Throughout September DGB ran a poll asking installers to participate in polling designed to gauge what the true picture is with regards to lead times at installer level. The poll expired at the end of September and we can now look at the results of the poll.

More than 70% above two months

The results are proof that a marked change has occured at installation level. Where normal lead time are usually 2-4 weeks, sometimes 6 weeks during busy periods, more than 70% of those polled said that their lead times were at least 8 weeks or more. These are the full results:

So more than two thirds of installers are under lead times that stretch beyond two months. It explains the intense pressure on the rest of the supply chain above installer level to keep pace with their customers. If you speak to installers directly, they will tell you its the busiest period they have had in years, for some its breaking records.

Less than three in ten installers have lead times less than 8 weeks. Its an indication, although not proof, that the rise in business activity is reasonably widespread in the installer community.

Whilst the outlook inside fenestration is positive, local lockdowns and threats of larger national restrictions remain possible. Whether these will affect the sector in the weeks and months to come only time will tell. However, with the majority of installers having full order books to the end of the year and beyond, installers should hopefully be insulated from any new lockdowns.

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Demand could remain high

As was alluded to in a previous post, demand on installers from homeowner could remain high for at least another year. You can catch up on that post here. With homeowners unable to realistically travel abroad, footfall in pubs, bars and restaurants down and other major purchases off the table, the only route to spending disposable income is on our homes and gardens. So long as we don’t have a vaccine and so long as we continue to restrictions in place, that demand is set to go nowhere. Good news for fenestration. If this is the base case however, then there are going to be lessons to learn if we are to hit 2021 with better preparedness.

Our sector is going to have to up it’s capacity. There are plenty over-trading, and no one wants to turn business away if they don’t have to. So we all have to look at employing more staff to help bear the load. Whether thats adding to sales capacities, employing more fabricators, investing in software, adding drivers or expanding storage facilities, it all needs to be looked at. Our industry is creaking right now and we need to expand and grow in many areas to help make the most of the business that lies in front of us.

I would urge us all to continue to invest in software that aims to reduce the time it takes to do our jobs. Its important that all areas of sector are allowed to function as efficiently as possible so we can process as much work at we can. That matters both at installer level and manufacturing level. Whilst I believe we should be investing in employing more and more people, not making people redundant, we should also be looking at the most advanced software options to make our jobs simpler and quicker.

We also need to accept longer lead times. I understand we live in an age where we’re all used to getting anything we want in super-quick times, but our industry makes products that are made-to-meaure and bespoke to each client. These aren’t laptops, phones and fridges. I don’t think its unreasonable for homeowners to wait a number of weeks to get something that has been made specifically for their needs. It would also help the supply chain all the way up to the top by relieveing pressure. We don’t need doors in three days or conservatory roofs in a week. Not when so many have work booked three months in advance. Lets take a breather, be honest to the public about the amont of work we’re having to process and give ourselves one less rod up our backs.

Finally, installers need to be as organised as they can when it comes to ordering from their suppliers. Avoid sending in orders at the last minute. Give your suppliers as much time as possible to process your order so they can work it into their own scheduling. It makes it easier to plan and allows for more time to rectifiy any problems that might occur during the manufacturing process.

All in all, these are very positive results and points to a busy 2021 despite the various headwinds other parts of the economy are facing.

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