Monthly Archives: July 2019

Combatting the Cowboy Conundrum

Cowboy installers have created a real problem for the industry. They have taken advantage of consumers’ trust and money and some of them have even put consumers’ lives at risk. It is no surprise that many installers face the challenge of generating new leads – if the consumer doesn’t trust their tradesman then they are never going to allow them into their home, are they?

Fighting off a bad reputation is never easy but there are steps you can take. Here are our top two.

First and foremost, become an accredited installer.

Look for a trustworthy scheme you can join that will offer your customers real consumer protection. Being able to offer your prospective customer a variety of benefits will help provide them with the trust, confidence and of peace mind often required to secure that sale or contract. Having reputable fall-back options is very important to them. Make sure you are vetted and accredited, you don’t want to join a scheme that accepts you just because you pay the membership fee.

When looking for a trustworthy scheme, it can be difficult to know which one to choose as each badge appears to offer ‘financial protection’ for you and your consumer. The real challenge is identifying which one offers real, trustworthy consumer protection. The market is vast and competitive.

Prior to looking for the scheme you want to join, ask yourself, ”what is good consumer protection?” and “how can I identify if a scheme is offering good consumer protection?” and then go from there.

Our answer to those questions? The devil is in the detail. We, at HICS, offer free deposit and stage payment protection, free IBGs and free mediation services not just for the fun of it, but because we know it resonates with consumers, we know it is important for them to have the peace of mind they deserve and we know it is the best offering in the market.  

Next, build your online reputation.

One way to do this is by securing positive reviews and recommendations. Seeing and/or hearing about how you finished a job on time, perfected it and had no hidden costs is music to a homeowner’s ears.

Often, if you have done a good job and impressed your customer, your customer will automatically leave you a positive review. However sometimes it is not as simple as that and your reviews are few and far between. If you find yourself stuck in the latter, be proactive and ask your customers if they would kindly leave a review for you and once received, make sure you reply with your thanks and/or comments.  

Additionally, if you become an accredited HICS member then you will have access to a membership pack which you can share with your customers at your leisure. This is another way to build your reputation as each piece of marketing material that you receive enables your customer to see that you are part of a trustworthy scheme, and they have lots of information to sift through should they wish to, prior to their installation.

Your trustworthy reputation alone should increase leads in no time.

How to Tackle the Rise in Tool Theft – Top Tips for Tradesmen

how to tackle tool theft

From having flexible working schedules to playing pranks on site, sometimes you think there is no better job than that of a tradesman. You can make a substantial amount of money, have fun and clock off early all on the same day. But, despite all the positives, unfortunately there are also plenty of negatives affecting tradesmen today.

In our three-part blog series, we will highlight the areas of concern and how tradesmen can avoid, or at least mitigate the impact of, these issues. Today, we’re honing in on tool theft.

There is a year on year rise in tool theft:

Statistics show that a van is broken into every 23 minutes.[1] Tool theft claims within the trade industry have cost over a staggering £2.8 million, with the average value claim being around £1,626.[1]

In 2014/15 there had been 14,063 thefts reported from vans which vastly increased to 23,859 in 2017/18, according to research by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles via a Freedom of Information request This is a shocking 69.66% increase in just three years.

The statistics above may come as no surprise to tradesmen, especially if you have experienced tool theft yourself or know those that have. Instead we advise you to see the above information as a powerful reminder that tool theft is happening, and it is on the rise.

With tools being a substantial investment and imperative to carry out your work it is important to take some steps to protect them.

What do we recommend?

Make security your priority:

Improve your locks, fit an additional, more advanced alarm and make sure you unload the tools from your van every single night. You could even install tinted windows and add a ‘no tools are stored in this vehicle’ sticker on your van as additional security measures.

Take a look at Screwfix to see what van security accessories are available. They have a wide range of products and are a great place to start.

Tool insurance:

Your tools are essential to your work so insuring them is arguably one of the most important types of insurance you should get. Therefore, if you unfortunately find yourself victim to tool theft, your tools are covered. A good place to start when looking for tool insurance is GoCompare, just insert all of the information required and you will receive many different tool insurance quotes to sift through. Make sure you look into them properly to find out which is best suited to you, we all want to save money but with insurance it’s not always the best idea to go cheap.

Remember to keep your insurance up to date, too. You will have to renew this every year. Most insurers will send you an electronic reminder for this but it’s best to keep a note for yourself somewhere too.

Perfect your parking:

And no, we don’t mean parallel. If it is possible, always park where there is CCTV, if not, park in sight of others as this will likely scare off any thieves. You should also always try to park smart to prevent easy accessibility into your van e.g. with your back or side doors close to a wall, making them harder to open.

[1] https://phpionline.co.uk/feature-articles/online-exclusive-severe-van-tool-theft-uk/

Dealing with Late Payments – Top Tips for Tradesmen

late payments

Is there anything worse than finishing a job and not being paid on time? This is a serious problem in the industry and even worse for those who are self-employed. If employees at an organisation were paid days, weeks or even months late, there would be chaos. So why is it brushed off in the home improvement sector as normal?

Tips to avoid late payment:

 

Establish clear payment terms and deadlines before beginning the work

Make sure you state an exact due date for payment as opposed to ‘due in x number of weeks’. It is also a good idea to include a late payment policy. This combined will hopefully reiterate the importance of being paid on time to your customer. Whilst 60/90-day payment terms are common, don’t just follow the crowd, set payment terms to meet your cashflow. Pick a timeline that is suitable to you.

Additionally, why not explore the option of early payment incentives and late payment penalties?

Triple check your invoice

Have you missed something? If there is any missing information, then the customer may be waiting to hear from you rather than confronting you themselves. Click here to view a guide provided by Xero that walks you through the process of making an invoice – you can check that you haven’t missed off any of these steps and act accordingly if you have.

Make it easy for customers to pay

Everyone has a preferred method when it comes to paying, so have you thought about offering cheque payment and online payment? The customer has a choice then and no excuses.

Considering we now live in a digital world; a further consideration would be to explore the options of automation in invoicing and following up payments.

Three of the most popular accounting solutions are QuickBooks, Xero and Sage – check them out and see what could work best for you and your business.

Communicate regularly

We’re all human and most of us have a brain that’s working a mile a minute; meaning that important information sometimes slips our minds. To avoid this being your payment information that is forgotten, make sure you communicate regularly with your customer in the run up to their payment due date. You could do this by sending a friendly reminder in the week/s running up to the deadline date either by letter, email or even phone call, whichever way you normally work.

What to do if your payments are still being missed, despite doing all the above


Chase immediately

Make sure you call your customer when chasing payment. Some do not check their emails every day and for those who do, it is easy for them to leave your email unanswered.

Keep your cool

As difficult as it may be sometimes, keep your cool. Try to compose yourself before speaking with clients, no matter how frustrated you may feel. Doing so ensures you don’t damage the relationship with your client and/or your reputation. Payment is likely to be received quicker if you are polite as opposed to aggressive.

No matter how tempting this might be, trust us, it doesn’t end well.

Act

If persistence and politeness still isn’t budging your client, then it may be time to act. Not sure where to start? Take a look at the Government’s business support website; or call their helpline as a first resort. They are accessible Monday – Friday from 9am to 6pm on 0300 456 3565.

Finally, don’t forget that as a contractor you have a statutory right to claim interest from clients who don’t pay their bills on time, thanks to The Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act.