A sense of belonging
by John Newcomb, CEO of the BMF
22 October 2019
At last month’s BMF Members’ Conference
I outlined the next stage of our plans to work more closely with all our members.
Over the last 12 months
we have undertaken a “deep dive” review to better
understand the varying needs of each different segment of our
membership. In particular, we are seeking to improve levels of
engagement through our new Building Excellence Strategy, introduced last year
, which aims to make BMF membership essential within the industry,
rather than merely desirable.
strategy has at its core our desire to continue to build membership
value by providing a more personalised membership experience. Through
our research we have identified six different groupings of merchant
members each with roughly similar needs.
discovered that the proactive groups are engaging with us because they
believe strongly in the BMF and as a result, they feel they belong.
Our priority is to engage with the three member groups that are
predominantly reactive at present, so they come to believe strongly
enough in the BMF to feel that they too belong.
initial focus will be on three categories. Plumbing & Heating
Merchants are the specialist independents operating in this segment.
Unignited Advancers are mainly smaller independents who currently make
zero use of BMF services, and Aspiring Progressors who make only ad-hoc
or minimal use of BMF services.
are encouraging all members to complete a short on-line survey, which
will give us a better idea of their service requirements. Our Regional
Managers will be talking to members in the priority categories about the
specific needs of their businesses both to provide focused service
bundles, and to develop ways to reduce the amount of time required to
attend meetings and training at regional centres. The Regional Managers
will also provide prompts, to members who request this, so they don’t
miss opportunities that may benefit them.
know that taking time out of the business can be a problem,
particularly for smaller businesses. Over the last two years we have
been developing a network of Regional Centres of Excellence
country to make it easier to engage with BMF events and training closer
to home. There are 29 centres already in place and we hope to have 30
by the end of the year. In addition, we are adding another tier,
branded BMF Regional Training Centres
will be ideal for smaller groups to meet on an even more localised
level. For example, the first Regional Training Centre, at Independent
Slate Supplies in Saltash, will provide an excellent base for members in
Plymouth and parts of Cornwall.
initiatives have largely stemmed from the 2018 Member Survey, which
highlighted what members most wanted from the BMF. Political
representation was another area highlighted by this research. With BMF
member numbers now above 700 for the first time since 1992, we now have
a voice that can and will be heard.
the current climate, post-Brexit trading issues – particularly relating
to VAT, customs duty, dockside delays and timber imports – are top of
the agenda in our dialogue with key ministers and MPs. At this
Autumn’s party conferences BMF Policy and Public Affairs’ Brett Amphlett
and I met the new Liberal Democrat leader, Jo Swinson
and Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell. We will also be at the
Conservative Party Conference and look forward to taking members to our
second Parliamentary Reception, at the House of Commons on October 29th, where Nadim Zahawi, Minister for Business and Industry will be speaking.
is no doubt that “Together we are Stronger” - the theme of this year’s
Members’ Conference. We truly believe that together we can strive to
achieve excellence throughout our industry. We will no doubt face
significant challenges and changes in a world post Brexit but, as I said
at our Conference, I am confident that by working together we can rise
to meet those challenges.
This article appeared in the October 2019 edition of Builders’ Merchants News (BMN)