When we talk of a business investment, what do we mean? Beyond financial concerns, I believe for most people it means machinery, vans, printers, computers, a new website, or marketing support. But what about training, strategy workshops, away days, or, dare I say it, industry events? Who would classify them as an investment?
The Office Power Growth Summit roadshow – encompassing events in London, Leicester and Manchester – has come to an end. We brought together the sector in a series of summits, hoping to stimulate the growth debate within the industry. Senior leaders were asked to invest their time, contributing to and learning from discussions led by fantastic speakers and insights from dealers driving their businesses forward.
Topics spanned from contract work and the importance of brand and technology to attracting talent and more. The real measure of success, however, lies in what happens next, not just for attendees but for the channel as a whole. While I still might be basking in a post-event glow, I am optimistic we have what it takes to thrive.
Diversification – cuts both ways
Our first roundtable explored whether diversifying your product or service offerings is the ultimate strategy for growth or if it’s a risky move that dilutes your brand. At the heart of business growth lies the concept of diversification. As highlighted by numerous dealers and their respective groups, it can be a significant opportunity to enhance their brand and offer adjunct services. It often involves branching into areas adjacent to the core product, like furniture or managed services. This approach can lead to expanded customer segments and increased revenue streams.
However, diversification carries inherent risks. The primary challenge is credibility: can companies realistically compete against more established players in new domains? Do they possess the requisite expertise and reputation to sell offerings effectively? Furthermore, diversification strategies may initially be loss-making and require total commitment. This approach demands careful planning and a nuanced understanding of different market dynamics.
Further discussion surrounded how to minimise risk – either through hiring or acquiring the knowledge and skills necessary – capping off a super interesting roundtable at every event.
Sustainability – more than just a buzzword
The second roundtable discussed the impact of sustainability initiatives. Are they a long-term investment for good, or do they pose predicaments that affect profitability?
Sustainability emerged as a critical theme across multiple tables. It’s not just about embracing green practices but also how they are communicated and integrated into the business model. As pointed out by industry figures who focus on the topic of the environment and CSR, our sector needs to challenge the market norms and realise that sustainability is no longer optional but essential.
Understanding client expectations on sustainability was emphasised. There’s a first-mover advantage in this space, but organisations must navigate the fine line between genuine sustainable practices and greenwashing. Sustainability can also lead to cost reductions and attract talent passionate about environmental causes.
On top of this, with legislation in this space developing rapidly, dealers may face a situation where they are forced to adapt rather than nudge towards action due to the government’s commitment to net zero.
Technology – the future-proofing element
The third roundtable delved into the debate on whether technology streamlines operations and boosts efficiency or if it becomes a cumbersome expense that hinders progress. Expenditure in this area is seen as a key driver for future-proofing businesses. The roundtable discussions underscored the importance of investing in vertical-specific technology. If executed well, such investments can reduce operational friction, lower costs, and enhance customer experience.
However, the transition to new technologies is not without its issues. The risk of chronic disruption, a lack of in-depth knowledge and the danger of putting all eggs in one technology basket were cited as significant concerns. There’s also the matter of recruiting the right talent, especially when technology initiatives extend beyond the industry’s traditional scope.
A balanced approach to business investment
The Office Power Growth roadshow roundtables demonstrated that the path to growth is a multifaceted endeavour. It’s not just about financial outlays but also strategic investments in diversification, sustainability and technology. Each area offers unique opportunities for growth and innovation but also comes with challenges and risks.
The key lies in balancing these elements, understanding market dynamics and aligning funding strategies with long-term goals and industry trends. As the discussions revealed, the success of such investments will largely depend on the ability to adapt, innovate, and truly commit to these strategic directions.
Mark Heath is Managing Director at Office Power