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New CFA business plan includes support for ‘The Responsible No’

Usually, our answers are more of the responsible ‘yes but…’ approach but I’d argue that ‘no’ is also a word the industry needs to use occasionally, says Richard Catt.

THE CFA’s membership year runs from April 1 to March 31, the financial year. Each year, at the February CFA Council meeting we discuss and agree the priorities for the next membership year and approve a business plan and budget.

We use various inputs including external information from our industry partners and umbrella organisations such as CLC, Build UK and CPA, including economic forecasting from the latter. Given our Council is made up of members, their input and constant feedback informs as does our annual survey (member return).

We include feedback we receive across the year from committees, events, and general communication with members. At the end of the day, all roads lead to members and particularly contractors.

Contract Flooring is not a highly regulated sector and therefore the industry turns to the CFA to provide some regulation, leadership, and best practice. Our membership proposition begins with a vetting process that allows members to differentiate themselves from the competition and, with our support, continue to develop effective, efficient, and profitable businesses that deliver quality installations.

That’s a summary of the aims of the CFA, stated on our website and recorded in our governance documents to direct the CFA’s activity and overall strategy. It ensures we remain true to our roots.

It will probably therefore come as no surprise that outward facing priorities and a headline project for 2024 – 2025 remains as supporting the skills and labour deficit in the sector.

See our website and our ‘Future Fitters’ campaign and brochure in the downloads section. In addition, in a year when Carl Harper will complete his term as president, we aim to supplement this with a further campaign around site conditions and how wider construction can support contract flooring in delivering quality installations more effectively.

A very transparent and obvious example being our Winter Warning Campaign to help members get adequate heating on site in which to fit floor coverings. We are coining a phrase I have heard used by Iain McIlwee of the interiors sector. ‘The responsible no’ or perhaps ‘The responsible yes but …’

We aim to raise awareness of the importance of factors such as clear areas to fit in and not having to work alongside, or in competition with other trades like ceiling fitters or decorators. We seek to raise awareness and responsible action to help resolve these issues if they are causing delays, affecting quality, safety, or productivity.

All high priority agenda items in construction. This may even broaden out to site programming, access to sites, good communications in general, and even clean and accessible welfare facilities. We have had members tell us they have had to stop work whilst these things are sorted out.

This doesn’t have to be confrontational and in common with our Winter Warning Campaign we have all sorts of resources and support in the form of member benefits, documents and templates that can assist to create the right environment and culture on a site. The CFA team and I spend quite a lot of our working week answering individual queries to assist with these types of issues and regularly with positive outcomes.

This can include directing them to the member area of the CFA website where we have document templates such as our moisture disclaimer. This has proved very effective in helping to summarise concerns, open up discussions and find solutions, as well as protecting members interests.

Our success lies in the fact that the CFA logo is powerful and backed by reasoned independent advice, industry standards and guidance, and finally the offer of solutions not just barriers or a blank ‘no’. Usually, our answers are therefore more of the responsible ‘yes but …’ approach but I would argue that ‘no’ is also a word the industry needs to use occasionally.

I find it ironic that anecdotally I am told that one of the best periods for site conditions and management was when best practice was forced on construction by the Covid-19 pandemic. Those with poor competence, different or divisive agendas basically lost some influence in ignoring standards and guidance.

Equally ironic is that construction chose not to learn from that lesson that it is safer, more profitable, less stressful, and more productive to carry on doing it better.

The CFA is a leading trade association representing the Flooring Industry. If you would like an application pack or further information on the benefits of membership, please contact the CFA.
0115 9411126

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