Mark Kelly, CEO of PVC-U window and door manufacturer, Eurocell, explores how installers can win business back following the Green Homes Grant confusion.
The government’s Green Homes Grant scheme has caused chaos and concern in the sector in recent weeks, with the announcement causing many homeowners to pause work which the sector needs now in order to recover from the pandemic.
When the government announced the scheme in July, Eurocell joined a number of other glazing businesses, systems houses, installers and industry bodies in calling for greater clarity around the scheme and for the September start date be brought forward, so it doesn’t risk inadvertently damaging the sector. Unfortunately, the response from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) published on the 22nd July is simply a reaffirmation of the objectives of the scheme and doesn’t clarify the position for homeowners. It’s frustrating that whilst government is trying to support our sector, it is damaging it in the short term and putting jobs at risk.
Perhaps most pertinently for our sector, from what we know at the time of writing (Thursday 23rd July), it’s expected that the scheme will focus heavily on insulation as a primary measure, with measures for glazing not thought to extend beyond upgrading single glazing windows or secondary glazing to double glazing. If this is true, double glazing to double glazing upgrades appear to be off the table, meaning that many customers should be able to comfortably reinstate their orders. However the scheme proceeds, it’s likely to be bound up in bureaucracy, with an energy efficiency assessment required and then implementation through a competent persons scheme.
At the time of writing, many points around the scheme still need clarifying by government, and we know many in the industry have been extremely disappointed with its communication around the issue. But, rather than lamenting over what has happened, now’s the time for installers to look to the future and how they can play their part in helping with the recovery of the sector following the setback. So, what can window and door installers do to convince customers to start placing orders again?
Be an expert source
We know that many installers have found the past few weeks incredibly frustrating – battling with dropped orders and uncertainty. The scheme has been difficult enough for the industry to get its head around, never mind the general public. So, once they have all of the information, installers should be acting as a trusted source of information to customers. The announcement will have left many confused, so once the finer details have been confirmed, installers have a part to play in explaining it to customers, plus their options in light of any new details that are announced.
Put safety first
Amongst all this, we can’t forget we’re still in the middle of a global pandemic. As well as the confusion around the grant pausing orders, we must also remember that lots of homeowners are stalling work in general because they’re still nervous about letting tradespeople into the home. So, installers need to be able to demonstrate they are taking safety seriously when it comes to working in homes and complying with latest guidelines – and communicate this properly to customers.
Offer the right products
Those installers that are able to not only advise homeowners on the latest guidance and safety measures, but also offer them products suited to our news ways of life will win more business and help play their part in reviving the sector.
The home improvement market has boomed during lockdown, so the opportunities absolutely are there. By assessing the current landscape, installers will be able to gauge the products that are likely to increase in demand. For example, many homeowners will be looking for ways to increase natural light in their homes and homeworking spaces, as they adapt to spending much more time inside. So we’ll probably see more demand for bi-fold doors, big windows, and solid roof systems such as Eurocell’s Equinox Vega, which improves ventilation and energy efficiency, as well as letting natural light flood into a room.
With today’s consumer more conscious than ever, installers should also be able to demonstrate they’re using energy efficient and sustainable products and be able to easily explain their features to customers.
It’s not going to be an easy year for window and door installers who will need to work hard to build their businesses back up and get the market moving again – but there will be opportunities for those that are agile. Seeing various players in the industry, big and small, come together over the past couple of weeks to lobby the government and speak out about the clarification needed just proves how strong and collaborative our sector is.
Eurocell will continue to work with others in the industry to try and influence government to clarify the situation as quickly as possible, so that we can return quickly to servicing the needs of our customers.