The New Year is always a good time to reflect on what’s been achieved in the previous 12 months and look ahead to what the next year holds. 2019 was a year of uncertainty for the UK, with Brexit and the General Election. Hot topics for the industry were skills gaps and diversity, but it was a positive year for our members who continued to deliver impressive standards of work to homeowners, proven by the thousands of positive homeowner reviews we had through our online ratings system last year.
One of the Certass Trade Association (TA) pledges is to be the voice of the industry and offer SMEs the opportunity to have themselves heard, which is why it was brilliant to have so many responses to our member survey at the end of last year. It becomes a really valuable source of information for us, giving extra market insight as well as giving a real gauge of what’s affecting installers, so we can develop our association to help solve issues for them.
It was also positive to see that the resources and initiatives we have already introduced for members are popular. Just over half (51%) of respondents said that technical guides were the most important thing for a trade association to deliver for them. There are already 20 Certass TA technical guides on offer to members, with many more planned for launch in 2020.
In terms of industry concerns, the biggest issue for respondents was consumer confidence in spending with 62% agreeing that it was affecting them. Second with 45% was consumer bad payers and a close third was consumer confidence in our industry, at 44%.
Consumer bad payers
Consumer bad payers are a growing issue, but the right support can help installers deal with them. Certass TA members not only get free access to Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) but also get free legal documents and advice through the Business Essentials Package.
Consumer perception of the industry is something we really need to address this year, as it will not only increase their confidence in choosing an installer, but also increase young talent coming into the industry. The lack of youngsters coming towards glazing is feeding our growing skills gap which is a real shame as training to become a window fitter offers fantastic career prospects for young people. It’s something we need to start communicating effectively to school leavers.
Well prepared for Brexit
Interestingly, supply chain worries around Brexit was cited as the issue affecting respondents the least, with 72% of respondents saying it wasn’t affecting them. I think this is a positive reflection on our industry supply chain. Whilst there were some worries around supply with manufacturers, the fact that these concerns haven’t trickled down to more installers shows that fabricators have implemented good strategies around Brexit and given their customers good information.
In terms of what’s important to homeowners, more than 96% of respondents said that product quality was extremely important or very important to their customers, with finish of work and courteousness in second and third places respectively. This gives us good insight into why our members are getting such great reviews, because we know that their work is of a suitably high-standard (99.92% of audited jobs pass Building Regulation standards first time), they are polite and courteous to customers and they are taking advantage of the premium products available in the marketplace.
We’ll be running similar surveys throughout 2020 to monitor how installers are finding the industry and guide how we develop Certass Trade Association. One result I’m certain of is that our members will continue to receive great homeowner reviews and positive recommendations because they are flying the flag for great practice in our industry.