“Modernise or Die”

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By Damian Walters, BiKBBI CEO:

This time of year often prompts reflection on the months gone by, with many choosing to make changes by way of a resolution.

Whether it’s getting fit, dropping a few pounds, a new healthy lifestyle or indeed a new challenge, I personally think the best starting point is a review of performance and how you arrived where you are. Dissecting both successes and failures makes a difference. I utilise the festive close down to do just that.

When I started the BiKBBI journey back in 2006, I was sure that I wanted the organisation to be a forward thinking and modern institute and one that was open to positive change. We had an absolute opportunity to create something that could make a difference, and importantly a clean sheet from which to do so.

After nearly 13 years since launch, I can honestly say that 2018 has been possibly our busiest year to date. New members, associates, sponsors, partners, relationships and a growing team to drive it has presented its fair share of challenges. However, 2018 will definitely go down in history for being a year that paved the way for exciting change for both BiKBBI and the wider industry.

But some would say that we should be content with our achievements, especially in light of our modest infrastructure and the work we have already chalked off. In fact, it’s fair to say that many trade associations would be delighted with what’s been achieved, with some choosing to simply bask in the success for a bit, before even contemplating anything new.

But that really isn’t in my DNA, nor is it an approach that will drive positive change.

The harsh reality is this. Whilst the industry strives to innovate with new products, propositions, technology and vision – installation has simply stood still. It’s failed to keep up with changing times and that is something we cannot be satisfied with.

We are very much at a crossroads as a country and as an industry.

Regardless of your opinion on whether we should remain or leave, the uncertainty of Brexit is not good for our nation – especially our big ticket and complex industry. Break that down further (installations) and we are now more exposed than ever. If we choose to ignore it, there will be casualties.

The gaping Skills Gap to one side, installation has become even more complicated.

When Charlie Mullins of Pimlico Plumbers lost his High Court appeal against former employee / contractor (delete as applicable), and with the ongoing Über battle on whether it’s ‘sub-contracted’ workforce should in fact be employed, the industry (many of which adopt a sub-contracted model) must sit up and pay attention.

Couple that with the Aldous Bill and the forthcoming proposal for greater legislation on deposits, it really is a time that we should all be reflective, with a view to considering change.

Let’s face it – times are changing.

Consumers have a greater voice via social media, more rights via Acts of Parliament and greater expectations as service levels and technology in other industries drive improvement.

Yet, many installation transactions in the UK are not meeting legislation and therefore it places risk against all those involved, including the installers and retailers, as well as the consumer.

BiKBBI are not standing still.

We will be unveiling plans for reform in January, which I believe will answer many of the challenges we face, but of course it will only have real potential if businesses adopt it. Sorry to be cryptic, more details will be shared at our Annual Conference in the New Year.

In summary, as Mark Farmer said within his Farmer Report to Government – we have no alternative as an industry… “Modernise or Die”.

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