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Corporate manslaughter - can your business afford the risk?

The Occupational Road Safety Alliance claims that business drivers are 25-30% more likely to have a collision than private drivers. This significant increase in risk means that if you’re an employer or business owner with a fleet, you need to be aware of where responsibilities fall in relation to business driver incidents on the road in order to protect your job, your business and your employees.

Better data, better analysis, better management

In my previous two blogs, I looked at how mobile CRM technology is helping field sales teams to become more efficient and productive, improve sales, and nurture relationships with clients.

EU VAT ruling is a 'triumph of process over purpose'

The European Court of Justice has ruled that the UK's longstanding reduced 5% rate of VAT on energy-saving products was in breach of EU laws. John Sinfield, Knauf Insulation's managing director – Northern Europe, responds.

Exploring uncoupling systems for floor tiling

Uncoupling matting, or anti-fracture membranes as they are sometimes known, are being seen more and more in builders' merchants across the country – but what are they used for, and why are they so popular?

Mobile optimisation for your field sales team

In the first of this series of blogs, I discussed some of the issues that builders’ merchants have faced in terms of the field sales force mobility. A lack of mobile CRM tools have left sales people with poor resources to help them drive sales, and sales managers with a lack of insight into the activity of their field sales representatives.

Are costs going to take a pounding?

When Scotland voted to stay with the UK last September, the result not only bolstered a sense of national unity but also gave an additional boost to the national currency, with the pound soaring to its highest levels since 2008.

Avoid a decorating disaster for your customers

Many decorating jobs fail because of poor background preparation, which can be put down to either sub-standard workmanship or inferior products.

Poor tools damage sales

For many field sales representatives in the construction sector, CRM has traditionally been perceived as a burden.

Top of the list for home improvements

According to a recent survey, homeowners plan to spend £24.3bn on their properties this year. With house prices continuing to rise during 2015, home improvement projects are high on the agenda for many consumers, with aesthetic alterations (47%) and redecorating rooms (46%) coming in as the two top priorities for homeowners this year*.

Lock in bank holiday sales

The spring bank holiday is the perfect time for consumers to think about home improvement projects, but with statistics showing a whopping £727m spent on bodged DIY jobs each year - it’s really time they called in the professionals.

Step into spring with outdoor tiling

When the weather warms up and the days get longer, we all want to shake off the winter blues by stepping outside – and what better way to appreciate the great outdoors than with a beautifully tiled patio?

What the home quality mark means for merchants

The Home Quality Mark is a national standard that offers a quality marking for new houses. It takes into account impartial information from independent experts about the expected running costs, health and well-being effects, and the environmental impact of new homes.

Increasing customer engagement with staff training

Installers and builders are always looking at ways to save their pennies and will often shop around for the best deal. So how do merchants increase customer engagement to keep their customers coming back?

All hands on deck for summer sales

According to recent statistics, a third of homeowners improve their garden every year by landscaping, adding fencing, or decking*, thus providing merchants with the perfect opportunity to increase sales.

Make a ‘shed’ load of profit

At this time of year, many consumers are investing in new and expensive gardening furniture and equipment, which they will usually store in their sheds or garages when not in use.

Vehicle depreciation – how badly can it dent your wallet?

Choosing the right vehicle for your business can be as simple as which van has the most comfortable seat, the most suitable payload, or the right load length. But, when trying to work out the best deal financially for your business, it can become a little more complex.

The many merits of smart lighting

In the world of dynamic technologies, we have seen the emergence of smart devices and the benefits they can bring. In the lighting industry, the advent of smart lighting technology has similarly brought about convenience and energy saving in many homes.

Make the most of the flooring market

According to a recent survey, 79%* of UK homeowners plan to spend at least the same or more on home improvements over the next year, compared with last year. This provides the perfect opportunity for merchants to increase their share of the home improvement market.

Secure add on sales

Home security products offer huge potential for add-on sales, making branches more profitable, and increasing customer satisfaction.

Time better spent elsewhere?

We all know that time is money and that, more often than not, your time could be better spent elsewhere. Often business owners believe it’s just as easy to complete tasks themselves because they know the process and trust their own actions. So how much time is spent running a fleet and what's the actual cost to businesses?

Promote safer stairs

Richard Burbidge is urging merchants to promote safe stairs and balustrades in accordance with Part K of the Building Regulations.

Time to get social

Getting the message out there about new product lines or promotions can seem like a hard task for merchants, but harnessing the power of social media can make a huge difference between success and failure.

Recommending the right products

Every project is different, so when installers enter a builders’ merchant, they have a host of considerations in mind for each individual job they are working on. Fortunately, there are products out there that can offer what installers and their customers need, but sometimes finding the one that ticks all the boxes can be a challenge.

The DIY decline

According to new research, confidence in undertaking home improvement tasks is lowest among young people.

How vehicle acquisition methods impact on financial health

Choosing an appropriate vehicle acquisition method can seem daunting for accountants and business owners. It’s important to get an expert in the vehicle industry to give you a balanced and informed opinion when looking at different options, so that you can assess which will benefit your business model the most.

The quirks of supply chain management

Every retail, wholesale and manufacturing supply chain has its own quirks, and if you manage inventory and supply for a builders’ merchant, you’ll be all too familiar with those you deal with.

Benefiting from supply chain management technology

Last month I explored the quick wins that builders’ merchants achieve when they use the latest supply chain management technology. This week I look at the additional gains that can be made in the medium term, through good strategic use of demand forecasting and inventory management.

Step up sales in 2015

With so many different product categories on offer, it can be difficult for merchants to know what to focus on. Here are my top reasons why the home improvement sector should be a key priority for branches looking to maximise sales throughout 2015.

2015 security market predictions

According to a new market research report the home security solutions market, on the whole, is expected to reach $34.46bn by 2017, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 9.1%*.

Helping consumers make their homes fit for purpose

With UK consumers looking to invest more in their homes and make changes to interior spaces to adapt to their lifestyles, it’s more important than ever for merchants to do all they can to support builders in meeting consumer demand.

How Britain can fix the labour skills gap

Britain is being forced to fill gaps in its labour markets with overseas workers, according to recent research from recruitment firm Manpower UK. Construction firms are hiring Portuguese bricklayers to fill a shortfall in supply in the UK market, energy firms are increasingly relying on Spanish workers, and even one of the UK’s leading sandwich manufacturers is turning to Hungary to find staff.

Know your brand; grow your brand

Much is said of the need to demonstrate brand support for new products to create ‘pull-through’ at the trade counter and few would argue the necessity to do so.

Supply chain challenges and how technology can help

Do you remember the ZX81? It was released in 1981, cost £69.95, and didn’t do a lot. But it was exciting, and for many of us it heralded the dawning of a new age. In the last three and a half decades we’ve seen technology transform so many aspects of daily life that we often forget what things were like before we all had computers in our pockets.

The future of grout: something to shout about

Of all the products that men and women in the trade need to approach a tiling job, grout is the one that can often get overlooked amidst the focus upon the tile type, style and adhesive. However, grout is an incredibly important piece of the puzzle.

Knowledge is power when supporting developers

While the location of a house is always high on the list of priorities for homebuyers, the latest research from British Gypsum has found that consumers are thinking more about what homes can offer, with ample living space stated as a key consideration. British Gypsum’s Sarah White outlines how merchants can use this information to support developers.

Injecting new life into graduate recruitment

When the recession hit the construction sector and cut-backs became commonplace, investment fell to an all-time low and many struggled to stay afloat in a state of stagnant growth.

Opportunity through knowledge

If I can help customers, provide the knowledge or assistance they need, or make a positive difference to their prospects by organising reliable deliveries, then I gain the personal satisfaction of a job well done. I’ve also fulfilled my purpose both as an employee and as an asset to the business.

Smart security equals smart sales opportunities

With technology playing an ever more important role in homeowners’ everyday lives, people are increasingly looking for more convenient ways to control appliances in their home.

The benefits of political harmony on energy efficiency

Josh Robson, head of public affairs at Knauf Insulation, emphasises the need for political agreement on a long-term energy efficiency policy.

Lock up those extra margins with clever security merchandising

Many tradespeople look for security products as part of a larger building or renovating project. This provides merchants with strong add-on sales opportunities that can be amplified by clever merchandising.

Why merchants should use Apps

As new technologies continue to advance industry products, remaining on top of the game when it comes to product knowledge is becoming increasingly difficult for builders’ merchants.

Out of stock, out of customers

According to recent research by the Institute of Customer Service, stock shortages on Britain’s high street are driving frustrated customers to look elsewhere and shop online. There is also evidence to suggest that stock shortages can prevent customers from ordering with you again.

Helping merchants to promote the premium option

In the world of sales there is an inherent assumption that the easiest option is to provide the lowest cost option to your customer. This view often takes hold because of two related elements:

A financial insight into the sector

In the face of significant challenges in the global economy, the builders’ merchant industry has performed well over the past five years. While many of the sector’s leading players have successfully restructured their finances and operations, they must now look above the parapet with confidence.

An innovative approach

With the demand for more flexible living spaces on the rise, it’s more important than ever for merchants to be aware of the latest innovative building products and how they can help meet homeowners needs.

If it ain’t broke, try disruption?

It looks like we may have just avoided another Icelandic volcanic eruption. Do you remember the massive disruption to air traffic a few years ago and the resulting chaos for air passengers? We often view disruption as a bad thing, but is it always?

Home security under the spotlight

For many homeowners, security is often an afterthought and they only tend to invest in it reactively – for example, following a break-in. However, initiatives such as National Home Security Month (NHSM) are helping to change this.

How to ensure the perfect wall finish in a contemporary setting

Contemporary, light and clean open spaces are becoming increasingly popular, making it essential for merchants to have the knowledge to advise tradespeople on how to deliver a perfect finish prior to decorating.

How small businesses can build their online presence

It can be a challenge to make sure your voice is heard, particularly when you’re a small business. It’s essential to make sure your customers know that their voice counts in order to stand out from the crowd.

Why investing in external training can help fill the skills gap

As the UK looks to move into the next stage of post-recession recovery, it is unfortunately becoming apparent that a skills gap across a number of industries, including construction, could hold negative implications on future business growth and development.