As we head into the fourth week of a lockdown which looks all but guaranteed to be extended by at least a few more weeks, we do still have to plan for the future. There will be one, we just don’t know when it might start.

We focus heavily on the upper parts of the supply chain, namely fabricators, systems companies etc, and that is fine. But we focus so very little on the largest part of the supply chain, yet its the most important, and that’s our installers. They are the ones at the sharp end of our supply chain. They take the orders from the home owners, and those orders flow back up the supply chain to where the pellets are turned into profile and it all flows right back down again. Without the installers, all above would cease to function. This is why I want to engage with installers in as big a way as possible with this new set of polls.

Help installers to help the rest

This is a two-part crisis. We’re still in the first part, the health crisis. Lockdown is about to be extended for what looks like at least three more weeks. But when we start to see the light at the end of the tunnel in terms of the health crisis, whenever that might happen, we will start to look closer at the second part, and that is the economic fallout.

Its going to be massive. Comparisons to the Great Depression 90 years ago are being made now, with some forecasts showing key economic data points performing even worse than that. Its hard to fathom. The Great Depression was supposed to be the worst economic period for the industrialized world. At its peak, 15m Americans were out of work. In the space of three weeks 16.8m Americans have already filed for unemployment, with millions more expected. In the UK, 2m are expected to lose their jobs in Q2 in a new forecast by the OBR released today. That is a huge leap for a country that has enjoyed record low unemployment since the seventies.

The mountain that is going to have to be climbed to begin the path to recovery is huge. But the key area for UK fenestration to look at is the relationship between fabricators/manufacturers and installers.

Our installers are the lifeblood of our industry. No installers, no industry, its as simple as that. So as much help as possible needs to be give to our installers so that they can do their job as productively, as quickly and as successfully as possible. That help needs to come from fabricators and other manufacturers. They are the first point of call for many installers, and the ones they rely on when it comes to marketing materials.

Speaking with my installer hat on, my call would be for fabricators to invest heavily in tech and IT. We’re going to rely on it now more than ever in so many aspects of our business lives. I find it easier to do my sales job when I have the right IT services and tech at my finger tips. I can price a composite door via Solidor’s cloud and email a quote to a home owner in minutes. The quicker that person gets their quote, the better my chances are of winning the order. A clear example of how investment in tech can win business and repay the money spent.

Installers are going to find its going to be a lot harder for home owner to part with their money for the first few months after the crisis, so they need to be given all the marketing and tech tools to make their arguments to home owners even more compelling.

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Installer polls

In an effort to try to gauge sentiment among installers right now, I am asking for as many window and door installers as able to take part in the polls below. The more that take part, the more accurate the picture will be. The aim is to not only find out what installers think and expect might happen in the months to come, but to also give fabricators an idea as to what installers want from them to help in the future.

In the next few weeks, the most important commodity we are all going to have is data and information. The more we have, the better we can plan for the future. So if you’re an installer and can spare half a minute, please use that time to take part in the polls below and help build a picture for the rest of the industry to work from.

If you’re a fabricator, please encourage your installers to take part in this. The information that can be gathered from this will help you to understand what is required from your customers in the coming months. Ultimately it will be to your benefit.

I will be making these polls available on the Fenestration Digital and National Fenestration Awards websites in the coming days to help expand the field. If you’re in other parts of the market and feel the results would also be of benefit to you, please encourage others to take part as well. I will also be emailing these polls out to the DGB community.

Be safe and be well.

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