As the UK works its way through the well publicised credit crunch the fallout in consumer confidence has been catastrophic. Figures show that whilst November 08 showed a marginal improvement, consumer confidence is still close to record lows. In November ’08 the major purchases measure rose by four points, from -43 to -39, this is thirty two points lower than in November ’07 (Source GfK NOP). Hardly surprising when the news continues to bombard consumers with tales of woe about the state of the economy, and many are now ‘treading water’ as they wait to see when the economy will stabilise before rushing into any major purchases, such as conservatories.
However, the good news is that whilst the lower end of the market who are credit-reliant is undoubtedly suffering, the top-end conservatory buyers are still willing and able to buy, and it is these consumers who the most savvy installation companies should choose to focus on during the downturn, adding value to the sale wherever possible with upgrades and top-end products. Many companies, when confronted with a downturn in the economy, busy themselves with simply surviving, but the most forward thinking companies see such conditions as an opportunity – an opportunity to make strategic manoeuvres, position themselves in key markets and take share.
The world-renowned Boston Consultancy Group has identified a model which they refer to as The Pyramid of Ambition, and state that to win in a downturn, companies need to:
1. survive the downturn
2. maintain growth and profit
3. make strategic manoeuvres
4. attack and win
By following these steps, companies can emerge from a downturn in a stronger position than before, with a foot firmly in thriving markets and an increased market share.
So how can users of the market leading Ultraframe roofing system add extra value to their sales and position themselves to win through the downturn?
During 2008; Ultraframe, renowned for innovation, did not disappoint, with the launch of some exciting new products which provide installers with a way to differentiate themselves from the competition, offering their customers products to set them aside from their neighbours, and allowing Ultraframe users to compete on something other than price.
The Ultraframe Orangery roof is a great example of this – offering stunning aesthetics and a sense of contemporary grandeur, but coupled with the level of technology you would expect from an Ultraframe system, the Orangery is a distinguished choice for the discerning homeowner. Ultraframe offers a ‘standardised’ orangery design which comes with off the shelf structural calculations or alternatively, for anything that falls outside of the matrix/standard design details, we can offer a full bespoke design service along with structural calculations.
Also launched during 2008 were the Super Duty Eaves Beam and coloured foils. The Super Duty Eaves Beam takes advantage of the trend for bi-fold doors that has emerged over recent years, ensuring that conservatories featuring such doors are structurally sound. Consumers can now buy the much wider ‘bi-fold’ type doors that effectively open up virtually a whole side of a conservatory. To enable the confident use of these sliding/folding doors, Ultraframe has introduced a new ‘Super Duty’ aluminium eaves beam which allows additional span widths before a goalpost arrangement ‘kicks in’. For conservatories requiring extra-wide openings, beyond the span capabilities of the Super Duty Eaves Beam, Ultraframe can design, structurally prove, fabricate and powder coat a custom support arrangement that meets your exact needs.
The coloured foils offer another great opportunity for installation companies - Cream, Sage Green, Fir Green, Grey and Black foiled roofs are now available to order direct from Ultraframe, potentially offering great value when compared to an overpainted roof. The five coloured foiled roofs feature a wood-grained effect and complement painted timber or aluminium side frames particularly well and are also a perfect match to coloured foiled uPVC side frames which are increasingly available from the major window profile manufacturers. The five colours have been carefully selected by analysing popular trends and – in addition to the white foil that is also offered – give users of the Ultraframe system a further way to differentiate themselves from the competition and add value to sales.
Never one to rest on its laurels, innovation will once again be a key theme for Ultraframe during 2009. A specialist division of the Research & Development team at Ultraframe, known as Frameworks Innovations, will focus on developing and bringing to market a host of new products. For those that take advantage of these innovative products and focus their strategy, there are opportunities that lie behind the doom and gloom of the downturn, and great gains await them when the economic climate improves.