Adrian Pavey of Nationwide Windows Ltd looks at the challenges facing Registered Social Landlords and the industries they partner with, and how a collaborative approach is the only way of working in the current climate
Consolidation sees Registered Social Landlord’s getting larger while the Government are introducing more and more ambitious targets. There is also increasing pressure for social housing providers to maintain investment into their housing stock and make the right choices with their spending decisions. In parallel, joint partnering seems to be disappearing as initiatives such as Decent Homes comes to an end. In-house Direct Labour Organisations that offer more control over investment in works are hard to recruit, train and retain thanks to the much talked about skills labour shortage. So, all in all, social housing landlords are under immense strain in the current climate. The fenestration industry specifically is also increasingly reporting the difficulties it has recruiting new young people, and is making moves to combat this. For example, the GQA – who specialise in providing training and qualifications in this sector – have recently backed the Building Skills Initiative, which will take the skills shortage issue to schools, colleges, teachers and parents, to promote the variety of career paths the industry has to offer. While such schemes may change the future however, the short-term landscape is likely to remain unchanged.
Partnering with the right supplier
Choosing a supplier who understands the pressures and can work with you to ease the load is key when thinking about who will undertake your refurbishment programmes. It’s about transparency and choosing a specialist that recognises the complexity of working in the social housing sector. It’s worth finding a company whose staff have undergone training to work sensitively in homes of vulnerable people for example, as well as understanding which materials are fit for the job and cost-effective in providing a long-term solution. Ask your supplier about their team’s experience. Can they prove they can do what they say they can with measurable KPI’s? What do the tenants of their previous projects think about their performance – are they transparent enough to invite them to leave online reviews? Do they have the assurances in place for quality, safety and best practice?
It’s not enough to specify the right product for the job though, it’s about finding the right people that will consistently perform exactly how clients need them to, whether in the factory or out on site during installation. It’s not easy when recruitment of a new generation of window manufacturers and installers is proving so hard.
Perhaps the most important aspect of all though, even more so than product and people, is the ability to create a collaborative working partnership with each individual client. You need to work well as a team to meet the key objectives of each project. There are many pressures faced by social housing landlords, with ongoing rent reduction and expectations to maintain investment into their housing stock. This is where innovation and collaborative working pays dividends. The strength of a relationship is built with a good team and groups who are happy, work well together and deliver a great service. If all of this is in place, you can be sure to meet the demand for future proofed, high specification, quality housing stock.
Adrian Pavey is the commercial director of Nationwide Windows Ltd