The importance of trade association support, especially during times of uncertainty

John Thompson, CEO at the Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors provides an overview of how a trade association supports members when times are uncertain.

Most trade associations are not for profit member-driven organisations, and ever since APHC was formed in 1925 we have been committed to safeguarding the plumbing and heating industry whilst providing our members with the support and information they need to trade compliantly and effectively in our ever-changing and highly regulated market.  This is none so more important than now as the world deals with Coronavirus (COVID-19).

As I write this, we are in a fluid situation with government issuing updated advice on a frequent basis.  One of the key benefits we provide to members is around issuing timely and accurate information in order for them to be in a position to make informed decisions and put plans in place to deal with changes that are going to impact their businesses – such changes can include developments in regulation or trading conditions.  

The Internet has enabled the fast and viral spread of information through social media sites and direct electronic communications, which is great if the information being spread is credible and accurate.  Sadly we know the web hosts a great deal of misinformation, fake news and provides a gateway for fraudsters to exploit situations and people.

Along with the more tradition forms of communication through our printed magazines, letters and telephone contact, we more than ever utilise the internet to communicate electronically with members via email, through our website and social media channels as it enables us to distribute messages quickly.  For members this is important as they are able to receive key information in a timely manner and they know it can be trusted to be accurate as they know it comes from us.

I know our communications are vitally important to the vast majority of our members who are sole traders, as even during the best of times sole traders can feel isolated without having anyone to turn to for advice and support.  And this feeling is magnetised during periods of uncertainty.

Knowing they can turn to a trusted organisation for information, guidance, advice and a second opinion is comforting and a highly valued benefit for our members.

In addition to the provision of proactive and timely information, APHC members can access free technical, legal and employment telephone helplines, plus they can read our comprehensive online library of business guides, so no matter what issue may come their way, members know we will provide trusted and timely guidance.

During the changing developments with coronavirus, we ensured we monitored the situation to understand what actions were being put in place and how these actions were going to impact our members.  This enabled us to develop an online resource centre for members where we uploaded regular briefings detailing the latest measures and support available for members.  We published a range of guides and checklists, a number of templates for members to use to communicate with customers and employees were created, and we developed operational guidelines that members could adopt for working safely with customers.