I think one of the big aims for the window industry next year is to become more productive. The industry is in the middle of a forecasted slowdown, so improving productivity seems like a good way to try and stave off the lethargy that’s coming.
In reality, the 2018 way to do it is in the form of investment in IT and software. In the case of the window industry, installers need to be able to use IT to help improve their sales, ordering, quoting and other areas of their business that help the company run. That support needs to come from above in many cases, which means fabricators and other suppliers.
When time is becoming an ever more precious commodity for installers, fabricators who invest heavily in improving their IT systems will find that their installers will create more business. They may also find themselves winning new business away from other fabricators who have failed to address their very obvious problems.
Making things easy
There is no other way to put it, to be more productive and get more done, processes have to be made easier. It is as simple as that.
For an installer, they want to be able to create a quote for a home owner as simply and as quickly as possible. That means when it comes to getting their materials prices from fabricators they need that to be as smooth and as simple as possible.
Some suppliers out there understand this well. Companies like Solidor and others have created cloud-based systems where installers can log in, design their door, and the cloud-based system spits out a price for that door in a matter of minutes. No need for the installer to go faxing things over to be priced, or to be sending emails to reps asking questions. Just a few clicks and it’s job done. And it’s the speed of that part of the process which is absolutely vital for every installer. No one wants to be waiting around for prices. The longer they do the bigger the risk of the home owner going to someone else for the business.
For 2018, I want to be seeing fabricators taking out some pretty serious investment in their IT systems. Because lets face it, we now live in a world where plenty of us expect to be able to get most things almost immediately. That means a home owner won’t be expecting to wait on their quote for days. They will be expecting it rapidly. That means an installer should be able to go back to their office, sit at their desk and from their computers be able to price everything they need to be able to put that quote together. Ask yourself this, in 2018, are you still having to ask your supplier to manually price something for you, instead of being able to do it quickly for yourself?
Win or lose the business
I’m a believer that the easier it is for installers to go about their business with their suppliers, the more likely they are to stay with them, or at least move to a new set of suppliers who can provide the systems and support to make things like pricing and product info something you hardly need to think about.
As we move forwards, and as tech and IT become absolutely key parts of every business in the window and door supply chain, the winning and losing of business will hinge more and more on IT services.
Seen as though it’s Christmas, think about this scenario. You can choose between ordering online your gifts, avoiding the stress of driving, finding a parking spot and battling through the masses to find those gifts. Or, you can ignore all that and choose the stressful option where you go into a store and risk a fight over the last thing on the shelf. I know which I and plenty of others will pick. And the same will be said for installers who are in the market for new suppliers. They are more likely to choose a fabricator who can give them the tools to do their jobs more efficiently, quickly and more successfully. It’s a no brainer.
Whether you like it or not, tech and IT are going to rule how the window industry goes about it’s business. To avoid it or to deny it’s importance is to throw away new business. The companies in our industry who embrace it and the vast umbrella of services it brings, from online to pricing and everything else in between, will succeed the most in the years to come. Those who continue to stick to their old ways will find themselves falling behind.