What value can Trade Associations bring? – as published in Total Installer mag

What value can Trade Associations bring? – as published in Total Installer mag

At least when entering 2021 we don’t do so expecting things to be different from last year. 

2020 has been so tough for many, and the way 2021 has started, it feels almost like we are in an extended December 2020. There is so much ahead for our market to face with changing regulation and new energy requirements to add to the inconceivable and hugely stressful impact of COVID combined with Brexit. 

Certass TA started 2020 aiming to improve its already impressive relationship with its membership base and invested considerable focus towards online communication. Such is the importance that Certass TA places on its members that whilst other Chairman of Associations kept to putting their face to the odd press release or attending board meetings, we agreed that the best place for myself was talking to fitters and the supply chain on a daily basis. 

The strong connection we have built with our members, and the ability for them to liaise with us at all levels, has meant that as the best-connected association in our market, we have been able to properly represent the views of our members to other sectors and Government. 

Rather than work with the few biggest members in hidden committees we have been available to the many and have learnt a huge amount by doing so. Certass TA is effectively run by its members, and those who want to engage with us on any topic can do so easily through our Facebook forum, over email, online chat or by calling the office. 

Due to our relationships with decision makers for construction and our understanding of what our membership need and care about, I hope many will say that they get real value from the fees that they pay. 

All associations and membership bodies should continually strive to improve their offering to members, yet so many fall into the trap of seeing how much money they can amass by additional offerings from resellers on which the association makes a mark-up. 

We took a decision years ago to spread membership fees to a month-by-month basis, as it helps those who trade with us to not be met with any large one-off bills at the start of the year. This has meant that when the economy hits a problem for our members, so does it for us and we really are ‘in it together’.  

Through my Chairmanship of the BEIS sponsored Trade Association Forum I am very aware that many large associations in 2020 took annual fees from members for a 12-month period. Yet simply furloughed their staff when COVID hit, right at the time when members needed them the most. 

Businesses sat on millions of pounds built up over years from membership fees, just to not give back in time and effort when the proverbial hit the fan. Yet post event these same associations talked about all that they did for members, when the market remembers a very different story. 

FIT Show may have been correctly delayed till end of September, but I cannot wait for an opportunity to meet many people I have spoken to on a weekly basis in the online Forums. Video calls don’t quite do it for me, probably due to my age, or the fact I can too clearly see my own face. However, I want to be at the show to talk to people about what we did in 2021, as 2020 was just the beginning of our new phase of work. 

In-spite of rising costs, Certass has held its pricing in 2021 as we look to maximise benefit to members. We will be challenging Government to do more for our industry and hope that local installers choose to be part of our team, as we quite simply see ourselves as their campaigner. We will be using our connections and knowledge of situations to ensure our members’ voices are heard, whilst they concentrate on fitting quality products with skill and care. 

Changes in regulation and requirements are coming this year, but it is our job to ensure our members know what must be done and what is simply a choice. We are not going to pretend that consumers look for logos or marks, as there are so many out there that the average consumer will always take a recommendation from friend or family over anything else, rather than deal with the overabundance of badges and what they mean. 

We look forward to celebrating any member’s success in 2021. We will give tools and guidance to help them operate in the market, but most importantly we will be open and available for those times when it is hard and problematic, as that is when you need us most.  

Good luck for the year ahead.