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How to future-proof your trade business

The world is moving quickly, and it can be hard to keep up with it all. Here’s how to make sure you can adapt and make sure you keep your trade business relevant.

With new building methods and materials, green initiatives and technology emerging all the time, it can be hard to keep up. But as with anything new in the trade sector, there could be opportunities for you and your business, making it a great way to future-proof your business.

Luckily, future-proofing your business doesn’t have to be as difficult as it might sound.

Here, we’ll share ideas and tips to help you keep your trade business relevant and ahead of the curve in this industry.

Why is it important to future-proof your business?

Creating a future-proof business is all about improving your business’ resilience so that you can withstand whatever comes your way in the future. Here are some of the main benefits.

  • Stay ahead of the competition in a fast-moving market
  • Respond to changing consumer needs
  • Maintain your expertise as industry technologies and techniques change
  • Run your business more efficiently
  • Be prepared to ride out potential downturns in the market

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Some of the best ways to future of your business

Now you know why it’s important to future-proof your business, it’s time to look at how you can achieve that. Just follow these simple steps to start thinking ahead in a constructive way.

Consider how technology might affect your business in future

First things first, technology is advancing fast. It’s really important that you pay an active interest in the new technologies that are likely to play a big part in your industry in the future.

For instance, if you run a plumbing and heating business, you’ll need to be conscious of the fact that from 2050, new build homes won’t be able to install natural gas boilers. This is part of the government’s commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions.

That means you’ll need to become familiar with low-carbon heating systems like air source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps and biomass boilers. You’ll also want to keep an eye on the development of hydrogen boilers. Although they’re not yet available to buy or install, they could become a popular form of central heating in the near future – our guide to future-proofing your plumbing and heating business has more.

Whatever kind of trade business you run, by staying up-to-date with new developments like these, you can be amongst the first to offer new technologies to homeowners and so stay ahead of your competition.

How to future proof your business

Listen to what homeowners want

Next, bear in mind that homeowners’ needs and interests will change and shift over time. Your customer’s voice should be the most important voice in your company, so you’ll want to prioritise understanding their pain points and working out how you can help solve them.

For example, at the moment, homeowners are becoming more and more environmentally conscious. That means they’re turning to trades that can demonstrate that they share sustainability as a priority. For example, you could switch to an electric van, go paperless or reduce your waste.

By making an effort to go green, trades can appeal to more homeowners and so win more work. Ultimately, the more you make an effort to understand what your customers want – and to predict what they will want moving forwards – the more resilient your business will be.

Consider how technology can help in growing your business

Instead of seeing new technology as something annoying, make sure that you get your head around it. Stop and think about how you may be able to make use of it for your business. Could it improve your installation/repair methods? Or could it help improve your customer service?

New technology is a great way to improve the service you provide

While it used to be commonplace to run your business using a pen and paper, there’s now a whole host of technology that can make running your business more efficient. That means less time spent on paperwork and more time serving your clients and earning money!

The Checkatrade Trades app lets Checkatrade members run their business on the go. Whether that’s seeing new customer messages, building your online reputation, managing your profile to attract new customers, and asking (and reminding) customers to leave you an honest review about your work.

Meanwhile, the Powered Now app lets trades quickly and easily send quotes, prepare invoices, manage your team’s schedules and more. Plus, as Powered Now is a partner of ours, Checkatrade members get a nice discount – find out more here.

These are just a couple of examples of how embracing technology can make your life easier and help you grow your business.

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Take into account what’s changing in the world

Remember to take into account what’s changing in the world, as this is likely to affect the kinds of services you sell and the way you market them.

For instance, estimates have shown that winters in the UK could soon be up to 23% wetter, while summers could be up to 24% drier. So, homeowners may soon start trying to climate-proof their homes. That could include preventing their homes from overheating by adding external shutters and avoiding installing bifold doors on southern walls. Or minimising the risk of flood damage by moving appliances and sockets above the likely flood level.

Similarly, the current cost-of-living crisis is likely to affect how willing homeowners are to fork out for things like boiler services. Knowing this, you can adapt your sales techniques accordingly.

For example, you could focus on how a service could reduce future repair costs and energy bills for homeowners, or enhance trust by explaining that you correct-size boilers to save customers money.

Skill at scale to future-proof your business

We’re always learning. It’s important to acknowledge this and to soak up all the knowledge you can. After all, best practices are changing all the time.

By deliberately upskilling yourself, you’ll be able to remain at the top of your field rather than relying on outdated practices and techniques as the world moves forwards. This includes taking up new training opportunities and keeping up-to-date with new accreditations you could gain to help enhance trust with your consumers.

But it’s not just about upskilling yourself. You’ll also need to make sure your employees are keeping up with changes and are staying amongst the most skilled in your industry.

By investing in your team, you can make sure they’re capable of overcoming new challenges and obstacles with you and can help you to take your business to the next level. You’ll also end up with happier employees, which will boost retention. It’s a win-win!

Skilling at scale to future-proof your business

Prepare for downturns

Lastly, no matter how good business is right now, never assume that things will stay that way. There are so many factors that can affect your business that are beyond your control – so, it pays to prepare for downturns.

It might sound counterintuitive, but when your business is doing well, it’s the perfect time to invest in talent, equipment and technology at the same time as saving for a rainy day. Investing in your company in this way will help you to withstand future downturns.

Similarly, even if you don’t need any new leads right now, you should continue to invest in building your brand, as you never know when you’ll need more leads in the future!

On that note, joining Checkatrade can be a great way to help keep on top of building your online profile. There are four tiers of Checkatrade membership, and once you get verified as an approved and guaranteed member, you can flex your membership up when you need more work. It puts you in control of how many leads you receive.

Nobody can predict the future. But preparing for both growth and downturns will enable you to strengthen your company, so you can withstand whatever the future brings.

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What is a future-proof business?

A future-proof business is a resilient business. In other words, it’s a business that is well prepared to withstand and survive whatever the future brings – whether that’s new technologies, downturns or changes in best practices.

How will technology affect businesses in future?

New technologies emerging can mean big changes for trade businesses. For instance, the adoption of low-carbon heating systems will eventually cause gas central heating systems to become extinct. So, plumbing and heating businesses will need to adapt accordingly.

How can technology help in expanding the business?

Technology can help you to run your business more efficiently. Apps that help you manage your business on the go in particular will enable you to spend less time doing paperwork and more time earning money which will enable you to expand your business.

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