So, another week and another group of trade counters within the door and window sector changes hand. Alongside fenestration counters, timber merchants, hire specialists and electrical counters are all showing steady, and in some instances, unprecedented growth. So, what is driving this surge in trade counter popularity and why the sudden interest?
I have worked with many trade counters, across many sectors over the past three decades and it is easy to see the shift. With the rise of fenestration trade counters for example, the door (forgive the pun!) has been opened to jobbing builders and small building firms to buy product and offer it to their customers, in a role normally associated with a traditional installer. But unlike an installer, the builders can do this without the necessary overheads and sales costs. There are over 25,000 builders active in the UK marketplace and all now have direct access to fenestration products. This not only sparks competition for the traditional installer / fabricator relationship but proves the changing dynamic between counters and their trade customers!
I have also seen predictions where window and door companies will evolve into home improvement specialists and builders will do the opposite, providing fenestration products alongside home improvement services.
But what is driving this activity?
It’s easy to blame the pressures of modern living but it’s true. DIY skills are disappearing with each passing generation (me, included) and we are preferring to GSI (get someone in) rather than try it ourselves. Also with less leisure time, the GSI option is proving irresistible. Add to this the national dependency on private rental and DIY skills are being replaced by ‘asking your landlord’, who in-turn gets someone in! It’s easy to see now why there is a growing army of small builders.
As each building firm looks to pit itself against the competition, they will be increasingly dependent on their local trade counter network – be that, windows, doors, plastics, timber or machinery, for that point of difference.
So as the trade counter industry goes from strength to strength, there will also be those who flourish, developing and nurturing relationships with their trade customer by offering support packages such as storage options and cut-to-size materials.