Monthly Archives: November 2012

When is an independent Green Deal regulator not an independent regulator?

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When it is owned by the power companies that it is regulating!

News emerged on a Green Deal web site yesterday that,

Gemserv is being paid £5.8 million of taxpayers’ money to administer the registration scheme, which will help households increase energy efficiency and cut down on their utility bills.

But a clear conflict of interest has become apparent after it was found the largest shareholders in Gemserv are actually the energy companies themselves – British Gas, Scottish & Southern, ScottishPower, nPower, E.ON and EDF.

Just how can that be right?

Hundreds of companies have spent thousands of hours preparing to be included in the boost that Green Deal is meant to offer, yet every day there is yet further news that this just hasn’t been thought through and destined to failure.

If energy companies own a significant shareholding then surely they must have some influence over the decisions made by Gemserv or atleast it will be seen by others as the case. Just how can Gemserv claim to be independent?

With reports that suggest there were no applicataants for Green Deal funding in the first 45 days of the soft launch, this flagship policy is set to be a major financial fiasco.

How many more nails will it take to close the lid on this project?

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G 12 industry winners get free Gold membership

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Well the industry faces were there last night at the London Hilton, the great, the good and a few others! As a special reward for being best in show we are giving the 3 most relevent winners 12 months free Gold membership, so that they can promote their victory. Well done.

Tony Higgin has also to be congratulated again on his organisation of yet another great night. With 600 representatives from glass producers, extruders, frame manufacturers, component producers and several other services including ourselves.

We were treated to a warm reception, free flowing drinks, and very welcome  3 course dinner along with liquors after which we were entertained by comedian and TV personality, Patrick Kielty. Whilst humours and funny ad-libs about the judges and lucky recipients, a few cracks weren’t appropriate.

Whilst we all enjoy a bit of banter (at someone else’s expense) the finalists and more so the winners, have worked extremely hard to be selected and they represent the very best of our industry to offset the stereotypical double glazing company, especially Lister Trade Frames Ltd who celebrate 35 years trading and winning fabricator of the year (and the Derek Bonner Award for excellence)

Still an excellent night enjoyed by all (even those who didn’t walk off with the trophy), but sincere congratulations to all the winners

Fabricator of the Year: Lister Trade Frames

Installer of the Year: T&K Home Improvements

Conservatory Installer of the Year: P&P Glass

Apprentice of the Year: Mitchell Gooch, Pioneer Trading Company Essex

Component Supplier of the Year: Edgetech

Customer Care Initiative of the Year: Everglade Windows

Energy Efficiency Initiative of the Year: VEKA

Glass Company of the Year: Glassolutions Saint-Gobain

Public Sector Project of the Year: Pilkington UK

Health & Safety Initiative of the Year: Trent Valley Architectural Glazing

Promotional Campaign of the Year – Retail: Ultraframe (UK)

Promotional Campaign of the Year – Trade: REHAU

 

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Get FREE tickets for the FIT show here

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The Fabricator Installer and Trade show is approaching fast. April 16th 17th and 18th will be here before your know it, so why not register now for your free ticket

In addition you can win cash prizes for the master installer competition and for the sales professional of the year. With extra halls having to be added to cope with demand most manufacturers will be there as this will be the first industry specific show for 5 years.

Don’t delay, register today.

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Fensa confirm falling numbers of registered installations

fensa logo

Fensa the regulatory body for self certification of building regulation compliance, has statistics since it was formed back in 2004. Previously it has kept these figures to itself and used them to communicate to government the state of the industry and as 92% of all registrations are via Fensa, it’s a pretty good barometer.

Recently however it was decided to release quarterly trends and the first quarter (to the end of September 2012) for replacement windows and doors for the domestic sector is down 5.5% compared to the same period in 2011.

Whilst these are bad enough, it is even worse learning that the industry is 35% down since 2007.

So what do we read from these figures?

Well there will be those who say that other organisations account for this shortfall in Fensa statistics, Certass, network Veka, BSI, DGCOS all have registration schemes for their members which may account for some of the shortfall, there are companies doing everything through LABC . Whats needed is a register of ALL installations. Perhaps DCLG would publish a quarterly summary so we could each understand the true position?

Alternatively there are those who believe that many installations are going underground, with everyone feeling the pinch, is it any wonder that installations are done for cash, no VAT, no registrations, no warranties or guarantees it is building reg compliant. The black economy is alive and well, using air filled standard glazing from the 1990’s (E/F/G rated) whilst the rest of us pay the extra to have low iron, low e, crypton gas units with multi chambered, foam filled profiles to provide “A plus” products.

Or the figures are what they are, they show falling numbers of windows, and numbers of installations which either means each company is doing less work or that many are being forced out of business, allowing the remainder to maintain or increase their numbers.

We suggest now more than ever before, you need to educate your buyer. If home owners treat windows as a commodity, then its all about price, cheapest wins every time. However windows aren’t commodities, they are in the main bespoke, tailored to fit, designed to harmonise with the structure of the building and the life style of the owner, recreating an earlier style and elegance.

The way windows are fitted is different, some will use the same dust sheet for a year, whilst others will break open clean dust sheets with every installation, some will use foam to secure windows others fixing lugs with fischer bolts.

Okay this all takes time to explain and we must be swift with the information because customers dont believe you, they think you are just bumping up the price, but unless you demonstrate the facts that make your offering the best value for money, then your only direction is cheapest and that makes survival in tough times, in a mature and declining market, difficult, very difficult.

What isn’t apparent from these statistics is the shift in percentages between large nationals, the regional companies or smaller local installers. Now that would be very sensitive information but it would be interesting if it were to reflect the findings of WHICH report, when they surveyed 2,562 of their members.

 

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Green Deal – no takers, in tatters?

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According to reports on a green web site, and in the Telegraph 45 days after the launch, DECC is still awaiting the first consumer assessment following the launch of the Government’s Green Deal programme.

Ok it was meant to be a “soft launch” so that the systems, processes and procedures could bed themselves in quietly but surely DECC expected there would be several applications for green deal funding by now?

Or could it be that the government have got this all wrong. Sceptics have been saying that GD is too complicated, too onerous and too expensive. Just why would a homeowner spend more money, via a bureaucratic debt system that gets attached to your home so that it makes selling your home more difficult for a maximum £20 pm (£320 max according to the GGF) cash-back, when you could buy the same windows cheaper, immediately, without complications or long term finance?

Its what the industry has been saying to Mr Barker, DECC and anyone who listens, for the past two years but without success. Perhaps the lack of customers will spell out what industry has failed to communicate. If you live in rented accommodation expect your landlords to change your windows for you as you’ll be paying for them via your electric tariff for the next 15/20 years. If you own your own home, forget it, shop arround you’ll save more than £320!

Another few hundred million of our hard earned tax being squandered on creating a half baked scheme, instead of converting old draughty windows in poorly insulated homes, to save billions of pounds in wasted energy.

 

 

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Avoid negative reviews, ask your fitters to take their own tea and coffee!

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Feed back comes in many forms and is sometimes completely different from what you’d expect and at first they may be negative or difficult to see a positive benefit from them. For instance, it’s a given that if fitters are working on someones house, that they’ll be offered a tea or coffee right?

Well perhaps not, one company has had an excellent review left full, of praise about their workforce, how polite they were, how well the installation went etc (everything you’d like to get as feedback), then a short statement that it would have been even better if, “the workforce bought their own tea and coffee”.

They go on to say, “I know it sounds mean but as a school we’re publicly funded, so staff buy the tea and coffee, schools are not allowed to provide refreshments” so its not so much as they’re mean just that it shouldn’t be taken for granted but accepted graciously, if offered.

How many other things do we and our fitters take for granted rather than expressing our appreciation for the generosity extended?

Was it a serious issue for the reviewer, no. Is the company pleased to have the feedback, yes. Are they better placed to offer an improved service, you bet. The fitters of this company will now not expect teas and coffees but will be especially thankful when they are offered and they customer will say “they were REALLY grateful, what a nice company”.

 

 

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Martin Lewis promotes National No Cold Calling Week

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This week, 12th – 19th November is National No Cold Calling week and Martin Lewis of Money Saving Expert has produced a short video to help home owners deter unwanted callers, for Trading Standards.

Whilst specific laws prevent energy companies for door to door selling, its unclear if the stickers alone are sufficient to prevent cold callers. Whilst we welcome anything to stop door step selling, especially to the elderly, should companies be disallowed the chance to ask an occupier, if they have a need for their service?

Preventing a company from going about its lawful business is in itself a breach of European Law, as is refusing to go away when asked by the occupier,

  1. So companies risk breaking the law knocking (when there’s a stickers saying please don’t),
  2. Risk breaking the law if they dont leave when asked
  3. And interrupt 100% of those polite consumers who have been troubled to answer the door, giving the industry a bad name.

Isn’t it time we educate the industry to accept call calling (like unsolicited telephone calls) aren’t needed in the age of the Internet?

What people want is an independent review website where real consumer leave real reviews about work they’ve had done, so that they can understand the merits of the large national companies against reputable local installers, something like doubleglazingcompanies.com!

Still, you can get a free sticker for your front door from Martin Lewis via the Trading Standards Institute here and watch his short video

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