The economic environment here and around the world is going to be challenging this year, and we’re going to hear a mixed bag of good and bad news during 2017. For example, many economic forecasts for UK GDP have been revised up by quite a big margin, the Bank of England’s especially. Yet, we had a surprise dip in consumer spending in January. Perhaps a focusing from the public on paying down debt, or perhaps a slight squeezing on finances due to creeping inflation.

There’s going to be good and bad, and that will create rocky patches and smooth patches when it comes to trading conditions for the window and door industry. A “big-ticket” sector which is often hit first when home owners start to second guess their spending habits.

So, to combat the rocky patches and to make sure our industry remains active and competitive, installers right now, I believe, should be embarking on  a period of big diversification. In fact they should be selling pretty much every different type of fenestration related product to attracts as many clientele groups as possible.

Revenue streams

There was a big focus on diversification during the financial crash and Great Recession in ’08 and ’09. Installers were urged to get out of their comfort zones and take on new products from fabricators in an effort to attract new types of customers and increase their revenue streams. Now I’m not saying we’re heading into a period of time as bad as that, but we don’t want to take our foot off the gas either. We have had a pretty good run of years of growth as an industry, and with uncertainty ahead, we need to be active now to help keep that growth growing.

This is why I believe installers should be looking at selling and installing absolutely all window and door products. I know that during the Great Recession many installers did follow the advice and took up a range of new products to attract new types of customers they previously wouldn’t have. But even since then there has been continuous product updates, changes and whole new products niches created, and it’s those that installers should be looking at selling now too.

For me, installers should be selling all three main material groups: PVCu, timber and aluminium. Most I would say sell a mix of these already, but I think it would be prudent to have all three on offer. I also think the new niches, like composite windows, be it a timber/aluminium or aluminium/PVCu or any other combo. There will be a small percentage of home owners out there looking for that truly unique option.

What this isn’t about is finding a new core business. In the residential market PVCu will always remain king of the pile for the foreseeable future. But it’s about picking up the residual business that an installer may not have if they had not been able to offer that product.

DGB Business

Bolstering business with extra sales

Diversification doesn’t mean trying to create a new core business. In our industry and in the residential market that is firmly PVCu. Timber or aluminium isn’t going to replace that. But an installer can pick up extra sales by offering timber and aluminium products and win extra business where they may not have previously.

A small installer may only get a dozen sales of each over the course of the year, but that’s 24 potentially big contracts won that might have gone to their competitors. And this is my point. Selling every single product type might seem extreme, but if it means you’re picking one or two extra orders up on the way, then it’s worth it.

It’s not easy though. There would be a lot of new product knowledge to learn, processes updated in the office to make sure the new products are sold and ordered correctly. But if you ask me it’s worth it.

For me, this is what a modern fenestration installer should be selling:

  • PVCu windows, doors, bi-folds, French doors and sliding patios
  • Aluminium windows, doors, bi-folds, French doors and sliding patios
  • Timber windows, doors, bi-folds, French doors and sliding patios
  • Composite windows, doors, bi-folds, French doors and sliding patios
  • Vertical sliders
  • Dedicated timber alternative PVCu products
  • Custom sprayed coloured products
  • Conservatories
  • Glazed extensions
  • Solid roofs
  • Glass roofs
  • Roofline products
  • Replacement glass products
  • Lantern roofs
  • Flat sky lights
  • Outdoor living products such a Pergolas and Verandahs
  • Glass balustrading
  • Composite decking

There’s probably more but you get my point. An installer might only pick up a handful of sales in each of the lesser obvious choices in the list above, but that’s extra business which could mean the difference between a year of growth versus a year of declines.

Diversification is the key for installers at this very moment in time. The more choice an installer can provide, the less chance the home owner looks elsewhere to get what they want.

To get weekly updates from DGB sent to your inbox, enter your email address in the space below to subscribe: