Sector Spotlight: The Construction Sector Gets Ready for a Post-Covid Comeback

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The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major disruption for most industries, including construction. Now, as restrictions lift across the UK, the construction sector is in the process of bouncing back. But how has the sector prepared for its post-COVID comeback?

Running a franchise in the construction industry is an exciting and demanding career opportunity. The large and constantly evolving sector is always on the lookout for sharp minds and hard workers, and most construction franchises don’t require you to have any industry experience before you get started.

How will construction businesses make a comeback post-COVID?

In late February, the Government announced its roadmap to reopening the UK economy, with a final aim of lifting all restrictions by June 21st at the earliest, and other steps along the way. This plan of action, and the following process of restriction easing, provided some much-needed relief to all the businesses that were affected by COVID-19.

Though many restrictions have now been lifted and England is on step three of the road map, the government is still asking businesses to follow certain COVID-related regulations, including:

  • The completion of regular COVID-19 risk assessments

  • Regular cleaning

  • Reminding staff to wear face coverings wherever necessary 

  • Maintaining social distancing wherever possible

  • Providing adequate ventilation

  • Taking part in NHS Test and Trace

  • Turning clients or employees with symptoms away

  • Considering the mental health of yourself/your employees/your co-workers in the midst of a stressful global event

More specific guidance for construction businesses is as follows:

1. Reduce crowding on construction sites - Consider separating the site into smaller zones, doing whatever you can to lessen crowding.

2. Work with the same team every day - Use fixed teams, or arrange fixed shift patterns. Reduce the number of people who have contact with each other in order to reduce the potential spread of the virus.

3. Arrange office workspaces to separate staff - This could be done in a number of ways depending on the demands and abilities of your particular business, including reducing office capacity to space people out, spreading out the work stations themselves, using barriers, introducing back-to-back working, and so on. 

4. Clean any shared equipment regularly - It’s important to clean shared tools and machinery to limit the transfer of germs. You should also be limiting the number of people who are using the same equipment wherever you can.

5. Communicate and train - Keep all employees, contractors and visitors up-to-date with how you’re managing and implementing safety measures to protect people from COVID-19. 

Customer demand ahead of the construction sector comeback

In terms of material sourcing, prices are higher due to demand and scarcity, with shortages expected to continue into the summer, and material prices up by 7.8% this March in comparison to March 2020 [Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy]. Materials affected by the shortage are timber, steel, cement and concrete, electrical components, paint, insulation, and plaster and plasterboard. Luckily, the volume of work somewhat makes up for these high costs.

Since the government introduced a stamp duty holiday, which is coming to an end on June 30th, house purchase rates have soared. This increased demand is great news for construction franchises, as despite having had to postpone certain projects for months at a time or cancel them entirely at the height of the pandemic, the industry is still pulling in a lot of new work.

Construction businesses and franchises are at the heart of the UK’s post-COVID economic comeback, and in April, the UK construction industry’s output increased sizably, with higher prices for construction items contributing to the fastest rate of cost inflation since the same month in 1997 [IHS Markit]. 

The strength of the pipeline of new work especially from a robust housing market means the sector is moving in the right direction and hopeful of getting through the winter unscathed.
—Duncan Brock, Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply 

Construction sector trends amid the UK reopening

Numerous construction trends have emerged throughout the past year, and these trends are actively shaping the future of the industry. If you’re interested in franchising with a construction company, right now is a really exciting time to get involved, with construction sector trends during the industry’s post-COVID comeback including...

1. Environmentally-conscious, sustainable construction

Over the last year, many people have reassessed how they live their lives, and considered the impact that their choices have on the environment. An interest in sustainability has increased substantially, which has accelerated the introduction of sustainable practices in the construction industry. “Green buildings”, or buildings designed to reduce negative impacts on the environment and preserve natural resources, are becoming increasingly popular. Green building projects are achieved via:

  • Efficient use of water and energy

  • Use of renewable energy

  • Reduction of pollution and waste

  • Use of non-toxic materials

  • Consideration of the environment throughout the design process 

2. Digital building softwares

Just like the construction sector, the tech sector is on a path of expansion, and to future-proof their business models and keep up with high demands, construction franchises should be investing in new digital technologies relating to the industry, such as virtual reality, 3D printing, project management apps and jobsite inspection drones.

The use of technology in the construction process will help alleviate a challenge for the built environment - completing projects in a more timely manner - and the integration of technology is largely geared towards driving efficiency and improving delivery.
—Lee Wilkinson, PricewaterhouseCoopers  

What government support is still available for businesses in the construction sector?

If your construction franchise has been impacted by the pandemic and is still struggling to recover, you might be eligible for one form or another of government support. Here’s a list of the help still available for struggling businesses:

  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (open until September 2021)

  • The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme

  • The Vat Deferral New Payment Scheme (open until the 21st June 2021)

  • Business rates holiday for the 2020 to 2021 tax year covering retail, hospitality and leisure companies in England

  • The Recovery Loan Scheme

  • The Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility

  • The Coronavirus Restart Grant

  • The Coronavirus Additional Restrictions Grant

  • The Local Restrictions Support Grants 

The construction sector is full of profitable franchising opportunities 

The construction sector is becoming more digital, more sustainable and more profitable. If you’re interested in the sector, there’s no better time to make a career change and start your franchising journey. On the other hand, if the sector doesn’t seem like the right fit, but you’re still interested in franchising, you can browse a range of opportunities across a variety of industries via Point Franchise’s UK franchise directory.

>> Read more articles on the Construction sector

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