KBSA national chair Richard Hibbert has claimed that the association needs to change its approach if it wants to attract more members.
Hibbert said he aims to change perceptions of an “old-fashioned” KBSA with a move to bump up its membership numbers, which have remained at around 100 throughout the association’s history.
“I’ll admit that, with certain criteria making it impossible for some retailers to join, you could definitely say the KBSA hasn’t always been open to new members,” he explained. “But, that’s changing. We’ve modernised the association over the past couple of years and we’re now fit for purpose and ready to rock and roll. It’s about communication and that’s what I’m making my priority going forward.”
He added that there was a general perception that the KBSA is “elitist” due to only accepting retailers with a massive turnover.
However, he claimed that there is “no financial criteria for members”.
“Our policies are changing,” he said. “We’re breaking down barriers and we’re already seeing people’s attitudes change towards us.
“We don’t have a target figure but, expanding our retail members is a priority of mine in the role of national chair. Our aim is to make this association much more representative of the industry and to do that, we have to increase our membership levels.”
Hibbert is working with acting KBSA chief executive and consultant Uwe Hanneck and the rest of the board to move the association forward.
The first step will require improvements to its consumer-facing and trade websites, as well as its social media presence, with the aim to improve communication and raise the profile of the association among consumers and the industry.
Hibbert added that he is also keen to support new businesses and part of that process would involve a change to joining criteria, which currently requires retailers to have been trading for at least two years prior to becoming a member.
However, this is unlikely to be an overnight change as Hibbert explained: “As an association we’re bound by certain rules and regulations that can be frustrating and can mean that changes take longer to pass. If I want to change anything here [Hibbert’s KSL Design showroom in Sudbury], I can do it tomorrow but, while there are certain decisions that can be made at board level, others have to be put to a vote at the AGM.
“We also have limited resources because, on top of the work we do for the association, the board members all have other businesses to run. But we’re all hugely passionate about the future of this industry and are making the KBSA a much faster-paced organisation to help support our members, and their customers, in a changing world.”
- Read the full interview here.