I always feel that the start of a new year is as much an opportunity for reflection as it is a celebration of the year to come. With 2018 still visible in the rearview mirror, it’s safe to say that it was a very interesting year for both GGFi and the glazing industry in general.
For us, 2018 was all about working more closely with our existing clients to understand what they require – greater levels of engagement with our registered companies and ensuring we continue to provide an ever-expanding suite of services that meet their needs. This in turn enables us to better engage with prospective businesses and ensure we can provide them with the most attractive package possible.
For me, it isn’t enough that GGFi provides some of the most competitively priced warranty insurance policies in the market (though this is important!) – there’s a lot more to our business than simply churning out documents.
This drive to improve is why we have invested heavily in our claims function to ensure that in the unfortunate event that a homeowner has to make a claim with us, they are fully supported all the way in strict accordance with the principles of Treating Customers Fairly.
We celebrate our 14th birthday this year – having been around for so long, it’s no surprise that we are experiencing ever-higher numbers of claims. Given our experience and investment in systems, training and development in our claims handling, our members can rest assured that if the worst happens and customers need to claim, they are in good hands.
We have also worked hard to develop support services for our clients, providing financial solutions in addition to our warranty insurance products.
Our Corporate Division can now provide a whole host of essential insurance products to businesses – Employers/Public Liability, Commercial Premises, Cyber, Fleet, Tool Cover – responding to the unique challenges and needs of the glazing sector.
In December we launched our Finance Facility product with partners Improveasy. This enables small-medium sized businesses (who traditionally struggle to obtain Finance from the usual providers) to be able to take payments on Finance from their customers.
It’s a great service and we’re really pleased to be able to provide it to our clients as we’ve been asked about this so many times in the past!
2018 also saw us finally launch our online application function, making it far easier and quicker for businesses to register with us. No more filling in reams of paper and relying on the vagaries of the postal network – getting an application in to us is now a couple of mouseclicks (and maybe 2-3 minutes of typing!) away. I have been pushing this project for a while now and it has been heartening to see this slick system finally go live courtesy of our colleagues in Borough IT.
Nevertheless, the warranty insurance policy (insurance-backed guarantee or IBG) continues to perform as one of our main products and it’s great to have seen so many businesses choose to sign up with us in 2018 to provide these to their customers.
See more: GGFi Warranty Insurance (IBGs)
The start of 2018 of course also saw the collapse of Carillion, one of the giants of the construction sector. This sent shockwaves throughout the industry, focusing the minds of many businesses on ways to protect their investments against contractors failing.
With this in mind, we expanded our offering on this front to encompass a wider range of large-scale bespoke/commercial products – we can provide solutions for projects with seven-figure contract values if need be. We know these things are increasingly required as part of tenders for projects so again, I’d urge our clients to just give us a call if they need anything like this.
So, what lies in store for 2019? We’ll continue on the mission we started in 2018 – honing the service we provide to our registered businesses, providing grade-A claims support and continually developing new product offerings to help our clients.
I’m not interested in sitting back and resting on our laurels. With the challenges that continue to face the glazing industry (and indeed, the rest of the home improvements sector), it’s important to me that GGFi be well placed to deal with whatever is thrown at us or our clients.
As for specifics? All I can say is ‘watch this space’ - I can assure you we have some exciting things in the pipeline! We will make sure that we update everyone as and when new developments go live as we don’t want anyone to miss out on anything.
The impact of the Grenfell Tower tragedy continues to resonate throughout the whole of the construction industry – not just the glazing sector – and will doubtless lead to changes as 2019 progresses.
The MHCLG will be looking to implement the recommendations made in the Hackitt review and we expect this will be of interest to many of our registered business. Therefore we will work alongside our colleagues in the Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF) and FENSA to ensure we keep GGFi members updated on the full implications of any changes to legislation and/or regulation.
Also looming large on the horizon is the UK’s exit from the European Union in March this year. We continue to hear about economic uncertainty and consumer spending reluctance in the face of Brexit.
While this seems to be true of the wider economic picture, GGFi businesses have performed admirably in 2018. Indeed, in November we recorded an all-time record number of policies issued to homeowners, so clearly our members must be doing something right!
It’s an impressive testament to the work companies are putting in to engage more meaningfully with their customers and provide the highest levels of service they can – an approach that really resonates with us here in GGFi.
All that remains now is for me to wish everyone a very Happy New Year and thanks to all of our registered businesses for your continuing support. All of us here at GGFi look forward to continuing to work both with and for our valued clients throughout 2019.
Of course, if there’s anything you need from us or want to ask, please do call us or email us to let us know – we are here to help and will do our utmost to meet your needs. And if you aren’t yet working with GGFi or using our services – what are you waiting for?