GDPR. Health and safety. Employment law. Worker rights. Consumer rights and protection laws. All areas that a company selling windows and doors have to know about to run their business.

I think if you were to ask any business in our industry they would tell you that it has become more complicated to run their companies now than it was just a decade ago. New laws, new regulations, new restrictions on what you can and cannot do have meant companies have had to adapt to trading conditions that are much different and arguably more complicated than it used to. It can be frustrating.

So in a new Twitter poll, I am asking if you had the chance, would you take the opportunity to set up a new company in this industry?

The poll

Here’s what I’m asking:

So far, you guys are saying yes, although its not a resounding yes. That could change over the coming days.

I got to thinking of this because of my time working with the family installation business. I joined when I was 16, and I can categorically say it was easier to run the business then than it is now. The biggest change over those 14 years is with home owners.

The internet has brought about great change in our sector, almost all of it good. It has helped inform the general public about what we do as an industry, how we make our products, the amount of choice available, and they are now able to speak directly with manufacturers as well as with installers now. But with that extra knowledge, comes leverage, and with consumer protection laws now heavily weighted against businesses, it has helped to create a very different trading paradigm.

I have said before in previous posts that whilst consumer rights and laws are important, we’re all consumers at the end of the day, I believe they are now too heavily weighted towards the customer, with little to no protection for the business. It has meant good businesses are left at the mercy of home owners who know the rules in detail and use them against a company who might come up against what might be normally menial problems. I have heard of horror stories of customers withholding tens of thousands of pounds for such small remedial works, such as a missing handle, a scratched unit etc. Home owners then trot out the phrase included in the current consumer rights laws “not fit for purpose”. The problem with the legislation is that its so woolly rogue home owners seeking to act unfairly to businesses can use that wording to their advantage, even if the problems are small, in order to get their money back or at least achieve a partial discount. I don’t call that as fair play.

In the most part, most home owners treat companies well. But I do feel that the number of home owners seeking to exploit legislation ufairly to their advantage is on the rise, and I do see a rise in complaints from companies who are finding dealing with customers increasingly hard work.

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Opportunities remain

Thats one of the big negatives in running a business. But this industry is B2B as well as B2C, and there remains many opportunties in which to build a new business.

Composite doors, sky lights and lanterns, bi-folding doors, aluminium, solid roofs and flush windows are all areas of rapid growth. If you had the money to create a start-up in either B2C or B2C then these are the product groups that you would look at to get the ball rolling. Home owner demand is spurring a lot of this, and the growth of these products should last for years to come.

Whether you would start up running B2C or B2B would be one of the biggest questions. The industry remains over-populated and more consolidation is required in many areas. Personally, I think B2B is easier in terms of personal relationships and daily operation, dealing with the general public is a different ball game altogether. I’m not saying B2B is necessarily easier, but its a different type of challenge. It remains a crowded market, so standing out from the rest and winning new business from a standing start wouldn’t be easy.

Please take a moment to vote on my new Twitter poll, and as always I’ll report back the results once the vote has been completed.

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