Double glazing, triple glazing, composite doors, PVCu engineered doors, Eurocell Aspect bi-folding doors, Warmcore aluminium bi-folding doors, sash windows, glazed extensions, Loggias, solid roofs, timber alternative windows and doors. These are just some of the main product groups that we install at our place. Now take each of these products and throw in endless options of colour, various options and you start to drown in oceans of choice, whilst struggling to know what is and isn’t available.
Not a rant
Now I’ll be honest, this post was going to be very much a rant before I started to put finger to keyboard. I reached frustration point earlier on today in the office, simply because I feel that the industry is starting to lose control of itself under the flood of new products and the intense efforts of fabricators and manufacturers to get the attention and business of installers.
But then I took a breath, thought it through, and decided to scale it back to this. At the end of the day, choice is not a bad thing. Lots of choice is not a bad thing. It is what lets us be us, and not like everyone else. However there is a growing problem now and that problem lies in the communication of these products.
I mentioned last weeks that Ultraframe and John Fredericks had developed an new form of condensed marketing to help installers and home owners see clearly each product and what is available with that product. But they are only two manufacturers, and not every single product option.
I dare say it is common that manufacturers are selling and producing products that they don’t fully understand themselves. And if they don’t, what chance have the installers?
Lack of communication
You could be blamed for feeling frustrated with the industry. Think about the onsite conundrums that have been thrown up when questions have arisen and there are no quick answers. Think about the phone calls promised but never returned. Think about the product faults, delays and all other manner of problem. There is no doubt, and some may not yet have realised, but the industry is under a great strain right now.
A strain yes, but perhaps one not created on purpose. It was the recent recession that kick-started this epic drive towards diversification and product development. Manufacturers were quickly drawn into a race to bring out the next big product, to try and stay one step ahead of their rivals. Whilst this was good for the product pool and installers, it was slowly creating an information bubble that I believe is now starting to burst.
As an industry, I don’t think we’ve ever been that good at communicating with itself. Well if ever there was a time to turn that around it is now. I would urge the industry, especially the part that produces, to just slam on the brakes, at least just for a few months, and address the products already in the market place.
From some of the conversations I have had, I don’t seem to be the only one with a head spinning with choice and as many questions to go with it. Now is probably a good time to take some time to perfect the marketing around these new products, make sure installers are 100% clear on what is and isn’t available. Nail things like delivery and production. Then, once the industry feels like it is comfortable with all facets of all that is available right now, let the innovation begin again.
If we don’t, I fear we will get bogged down in confusion, misinformation and mistakes for a fairly lengthy period of time. The “walk before you can run” saying I think is quite apt during times like these.