After weeks of constant travel gathering news from around the globe it was great to spend a whole month back in Blighty: bighting winds and chilling temperatures reminded me that summer had finally arrived. It was also comforting to enjoy the virtually continuous traffic jams and road works, along with the constant nagging of people trying to get me compensation for an accident I didn’t have, reminding me that the nation is, indeed, booming.
For movers it is, of course, the silly season, not just in the UK but globally. It’s a time when traditionally order books are full, holidays are cancelled and vans remain unwashed. Talking to one mover the other day he said it was a bit like Christmas: you expect it but it’s nice to see a parcel with your name on it to know that you haven’t been forgotten.
For many Santa has come along with jingle bells and reindeer galore; but others have reported a more muted spring. It’s still quite clear that we are not back to the gold plated years before the whole thing came tumbling down. There are mixed signs of recovery: mortgage approvals are up, but sales to first time buyers are reported to be down; house prices are at an all time high, but that’s partly because there aren’t enough of them.
It seems to me that the days of plenty might be gone forever. Banks are under increasing pressure to qualify their lending so mortgage approvals are unlikely to return to the pre-crash levels, not for some years anyway. And maybe that’s a good thing. Perhaps, now that the feeding frenzy has stopped, the industry can get back to a more measured approach in which they focus on service, and learn to explain the value of that service to customers. Companies often have said to me that ‘the customer won’t pay more’. I don’t buy that. I know that people will pay if they can recognise the value in doing so. If they can’t, they won’t, and the sales proposition is clearly wrong.
One more thing. I would like to welcome Ian Studd in his new position as BAR director general which he assumes this month. I have known Ian for many years and I know him to be astute, fair and friendly. He has undoubtedly earned his place as a respected member of the industry. He is perfect for the job. I wish him, and BAR, well for the future.