Like a World Cup or Olympic games, Leap Years come round once every four years. Traditionally, February 29th is the day where women propose to their loved ones. Now, as I am already engaged nor a woman, I won’t be partaking in this tradition. However, in the spirit of proposals, here are four of mine that I believe if the industry carried out, things would be a little better.

Concentrated effort on skills and youth

I’ll start of with one of my personal favourites, addressing the skills and youth gap. I can’t say it enough, we’re in crisis, along with the wider construction community, and something needs to be done right now.

Anecdotally businesses have been telling me over the last few months that work has had to be turned down due to them being unable to find the right people with the right skills to carry out that work. A direct result of this youth and skills crisis.

The Government is looking to create millions of new apprenticeship places which will hopefully address the issue, however, like many Government promises, it’s more than likely it won’t be pulled off. So, one of my proposals is for the industry to unite together to become active at school-leaver level to talk to students about a career in fenestration, at all levels. Perhaps a new body could be formed to do so, or for an existing one to carry the responsibility.

There are some companies already making the effort to talk to students about fenestration opportunities, but this is something that should be done on a much larger and wider scale, by companies from all levels of the supply chain.

Renewed force for 5% VAT on energy efficient windows

Before Christmas I wrote about an opportunity in which energy efficient windows and doors could enjoy the benefits of the 5% VAT rate other energy efficient products enjoy. Then, on February 8th the GGF added their voice to the campaign, along with some research they had carried out to boost the argument:

  • Provision for a whole house approach to energy saving materials being used to make properties energy efficient.
  • That the primary reason for replacing windows and doors is now for improving energy efficiency (43% – source Palmer Research Report 2014).
  • The GGF Membership estimates a growth of 20% in the sector if 5% VAT is awarded. This would be a significant boost to a sector which has been steadily declining since 2002.

I think it’s fair to say we would all expect a boost should VAT be cut by 15%. But, the GGF’s voice and research is a good boost to have to the campaign.

However, I believe that we should all be doing more to make sure we make the most of this perhaps once in a generation opportunity. It’s not often chances like this come around, and it’s even more rare given the fact that it was the European Commission that have forced the issue, and we may well be voting to leave come June 23rd.

The more we can talk to our MP’s, industry bodies and all other people with influence the better we can boost our chances or righting this wrong.

Maximum discount structures

The issue of the hard-sell and ridiculous pricing structures has been a hot one on here lately. Most do indeed back the more professional, relaxed approach. One or two believe those of us who believe in that method are wasting our time talking about it. I disagree.

Despite contradictory arguments, I am still yet to come across a home owner on my travels that actually prefers to be quoted £50k for a house full of windows to be then told on the fifth hour of “negotiations” that their final price is now just £8k.

So, one idea I had was enforce a maximum discount structure on companies. The idea would be that companies who insist on raising prices before dropping them again can only do so up to a certain limit. This would still give companies the chance to offer a “sale” price, but would stop them starting so stupidly high then dropping do by an unrealistic amount. It would also give companies who give their lowest price in the first place a slightly leveler playing field. It’s not perfect, but I don’t think we’re going to get every company to give home owners their best prices from the start.

All fabricator and sysco reps on social media

I’ve talked about this before, but as a way of communication, social media is up there with the best. Most of us in the industry have a Twitter account for example, and use it to send information out to the world. Plenty of us also use it to ask questions. Sometimes though, those questions don’t get answers.

For me, to improve communication between installers, fabricators and syscos, every sales rep, manager and CEO/MD should have an active Twitter account. This will give businesses and their customers an effective and real-time channel between which communication can flourish.

Reps from fabricators and syscos don’t always have time to meet their customers face to face. But, a social media account does give them the chance to keep a regular and informative channel of communication open between both parties. Best part about it? It’s all free!

These are just some of my ideas. If you have any comments on them, or have some proposals of your own, please leave them via the comments section below.

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