
In reality, fabricators love it if their installer customer buy as many of their products from them. The more they buy from them, the less they buy from other suppliers. It keeps the fabricator-installer relationship strong, and the money going in the right direction.
But times have changed. There are a lot more niche products now coming to market from all sorts of directions. And these new niche markets are coming and stealing the attentions of installers that are on the look out to expand their product range and grab some aggressive growth.
Unfortunately fabricators cannot supply every product niche on earth. It’s just not possible. So for installers to scratch their itch and start selling the latest innovations, it means they may have to look elsewhere to source the product they need.
This naturally can sometimes put a strain on the relationship. Deep down no fabricator likes it when their installers dual-source. They would much rather they buy everything from them. But in a modern industry this is not the case, and fabricators should understand that, and I’m sure most do.
Good for business
It’s not all bad news though. Competition in any industry is a good thing. It is what drives a sector forward. So this onslaught from pretty much everyone bringing out new product means that our industry has never been as advanced as it has done right now.
This is good news for two parties: installers and home owners. Installers get to provide a varied and high quality range of products to home owners, hopefully putting them at an advantage of their lesser competitors. It’s good news for home owners as they get more choice, more variability, meaning they can pick something properly unique for them.
In a way all this competition is a good thing for fabricators. It keeps them on their toes. It doesn’t allow them (at least the good ones) to sit back and think all is well while the industry is racing forward around them.
A challenge for fabricators
But all of this does pose a challenge for fabricators. They know that installers are now willing to look to all areas of the industry in order to choose products right for them as they seek to grow. So, what do fabricators do?
It’s very simple. They need to look at expanding their product offerings in line with what their installer’s needs are. They need to go to their client base and ask on a regular basis what they need from them. From there they need to constantly adapt their portfolio to reflect a quickly changing industry environment.
The fabricators that adapt to change will not only maximise the mutual benefits of their existing installer customers, but will also steal a few from their competitors to!
The last thing I want is a “jack of all” fabricator/supplier. Been there, got the T-shirt. Ask yourself the last time a supplier added a range and it genuinely made them a better supplier all round I could easily make a lot more profit by leveraging my suppliers but I won’t, Each one has been chosen because they do a certain product to my standards and/or price. What it costs me in margin it wins me in customers, they already know each product will be the best of it’s range. I’ve even had customers say it outright or ask how… Read more »
Jason, a stimulating post and one that all of us in B2B supply are wrestling with – how do we stay relevant whilst their is product fragmentation/niche markets growing? Gareth Rowlands makes a good case for maintaining deep supply relationships with different types of product specialists/fabricators…… I also think showroom support is something to discuss – you raised it in a previous post? If a showroom is full of one system companies products ( or one fabricators) and that retailer wants to upgrade from the same source, that’s a pretty easy negotiation….but it becomes more complex ( for both parties… Read more »
Thanks for the comment Mark
The showroom one is a difficult one as you mention, if one supplier’s products are being removed to make space for another. For me the key is fabricators bringing on product which meet the needs of their installer base. It keeps them in the family, so to speak, and good mutual support can continue from there. Fabricators can’t do everything though!
Fabricators diversifying into new products can be a very expensive and complex thing to do, and it often ends in failure. Taking my area as an example, we often see casement fabs try their hand at sash windows, and almost as often see them stop again. Making casements and making sashes require very different, often completely unrelated skills, techniques and equipment. I’m sure the same is true of other products (remember when everyone seemed to try their hand at bi-folds? I wonder how many are still doing them). If you’re ever in our neck of the woods pop in for… Read more »