Economic woes will not last forever, says Hettich UK
Prepare and plan now for market recovery and always be ready to adapt to whatever comes next. Personal service is the key, and that means independent retailers are in pole position says Hettich UK managing director Simeon Gabriel…
It’s undeniable that 2023 has been a tumultuous journey for many businesses, especially in the KBB sector. The challenges brought by market conditions and economic uncertainty have tested the mettle of many, yet it’s also true that businesses displaying resilience and creativity have found rewards.
It’s a smaller cake, but those willing to stand out take a larger slice, positioning themselves for a brighter future when the market changes.
Amid the pervasive talk of a cost-of-living crisis, I think the reality is actually much more nuanced and the challenge is discerning who holds the financial cards. Yes, doom and gloom prevails on the news, with global events adding to the uncertainty, but as the year draws to a close, I do see a glimmer of stabilisation in the UK finances.
My outlook is cautiously optimistic for 2024 as a result. The economy is finding its feet and showing signs of recovery.
Higher interest rates initially deterred borrowing, but now, albeit at a slower pace, homeowners are investing in improvements to their properties – a strategic move given the spectre of persistent inflation diminishing future savings.
The big question is around consumer confidence and whether these green shoots really do make everyone feel a bit more secure and optimistic.
With that in mind, the political landscape could work in our favour. With a general election certain at some point in 2024, this could actually be a positive boost to consumer confidence – when a government has been in power for a long time, there always comes a point when people crave change and new ideas.
I’m encouraged to see, for example, there is lots of top-level discussion about housing. These big challenges have been there for a while, but those in charge have just tinkered around the edges and haven’t really taken them on in a meaningful way. But these are the things that affect voters on a day today basis, so focus becomes worthwhile.
So, however it happens, the economic woes won’t persist indefinitely. Businesses should seize this opportunity to reflect and honestly assess their own strengths and weaknesses. Adapting to changing market conditions is always key at times like these to position yourself for success in the future.
And that’s certainly something that we’re doing at Hettich. We’re actively reassessing, listening to, and engaging with our customer base in a new way and looking to understand how we can actually help those businesses who are using our products and want to stand out from the crowd.
THE BIGGEST OPPORTUNITY FOR RETAILERS IN 2024 IS... Magic Consumers want to be inspired and retailers can give them that moment of design magic and theatre. You can only get that from a real person who is well informed, takes pride in what they do and, above all, cares.
Businesses should always have a perpetual forward motion but the end of a year does give you the chance to look back and acknowledge the progress made. The climb may seem steep, but recognising the distance covered is crucial for maintaining momentum.
Identifying factors within one’s control is a key exercise for any business leader too. There is hugely important stuff going on in the world, but business owners must concentrate on what they can influence, not what they can’t. They should be mindful of any external factors that affect their customer base, but at the same time concentrate on areas where your actions can make a significant difference to your success. If you master that, there’s really nothing you can’t achieve.
For independent KBB retailers, their core success lies in the understanding that people buy from people. Trust, reputation, and likeability are pivotal, especially as a new kitchen or bathroom is such an emotional purchase. Offering a quality product and good service is an absolute must, of course, but knowledge, creativity, and likeability are often what makes a customer buy from you and not the guy down the road.
It’s something bigger businesses often forget and lose touch with and it’s something we at Hettich are very conscious of. One of our major strengths is remembering that we are dealing with people, and we always encourage empathy and putting yourself in the shoes of the person you’re selling to.
So the core independent retailer principles of trust, reputation, and recommendations have never been more important. It’s a stark reminder that, amid the ebb and flow of wider uncertainties, staying connected with the human element is paramount.
Listen to the full interview with Simeon Gabriel in a special podcast episode. Go to kbbreview.com/podcast to find it.
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