2020? It’s felt like a decade. Lockdowns, record recessions, human tragedy and loss, fiery and divisive politics. Definitely not the start to the new decade we all wanted.

How are you going to reflect upon this year? Yes, it was total crap. But how have you grown? How has your business grown? How did you respond when faced with your toughest challenge yet? What did you learn? How did you grow? I don’t mean in monetary terms, but but how did you grow as a person and a business?

Personally, I am looking forward to the end of this year and Christmas, even if its not the Christmas we planned. For 2021 however, that is going to be the year of change. 2021 really is going to be the year where change matters.

Change = growth

We were greeted today with news that GDP figures for the last quarter jumped 15.5% to bring the record recession to an end, although the real picture is that UK GDP levels are over 8% down on the year, and we’re likely to fall back into recession in Q4 due to new restrictions in place now. Economists have warned that it’s likely to take two or three years for economies to recover back to pre-pandemic levels. I appreciate that fenestration has gone through its own boom in recent months which is obviously welcome, but the wider economy is still being hammered and we should recognise that millions out there are not in a stable position economically.

So what should we make of 2021? Even if there is a successful vaccine to gain access to, rollouts will take time, and we won’t be calling 2021 a post-pandemic year. But 2021 should be a year we look change. For me, growth alone isn’t going to mean more numbers on a screen. Growth is going to be how much we can all change. Personally, in our businesses and in our industry.

Look at how much the world has changed this year already, even in the face of such an enormous battle. Our industry has adapted well to new technologies and developed new approaches to business.

The next couple of years are going to tough though. The world and how it does business continues to change even by the month as we embrace new ways of doing things. It doesn’t all go smoothly at first, but more often than not those changes stick and stick for good. Would we ever go back from pricing up composite doors from the cloud? No, we wouldn’t. Would we ever go back from ordering those doors online? No, we wouldn’t.

Growth needs to be measured in more than one way in the next couple of years. How much we change should be one of those measures. And don’t underestimate how important change and adaptation is.

Popularity of colour

I was having a chat with an industry friend of mine the other day and he posed the thought that the companies who have embraced colour the most in the last few years are perhaps best placed to find success in the coming years. Those who have stuck with the same old shiny White might find the road ahead pretty difficult. Its a point I had to agree with. Especially when I was told that profit margins on foiled products are multiples higher than that of White.

This is change in action. Change that brings higher profitability. It’s a no brainer. Sell/produce fewer frames but make more money. I’d sign up to that any day of the week. Thats working smarter, not harder.

Profit margins on White product continue to be squeezed, and the better money lies in the new innovations, be it foiled frames, flush etc. Those who spotted that in the early days and prepared for it will now find themselves in a stronger position to push out their competition. Those who were less inclined to embrace change and adopt new ideas will already be on the back foot.

And that is the risk you run if you don’t spot the trend changes early. If you don’t open your mind to new ideas. You will get left behind. It’s the same across any industry, not just ours. Blockbuster laughed at the idea of Netflix. People laughed at Apple at $600 smartphones when they were first introduced. Kodak ignored digital cameras. HMV dismissed music streaming services. Blockbuster are no more. $600 is now considered cheap for a smartphone. Kodak are a fraction of the company they once were. HMV has failed multiple times now.

So if you’re going to make 2021 a year of something, make it the year to change. Embrace new ideas. Try new platforms. Open your mind to new avenues and new relationships. Growth should be measured next year by how much we can change as an industry, as well as by those numbers on the screen.

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