At the moment, UK fenestration is booming. We’re on a path that is now way beyond recovery, and that is creating some very big businesses. When we come to the end of this streak, there are going to be a lot of companies far bigger than what they once were.
That in itself poses an additional challenge. One that we haven’t really thought about yet but one that we should really be paying attention to. That is how are we going to be able to sustain current business levels.
Long term fenestration plan
The fenestration sector has to think of itself in two ways. Pre-pandemic and post-pandemic. We need to look back at our industry and companies and understand that they are now smaller than they are right now. At the moment, most are hiring, taking on new staff to cope with the influx of business that shows no sign of stopping at present. Turnover is much larger. Profit margins are (hopefully) a lot healthier, there are more staff on the books, more fitting teams, more fabricators on the shop floor, more delivery drivers.
But what happens when that influx of business starts to level off or fall back again? Companies have grown to a certain size, much bigger in some cases than in the pre-pandemic era. The last thing we want is a sector that has just expanded is to reverse that growth trend and make people redundant not long after they have joined us.
This was a subject inspired by a conversation we had with Sian Wood, an industry expert in SEO and marketing, who joined us as a special guest on our FENEX Virtual Pub live stream on Friday evening.
In it, we spoke about the expansion going on in the sector and the need to then be able to sustain that level of business once demand levels off so that we can not only keep the people we have hired as a sector but also keep attracting new people to the industry. It was a fantastic live stream and I suggest you go back and watch as the first hour was filled with excellent insights and information from Sian.
The point raised was absolutely right. This period of exceptional demand will end at some point, whether that’s before the end of this year, some point next year or maybe even after that. But no matter when that point comes, the sector has to be ready to respond to ensure that there is enough business being brought in to sustain the levels that we have grown to. In order to be ready, that preparation has to begin now.
Marketing plans at the ready
One of the areas that Sian brought up in the stream was marketing and SEO. The aim being to increase the visibility, presence and lead generation of a company now, rather than wait until the drop happens, at which point it would be too late.
And she is absolutely correct. As busy as everyone in fenestration is right now, with the securing of product and deliveries the single most important subject at this present time for many, time should also be found to focus on your marketing plans that have an impact in the months and years to come. That includes SEO. As online search becomes ever more dominant, the hard work to improve that particular area of your business should also be done now.
Too many times we as an industry are reactive rather than proactive. Why wait until the drop happens to spring into action? It would be too late by that point and the damage will already have started. It takes weeks, months even, to see effects from any new marketing activities. Do the work now, put in the effort at this stage and then see the fruits of your labour in the months ahead. It’s very easy to lay back now and watch the work come in but it won’t always be this easy. With every boom there is a slowdown, that should be remembered.
Right now, business is free-flowing and the public is happy to spend quite large sums without much hesitation. But the maths behind that means that cannot last forever, and as things tighten up, persuading people to continue to part with their money will become less easy. This is where effective marketing and lead generation becomes incredibly valuable, and planning for that scenario has to start now. The fenestration sector has to continue to be proactive.
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I think the other thing installers will find out too late is that the profit margins haven’t been as high as they currently think. Great cashflow has a good way of hiding poor profit.
Installers are too busy doing the work to study the numbers behind it.