When I say we’re busy at our place, I’m not doing ourselves any justice. It’s an understatement. In fact in the 11+ years I have worked at our family run installations business, I cannot remember a time when we have been as busy as we are right now.
For example, neither myself, my brother or dad can really say we have been on top of our quotes as sales people all year. Something that in previous years wasn’t an issue. Right now as I speak, I can confidently say that I have at least a dozen quotes that need prepping and pricing. That’s just me. I know my dad and brother are in the same boat.
Our lead time has only grown longer and longer, to the point where we had to bring on board another fitting crew to help with the extra capacity. It may not be that long before we need another.
I also know that our situation isn’t an isolated one. I speak to installers on a regular basis, in all parts of the UK, and they all report very much the same as the above. That it’s crazy busy at the moment and that records look like they could be falling come the end of the year. Many have said that this is the busiest they have ever been.
We’re in “silly season” right now. That period where home owners rush to get their home improvement work done before Christmas. This could be the busiest end to the year for our industry’s installers in a very long time.
Why so busy?
This time of year is always generally busy, but there does seem like there has been an added impetus since the new school term started.
I could identify at least a couple of areas. To begin with, the UK economy has performed pretty strongly since the Brexit vote. There has been no collapse. And even though Sterling has continued to fall, that in itself has brought other benefits. I can be argued that a strongly performing economy, in the face of doom and gloomers, has helped to encourage home owners not to hold on to their money, and to continue to spend in big ticket items like windows and doors.
Then there are the low interest rates. The Bank of England base rate is now just 0.25%. That means savers are earning a pittance on their nest eggs in the bank account. So many are asking what the point is of keeping all that cash in one place when it’s not working for them. In recent months I have sold to a lot of people who have decided to invest in their homes simply because saving their money in their banks isn’t working for them any more.
The construction and extensions markets are performing well. The Brexit vote couldn’t derail these two areas. Various market reports point to an increase in home building and home owners undertaking large home renovations like extensions and loft conversions. On the ground, I have seen myself this year a lot of our windows going into extensions, self-builds and large home revamps.
A longer term boost looks likely
New mortgage approvals have dropped in number since new rules were introduced a few years ago. Re-mortgaging isn’t that easy now either. Add to the mix record low interest rates and a steady if not slow increase in wages. All this has combined to create the ideal conditions for the home improvement market.
Instead of people buying new homes, people are spending the money they have, or are lucky enough to secure a re-mortgage, to unlock funds to spend on improving their homes. These conditions have been brewing for a while now and I think is the major factor behind the quite sharp increase in business activity myself and many other installers have seen.
In fact, with the course for the UK economy set for at least the next two and a bit years, I can see our industry having a particularly strong couple of years. Home owners staying put and savings being spent often create good trading conditions for window and door installers.
So, if you think you’re busy now and are quite looking forward to a gentle slowdown towards Christmas, I think it might be time to think again. Barring the standard drop off in business over the holiday period, I believe that we are going to see this elevated level of business continue for installers for a fair old while to come. Good news for them, as well as fabricators ans syscos further up the chain.
It’s time to cash in and make the most of one of the busiest ends to a year that I can remember.
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