The X Factor
The global financial crisis of 2007/8 and the subsequent recession changed the face of construction in the UK. After more than a decade of extraordinary growth where land prices rocketed and residential developments sold like hot cakes ‘off plan’, suddenly big names were going out of business, properties were remaining unsold despite considerable buyer incentives and schemes were being mothballed pending economic recovery. That recovery might still be fragile, but it’s in evidence all around us. Schemes that appeared frozen in time while developers waited for cash flow to improve and buyers to materialise are suddenly busy sites again. While that’s great news for the sector and the economy, for contractors, it presents a challenge. Having become viable once more, these schemes need to progress quickly and on a strict budget in order to remain viable, putting contractors under pressure to be fleet of foot and on top of their numbers.
It’s a ‘be ready’ climate that requires the whole delivery chain to respond quickly when business comes in. For building product suppliers that means ensuring an excellent supply chain, for contractors it’s all about having the right people – from white collar to temporary labour – and the business processes required to get a site up and running quickly and efficiently.
While the construction market’s frustration about cost cutting and price-based purchasing decisions remains valid, therefore, cost is not the only factor. Often clients are looking for the X factor too. And very often X equals responsiveness and reliability.