Category Archives: Information & Advice

Articles and blog posts related to all manner of home improvements for both installers and consumers. Product/installation information, tips and advice.

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

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/

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Dealing with Late Payments – Top Tips for Tradesmen

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. 

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