With this year’s BMF Members’ Day on the horizon, PBM’s editor Paul Davies used the ‘Viewpoint’ column in the September issue to consider the role played by the industry’s representative body…
As readers are doubtless aware, the Builders Merchants Federation is marking two significant milestones in 2018, celebrating 110 years as a trade body and 40 years since the BMF name was introduced. With Members’ Day on the horizon this month, we thought it would be particularly timely to run a little retrospective on the industry’s representative organisation and reflect on the role it serves within the sector.
In addition to this special three-page feature, we have our regular BMF Training Zone page whilst the BMF’s work in helping to establish the new ‘Cleaner Heat Cashback’ scheme in London — effectively a new boiler scrappage scheme for SME businesses in the Capital — features as one of our lead news stories this month. The BMF’s influence is also acknowledged in the debate surrounding the Government’s Clean Air Zones for a number of the country’s urban centres, which we reference in an article on BMF member EH Smith’s new branch in the heart of Birmingham.
Beyond featuring regularly within our printed pages, BMF news can often be found on our website, reflecting the organisation’s reach and influence within the sector it serves, seeking to provide tangible solutions to boost its members’ businesses and to provide a voice for the sector in dialogue with decision makers in Government and the regions.
PBM has been very pleased to work closely with the BMF on a number of ideas and initiatives over the years, from participating in national and regional events to the more recent sponsorship of the Merchant Training Company of the Year Award at Members’ Day.
We are especially proud to have been the Media Partner for the BMF’s Branch Manager Forum since its inception in 2014. The BMF has hosted two of these two-day events each year, and they perform a vital function in helping branch managers, and those aspiring to branch management, run their depots more effectively and improve performance across the board.
The sessions cover a range of operational issues, tailored to the vital job role branch managers perform, from leadership and management, to merchandising, marketing, employment law, health and safety, transport and much more. It also provides a great vehicle for managers to network and build up their industry contacts with colleagues, peers, suppliers and BMF staff.
The autumn event takes place at the BMF base in Coventry from 30-31 October, and I would urge you to find out more about this well-received event and how it can help improve branch performance.
Of course, whilst I strongly believe that the merchant sector needs a strong and cohesive voice to represent its interests and support the needs of the individual businesses within it, the BMF cannot provide all the answers and some members will doubtless believe it could be doing more. Equally, other merchants have not found a reason to think they would benefit from paying its membership fees.
And the BMF itself has had some tough times in the not-so-distant past when it had undoubtedly lost its way. Membership numbers had fallen dramatically, including the loss of all of the national chains, and despite the best efforts of many working there, an ominous question mark loomed over its very existence. Indeed, I remember plenty wondering at the time, “If the BMF didn’t already exist, would you want to invent it?”
Now, the answer to that question puts me in mind of the classic scene from Monty Python’s Life of Bryan. Considering today’s BMF, if I may crudely paraphrase: “Apart from the training, business support, events, industry data and political lobbying, what has the BMF ever done for us…?”
We’re still waiting for the aquaduct, of course…