Three cheers for the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR)! It’s not just a piece of legislation or another box-ticking affair: it’s something to celebrate – something you can use to help differentiate your business from the competition.
Trust is just as much a precious commodity as the wood resources which supply your timber. Your merchant business is built on trust – a combination of reliable stock, service and delivery – which chimes with customers near and far. Coupled with timber chain of custody certification, EUTR compliance is another opportunity to underline your professionalism as a merchant, and your desire to offer your customers the highest standards available.
Reputation is an intangible asset, but it’s certainly easy to quantify when it’s gone. Forget outdated ideas of wood as merely a commodity. Being loud and proud about your wood-sourcing adds to local customers’ perceptions of you as a reliable, responsible business, worth using because you have good reputation for a superior level of knowledge.
EUTR is making us all think about the timber we’re selling and where it comes from. Keeping the necessary records as a ‘trader’ under the Regulation gives you confidence in what you’re doing too, which in turn makes staff confident that they’re working for a good company that ‘cares’. And it’s been proved time and again in business that staff who feel in tune with their employer’s ethics are more inclined to stay. If you’ve invested in their training, it makes gaining a return on that investment more likely, along with a consequent reduction in recruitment costs.
Knowing where your timber comes from goes hand in hand with increasing knowledge of timber itself, which product is right for which usage, and of options available to offer customers. Engaging with customers on timber topics gives your staff opportunities to cross-sell other products, and time to impart an impression of your business as a knowledgeable, service-oriented company. Now you didn’t think a simple piece of legislation could have all those possible outcomes did you? Well it can, if you take the EUTR bull by the horns and grasp its opportunities firmly. Sounds painful but really it’s not.
So go ahead and join me in raising three cheers for the European Timber Regulation. Here’s to better business for all responsible timber traders.
Stephen King is sales and marketing director at SCA Timber Supply UK and succeeds as Timber Trade Federation president in June this year.