Refrigeration and air conditioning installers have always needed to be part technician, part salesman and part businessman; now they need to add lawyer to that list.
In addition to the changes and improvements that we manufacturers introduce, every month some new regulation or initiative seems to come out of the government or the EU. These all contain masses of figures and details that contractors are expected to be up to speed with before they start a job.
The latest set of rules to get your head round is the Green Deal, but I’m willing to bet something new will have appeared between me writing this and you reading it.
I suspect that part of the problem is that those who write these regulations – all for the best of reasons – imagine that they are writing for the sort of company that has a dedicated compliance person or department.
However, the truth is that many contractors in our industry are either sole traders or have grown to one or two directors and a handful of installers.
In such cases, the person expected to keep up to date with the constant flow of regulations is usually the boss – and they often also have to deal with tax, invoices, HR, health and safety, fleet management, purchasing and so on. And the likelihood is that there will be something more urgent and demanding of his attention than the latest outpourings from Brussels.
While understandable, putting it off could be damaging to his business. It could adversely impact the end-user, as the contractor may be unwittingly continuing to carry out practices that have been deemed to be unsafe; it could damage the environment; or it could damage the contractor itself, as it may end up on the wrong end of legal action.
One of the good things about this industry is that we have many well-run trade organisations, staffed by high-calibre personnel. So the answer should perhaps be that these organisations – either individually or collectively – work even harder to promote their ‘compliance services’, ensuring that new and, sometimes, old regulations are explained in easily understandable and digestible bites, with accessible training where necessary.
These are generally available to members only, so that might suggest a sensible course of action to smaller companies.
I know that some organisations are already going down this road. But let’s not forget that manufacturers also are an important source of information and we can all contribute to help contractors survive in this regulation blizzard.
For a start, we have specialist training facilities that we would put at the trade bodies’ disposal if asked – and I am sure others would too. My door is always open.
Julian Brunnock is sales and marketing director of FG Eurofred, the face of Fujitsu in the UK. Email Julian at firstname.lastname@example.org