The Journey to the New Now – The Challenges Building Product Manufacturers Face

Since the pandemic began there has been talk about the New Now and what it might mean, but no one expected the journey there to be quite so challenging.

In my article Welcome to the New Now I talked about how things might be different in future, this time I want to consider the journey to get to the New Now, which is set to be more challenging than many were expecting.

The pandemic itself remains a threat and cause of uncertainty, with raising infection rates then sudden drops. In the UK there are now a significant proportion of people with double vaccinations but the challenge for industry is coping with the high number of people self-isolating and the uncertainty of when this will happen.

A combination of Brexit and high global demand means that for many product manufacturers another big challenge is limited availability of raw materials which are restricting production capacity and hence ability to supply the market.

Another factor out of the control of product manufacturers is delivery capacity. This is a problem facing many sectors including retail where it is reported that supermarkets have poached drivers from the haulage companies used by product manufacturers adding further pressure in our sector.

This week the CPA published their Summer Forecast, upgrading expectations for 2021 and expecting house building starts to rise significantly in 2021. As does Competitive Advantage’s forecasting partner, Hewes & Associates in their July Forecast. Yet many product manufacturers have noted a fall in demand from house builders in recent months. Clearly mixed messages coming from the market.

Meanwhile, the commercial teams of product manufacturers are faced with a stream of calls from their customers asking when orders will be delivered. Or are busy calling customers to re-schedule deliveries. At the same time external sales teams are holding more face-to-face meetings with customers. It’s going to be a very busy summer.

With all of this happening its tempting to forget about key activities and focus on today. But the market is changing, for example, the Building Safety Bill means that architects and contractors are looking for greater transparency from product manufacturers and this will influence how they select products. It is important to remember those key activities which support your presence in the market; initiatives like new CPD programmes, staff training and development and of course market research. Start preparing now to implement in the autumn. And if you want things to happen in the autumn you need to book them now. Because, like the rest of the industry, Competitive Advantage is also experiencing record levels of activity.