A round up of 2012 and wishing you all a fair and prosperous 2013!

2012 has been a phenomenal year for some and a not so great year for others. For us, the main low point of the year was finding the shocking results of our two separate State of Industry 2012 surveys, revealing the level of unfair treatment over the past year for subbies to be at an all time high of 90%, which shook us to our core. But we took these disturbing findings and worked with it and with your help we begun to spread the word about unfair treatment among our industries, resulting in the #buildfair4all campaign reaching phenomenal heights.

Which brings me to our year’s highlights; for us it was getting our message across to a nationwide audience though word and mouth, national, trade and social media and face to face meetings. We have taken your messages – that specialists are being badly treated like never before and change has got to come – to MPs across the land, the Department for Business and Innovation, the Cabinet Office and the industry’s trade bodies.

We’ve been encouraged to see many recognise your plight and support your cause.

And this would not have been possible without your committed input. By taking the time to fill in Streetwise surveys and use our template letters to contact your MPs, you have brought the issues of late (and non) payment, contractual abuse and bullying behaviour further up the news and political agenda.

The most recent example of this is Streetwise Buddy and curtain walling contractor Dortech. Chairman Steve Sutherland told the Daily Telegraph how he is saying he won’t work for Balfour Beatty any more, sacrificing 40% of annual turnover in the process, because of long running payment issues. Read his story, and the 240+ reader comments, here. Steve’s had received dozens of supportive comments on Twitter and direct to his office. The Daily Telegraph has been very understanding and supportive, and you can follow their reporter James Hurley here.

Our campaign has reached Parliament and Ministers. We have directly discussed your views and feedback with civil servants in the Department for Business. Politicians are very concerned to ensure government investment in infrastructure benefits the economy, and in the New Year the Business Minister Michael Fallon is promising to name and shame those who refuse to sign up to the Government’s Prompt Payment Code. The Cabinet Office is raising awareness of their Mystery Shopper service. 85% of you say you’ve not heard of it. The Mystery Shopper service investigates your complaints about main contractors – on taxpayer funded contracts – who don’t pay you properly or include prompt payment terms in your terms.

You can keep across these campaigns and get hints and tips from fellow specialists by joining our LinkedIn group StreetwiseSubbie – Nationwide Alliance of Specialist Contractors.

2013 is going to be another promising year for us at StreetwiseSubbie as our campaign continues and support grows, and we continue to help those in need of some support in their constant battle against the big guys. If you haven’t already, please do check out our Gold and Silver Buddy membership packages to see exactly how we could help YOU in 2013.

 

So on that note, we wish you all a fair and prosperous new year!

Best regards,

Barry Ashmore and the StreetwiseSubbie.com Team

 

Advertisements

Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year from all at StreetwiseSubbie.com

2012 has been a phenomenal year for some and a not so great year for others. For us, the main low point of the year was finding the shocking results of our two separate State of Industry 2012 surveys, revealing the level of unfair treatment over the past year for subbies to be at an all time high of 90%, which shook us to our core.
But we took these disturbing findings and worked with it and with your help we begun to spread the word about unfair treatment among our industries, resulting in the #buildfair4all campaign reaching phenomenal heights.

Which brings me to our year’s highlights; for us it was getting our message across to a nationwide audience word and mouth and the media, and seeing them all stand up and support our cause.

The most recent example of this being Streetwise Buddy and glazing subcontractor Dortech sacrificing 40% of their annual turnover to say no to Balfour Beatty, who had been putting their business at risk with payment issues for the past 13 years.

And of course, our campaign reaching Parliament, with business minister Michael Fallon promising to name and shame those who refuse to sign up to the Government’s Prompt Payment Code.

2013 is going to be another promising year for us at StreetwiseSubbie as our campaign continues and support grows, and we continue to help those in need of some support in their constant battle against the big guys. If you haven’t already, please do check out our Gold and Silver Buddy membership packages to see exactly how we could help YOU in 2013.

So on that not, we wish you all a very merry Christmas and a bright and prosperous new year!

Best regards,

Barry Ashmore and the StreetwiseSubbie.com Team

What is your Unique Selling Point? How to determine what sets your business apart from the rest…

What is a unique selling point I hear you ask? Let me answer your question with another question. What is it about the local café that you go to on your dinner break that keeps you coming back for more? Or what is it about the local pub you go to that makes you choose that one over the others in your area? Is it the friendly service? The special meal deals? The type of beer they serve? Or maybe it is something else? Whatever that reason is, that is their unique selling point. It is the thing that for you, the customer, sets that place apart from the others.

Now, consider your business from the client’s point of view. What is it that people should choose you over all your competition? If it isn’t obvious to you right now, don’t panic, it is actually a good thing if it isn’t immediately obvious as that means your competition can’t necessarily see it either.

If you still can’t think of what sets your business apart from the competition, then why not create a reason? The best unique selling point you can give your business is the offer of a simple but effective guarantee. Make a list of everything people hate and find fault with within the industry, such as hidden costs, not completing jobs efficiently and on time to name just a few. Then simply make a guarantee that states that you will not do these things, and in the rare event that you do then amends will be made, and that is the reason you are better than the competition.

It is a simple but effective way of setting your company head and shoulders above the rest, and is a sure fire way to get people spreading the word giving you a great reputation to even further boost business.

Want more advice and information on unique selling points and other sales and marketing strategies that could benefit your business? Contact the Streetwise Team and check out our website, www.streetwisesubbie.com

A little inspiration for us all… Dortech owner refuses to work with Balfour Beatty

The news this morning is that one of our StreetwiseSubbie Buddies and business owner Steve Sutherland has refused £5 million and a 13 year long relationship with main contractors Balfour Beatty because of their less than perfect record of payments for completed work. This means glazing specialist contractors Dortech will be sacrificing more than 40% of their annual turnover because, in Mr Sutherland’s words, “we can’t take the risk”. Its a bold and highly respectable move, and I think we can all take a little inspiration from this.

To read the full story by The Telegraph Enterprise Editor James Hurley, a supporter of the #buildfair4all cause, by clicking here.

James is always looking for similar stories to Mr Sutherland’s to help spread the word about unfair treatment and support our campaign for fairer treatment in the building environment. You can contact him, james.hurley@telegraph.co.uk, or us, info@streetwisesubbie.com, to talk about your story either named or anonymously.

You can also support the campaign and contact us in other ways. Join our exclusive LinkedIn group and follow our LinkedIn company page. You can also follow us on Twitter and tweet #buildfair4all to help spread the word.

Thanks again to everyone for your continuous support, with your help we can bring about a fairer future for the construction industry.

How to reach the right buyer and win new business. StreetwiseSubbie.com’s checklist for better targeting

It’s tough not to be gloomy considering there’s no sign of economic recovery and most specialist contractors are only working at 75% capacity.

So whilst everyone else has their head in their hands, that’s when you can steal a march on your competitors by seeing new business opportunities.

How to find work and how to get paid

There are several strategic routes that Specialist Sub-Contractors can follow to find new opportunities:

1.       Sell more existing products to existing customers

2.       Sell existing products to new customers

3.       Sell new products to existing customers

4.       Sell new products to new customers

Route 1 is the quickest, cheapest and therefore easiest route. Here are one or two ways you could try it:

·         Increase personal contact with your customers. People buy? from people. However, technology gives us an excuse not to sit down with our customers any more. And business suffers as a result. We no longer understand what customers are doing and saying – and often find out only when it’s too late.

·         Increase your customers’ understanding of the full breadth and depth of your offering. They may buy more from you if only they knew what else you did.

·         Add value to what you are selling. Encourage involvement with a further contract, if that helps you to buy better and offer a volume discount to the customer. That’s a win-win that can increase profitability for both Contractor and Specialist Sub-Contractor.

·         Increase your marketing activity – don’t wait for them to come to you, go to them. Look at ways that you can regularly keep in touch. Send successful case studies, newsletters, information about new products or, ways of doing things better. Plan out a series of strategic marketing activities that can help to engage with the potential customer and encourage an enquiry.

·         Learn from your competitors. What are they doing well that you could do too.

Whatever the prevailing climate in the economy, people will still buy things. The key question is, ‘How can you ensure that they buy from you?’

StreetwiseSubbie.com top tips for low cost and no cost business growth

No one likes to miss out on an opportunity but you could be losing £££s of business by not managing your customer data properly.  Even worse, you might be letting that valuable data slip through your fingers.

This simple StreetwiseSubbie.com checklist (below) helps you quickly gets your business lined up to root out more business opportunities, at low or even no cost. And as a regular adviser to specialist contractors in the construction and engineering industries, I am a great advocate of ‘no cost’ and ‘low cost’ approaches to business developments that you can do yourself.

And the starting point lies on your desk drawers and your car door pockets – all those business cards you’ve collected over the years. They represent a goldmine, so let’s get digging and here’s how.

StreetwiseSubbie.com checklist for database marketing

1.       Find all those business cards you and your colleagues have collected

2.       Create a simple database

3.       Use simple fields to make using it easy

4.       Enter the information

5.       Identify who’s going to manage the relationship with which contact

6.       Agree a contact plan

7.       Give contacts a ring to ensure they are still in post and want/need your information!

8.       Understand what messages you want to give your target contacts

9.       Communicate with your contacts by calling, writing or emailing them

10.   Use it regularly to sell, sell, sell!

As direct sales guru, Jim Rohm, said, “To succeed in sales, simply talk to lots of people every day. And here’s what’s exciting – there are lots of people”

To help you further, I have expanded slightly on each the checklist points above.

Find those cards: Business cards have actually cost you time and money to get and they could represent lots of new business.  So find them from people across your business, and encourage people to capture new names all the time.

Create your database.  You don’t need a highly sophisticated database – an Excel spread sheet will do perfectly.

Use simple fields. As a minimum, include fields for first name, last name, job title, business name, address and postcode, email address, telephone number, business function and the last date of contact.

Enter the information. Use a good typist. You don’t like to see your own name misspelt, after all.

Who’s going to manage each relationship? Ever had one visit from a company, only to have someone else from the same business call just a week later? Avoid looking clumsy and wasting cost, by knowing who’s calling who.

Agree a contact plan. You can’t contact everyone, and some opportunities may be higher priority than others, so agree the plan.

Do they want you? Do give contacts a quick ring to ensure they are still in post and want/need your information. This very simple process has two benefits. One, it enables you to ‘clean’* the data, because if some of your contacts are quite old they may have moved on – lists go out of date remarkably quickly – and two, it lets the people on the list know that you are serious about marketing to them and will keep them informed of new developments or new products relating to your business.

Understand what messages you want to give your target contacts. Talk about the right topic in the right way to the right person, so spend a few minutes sorting that out first.

Communicate with your contacts by calling, writing or emailing them. Different people prefer different approaches. You can try different methods and see how effective they all are.  For instance, you can send a sales letter or an email highlighting a problem you expect them to have and explain how you have solved it for others and can solve it for them too!

Use it regularly to sell, sell, sell. Having put a little effort into creating a very powerful database, you will gain most value by using it to drive business prospecting and keeping it up to date.

Successful companies who use a database also keep a record of who they have contacted or spoken to, when and what they said.

What if someone doesn’t respond? Don’t strike them off the database and don’t be put off. If someone doesn’t respond to your mailings or e-shots, it doesn’t mean they are not interested. It means that they do not have an immediate need. They may be interested later, so keep the process moving.

To confirm, this is a superb ‘no cost, low cost’ way to expand your database and hopefully, generate new sales as you build and renew those relationships with your customers and prospects.

And remember Jim Rohm! There are lots of people to talk to!