As timber merchants its easy to spend a lot of time focussing on the building and construction industry, paying attention to the hardwood, softwood and sheet materials being sold but there is another industry that shouldn’t be forgotten when considering who to market to and how best to bring in new business… The fencing industry.
In the UK the fencing industry has upwards of 3,200 businesses, with the largest proportion of these businesses being based in the South East. This equates to around 27,000 workers, primarily in small businesses and with the majority focussed on residential fencing. Having said that, regardless of them being small businesses, approximately a third have turnovers in excess of £250,000 so these are clearly potential clients to be nurtured.
With a young (average under 45) and predominantly male workforce, timber and fencing merchants need to carefully consider how best to win their business. With 75% of the fencing industry maintaining the view that the current economic climate poses significant challenges, is price enough to entice these customers in and to keep them loyal? For the smaller fencing businesses, competition is rife and undercutting is commonplace yet the larger firms seem to be able to flourish more with the ability to get involved in larger projects such as last years Olympics.
How can these businesses maintain a presence and ensure that their business flourishes? As with any industry, it has to come down to being the best of the best. This doesn’t always mean the cheapest, but it does mean always supplying quality and achieving a high level of customer satisfaction. Word of mouth remains the best form of advertising, with social media providing the perfect add on to this in the form of social proof – if one person mentions you’ve done a good job, whether on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, then you can guarantee that this will ignite the interest in others.
Industry experts advise that erecting fencing is a precise business in order to achieve the performance and longevity customer’s desire from their fence. Fencing is an age old industry and regardless of the advances in modern technology many of the basic principles of fencing haven’t really changed over the years. There have been a wide range of ingenious inventions to speed up the job, but good fencing doesn’t always rely on having the most expensive machinery or the most up to date equipment. Well trained and motivated staff will go a long way towards achieving a great result, whatever industry they’re in.
Over and above this, quality materials are key. There is no point in opting for cheaper fence panels as the durability and longevity of the panels will be tarnished. On a domestic property, clients will always want a wood that is decent quality, and hopefully sustainably sourced. Contractors need to bear in mind selecting panels that will add elegance and style to the home. Where possible being able to offer fence panels with a 10 year guarantee against rot and decay will go a long way to reassuring customers that they are getting a quality job and a quality product.
There will always be a consumer demand for fencing, it’s not just the biggest companies that will survive it’s also the best companies that will make it through the tough times. So if you’re in the industry, be strong and deliver well and if these fencing companies are your clients, then nurture them as they have the potential to be lifelong clients, and a growing revenue source.