Believe it or not, after two decades as a skilled tradesman, I wouldn't say the industry has undergone a massive shift. Yes, there have been advancements, but the core of the work remains the same. 

The Rise of the Helpful Machines 

The biggest positives for me are the improvements in logistics and the rise of the internet. Apps let me create shopping lists and get materials within hours, with some suppliers offering deliveries in under an hour if I'm nearby. 
Twenty years ago, pricing relied on brochures. Now, the internet allows for precise information on availability and delivery times. It's all got faster, but here's the surprising part: many tradespeople still struggle with basic communication tools like email, text, or even answering the phone! There seems to be a disconnect between skilled tradesmen and those who can also manage the business side of things, especially when it comes to technology. 
Clients, on the other hand, have adapted quickly and expect a same-day or 24-hour response via email. This can be a double-edged sword, but it does keep us on our toes. 

The Unexpected Curveball: Covid 

The pandemic threw a real curveball. Products suddenly became unavailable, and we had to adjust to working in homes where people were now working remotely. Who knew I would ever have to ask clients about their meeting schedules to ensure quiet hours? 

The Tools of the Trade: Old and New 

The tools themselves haven't changed dramatically, although laser technology has become a valuable asset. The brand of tools you use can even give clients an impression of your professionalism. 
Mobile phones have become an essential part of the job, acting as a torch, a spirit level, a way to read plans, and of course, a fantastic communication tool. 

The Apple Mac: My Loyal Companion 

Then there's the trusty PC. As an Apple devotee, I love how seamlessly everything integrates. Cutting, pasting, scanning, and linking information allows me to create detailed and informative quotes. Gone are the days of hand-typing quotes, mailing them out, waiting for clients to sign and return them – now it's all done electronically. 
Online accounting systems allow for instant payments, streamlining the entire process. 

The Future of the Trade: Not So Robotic After All 

There is a lot of talk about AI and robotics taking over the world, but I believe the kitchen and bathroom trade is relatively safe. We're dealing with existing homes that need upgrades, and product development and installation can only progress so far. 

The Wild West of Online Retail 

However, the internet has brought its own set of challenges. Manufacturers no longer have complete control over who sells their products. Back in the day, there was a certain identity associated with a product line and its price point. Now, it's like the Wild West, with some suppliers happy to undercut everyone else just to move boxes. This makes things tough for smaller businesses like mine. 

Trends Come and Go: From Beech to Green? 

Design trends are constantly evolving. I used to install beech kitchens with gloss black worktops all the time. Now, it's all about blue shaker kitchens with white worktops. Apparently, the next trend is that everyone will go green. But I am still to be convinced as its quite a jump when you are then pushing for gold and brass fittings throughout a house. 

The Never-Ending Learning Curve 

For me, these 20 years have been a continuous learning experience. The transition from tradesman to problem-solving almost subconsciously takes about 15 years, but even then, every day is a chance to learn something new. And that is the beauty of this profession – there's always room for improvement. 
Simon Brind, Tradesman and founder of Inside Outside Kitchens & Bathrooms Limited 
If you would like to benefit from working with a local Kitchen, bathroom or bedroom designer in Wokingham who can provide bespoke design and installation, offering a range of high quality products, please get in touch with the team at Inside Outside Kitchens & Bathrooms. 
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