Since the announcement of the new national lockdown in England, questions have been raised inside the fenestration industry about what work is and is not allowed to take place. Including that around door canvassing.
For clarity, manufacturing can continue. There was never a chance that was going to be closed. In Scotland, installers have been grounded unless it’s essential work, which for many shutters them for the duration of the lockdown. In England, the guidance issued yesterday was nowhere near as clear as Scotland’s, so left the door open (pun, sorry) for installers to carry on working inside people’s homes. You can read more about the different approaches between Scotland and England here.
Last night, hours after the initial publication of the English lockdown guidance, there was a revision added. I warned last night that additions to guidance would happen in the hours and days ahead, and it might have ramifications on how our businesses could operate. The area highlighted in red below was added to the guidance issued hours after initial publication. I have also included the first draft of the guidance about working as a reminder of the original version.
There has been a further revision of the highlighted area today but does not add anything that materially changes the landscape.
However, that first revision, which mentions not working in private homes or gardens did change things. I asked the proactive people at Certass TA if they could see what further clarifications they could ascertain, as this for me represented an issue for sales reps doing in-home visits. They have been in discussions with the relevant Government departments today and have updated their trade forums this evening to confirm that after those discussions all sales activity is to be done remotely. Many of you will already be members of the trade association forum so will be able to access that post on their page.
After the update yesterday evening to the initial guidance, I suspected that this might be the case. I have been told that new guidance should be coming soon, perhaps in a couple of days or so, which states what Certass have already reported on their TA page.
This is going to mean a return to remote sales and quotations for sales representatives. Crucially, it has been confirmed to me that surveys and installations will continue to be allowed in England. Scotland has its own guidance for tradespeople which puts it in a different position to England. Wales’ lockdown is due to end on Friday but it’s highly likely it will be extended to run in line with the other nations of the UK. There is no new news yet on Northern Ireland, but as and when new information is published it will be communicated on DGB.
Door canvassing and surveys
There are two major differences with this lockdown for retail installers sales in England compared to last time. First, final surveys and installations will be allowed to continue. That means the entire transaction pipeline can be completed to the finish with the installation of products. So although home visits appear off the table for a while now, remote sales can still bring the business in and contracts can be fulfilled for homeowners. Secondly, installers have learned and adapted from the first time around. This is not alien or strange any more. Much of the sector has already spent months changing how it does business, so any disruption on the sales side should be less in scale compared to March of last year.
It is still worth noting that guidance is still likely to be changed in the days ahead. For example, a specific mention of glazing showrooms was added to Government guidance a fortnight into a four-week lockdown in November. So keep checking on the Government website for any changes that might happen.
I have also had it confirmed to me that door-to-door sales and door canvassing are not allowed. During my discussions with Certass TA it was explained to me that all measures in Tier 4, which banned door canvassing, were carried through into the national lockdown. Which makes sense. You wouldn’t roll back any of those measures if you’re moving to a position of strengthened restrictions.
More information and statements and trade bodies are due to follow in the days to come. More clarity may well be announced in those statements, so keep an eye out for them. Government guidance is likely to be updated in the coming days. For specific questions please seek advice from your applicable trade bodies.
Should this position change in any substantial way this post will be updated to reflect any relevant change.
View the latest Government guidance here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home#going-to-work
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