Published On: Mon, Jun 9th, 2014

Are you ready to make the most of 2014?

Roy Frost, MD at Deceuninck, asks whether Windows Active readers  are ready for a buoyant market and increasing consumer confidence

Roy demonstrating Deceuninck’s unique selling tool Price PadThe economy slumped and construction nosedived in the first quarter of 2013. But third quarter growth made Britain the fastest growing country in the G7 group of seven leading countries. The Office for Budget Responsibility has more than doubled its estimate of 2013 growth to 1.4%. Brilliant! But we’ve got a lot to make up. There’s a gap between where we would be had we continued growing in 2007/8 and what’s happened. The Office for National Statistics’ annual survey of household spending shows average weekly spending down 7% from before the crisis. In round numbers, we are spending 20% less on transport, 12% less on eating out and hotels, and 10% less on food. And we’re spending 5% more on entertainment, 21% more on clothes and 8% more on housing including energy bills.

Britain is expected to grow 2.4% in 2014. That won’t surprise fabricators and installers who’ve had to cope with the swing from ‘can’t get enough leads to grow’, to ‘can’t get what we ordered from our supplier to grow’! As I write this, most Deceuninck fabricators are flat out and we’re comfortably more than 20% up on last year. We’ve taken on new customers, and more are in the pipeline, but our policy is to grow by helping customers grow. It’s becoming clear that consumers who’d put their lives on hold are returning to the market. They feel safe to spend on improvements again. People do have money, and Government has encouraged lenders to provide mortgages for first time buyers and homeowners to move. House buying is a stimulus for home improvement, and there are huge pressures to improve existing homes. Those with money feel less guilty about spending. So, there is a high probability of two good years at least in windows and doors. Excellent! But it won’t guarantee product to sell, or make it easier to sell!

The drive to consolidate the systems market is a fabricator risk. Acquirers buy weaker companies to boost customer numbers and strengthen their range. Then, after a period both original and new fabricators are ‘persuaded’ to accept the merged product range. Theory says everyone should be happy. But SysCos’ cost savings rarely help the fabricator. I predict – you read it here – upheaval when systems companies try to get a return on their investment from recent mergers. Some SysCo groups may even split up to make them easier to sell and get a return. If you borrow to grow, you have to pay back with interest.

Will your systems company supplier be around in 2015 to help you grow? It won’t get easier to sell. Consumers have learned to buy carefully in a recession and they will screw every last penny they can when you sell windows that look like your competitor’s. If you have to cut them open to tell them apart; and your sales aids are just like theirs, why wouldn’t they? Only the different and better will sell well.

Does your window stand out? Is it easy to sell at prices you want to sell at? Can homeowners see the difference? Do the sales aids it comes with really make a difference, or are they for show? It’s worth looking at what you’re up against, because the future of your business depends on the answers. We asked Deceuninck fabricators to take a hard look. They said our ‘pretty’ windows stand out and get chosen in beauty parades because they look better. In fact, we designed them to do that. We have three, not the two systems that every systems company has, so our windows match the properties they are sold for. We are leaders in colour, and colour is a big part of our customers’ business: 50% more on average than the industry. We extrude profile to the tightest tolerances in the industry so our customers waste less in fabrication, and they go together better.

We’ve invested in ‘probably’ the most innovative products in the market, and our powerful sales aids set new standards in helping installers sell. PricePad is in a league of its own as a digital selling, pricing and surveying tool, and the websites we provide for customers would cost you £15,000. No two of our tailored brochures are alike, because they are designed for individual customers, so they and their customers stand out and sell. We’re looking for like-minded partners, so contact me if you’d like to find out how we can help your business grow.”

Tel: 07808 365234