As 2021 – and his stint as a regular monthly contributor – draws to a close Paul Crow, MD of Ripples, ponders the trials and tribulations that have shaped the industry over the past two years and offers some words of wisdom on navigating the year ahead.
The bathroom industry has been tested over the last two years and whatever you might think of the current supply issues; it really is fair to say that the industry well and truly passed that test. And I believe, with flying colours too.
It might not have felt like it at the time, and it might even take a while yet, but unless you were one of those companies that had an updated disaster recovery and contingency plan in your drawer, I am sure, like me, you had no choice but to roll your sleeves up and adapt.
And adapt the industry did… superbly well in fact. We do, after all, work in a sector that is rich in talent and personality, and this is matched by an unrivalled level of encyclopaedic knowledge on all things bathrooms. Combine this with an, at times, ferocious work ethic, and you have the perfect ingredients to battle any situation that may be thrown at you. I believe that is something that everyone should not only be proud of but defend vigorously and shout about.
I include the suppliers in that too. They must work with us, and with all our flaws, and ultimately just get on with things as best as they can like we do. The new era for our industry will bring with it unwanted price increases, continued supply challenges and I suspect some upset along the way. It will settle down though; books will be balanced again and from the dust will emerge some significant changes in the industry in both product offering and company ownership. It always does after an economic swing in fortunes.
My best advice to you is to stay tuned to what you need to succeed; continue to play to your strengths and to gather those suppliers and resources around you that can help you achieve your goals, whatever they may be. Just don’t let the supplier be better off in the relationship than you!
The legacy of this year and 2020 could be huge. People and companies have picked up dents along the way and sadly some have experienced significantly worse.
The vast majority are now working with a new buzz and energy and are empowered knowing their purpose as employers, specialist businesses and important members of their own community has reached new levels of clarity.
That energy comes not from a feeling of invincibility but quite the opposite in fact. It comes from a revitalised awareness of who we are, what we offer and perhaps more importantly, why we do it. I’m sure a lot of you have asked the question more than once in your roles because I know I have. And here we are!
What happens next is not down to others, but down to us. How we adapt to future change, challenges and all the concerns that being a David in a sometimes Goliath industry can bring is on us. I urge every one of you to continue to puff out your chests, to stay humble, to look after the team that look after you and the customers and to be brave.
Set out your stall as specialists, value what you do, and make sure the customer rewards you for it. Trust me, you are worth it.