As part of the wider effort to engage with the outside world and help attract new talent to the industry, many have commented that when you say the word fenestration to most people, they have no idea what you’re talking about. Obviously we know, or at least we should all know, what that word means. But, for me, there are two definitions of the word, and if we’re going to teach people outside the industry more about us, we have to pick the right on.
Definition vs reality
If you Google the definition of the word “fenestration” this is what you get: The arrangement of windows in a building.
That is the literal meaning of the word fenestration. But when we talk about our sector, we talk about the fenestration industry. The industry is far more than just the arrangement of windows in a building. Personally, that definition is not a very good one by Google but that’s for another day.
The reality is that the fenestration industry is made up of a huge array of main and sub-sectors. Within windows alone there’s immense variety in terms of products and applications. Doors are a whole industry in itself. Then there is the conservatory, glazed extension and solid roof markets. Bi-folding doors, lanterns, roofline. The list goes on.
The point I’m making here is that the real world of fenestration is way more than the true definition makes it out to be. We must understand that clarity of message to those outside the industry is vitally important. If you want a lesson about the importance of clarity you only need to look at the performances of Labour and the Tories in the EU referendum!
As an industry, we’re going to be going to the general public to demonstrate to them that a career in our industry is one worth looking at. When we do, we have to be clear both in ourselves and to those listening that we explain what fenestration means, but also what the reality of the industry is as well. Working for an installer means one day you could be fitting a door, the next a house full of windows, the next a solid roof conversion and then a roofline job the next week. I think once we get across the varied nature of the job and that one week will never be the same as the last, it will pique the interest of those who want a career where variety is a big part of the vocation.
Poor fenestration communication
Although I don’t much like the definition Google gives you for the word “fenestration”, the word itself is probably the best one we have. It sounds the most professional for a start.
But the industry has never really used it outside our sphere. We know it, the vast majority does not. And that is simply down to poor communication with the outside world. That being said, we have a golden opportunity as a sector, on the back of trying to turn around the skills crisis, in which to educate the public about the realities of our industry and the vast and varied work we all do on a daily basis.
Generally, the only bit of communicating our industry has done in the past has been the nationals and their TV advertising campaigns. There is the local advertising smaller companies do, but it’s sparse and the message is really only price-based. The most recent examples of the industry reaching out have been Solidor’s recent TV campaigns and FENSA’s current TV advertising, which I have just seen on Dave!
What we might want to consider going forwards is dropping in the f-word within the advertising materials. If anything just to get the public to subconsciously start to wonder about the term and begin to understand what it is and what falls under that umbrella.
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