Is your business incomplete without trade representation?

I am a member of the FWC, the trade body for the window cleaning industry in the UK. Much like the IWCA is to the US window cleaning industry.

These two trade bodies (and there are many more across the world) are our industry trade bodies. They are well established and Government recognised.

So why then are the number of memberships lower than they should be?

I see and hear the same thing in both the UK and the US, ‘window cleaners are looking for change and then they will join’.

These words are repeated on both sides of the pond and the response is always the same. ‘Tell us what you want from your trade body’.

Have people given up telling organisations what they want? Do they know what they want?

IWCA and FWC ( to name but a few) need structure to operate, but is that structure hindering progress? Is it the people in the organisations? Are actions not acted on because of lenghty complicated internal procedures?

Why cant well established trade organisations get in the members? What is it that is putting off people joining exactly?!

Why are window cleaners not seeing that the joining of a trade body is as important as buying a bucket and squeegee?

Is it because we feel that trade bodies listen but change very little? What is it that would truly make you feel that you must have that trade logo on your business card?

Some might say it is an expensive logo for nothing else in return. In addition, some might say we represent the industry at high levels as well making sure window cleaners work safely.

The WCRA was born to the US market recently. As a good example it offers a heap of stuff for window cleaners. You really do get the feeling of having something for your membership fee. They have webinars with marketing business leaders showing you how to make your window cleaning business successful, for example.

All these organisations offer great things. Is it time for something with a little bit of everything, that takes all the good stuff from each organisation and rolls it into one or can organisations such as the FWC and IWCA learn from the type of approach the WCRA have taken and use some of that? What do you think?

The IWCA is looking increasingly attractive to window cleaners. They seem to be very pro-active in lots of important stuff and their trade shows attract window cleaners from all over the world. I plan to visit one soon.

The IWCA blog, A Drop In The Bucket is also a very good idea and their website is regularly updated.

I love the FWC, I love what it stands for, I love that it has been around since 1947. Heck, I was not even born then!!

In April the FWC sent out a questionnaire, ‘Help us to help you – Tell us what you want from your membership’.

As a member, I would be interested in the results of that. Did they get many ideas? Are they going to act on any of them?

For my $0.02 worth; Maybe if the FWC could look at something like what the WCRA is offering its members, take some of that and mix it up with the great shows of the IWCA, be more proactive than they already are with updates or maybe a blog on their website.

These types of things and research into what a window cleaner wants is vital and I believe it could only lead to bigger membership numbers.

When it asks the question “ So, what is it you want from your trade organisation?”, maybe this could be opened to the whole of the UK, not just the membership.

Theresa Martin, Chair of the IWCA membership committee did just that recently in a window cleaners forum.

Windex is a great opportunity for our FWC to meet non-members and to attract new sign ups. There should be more opportunities out there to do the same.

There isn’t any? Make them.

Bring back the trade shows and open it up to everyone.

Money is always an issue with things like setting up a trade show. The money and the time of  people involved has to come from somewhere, I get that.

All I know is that, there is more than one-way of ‘skinning a cat’.

I don’t want this article to come across as over critical, I am not running theses trade bodies and so I am unaware of the daily challenges that they may have. Nevertheless, I do recognise that membership numbers across the board do not reflect the industry as a whole and the challenge of heading that straight on is the only thing to do.

Maybe it will always be this way? It does not have to be. There are over 120,000 window cleaners in the UK, as an example.

If this article promotes only some discussion,  I would be happy with that. It would be a start.

Lee Burbidge, FWC Member.

Your business IS incomplete without trade representation. Join one, join them all.