I think it’s fair to say that as the year has progressed in the first quarter, business has picked up strongly. It was certainly a very quiet start to the year, and a very quiet end to the previous year. Perhaps more quiet than many, including myself, anticipated. But, as Spring tries to get into gear, so does our industry and the noises coming from it sound positive.
From the perspective of fabricators and manufacturers, this is obviously good news. But where is the new business going to come from? Is it from chasing new business in an market that is still overcrowded and highly competitive. Or is it from the existing customers bases where potentially untapped installer growth has yet to be taken advantage of?
An untapped resource
It is the nature for fabricators and manufacturers to want to go out and find brand new clients to expand their reach and increase revenues. Not that many years ago that would have been a perfectly reasonable thing to do. However, the landscape of our industry has changed greatly in a short space of time. There are many fabricators, new and existing, all competing harder and faster to grab the attentions of installers up and down the UK. The chances of signing on new installers is more difficult.
For me, fabricators should focus more on their existing client base and working with their installers to squeeze every last bit of potential from them.
They wouldn’t need to worry about sales of new products. That’s what their existing installers are there for. But I often feel that installers are sometimes ignored or at least not focused on as much as fabricators go on the hunt for new installers to bring on board.
Fabricators should focus heavily on developing their existing installer network to make the very most out of them. This can be done in various ways, including lead generation, regular and engaging marketing support, showroom support and so on. If fabricators give installers all the tools possible, both installer and supplier should benefit.
The relationship between installers and fabricators has to be a healthy and honest one. Without a good a productive relationship, it can break down to the point where installation companies can start to look elsewhere for their wares.
I am also a big believer in regular Q&A and feedback sessions with fabricators. I think that on a regular basis fabricators should go to their installers, perhaps three or four times a year, and ask them for honest feedback. Without that, fabricators won’t be able to know what is going right and what is going wrong, so they can improve going forward.
Also, I think that fabricators should go to their installers for product ideas. Quite often, opinions and views outside of their four walls can produce better ideas and insights.
Overall, I think most fabricators will tell you that they do work with their installers to help them grow. But taking a more honest look, I do think fabricators could be doing more right now to work more solidly with their existing customer base. The landscape of our industry has changed and I don’t believe that this particular part of the market can rely on signing up new installers to create growth.