Members of the Builders Merchants Federation flocked to the Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham to hear presentations from the board members concerning the state of play at the organisation.
First up was chairman Kevin Cubbage whose overview touched on the number of BMF Business Guides now being produced to help members through the forest of legislation coming through. “Two-thirds of UK legislation has come through from the EU,” he said. “Our aim is to keep the Business Guides as precise, simple and clear as possible.”
He also highlighted the new BMF Retail Conditions of Sale which BMF have worked on with the OFT to ensure that merchants who deal with members of the public do so under specialist retail conditions of sale rather than trade conditions which are less appropriate.
BMF managing director Chris Pateman highlighted the success of the organisation’s lobbying work to ensure that legislation works with and for the merchant industry rather than against. “For example, getting the HSE to see that the best way to reduce building site back injuries is not to restrict the products that merchants can sell to lower weight ones but to improve lifting practices on site. BMF is the only industry organisation doing this on behalf of merchants. ”
BMF Product Sector Groups have been successful in working with outside organisations, too, he said. “Take Local Authority Building Control, for example. It’s in our interests to be close to them so that when builders come to them they can say ‘this is what you need to be doing and by the way you can get it from this local BMF member’.”
Trade media in the wider construction industry are also a focus for BMF marketing, he said. “We want to make sure that the merchant agenda is understood by a wider audience.”
Board director John Griffiths highlighted the BMF statistical services, including the Monthly Sales Statistics, the Remuneration Survey “the one everyone rings up to ask for” and the annual KPIs. He encouraged more members to get involved in all these surveys, especially the KPIs. “You can get at a glance benchmarking indicators for the whole industry. The greater the participation, the greater the validity and the greater the benefit to the whole industry,” he said.
Fellow board member John Cameron looked at transport and the way that the BMF is working to help members deal with their second most expensive aspect of the business, after staff. “Delivery charges is a current hot topic. We can’t make members charge as that would be anti-competitive, but we can give them the right information, such as the transport KPIs, to help them decide their own policy.”
Board member Andy Williamson highlighted the initiatives that BMF are bringing out to help members through the sustainable/environmental products field. These include a new sustainable building products training module and an Environmental Code. “I’m no tree-hugger but things are changing and you need to get on board,” he said.
“Sooner or later businesses will have to have a stated environmental policy; this sector is going the same way as Health and Safety”.