Cognitive overload. This is perhaps something which many of us have come to suffer from in the window and door industry during the past few years. It was a subject that was touched upon during the latest CIN event held today (Thursday 15th October) and was something I totally agreed with. In fact, I believe it is one of the biggest issues facing our industry, yet it doesn’t really get as much attention as it should.

Too much choice

When I say too much choice, I don’t mean there is too much. It’s fantastic that our industry has become so diverse. It had to. But I think many installers, and fabricators too, will agree when I say that minds are reduced to mush when trying to understand exactly all the products available and all the various options and combinations associated with each of those products.

I will be honest with you all and say that I am increasingly bamboozled with all that is available. At our place we have been trying to expand our product offerings, which is great from the perspective of the customer. But it is becoming a bigger task to get even the simple things done.

I struggle to know what colours are available on all the profile choices. I can’t always remember all the hardware options for each of the product ranges. Pricing is becoming more complicated. Quotes are getting longer as home owners are asking for more options before they decide. By the end of the day, I am totally spent and have got little done.

Making things easier

If you ask the sales force, I don’t think many will disagree that the task of knowing your product inside and out has become much harder in recent years. For many it will be slowing them down, with quotes taking longer to produce and deliver to customers.

There will be more mistakes too. I am sure we all try our very best to avoid them, but we are human, and the more options and combinations there are at our disposal, the bigger the risk of mistakes being made. And errors not just from sales people, but from everyone involved in the supply chain.

It has become a very swollen industry on the product front, and with new product announcements coming almost every month, it’s only going to get bigger. That is why the industry at every level needs to invest some time, and if so, a little bit of cash, to help everyone understand more clearly the options out there, and what is and isn’t available according to choice.

At the end of the day, if we don’t know, the customer hasn’t got a hope in hell.

Wider problems

If you ask me, the industry is facing an efficiency and productivity crisis. We have been hit with multiple issues at the same time:

  • youth crisis – as in, we’ve got very little!
  • skills crisis – the whole construction and manufacturing sector is in the grip of one
  • flood of new products – understaffed and under-skilled companies struggling to master all the new products going live

These three issues alone are causing headaches up and down the industry. You don’t need research to know that, spend a day across social media and it won’t be long before a tweet or Facebook post related to the issues above crops up.

I think perhaps it is time the industry hit pause, took a breath and spent a little bit of time to make the most of what we now have, and master it, in every sense.

There is no good in bringing out tons of new products month after months, asking installers to sell them, without them really knowing every single facet of it. This just lines everyone up for mistakes and confusion.

Don’t get me wrong, choice and diversity is good, and it has given our industry a much needed kick. But maybe as and industry we need to start simplifying a few things. At the CIN event, Ultraframe and John Fredericks both unveiled a few ways to start that process off. I’ll save that for another post, but I will say now that it is bespoke marketing options for each of their product lines which I know already that they will make the life of an installer that little bit easier!

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