Where are the building blocks to recovery when you need them? Literally…
The housebuilding market is trying to build without bricks, which is a bit like eating soup with a fork: frustrating, time-wasting and utterly pointless.
There is a shortage of aerated and lightweight blocks in the industry which is due to the welcome upturn in the private housing market. But, are the very blocks that should be helping to construct a positive future for the industry now hindering the recovery?
It is a welcome, but difficult time for manufacturers, suppliers and builders, and after five years of declining demand, resulting in reduced production and stock levels, the industry has been caught a little short.
Many manufacturers have been quoting delivery times of up to three months, leaving builders very frustrated especially with the recent fine weather we’ve been experiencing.
In these circumstances it is important for everyone not to panic.
Many of our clients within the brick and block sector have been evaluating their production schedules and stock, in order to catch up with demand. Communication needs to be regular, and planning needs to be thorough – it is a time when the whole industry needs to be working together to ensure recovery is allowed to thrive.
It’s also paramount that manufacturers do not let the excitement affect the supply of their other products, or over-estimate demand and end up with crippling levels of unsold stock.
Builders must be patient, but need reliable information and delivery dates, in order to plan their work effectively; merchants must ensure this happens through regular communication. It is vital that all concerned are aware of the nature, size and stage of projects being worked on, and where the requirement is at its most critical. This is a tricky balancing act, especially with no one wanting to let any customer down, least of all their loyal and long-term customers.
The next two or three months are vital for the industry and it is a real opportunity for companies and individuals to step up their game – planning, communication, relationships and staffing will all be key factors for those that succeed. The importance of a sound relationship between sales and operations at manufacturers cannot be under estimated during this time.
It is also a timely warning for other companies within the building products sector to make sure that they have systems in place, as they might be next to experience similar issues.
We look forward to a continuing recovery and a building industry at full health once again.
Steve Rogan is Managing Director of Pinnacle Consulting, recruitment specialists for builders’ merchants and manufacturers of building products