Will it be a new year full of prosperity? I do hope so, and if the soothsayers are to be believed the construction market, which was gathering pace towards the end of last year, is certainly showing a lot more activity in our sector.
This is fantastic news and something we all want. Enquiries are increasing, with some contractors turning down subbie-bashing work you’ve had to put up with while trying to survive, to focus on real money making opportunities.
But specialist trade contractors need to be aware of the potential risks associated with the perceived feel-good factor we’re experiencing. Remember, all that glitters is not real gold. There are plenty of opportunities out there, and would-be clients will be seeking out the less wary contractors with projects where they say it’s your job, milk you for all your ideas and then what happens next? It goes to the cheapest contractor who’s not accredited to ISO, has little in the way of a trading record and whose policies and procedures are a touch on the woolly side.
We can all be seduced by a smooth talking main contractor or developer into thinking that they are starting to partner with their preferred supply chain partner (you that is) to deal with the huge amount of work and all you need to do is give them all the help they need and the cash will soon roll in.
The choice is yours. In the long-term though, the most successful businesses will make a fundamental shift from cost cutting survival to carefully controlled making sure they have the right culture, the right talent and the right services to deliver what new clients really want.
During 2014 the danger is not boom-and-bust but bloom or rust. Proactive specialists will take advantage and grow, while there is the real possibility that some owner-managers could be stuck with a risk-averse mindset and fail to grasp new opportunities.
After five years of surviving in a shrinking construction market we may have forgotten how to grow so now’s the time to shake off the shackles of recession and remember how to grow: but a little more carefully this time.
Adrian JG Marsh