Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Happy 110th Birthday to the BMF!

The BMF is set for a year of celebration with three major events taking place during 2018 to commemorate a trio of landmark anniversaries.  As well as the 40th anniversary of the Builders’ Merchants Federation itself, the BMF is marking 110 years as a Trade Body and 5 years since it relocated from London to its current HQ in Coventry.   

To celebrate these milestones in the BMF’s history, the Federation is holding its first Parliamentary Reception at the House of Commonsits first Young Merchants’ Conference and a special Anniversary Dinner for 200 members at the Belfry.  

The Parliamentary Reception, which takes place on 24 April, will be hosted by Jim Cunningham, MP for Coventry South where BMF head office is based.  The event will bring together an invited audience of BMF members, MPs and Peers to network, and to promote and explain the role, value and importance of merchants within the building supply chain.   

The Anniversary Dinner for BMF members, on 29 November, sees the BMF return to the award-winning Belfry Hotel in Warwickshire, where the BMF celebrated its Trade Body centenary in 2008. Known for its world class golf courses and state of the art leisure facilities, the Belfry was named as England’s Leading Resort and Leading Conference Hotel at the World Travel Awards 2017.   

Details of the first Young Merchants’ Conference, which takes place on 11 October, will be finalised later this month.
Search for the latest builders merchant jobs>>

John Newcomb, the BMF’s Chief Executive, said: “This is a very special year for the BMF and we have planned three very different events which both commemorate the merchant industry’s heritage and look forward to a vibrant future.  While much has changed over the years, the BMF’s support for the industry and our members remains as strong as ever. We look forward to working, and celebrating, with as many members as possible throughout this milestone year.”

The BMF is also gathering historic photographs and memorabilia from the industry’s 110 year history.  Companies that wish to contribute, or that are celebrating their own landmark anniversary in 2018, should email to share in the BMF’s anniversary celebrations.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Construction Products Sales expected to slow during 2018

The UK’s £56.5 billion construction product manufacturing industry is expected to slow this year as the sector lost its pace at the end of 2017, according to the CPA's State of Trade Survey for 2017 Q4.

The survey results showed activity is expected to weaken this year as inflation continues to rise, economic growth slows, and the UK’s post-Brexit deal still remains unclear. It is likely the first half of 2017 was a peak for the industry, with the survey reporting early signs of slowing activity in the final three months of 2017, and construction product manufacturers envisaging a broader softening in market conditions during 2018.

The survey results showed that 6% of heavy side manufacturers, such as steel, bricks, timber and concrete, reported a decrease in product sales in Q4, compared to 10% reporting a rise in Q3. This was the first negative balance since 2013 Q1. In contrast, sales on the light side, which includes non-structural and finishing products such as insulation, boilers, glass and lighting, were still reported higher by half of manufacturing firms.

Whilst a modest pickup in sales is anticipated in the first quarter of 2018, the survey showed a weakness in sales expectations extending across the next 12 months, for both heavy side and light side firms. No heavy side firms and only 10% of those on the light side expected an increase in product sales during 2018.

Rebecca Larkin, CPA Senior Economist said: “The survey echoes other industry data that has shown the prolonged period of growth in construction activity since 2013 started to lose pace in the closing months of 2017. Of note are the signals of a leaner 2018 with heavy side expectations for sales growth at their lowest in five years, reflecting a backdrop of a slower economy, Brexit uncertainty and falling new orders in key sectors such as commercial offices.

“As well as weaker market conditions, it appears as though a further rise in costs will strengthen the headwinds facing industry. In Q4, 87% of heavy side firms and 91% of light side firms reported a rise in raw materials costs, whilst on the energy-intensive heavy side, fuel and energy costs were reported higher for 93% of firms. This illustrates the lagged pass-through of the 2016 Sterling depreciation and rising global commodity prices into input cost inflation that is still to filter down the construction supply chain. Three-quarters of product manufacturers expect inflationary pressures to linger into 2018.

Key survey findings include:

  • A balance of 6% of heavyside firms reported that construction product sales fell in the fourth quarter of 2017 compared with the third quarter. 50% of lightside firms reported a rise in sales in Q4
  • On an annual basis, sales rose for 13% of heavy side firms and half of firms on the lightside, on balance
  • On balance, no heavyside manufacturers anticipated a rise in sales in the next year, decreasing from a balance of +28% in the previous quarter
  • On the light side, 10% of firms expected an increase in product sales in the next year, compared to a balance of 33% in Q3
  • Annual cost increases were reported by 87% of manufacturers on the heavy side and 80% on the lightside
  • Raw materials costs rose according to 87% of heavyside manufacturers and 91% of those on the lightside
  • 73% of heavyside manufacturers and 80% of lightside manufacturers anticipate a rise in costs over the next year.

Image from Shutterstock

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Job in Focus: Regional Sales Manager for Hot Water Heating Products in East Anglia - £80k OTE

Our new Job in Focus for the start of 2018 is a fantastic Sales Management role, with four reports, selling hot water heating products to the commercial sector via specification and to M&E contractors. The OTE is £80k. You would cover the South but with a focus on East Anglia.

Our Construction & Building Industry Job in Focus feature takes a detailed look at some of the fantastic sales & marketing construction and building materials job vacancies currently on our books. 

Job in Focus is also promoted on our website. 


Job Title: Regional Sales Manager
Job Ref: J9856
Product: Heating & Plumbing
Location: East Anglia
Salary: £50k
Sector: Management


PACKAGE: Up to £50K plus a realistic bonus of up to £30K and company car, mobile phone, laptop, healthcare, pension and 25 days holiday + bank holidays. 

EMPLOYER: An established company with a great reputation in the heating market for innovation and branding. 

JOB DESCRIPTION: We are working on an excellent opportunity to for a Regional Sales Manager to join the largest gas appliance company in the World. With an excellent brand presence, this company specialise in both domestic and commercial hot water solutions. 
Due to success and growth, a new role of Southern Regional Sales Manager has been created to lead and motivate a team of 4 field sales representatives. You will report to a National Sales Manager and additional responsibilities include: 

- Developing specifications of hot water heating products including controls, hot water storage and flues through M&E consultants & contractors 
- Projects are focused on the commercial sector including education, healthcare, retail and leisure centres 
- A small amount of time invested in distribution sales 
- Providing 1-1 meetings, support and KPI's for the team 

LOCATION: Field based covering the South with a focus on Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, North London, Berkshire and Oxfordshire. However, the following areas will also be covered: Kent, Surrey, West Sussex, East Sussex, Hampshire, Wiltshire, Devon, Dorset, Cornwall, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire 

CANDIDATE: You will have experience managing a field sales team within the heating or plumbing market and understand the specification process. Additionally, you will need to have drive, enthusiasm and be highly self-motivated so that you can put your stamp on the role and bring ideas to drive the business forward. 

For further information or to discuss your career options contact Natalie Matthews on 01480 405 225 or apply online.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Residential housing work shows robust rise in latest Construction Purchasing Manager's Index

UK construction companies indicated an uneven recovery in business activity at the end of 2017. A robust rise in residential building contrasted with falling work on commercial projects and stagnating civil engineering output.

The report indicates some positive signs for the coming months. We'd like to wish all involved in the building and construction industry a very successful 2018 and beyond on both a personal and professional level.
  • Housing remains by far the best performing area of activity 
  • New orders rise at fastest pace since May  
  • Sharp rate of input price inflation continues in December
There were positive signals for the near-term business outlook, with new order growth reaching a seven-month high and job creation the strongest since June. However, intense supply chain pressures continued across the construction sector, while input cost inflation picked up from November’s 14-month low. 

The seasonally adjusted IHS Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index® (PMI®) posted 52.2 in December, down from 53.1 in November but above the 50.0 no-change threshold for the third month running. As a result, the latest reading signalled a moderate expansion of overall construction output at the end of 2017. 

Survey respondents indicated that house building remained a key engine of growth, with residential work expanding for the sixteenth consecutive month in December. In contrast, latest data indicated a moderate fall in commercial construction, thereby continuing the downward trend seen since July. Civil engineering work stabilised during the latest survey period, which ended a three-month period of decline.  

December data pointed to resilient demand for new construction projects, as highlighted by the fastest upturn in new order volumes since May. Anecdotal evidence cited an improved flow of enquires in recent months, alongside a gradual upturn in clients’ willingness to commit to new work.

The prospect of greater workloads ahead resulted in stronger rises in employment and purchasing activity during December.  In fact, the latest upturn in input buying was the steepest for two years, which survey respondents widely linked to increased business requirements. Robust demand for construction products and materials contributed to another sharp lengthening of suppliers’ delivery times at the end of 2017. 

Strong cost pressures persisted across the construction sector, driven by rising prices for a range of inputs. In particular, survey respondents noted higher prices for blocks, bricks, insulation and roof tiles, alongside continued rises in the cost of imported products. Although the rate of input cost inflation picked up since November, it remained softer than February’s peak.  

Despite a rebound in new order volumes during December, construction firms indicated a subdued degree of optimism regarding the business outlook for the next 12 months. The balance of companies expecting a rise in output levels remained among the weakest recorded since mid-2013, which survey respondents mainly linked to worries about the wider UK economic outlook.

Tim Moore, Associate Director at IHS Markit and author of the IHS Markit/CIPS Construction PMI® said:“The UK construction sector achieved a moderate expansion of business activity at the end of 2017, although the recovery remained uneven and slowed overall since November. Construction companies indicated that another strong contribution from house building helped to offset subdued civil engineering activity and reduced volumes of commercial work.

“Total new orders picked up at the fastest pace for seven months in December, which provides a positive signal for construction workloads in the short-term. Resilient demand and forthcoming project starts also led to greater job creation and the strongest increase in input buying for two years.

“However, construction firms indicated that longer-term business confidence is still relatively subdued, largely reflecting concerns about the domestic economic outlook. Exactly 37% of the survey panel forecast a rise in construction activity over the course of 2018, while around 11% anticipate a reduction. As a result, the balance of UK construction companies expecting growth in the year ahead remains among the weakest recorded by the survey since mid-2013.” 

Duncan Brock, Group Director at the Chartered Institute ofProcurement & Supply, said:“The sector offered little in terms of comfort at the end of 2017, though the pace of new business picked up to its strongest level since May, and purchasing activity rose to its fastest rate in two years, supply chains were under increasing pressure from all sides.

“The housing sector was the strongest performer again and materials for residential building were in greater demand fuelling longer delivery times, shortages of key materials and sharper input cost rises.

“It appears that the continued fall in commercial activity was testament to Brexit-related uncertainty on the horizon and the sector’s fear about the direction of the UK economy as clients still hesitated to spend on bigger projects.

“Business optimism was subdued at levels not seen since 2013, but the improvement in new order growth in December contributed to the biggest surge in job creation since June. Construction firms still anticipated future new work, in spite of the climate of continued uncertainty and wanted to ensure that skilled talented people were in place should the New Year offer more success than expected.”

Image from Shutterstock re. 163820348.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Happy New Year 2018! Is this the year for you?

We hope everyone had a great Christmas and a fun New Year! 

Everyone at Pinnacle Consulting would like to wish you all the best during 2018 - we hope it brings you success in your work life and in your personal life.

2018 could be THE year for the next important step in your sales career in the building products sector.

If you are ready to look for a new role, please call us on 01480 405225 or email us on 

To start the ball rolling, please take a look at our latest jobs >>

Photo from Shutterstock

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Merry Christmas from Pinnacle Consulting

We would like to wish all our candidates and clients a relaxing and enjoyable Christmas and New Year. Our offices close on 21st December and reopen on 2nd January 2018.

In the meantime, if you'd like to start the New Year with a new job, please take a look at our latest building industry sales jobs here.

From all the team at Pinnacle Consulting.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Become a better Sales person by working with Operations

You can become a much better Sales person if you start working with, rather than against Operations. It is often not the fault of the Salesperson that unrealistic promises are being made to the customer. This is where communication, education and understanding are important.

The role of the Sales Director is vital to ensure that his or her team understands the policies and procedures of the company, as well as the benefit of the increased communication with Operations. If they do not accept a culture of working together then it will fail, if they do the results will be very rewarding.

It also brings up the subject of recruitment and employing the right kind of person. If you can find the right team members who can adapt to this environment, then they will be very successful and reap the financial and personal benefits.

We have developed a list of requirements and attitudes, which we believe is a useful blueprint to ensure that Sales can benefit and maximise their relationship with Operations. If you really want to set yourself apart from other salespeople, this approach is essential reading.

How to lead the way in Sales by enhancing your relationship with Operations
  • Understand your route to market
  • Understand what your company can achieve
  • Feed back information from the customer to Sales/Operations about how you can improve on an on-going basis
  • Know your customers well
  • Communicate to all your customers and your colleagues
  • Remember that your customer is not the only customer in the company
  • Be a team player and respect other departments
  • Realise that the Production and Warehouse staff are on your side and your relationship with them is important – build it and they will support you, destroy it and you will not be supported
  • Understand what is involved in preparing an order, system difficulties and processes and ensure you are aware of manufacturing lead times, dispatch slots, packing time (including products that need to be assembled), transport implications and possible surcharge costs
  • Considering spending some time working in the warehouse
  • Be aware that the wrong kind of pressure can create errors (e.g. Warehouse staff pack without care) and more of a problem than you had in the first place
  • Understand your standard lead-times and procedures and don’t make decisions that you have no basis or authority to make
  • Don’t lie: ask, check and seek advice and then go back to the customer with an informed solution
  • Good customers are long-term customers. Don’t over-promise so that all the stops have to be pulled out on every occasion, it will only lead to letting them down. A customer wants a reliable and trustworthy partner that keeps their promises and meets their needs
The benefits of a having a close Sales and Operations team
The perfect team is a Sales group who follows through until delivery, and an Operations group who supports the Sales group throughout the whole sales cycle. One team, one goal providing the following benefits:
  • A company that customers view as ‘reliable & trustworthy’ and come back to
  • A company which has everyone working in the same direction
  • A company where people want to help and support each other and show loyalty
  • A company which has fewer headaches and problems to deal with internally and can concentrate on selling and growing
  • A company with quality and customer service at the heart of their culture
  • A company with a structure and ethos in place that means the system will work even when people leave
  • A company that knows their customers and communicates with them
The whole company needs to find out what the needs of the customer are and then deliver it to them to give you meaningful competitive advantage.

You can really flourish by bringing these key factors into your everyday approach, but everyone needs to support each other for short and long-term improvement. It is vital that you aim high and deliver even higher.

The challenges that Sales and Operations face need to be overcome by working together in order to meet customers’ needs.

Who should drive this change?
One person cannot make this change happen, but everyone will benefit when it does. Ideally the Managing Director should be recognising the necessity for such an approach, but we suggest that the best way is for the Head of Sales and the Head of Operations to get together and start the process rolling.

Taking that first step is the most difficult one, and it takes more than one person to implement the change. It is advised that if you are in Sales or in Operations then consider making the first step and approach your counterpart and start the process – it is better than continuing with mistrust, conflict, stress and unhappy customers.

You will soon start to get the support to implement the culture change.

So ask not the question: ‘What can your company do for you?’ but ‘What can you do for your company?’ and the first part will fall into place. Think of others, improve for long-term and not short-term gain and you will meet customers’ expectations and enjoy your jobs with less stress and more time to concentrate on your actual job.

Further guidance
Pinnacle Consulting is a leading sales and marketing recruitment agency operating exclusively in the building products sector.

If you are an employer looking to recruit, please call us to discuss your requirements on 01480 405225 or us at email

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

How to change the relationship between Operations and Sales

Many companies acknowledge that they need to improve the relationship between Sales and Operations, but doing this is easier said than done. 

So how do companies go about creating this change of approach?

The following guidelines should be at the centre of any approach a company adopts:

  • Understand the needs of the customer and focus your actions around them
  • Understand the current limitations of the Operations and Sales departments and find a way to solve them - permanently and perpetually
  • Create a climate of education and understanding of each other’s role within the company
  • Work together and communicate as one team, creating a happy working environment where people want to work for each other and take responsibility
  • Be consistent but flexible in your approach
  • Create a climate for growth and market-leading excellence, to give your company a competitive advantage
Implementing a new culture for sales and operations to thrive
The best way to bring about this kind of culture and structure change, is to strip back and question everything in your current processes to find out where the problems are, then establish a system that makes your customers happy, your Sales department happy, your Operations team happy, your Finance team happy and your competitors livid!

If we go back to that often-repeated accusation from Sales “Why can’t you supply what we are selling when we have promised it?” and dig a little deeper, you discover how few companies operate and communicate in unity.

Perhaps the Salesperson has a valid complaint to Operations and perhaps the Operations team has a valid reason to be frustrated at the demands from Sales. These problems are usually created due to lack of education, communication or effective planning.

In these instances, it is useful to look at on what basis the products have been promised. Are they realistic and in line with the agreed lead-times and guidelines that Sales have been advised they can promise customers without conferring with Operations? If they were, you should question the robustness and quality of your system and make changes accordingly. If they were not, as well as questioning why the customer has been told something that is not possible, you should also consider if what they are asking is feasible and necessary for the future and then ask: do we still need to question the robustness and quality of our system? That is a key point: always move forward and evaluate. However, it is equally important to address why the Salesperson has not acted as a team member by their actions.

It is clear that confused messages to customers and lack of consistency within companies can cause major problems, even resentment and division between people and departments and needs to be avoided.

What should Operations be doing?
An Operations Manager/Director needs to make sure they are in control of what is being made and what is going out, rather than letting his team take total control, as otherwise the easy order will be picked by the Warehouse, rather than the larger one, the one that needs more time to prepare, or the one that is awkward to pick. This way an Operations Manager/Director is in control of what is going on and is able to react more quickly to emergencies, as well as knowing exactly what is coming off the production lines and out of the warehouse. However, this will slowly change over time, as it becomes more of a team environment.

Although you always need to be in control and aware, once the process of communication and education starts to become enshrined throughout the company, all members of your team begin to take responsibility and become true team players. You are then able to rely on people to make decisions that are for the good of the company and the customer.

One of the keys to success in Operations is to have an effective Material Resources Planning System (MRP System) with its parameters established around a mixture of knowledge, facts and common sense.

A guide to success
Below is a simple guide for an effective planning system to improve the relationship. Although this is aimed at Operations, it is exactly the sort of areas and points that Sales Directors, Business Development Managers and National Accounts Managers should be aware of, and embrace and encourage in their new closer relationship with Operations

  • Know the role of Sales and the needs of the customer and be involved
    • Speak to your counterpart in Sales on a regular basis and ensure that relevant people from Operations are talking with Internal Sales
    • Make sure you are involved/aware of new product launch plans and promotional activity or new business that might affect demand of any product
    • Make sure that you communicate to the customer any changes to the original agreement. This should be done as early as possible and preferably via the Sales department (internal or external)
    • Ask yourself if you know what customers actually want in terms of service. If necessary meet your customers to enhance your understanding and process
    • Find out on what basis sales forecasts for production are being made and have an expert input at an early stage
    • Attend key sales meetings and gain a better understanding of the pressures and processes of the Sales team and vice versa
  • Look at your systems
    • Ask yourself if your company’s lead times are realistic and evaluate on what basis they have been made and by whom. This is especially important when you move to a new company or position
    • Look at your maximum/minimum stock and re-order levels and how often you check them for excessive demand and review the norm
    • Know what you can actually achieve per day and how you can achieve it
    • Know what you need to achieve on each individual trading day and how you are going to achieve it
    • Strive to always deliver on time and in full
    • Know (and evaluate) where and what the potential process hold-ups are in order to successfully achieve the company’s goals
    • Look at the robustness of the purchase order/supply trail and if delays and errors are created as a result
  • Know your team, plan ahead and adapt
    • Know and evaluate what everyone under your control does in their role and what their value is. This applies to your staff and suppliers
    • If your team are making errors that cause problems to the customer, have a plan to prevent them happening again, e.g. picking errors, goods arriving damaged, goods being sent to the wrong place, substandard product being manufactured
    • Evaluate if you have the right people, right machines and right processes in place and always consider if you need to recruit, make redundancies, change roles, or automate manufacturing/assembly, streamline operations, change packing materials and processes, evaluate transportation methods or improve IT
    • If possible have an alternative in place in the event of machine breakdown or a supplier letting you down
    • When required, consider if you need to employ more people or introduce overtime to meet demand
These points are geared towards meeting the customers’ requirements now and in the future and should to be addressed on an on-going basis; otherwise you will soon be back to square one.

Part 3: Become a better Sales person by working with Operations

Monday, 11 December 2017

The importance of the relationship between Operations and Sales in the building products sector

We have asked sales professionals from within the building products/materials industry to express their opinion on the biggest obstacles that prevent them from achieving success in their jobs. The results show one of their main frustrations is poor operational support.

We decided to look in more detail at the relationship between ‘Operations and Sales’ and provide useful insight to help those from both functions in their jobs.

To start with, lets look at this problem from the view-point of Operations and try to discover why there is division between the functions and how to establish a positive team relationship.

Understanding the function of Operations
The crux of the division is perfectly illustrated by these statements, firstly from Sales: “Why can’t you supply what we are selling?” and from Operations: “Why are you selling and promising what we can’t supply?”

Who is and who isn’t doing their job correctly? Like most things, it’s not quite that simple. So, what is the main function of Operations at a manufacturer of building products?

Operations is at the centre of a company and, although their jobs don’t exist without an order, it’s no good having an order if the products can’t be made and to the correct standard and quantity. It is also equally pointless having an order if it cannot be dispatched to the customer when they need it.

Additionally, there are many wider company issues that need to be considered by the person in charge of Operations: manpower and recruitment, logistics and budgets; for example, a company may not be financially viable if stock value is too high or if processes are too costly or unreliable. These challenges normally sit firmly in the domain of Operations - Sales can be blissfully unaware that they have other things to do than assist them!

However, this does work the other way round too, which demonstrates why ‘understanding’ is one of the first barriers that needs to be broken down if you want to create a true team relationship between Sales and Operations.

The role of Operations should be to ensure there is always the right stock of the right products at the right time, and within a system that provides flexibility for those inevitable emergencies.

There is, of course, the equally important requirement to ensure processes are efficient and accurate, to maximise margins and create a climate where growth is possible. This has to be achieved with the focus on the needs of the customer, which is often forgotten by Operations and, yes, Sales too!”

So far, this all sounds perfectly sensible: a Salesperson wants to sell a product and Operations want to make and dispatch the product. Both are seemingly doing their jobs and are working for the same company with the desire to make it a successful one by meeting customers’ requirements profitably. However, things go wrong. Why?

What causes the issues between the functions?
The problem in many companies is that the real needs of the customer are not at the centre of decision-making.

This is one of the main causes of the problem as self-interest, combined with a general lack of communication, understanding and process, results in everyone forgetting what is important: the customer.

Generally, a Salesperson only focuses on their quota. Once they make a sale, they move on. It is not their concern how orders are fulfilled. As soon as they have their order, any problems that may arise are an Operations problem. The key to resolving this line of thought is to drive home that a sale is not a sale until the customer is happy.

Operations tend to view Salespeople as an annoyance to their daily work. An Operations employee focuses on the many tasks involved in running a business. Although the obvious goal should be to drive sales, many don't look at it that way and will put a sale at the bottom of the pile...’I'll get to it when I get to it’.

So, rather than accuse, blame, defend and have an ensuing state of chaos, Operations and Sales need to focus on how the requirements of the customer can be met and how the company can operate efficiently and effectively, leaving the competition to fight over the unwanted scraps.

The need to view Sales and Operations as one function
Many companies are beginning to realise there is no dividing line between the two departments. Operations should be a function of Sales and Sales should be a function of Operations.

Unless both sides realise that the common goal is the customer, nothing will ever change. If the blame culture continues to be rife in your company, the customer will be the loser, which ultimately means everyone loses.

It is strongly recommend that the only way to move forward and stop having the same problems and issues is to create an environment where everyone is on the same side, acting with one voice and in one direction. So, rather than moan, find out the solution to the problems and issues and don’t let them happen again, wherever the blame lies.

Part 2: How to change the relationship between Operations and Sales