“Modernise or die” 

Pricing is the biggest deterrent for installers when it comes to working with a KBB retailer, according to Damian Walters (pictured).

Speaking at the kbbreview Retail and Design Conference at kbb Birmingham, the BiKBBI chief executive said that in a survey it conducted, its installer members who didn’t work with retailers cited price as the main reason, but that 90% of those hadn’t actually received details of pricing within the past two years.

“With a skills shortage driving supply-and-demand characteristics, it is evident that the retail sector has a challenge to compete with the lucrative lure of the private B2C (installer – consumer direct) contracts,” he said. Walters added: “The Farmer Report concluded that our industry needed to ‘Modernise or Die’ if it was to overcome the skills shortage crisis, so installers are in short supply and very much in the driving seat”.

The 3,000 participants in the survey included BiKBBI members both working and not working with its retail members and non-members.

Of its members, 4% of those not currently working with a dealer had previously worked with one, and stated that their decision not to work with them was down to poor reputation.

Despite only 9% of installers saying they would consider working with a retailer today, more optimistically, 84% said they would consider working with a retailer in the future, if compelling reasons were presented.

Walters claimed this could be made worse by the widening skills gap, with school leavers not seeing the trades sector as an attractive career prospect, and the threat of the free movement of people between the UK and EU ending in March 2019, according to UK government ministers.

For retailers that want to retain good installers, Walters advised that “money talks”.

“My view is that if retailers want to attract – and retain – great installers, and keep up with a very changing marketplace, they must be prepared to review pricing and indeed the overall proposition,” he explained.

He concluded that retailers should also value and build good relationships with installers and not view them as a ‘bolt-on’ to the product.

“A truly integrated installation service should maximise a good balance between a great customer experience, risk management and the commercials for the retailer,” he added.

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