Wise Up Wednesday: Taking Advice!

streetwisesubbie, solutions for specialist contractors
Your Wise Up Wednesday today is about taking advice. Taking advice from time to time is a sign of strength, not a weakness, and here’s a quick quote that sort of sums up what this week’s WUW is all about;

To profit from good advice requires more wisdom than to give it.

Wilson Mizner American dramatist 1876-1933

So please take 2 minutes to read our guide and please share it with all your colleagues.

Streetwise Guide To Taking Advice
Firstly, here’s a quick question;

If a complicated piece of machinery like the engine in your car needs fixing, do you get out the manuals and the tools and set about it yourself?

Back in the day, when I was much younger and engines were much simpler, I have been known to change the odd set of points.

Now, however, I wouldn’t have a clue how the complex mass of pipes and wires crammed under the bonnet of my car works, let alone how I could fix it if it went wrong.

The point (if you’ll forgive the link), is that like all things in life, business gets more complicated by the day, and it is almost impossible to be an expert in every single field that affects your business.  In addition to the traditional professions such as banking, accounting and law, there are now experts in health and safety, public relations, marketing, computers, e-commerce etc, etc, etc.

Unless you are one of the really big players in Specialist Sub-Contracting, it is unlikely that you will have in-house expertise in each of the fields that affect your business.  However, failing to take appropriate professional advice at the appropriate time can be disastrous.

So Where Do You Start?

Before you take professional advice, think very carefully about how you are going to choose who to take advice from.

Here are a few things you might want to consider before engaging a particular firm or individual from whom to take advice:

  • Credentials, qualifications and experience.
  • Relevant experience.  Have they had experience in your particular specialism?
  • Who will actually be doing the work?  Will it be the person you meet and strike up a relationship with or just one of their team?
  • Can they provide names and addresses of clients who they are happy for you to contact?  If they can’t, ask yourself why.  If they can, make a few calls and check them out.
  • Is the size of their organisation important to you?  Can they handle the volume of business you are going to generate?

At StreetwiseSubbie.com we think we measure up pretty well, and tick all the above boxes. And by teaming up with no fewer than 17 Service Delivery Partners we have experts in advising Specialist Subcontractors across 21 areas of your business.

Make It Cost Effective

It’s important to take advice as soon as possible, even before whatever it is becomes a “problem”. Delay can be catastrophic.

When the time comes to engage someone, ensure you make their appointment cost-effective.  Professionals sell you their time and you should make the best use of it.

I once had a client who brought me a carrier bag full of documents that looked like it had just been picked up off the floor after a burglary.  As politely as possible I suggested that I was a very expensive filing clerk, and encouraged him to put the documents into some sort of order before paying me to me start looking at it.

Prepare in advance for meetings or phone calls and decide exactly what you need to discuss and what you expect to achieve.  Make sure you have all the relevant information to hand so that you don’t waste their time and your money whilst the information is found.

Getting Free Advice

Not all free advice is good advice. Your mate down the pub might not be the best person to ask, but we reckon our experts are. And they are already providing initial free advice to over a hundred Specialist Subcontractors who get that advice as just one of their Streetwisesubbie Membership benefits.

And if you need to go beyond the free advice, discounted rates apply.

There are three Membership levels Silver, Gold and Platinum, so there is one to suit you, and if you would like to give us a call on 01773 712116 or email info@streetwisesubbie.com, we will be happy to explain the benefits.

I hope you enjoyed my Wise Up Wednesday email and that it gave you some food for thought, and I sincerely hope to speak with you soon.

Best regards
Barry

P.S. Please remember if you have a problem, take action sooner rather than later. If you’re not sure what to do or just want a second opinion, please give us a call on 01773 712116, or email info@streetwisesubbie.com

Helping Secure A better Future for Specialist Contractors

Streetwisesubbie.com Ltd, Shanakiel, 17 Ilkeston Road, Heanor, Derbyshire DE75 7DR.
t: 01773 712116 f: 01773 719455 info@StreetwiseSubbie.com.

 

 

We Need To Tell You About…

streetwisesubbie, solutions for specialist contractors
Our Director’s meetings are normally lively affairs and yesterday’s was no exception.

One of the topics that Tanya quite rightly raised was about our ever growing range of dedicated services for you the Specialist Contractor.

Now, depending on how you you look at it, providing such a comprehensive range of services is both a blessing and a curse.

On the one hand it enables us to provide just about every back office support service you could possibly need, but on the other hand it gives us a bit of a headache communicating exactly what we do.

Improving The Lives Of Specialist Contractors

Our rationale, raison d’etre, objective, or whatever else you want to call it, is to improve the lives of Specialist Contractors. And we do that by bringing you cost effective resources to help make your life easier and your business more profitable.

By working with our Service Delivery Partners across the country, we bring you professional support in all of the following areas;

  • Contracts
  • Commercial
  • Applications and Payments
  • Legal matters
  • Retention Collection
  • Insurance
  • Credit Management
  • Lead Generation
  • Social Media
  • Printed Materials
  • Web Design
  • Graphic Design
  • Sales and Marketing
  • PQQ and Bid Writing
  • Health and Safety
  • First Aid Training
  • ISO Certification
  • BIM Training
  • Procurement
  • Project Management Software
  • HR

So there we have it. Whatever you need all in one place.

And, because we only work with Specialist Contractors you can be sure that we know the kind of problems you face, and the solutions that work best. Saves a lot of time, and a lot of money.

So please feel free to give us a call on 01773 712116 or email us on info@streetwisesubbie.com.

I sincerely hope to speak with you soon.

Best regards
Barry

P.S. Please remember if you need any support please take action sooner rather than later. If you’re not sure what you need, or just want a second opinion, please give us a call on 01773 712116, or email info@streetwisesubbie.com

 

#WiseUpWednesday Retention “Discussed” In Parliament

This week’s Wise Up Wednesday Guide for Specialist Contractors is a bit unusual in as far as it has an extract from yesterday’s business in the House Of Commons which included a question about retention.

We are all aware of the scourge of retentions in the construction and engineering industry, and as usual it’s you the Specialist Contractor that suffers!

Here’s Exactly How It Went

So here without further ado is the “discussion” which took place yesterday, sourced from the official record produced by Hansard;

Stuart C. McDonald (Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East) (SNP)

What is his policy on the non-release or late release of cash retentions in the construction industry. 

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Margot James)

Unjustified late and non-payment of a retention payment or any amount owed is unacceptable. These practices cause particular problems for small businesses in the construction sector, and the Government are committed to tackling them. We will shortly be publishing research into these issues, alongside a consultation document.

Stuart C. McDonald

The system of cash retentions has been wreaking havoc in the construction industry for decades. Can the Minister assure us that there will soon be radical action to overhaul the system, and can she explain why it has taken so long?

Margot James

There is, indeed, far too much abuse of the system of cash retention, and it has been going on for too long. The burden of administrative time spent securing payments and the drain on working capital weigh far too heavily on smaller firms in the supply chain, and I can assure the hon. Gentleman that we will be taking action.

Toby Perkins (Chesterfield) (Lab)

If the Government had only listened in 2015 to the amendments the Labour party tabled to the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill, we would already have a solution. We were told then that the Government were going to take action. We were told again a few months ago that they were taking action with their proposals about naming and shaming businesses that did not publish their late payments. We now have yet another consultation. Research from Crossflow Payments shows that 74% of small businesses do not believe that the Government’s recent changes will make any difference. Can we have a policy that actually enforces action on late payments, rather than the series of consultations that we have had?

Margot James

I agree that action is needed, but it is important that we take the right action. We have undertaken a consultation, the results of which will be published shortly. That will be followed by a consultation on the 2011 changes to the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996, which will consider the merits of ring-fencing retentions and the extent to which contractors are making the payment of retentions conditional on the performance of obligations under other, completely separate contracts.

There You Have It

And so the questions and the “discussion” moved on to something else entirely.

No wonder it takes so long to get any kind of action, let alone effective action!

So, don’t hold your breath, because whilst they keep on “consulting” nothing useful will ever get done. And remember that last time the Construction Act was amended it took 13 years…

So What’s To Be Done?

The current “Payment Law” in the form of the Construction Act is a lot better than nothing, and it exists to protect you, but it can’t do that if you don’t apply it. It’s not difficult to get your head around it, so please don’t be put off by thinking it’s legal mumbo jumbo that only lawyers can understand.

The Act gives you a good start in the battle to get paid properly, albeit that it takes a bit of getting your head around. And as always we are on hand to help you understand the law, and to take action on your behalf to ensure you get paid.

And if you haven’t yet downloaded our complimentary guide on how to get paid you can do so here; How To Get Paid

I sincerely hope to speak with you soon.

Best regards

Barry

 

P.S. Please remember if you have a problem, take action sooner rather than later. If you’re not sure what to do or just want a second opinion, please give us a call on 01773 712116, or email info@streetwisesubbie.com (please do not click reply to this email).

 

Helping Secure A better Future for Specialist Contractors

#WiseUpWednesday Vote For Yourself & All Subcontractors

Unless you have been living on Mars for the last few months you will know that tomorrow is election day.

Once you’ve voted and played your part in deciding who is going to run your country for the next five years, I want to encourage you to do what all successful business owners do – work very hard to make the actions of the politicians as irrelevant as possible to their business lives.

Successful Specialist Subcontractors simply do not accept that others control their financial future – because they ensure that they are the masters of their financial destiny.

One of the reasons that politics evokes so much passion, is that many believe Politician A or B will be their saviour – or at least their financial saviour. It never happens – never, which is why this dependency on politicians is mixed with so much anger towards them.

The assumption is that the quality of our lives is their responsibility. “It’s their fault.”

Politicians aren’t bad people. They’re just un-qualified people doing the best they can. And they have an impossible job. The result is always going to be somewhat chaotic. And they haven’t got a clue about what it takes to run a business, never mind a Specialist Subcontracting business, so you ain’t getting any help there.

So, whatever happens tomorrow, leave them to it for the next five years, while we focus on shaping our own financial destiny.

And you can create your own destiny by mastering the art and science of being a successful, financially free Specialist Subcontractor. It’s a subtle combination of strategy, mindset, marketing, and contractual nouse.

An Opportunity To Vote For Yourself

So here’s your opportunity today, right here, right now, to take action and vote for yourself!

Because here is your opportunity to join Specialist Contractors from all over the UK who are already voting for themselves by being part of the StreetwiseSubbie Community.

Here are 10 great reasons why you should vote for yourself and come and join us;

1. We are the UK’s only business resource exclusively designed for Specialist Subcontractors regardless of size or specialisation.

2. Get ahead of the competition with the latest most up to date information on how to get paid on time.

3. Find out how a few simple steps can help you to secure all the work you will ever need at the best possible price.

4. See what the smart Specialist Contractors do to avoid the Main Contractors dirty tricks and onerous terms.

5. Network with other like-minded Specialist Contractors and hear how they overcome their problems.

6. Learn how to maximise your return from variations and how to actually get paid for them.

7. Hear from successful Specialist Contractors on how to stay motivated for success.

8. Discover what’s working and what’s not working in the battle to Win Work, Get Paid, and Make Money!

9. Secure the knowledge that will keep your business safe over the next 12 months.

10. Join the 1% of Specialist Contractors who are smart enough to take time out and immerse themselves in success!

Places are exclusively for Specialist Contractors regardless of size or specialisation.

We have Silver, Gold and Platinum Buddy packages available and some great introductory offers, so give us a call on 01773 712116 or email us at info@streetwisesubbie.com, and we will send you more details and a special free gift just for enquiring.

I hope you will vote for yourself, and I sincerely hope to speak with you soon. And as always, if you need any help with any of your business problems, please don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and give us a call.

 

Best regards

The Streetwise Team

P.S. Remember that thousands of other Specialist Contractors are already getting Streetwise by joining our free  LinkedIn Group, or following us on Twitter, or reading our blog!

“Improving The Lives Of Specialist Contractors”

#WiseUpWednesday: What’s The Future For Your Business?

The Past Does Not Equal The Future

I love that phrase because it inspired me to take certain action about 30 years ago, and it changed my life. But, I would like you to think about what that phrase might mean for you and your business.

On the one hand, if things have been going well over the last few years, it should encourage you to think about the good routines or practices that helped you to succeed, and how you can embed them within your business.

On the other hand, many Specialist Contractors are still finding it tough to make a profit, and the construction industry, still tops the insolvency figures, with thousands of companies lost to insolvency every year.

So maybe you need to change things now before it’s too late, because most of those insolvencies have been Specialist Contractors or smaller construction firms!

The Year Ahead Isn’t Set To Be Easy Either

No-one truly knows what is round the corner, and the election and Brexit are creating uncertainty for just about everyone.

One thing we do know is that those of us who are well prepared will weather whatever storm affects us. And that is so true in Specialist Contracting, whatever your size or specialisation.

That’s why the suggestions below will ensure you are well prepared for any eventuality in business:

Ask Questions and You Will Get Answers

Don’t be afraid to ask others for help and advice. There are plenty of people you can ask, from the seasoned pros at StreetwisesSubbie to our forum and LinkedIn group, it’s brimming with over 2,100 members discussing business issues, industry topics, advice and personal experiences.

If you would like to join even if you are not on LinkedIn yet, just drop us a line at info@streetwisesubbie.com and we will set it all up for you. There is no cost involved.

And you can find our group on Facebook too. Just search for StreetwiseSubbie.com.

Healthy Profit

If you are not making a healthy profit from your jobs, it is time to question why this is so. It could be due to the accuracy of your estimating, lack of control at site level, or assumptions that weren’t well thought out. Be sure you take an objective view and look for the improvements that can be implemented.

Problems Will Occur

It is inevitable that at some point during your business’s lifespan problems of some scale will occur, and so you need to be prepared for this eventuality. For example, if you were taken ill do you have a team who you know you could trust and rely on to keep everything running smoothly without you?

Do you have the right professional support at your fingertips? If not, it might be time to put a plan in place.

Be Flexible and Ready For Change

The construction industry may look like its been stuck in its ways for many years, but it has been evolving. Contracts in particular are becoming more and more onerous and some Contractors are extremely aggressive to work for.

You need to know how to protect your interests, as well as looking at other areas and niches in which your company could operate more profitably.

What Do You Know?

You’re good at what you do but what else do you need to learn in order to make your business more profitable and secure? Do you have plenty of construction industry knowledge but feel like you struggle with some aspects of running the company?

You aren’t alone there, so why not give our friendly team a call on 01773 712116 or drop us a line at info@streetwisesubbie.com?

Its Not Just What You Know, But Who You Know

Network with people from other industries. If you create mutually beneficial relationships you could become one of the companies they turn to when in need of added value.

A Little Help From Your Friends

Not everyone in the construction industry is in direct competition with each other. In fact when we work together we can earn more money and get complex jobs done a whole lot faster when a variety of skilled construction professionals in all areas who are willing to team up.

Our groups are a great place to build relationships.

Don’t Cut Marketing, Improve It

When money gets a little tight, many people first begin reducing their sales and marketing spend, but this is false economy, and could seriously damage your long term revenue.

Instead make your marketing budget deliver better results by working smarter.

And Yes it Can All Be Stressful

 

Construction is a contentious business, so it’s no surprise that problems can arise, even if you haven’t done anything wrong.

 

Keeping on top of everything can be stressful and have a negative impact on you and your business.

 

We have Consultants who have decades of experience in everything we have talked about above and more. You can access no-nonsense, practical advice that won’t blind you with jargon, and it isn’t expensive.

Please don’t hesitate to email us at info@streetwisesubbie.com, or pick up the phone and give our friendly team a call on 01773 712116.

#WiseUpWednesday: Aggressive QS?

Our Wise Up Wednesday Guides are sometimes quirky, sometimes hard hitting, but always guaranteed to make you think and take no more than 2 minutes to read.

Last week’s was “Don’t Fall Foul Of Poor QS’s”. This week I want to share a few thoughts about what to do when faced with an Aggressive QS.

Construction Enquirer recently reported that there is now a super-aggressive quantity surveyor employed by Contractors for the specific purpose of saving them money no matter what.

“Subbies under attack from new breed of aggressive QS”

Here’s a snippet from that article;

Subbies are coming under pressure on site from a new breed of “super aggressive” quantity surveyors employed by main contractors.

“We’ve had QS’s say things like ‘it’s only 50 grand.’. That’s easy to say when you work for a major contractor and it’s not your money.”

“Some firms are worse than others and a lot of suppliers are refusing to work with those with the worst reputation.”

How To Beat The Aggressive QS

Back in the day quantity surveyors made sure that the works were valued both fairly and objectively.

Most QS’s back then would be RICS qualified, and being a QS was a very respected profession. Now, even some of the RICS qualified QS’s employed by Main Contractors ignore the RICS rules of professionalism.

Nowadays, the role of a Contactor’s QS is often to get away with paying as little as possible, as late as possible and to look for any reason to set off or counterclaim whether valid or not.

Over the years, here at Streetwisesubbie and in my work at Ashmore Consulting, we have seen far too many spurious and made up claims, and  some have sadly resulted in the insolvency of the sub-contractor. So please, don’t be a guaranteed meal ticket and bonus for the Main Contractor’s QS.

What Can You Do About It?

Firstly, recognise that it’s happening. This might sound over simplistic, but you would be surprised how many subcontractors fall for the QS’s “I’m smarter than you” BS…

Secondly, in last week’s Wise Up Wednesday I talked about getting the paperwork right, and making sure all the important details are properly incorporated in the contract. So, now it’s time to refer to those documents;

1. Don’t get angry, frustrated or any other emotional response. Stay calm.

2. Don’t rush or jump at the first figure offered.

3. Don’t fall for the “it’s this or we won’t pay another penny” routine.

4. Don’t agree to anything you don’t understand and if you need to, don’t be shy about taking time out to get advice.

5. Make sure you follow the procedures set out in the contract – and make sure your view of the valuation is realistic and properly evidenced.

6. If your account is being undervalued escalate the problem to a higher level

7. Don’t waste time trying to persuade someone who doesn’t want to understand

8. Recognise when it’s time to change your approach – don’t just wait for things to change on their own – they won’t

And if you aren’t sure please call us for advice on 01773 712116 or email info@streetwisesubbie.com or checkout our web site.

It’s A Stressful Situation

 

Construction is a contentious business, so it’s no surprise that problems can arise, even if you haven’t done anything wrong.

 

This can be stressful and have a negative impact on you and your business.

 

So,if you find yourself in a sticky situation, the best advice is to act quickly and to take appropriate advice. We have decades of experience in contractual and commercial matters and will give you no-nonsense, practical advice that won’t blind you with legal jargon.

Please don’t hesitate to email us at info@streetwisesubbie.com, or pick up the phone and give our friendly team a call on 01773 712116.

#WiseUpWednesday: Don’t Fall Foul Of Poor QS’s

“…alarm over quality of new QS’s”

This is a recent headline from Construction Enquirer which caught my eye, because it’s bemoaning the poor quality of new entry QS’s in the industry.

Now I can remember a time when being a QS was a very respected profession and attracted high calibre entrants. Unfortunately, things have been on the slide for a good many years. And this is bound to impact on the QS’s employed by Main Contractors.

How Does This Affect You?

You might think that if the Contractor’s QS isn’t very good it will make life easier for you. But, you would be wrong.

The fact of the matter is that a poor QS will make your life much more difficult and here’s why;

  • they prepare poor quality contract documents – rarely to your benefit
  • they can’t make decisions – this causes delay
  • they make bad decisions – and cover them up / pay with your money
  • they hide their incompetence behind arrogance – causing frustration
  • they don’t have a clue about fairness and objectivity – you suffer

What Can You Do About It?

Many disagreements and disputes can be avoided by getting the paperwork right in the first place. So making sure that everyone has a common understanding of what is expected of them is key..

Adopting the following approach can help:

 

1. Record all pre-contract negotiations and confirm everything in writing and/or email;

2. Make sure all the important details are properly incorporated in the contract and that it exactly reflects what has been agreed;

3. Agree on any standard terms and conditions to be used and negotiate out any onerous clauses;

 

4. Don’t agree to anything you don’t understand and if you need to, don’t be shy about getting advice on your contract documentation.

5. Make sure you follow the procedures set out in the contract – don’t ignore them…

6. If your account is being undervalued escalate the problem to a higher level

7. Don’t waste time trying to persuade someone who doesn’t want to understand

8. Recognise when it’s time to change your approach – don’t just wait for things to change on their own – they won’t

And if you aren’t sure please call us for advice on 01773 712116 or email info@streetwisesubbie.com or checkout our web site.

Strength In Numbers

There is a lot of truth in the old adage about “strength in numbers”. Specialist Contractors need to stick together, so please share this email with every other Subbie you know, and come and join our LinkedIn group of over 2,000 Specialist Contractors. Even if you are not on LinkedIn we can set it up for you for free and it’s a great place to share knowledge and information.

Just email us on info@streetwisesubbie.com.

 

What If Problems Arise?

 

Construction is a contentious business, so it’s no surprise that problems can arise, even if you haven’t done anything wrong.

 

This can be stressful and have a negative impact on your business.

 

So,if you find yourself in a sticky situation, the best advice is to act quickly and to take appropriate advice. We have decades of experience in contractual and commercial matters and will give you no-nonsense, practical advice that won’t blind you with legal jargon.