In the November GGP Installer Matters column, Faisal Hussain, Chief Executive of the Double Glazing & Conservatory Ombudsman Scheme (DGCOS), discusses the very real “business” challenges the UK is facing, recognising the impact this is having on mental health and what we could be doing to tackle this latest round of issues, together.
It is without doubt a worrying time to be in business. Our sector has had enough challenges to deal with and now we’re facing an unstable economy and promises of a recession on the horizon thanks to governmental unrest, an unrelenting war in Ukraine and the resulting rising cost of living. There are opportunities to improve the efficiency of homes as a way to combat rising fuel bills but will windows and doors be on the agenda, and can homeowners afford such investment. With hikes in interest rates will an ‘improve, not move mentality’ emerge. Unfortunately, none of us have a crystal ball but tackled right, with the right support, businesses could all emerge from this period stronger and more robust. Sometimes this seems a pretty daunting task when there are, what seems like, 100s of decisions to be made. Many installers are brilliant at their primary task of installing windows, doors and conservatories, but when it comes to the business side of things, they could struggle.
Practical business support
DGCOS aims to offer our members a critical point of difference with a range of installer benefits tailored to support our members with more than just insurance and dispute resolution. Of course, this is a part of our service and we have forged strong partnerships with financial bodies, insurance houses, Competent Person Schemes (CPS) to deliver on these matters. Beyond this, I believe we offer some of the strongest business support in the industry and one of the most valuable services in this turbulent time is the Annual Review. This is where we can support you in making these tough decisions. Not only can we check documentation, such as terms and conditions and cancellation rights, to ensure you remain compliant, but we also run a health check of your business and offer advice on financial issues like cashflow, debt management and budgeting. But I think there is more we can do, collectively.
The wider impact
As business leaders, we’re all in the same boat and many of us are facing the same challenges. Since our Fenestration Mental Health Survey, I’m pleased to see more and more honesty is emerging about mental health issues, but again there is more that we could be doing to support each other.
The survey offered some rather stark but interesting stats. Around 75% of the people that took part were business owners or worked in management. 44.7% said they have felt very stressed because of work in the last 2 years, and 39.5% had been very anxious. 76.3% said they had not sought medical help, but a large proportion have admitted to discussing issues with their peers.
This information says to me that the issue is very real but we are more comfortable talking to each other than we are to a professional. There are many circumstances where we need professional advice, and I would always urge someone who is really struggling to reach out. But this idea of working together could be very proactive in easing stress and anxiety before it really becomes an issue.
Although when we conducted the survey business challenges were not the main cause of stress, one of the quotes that really stood out to me was this: “Running a small business is a hard job that requires a great deal of commitment. Working really long hours year after year to make the business viable really burns you out and does catch up with you as you get older.”
The reality is that our colleagues/ peers may well be facing the same tough decisions or have dealt with the situation before and can offer some support and advice. So, with this in mind, I want to explore a Think Tank where we can pose a question and get advice from other members of the forum. This will not be limited to members of DGCOS but open to everyone in the industry. No matter what the issue, the Think Tank will be a place to collaborate, share ideas and gain insight, and hopefully support each other to become stronger and more robust for the better of the entire industry.