In his latest column, Simon Jarman, CEO of Clever Bean Accounting, explains why he feels investing in the installer end of the market will secure the future of our industry as a whole…
I have a particular interest in seeing growth at the installer end of our market. Installer growth trickles up the supply chain, benefiting fabricators, systems houses, component suppliers and glass processing companies. By ensuring the success of installers, the entire industry can thrive.
But most installers are small businesses and running a small business in this industry can be challenging. Small businesses generally face limited resources and budgets, and deciding where to allocate those resources is a constant balancing act.
Managing cash flow is a perpetual challenge in a small business, and it’s no different in this industry. It doesn’t matter whether the business is growing or contracting – there are likely to be constraints on cashflow for one reason or another and a significant amount of unproductive time must be devoted to managing it, to the frustration of many business owners.
Attracting and retaining top talent, whether that be fitters, surveyors or office staff can be tough, especially when competing with larger firms.
Regulatory compliance is another immensely challenging area. There are so many regulatory complexities to navigate in this industry, and equipping themselves with the knowledge to stay compliant to protect both themselves and their customers in an ever-changing landscape is a constant effort for installers.
“With numerous competing businesses offering similar products and services, standing out becomes a daunting task and the outcome is often a race to the bottom – Unfortunately, this margin squeeze also trickles up the supply chain which is potentially catastrophic for the industry as a whole”
The market is hugely competitive and differentiation from competitors is another obstacle. With numerous competing businesses offering similar products and services, standing out becomes a daunting task and the outcome is often a race to the bottom in terms of pricing, squeezing margins and cashflows. Unfortunately, this margin squeeze also trickles up the supply chain which is potentially catastrophic for the industry as a whole and must be avoided.
And all this while having to wear many hats. Small business owners in this industry are the ultimate multitaskers. They’re the CEO, accountant, salesperson, contracts manager, marketer, and customer service rep, all in one. They are expected to be financially savvy, have outstanding people skills, be a marketing magician, a sales superstar, understanding all legal aspects of a business, whilst being agile and dynamic, a problem solver, having resilience and determination, and being a great leader, setting a clear vision and inspiring their team.
“Small business owners in this industry are the ultimate multitaskers. They’re the CEO, accountant, salesperson, contracts manager, marketer, and customer service rep, all in one”
It would be a lot to ask in a large business with an army of staff benefitting from years of experience and formal training. But it’s an even bigger ask in a business with a small team and limited experience and training in the wider aspects of business management. It’s no wonder that the time commitment required is enormous and that many owners suffer from overwhelm.
So, in my opinion, investing in our installers is a necessity for the continued growth and success of our industry. These small businesses, while facing numerous challenges, are the lifeblood of our sector and the industry should strive to provide them with the knowledge and tools to manage these responsibilities effectively. From finance to leadership, a well-rounded skill-set is essential.
“Equipped with marketing, sales, and differentiation strategies, installers can stand out in a competitive market without resorting to unsustainable pricing wars”
Informed financial decisions
By offering knowledge and training in finance, we equip installers to better manage their cash flow and make informed financial decisions. This leads to greater stability and the ability to weather economic storms.
By providing resources for talent development we make small businesses more attractive to the best people. And a skilled workforce is an invaluable asset for growth and quality service delivery.
With easy access to compliance resources, installers can stay up-to-date with Building Regulations and other regulatory demands. Compliance not only safeguards their business but also enhances customer trust in the wider industry.
Equipped with marketing, sales, and differentiation strategies, installers can stand out in a competitive market without resorting to unsustainable pricing wars. This boosts margins and long-term sustainability.
This industry can foster a supportive ecosystem where installers can network, learn from each other, and access mentorship, enhancing their growth potential. While the ask is substantial, the rewards are immeasurable. By investing in the installer end of our market, we’re not just securing their future; we’re securing the future of our industry as a whole. We can create a rising tide that lifts all boats.