Recent surveys have suggested that an increasing number of us Brits are relatively unskilled in basic DIY tasks, and becoming more so. Yet many of us also say that we would like to do more if we had more confidence in our own abilities.
Whilst the main customer base for builders’ merchants will continue to be professional tradesmen, could this DIY skills gap be a potential opportunity? If the merchants could also provide solid practical advice to would-be DIY builders, there might be an opportunity to attract more business.
A builders’ merchant branch can often be an intimidating place for a novice DIY enthusiast, but many are already stocking smaller ‘handy’ packages or plastic tubs to help builders take on small jobs without wasting materials – products that would also be suitable for many DIY projects.
Building materials suppliers could support these initiatives by furnishing the merchant with a range of supporting information, either electronically or hard copy, that could be passed on to potential customers (and not only the DIY enthusiast). Direct training of the trade counter staff or practical demonstrations could also be provided.
The building trade (like most of the construction industry) is quite conservative (small ‘c’) and DIY and trade have traditionally not mixed very much. Change is always on the horizon, but it can be a long time coming.
Positioning the merchant’s branch as the ‘go to’ venue – not only for purchasing DIY materials but also for advice on how to use them – could result in wider recognition and exposure to potential new customers.
The great British weather continues to confound, and that must also be affecting many builders who don’t know whether to pack the sun block or the wet weather gear.
On a personal level, I’m having some underpinning carried out and I’m not sure the prospect of water-filled trenches is an enticing one for the specialists coming down from Derbyshire. Having a moat surrounding the house was never part of my overall plan, but who knows, I could stock it with fish!