Its Wise Up Wednesday! Don’t Fall For Foul Weather!

The first month of 2014 has almost been and gone, and whilst things might be looking up, we need to stay  focused on doing the right things in our business, because the future isn’t certain, with no-one truly knowing what is round the corner.

These past few years have been anything but plain sailing for Specialist Contractors in the construction industry, and that’s why we have put together our Streetwise Wise Up Wednesday Guides to give you a quick burst of stuff that will help you in your business life.

Sometimes quirky, sometimes hard hitting, but always guaranteed to make you think and take no more than 2 minutes to read.

Don’t Fall For Foul Weather!

It’s getting to that time of year again!

Bad weather can cause real problems on site, and you need to be prepared!

As a Specialist Contractor in construction you are often the ones who get the hit the most. Not just from the problems bad weather causes, but you are likely to be in the firing line from the Contractor if the project is delayed.

And, getting the blame for delays can leave a gaping hole in your business cash flow!

If you don’t protect yourselves properly, you could end up getting the blame and on the receiving end of unjustified contra charges!

Make sure you avoid bad weather related issues with these StreetwiseSubbie tips:

  • Understand your programme obligations under the contract, in particular the start date, duration and completion date
  • If you cannot proceed with your work due to the bad weather, record the fact with an email, letter or fax,
  • Take dated photographs of anything that is delaying your progress. It isn’t enough that the weather is all over the news, you need solid proof of how it affects YOUR job
  • If it becomes evident that you will not complete by the completion date due to the delays, you must be able to demonstrate it’s not your fault and you should apply immediately for an extension of time.
  • Understand the requirements for submitting applications for extensions of time, as in some circumstances you may lose your entitlement with a late application.
  • Remember doing nothing can be a fatal commercial mistake!


Secure Extensions of Time To Avoid Incurring Costs!

At its simplest, events such as bad weather which are beyond your control and cause you to take longer to complete than originally planned entitle you to an extension to the contract period.

The amount of time to be added to the contract period for delaying events should be calculated logically and methodically by the Contractor, and in turn if those events have delayed the Contractor, they should be dealt with upstream by the Contract Administrator, or Architect.

All of this should be done impartially and objectively.

But, we all know that when things go wrong, logic goes out the window and its all too easy for the Contractor to blame his Sub-Contractors!

There is a lot of nonsense talked about extensions of time and delay analysis. So, our best advice is to give us a call and talk it over with us.

I hope you enjoyed my Wise Up Wednesday blog and that it gave you some food for thought,.

If you need any help, please don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and give us a call.

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Its Wise Up Wednesday! 10 Top Tips For 2014

It’s 2014 and whilst things might be looking up, we need to stay  focused on doing the right things in our business, because the future isn’t certain, with no-one truly knowing what is round the corner.

These past few years have been anything but plain sailing for Specialist Contractors in the construction industry, and that’s why we have put together our Streetwise Wise Up Wednesday Guides to give you a quick burst of stuff that will help you in your business life.

Sometimes quirky, sometimes hard hitting, but always guaranteed to make you think and take no more than 2 minutes to read.

10 Top Tips For 2014

Whether you’re a one-person operation or 100 employee company, Specialist Contracting can be a tough business.

So, whatever you can do to make life easier by making your business run better is worth taking a look at and these 10 top tips should help you focus on the areas of business offering the biggest gain.

1. Keep Score:
 It’s amazing how few businesses have any idea of the daily, weekly, and monthly numbers and financial trends in the organization. So tip number one has to be spend the necessary time getting to know your numbers.

2. Set Goals: Like keeping score, goals and and objectives form an essential part of business success.

3. Use High Impact Marketing: It’s easy to waste money on ineffective marketing. Learn how to use low cost and no cost techniques to improve your business.

4.Master Business Presentations: A powerful business presentation can help improve your business by leaps and bounds. Learning the essentials  can reap many rewards.

5. Monitor Trends: No business operates in a vacuum. The events and changes in the global construction landscape have an effect on your business. Stay current.

6. Sharpen Selling Skills: A high return area for business improvement is the sales function. Make sure you have the right skills.

7. Find Best Practice: Every industry has its own ways of doing things that are tried and tested. Avoid wasting money and time reinventing the wheel, but make sure you only accept and emulate best practice.

8. Motivate Staff: Talented and motivated staff members can bring on big improvements in business. Learn what motivates your team to achieve higher levels of performance.

9. Know Your Limits: Every successful business owner, even Bill Gates, has a clear idea of their limitations. By knowing your strengths you can manage your resources effectively and find help in areas of weakness.

10. Take a Break: Running a business is hard work. Sometimes the best way to improve your business and re-ignite your passion is to take time off to relax!

I hope you enjoyed this Wise Up Wednesday and that it gave you some food for thought, and if you need any help with any of the above please don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and give us a call.

Profits and Moral At An All Time Low? Announcing A Hot New Resource For Specialist Contractors!

One minute the industry statistics are painting a picture of growth and recovery, the next it’s all gloom and doom again!

What isn’t changing is that when I speak to Specialist Contractors up and down the UK I get the same sorry side of the story. The recession has hit you hard, and certain main contractors are still hitting you even harder!

Profits and moral among Specialist Contractors are at an all time low.

Now, StreetwiseSubbie want to help you to change all that and help your business prosper and grow no matter what the economy or the main contractors throw at you!

We have teams of experts in contractual issues, business growth, sales and marketing, digital technologies, and more who put their heads together to come up with sound and genuinely useful advice exclusively for Specialist Contractors.

And up and down the UK our team are delivering innovative services and solutions.

Here’s how to tap into this uplifting, business boosting information

It’s all in your quarterly magazine, SubContractingToday.

Each issue is packed full of exclusive and in depth features, news and updates to help and inspire the success of your Specialist Contracting business.

It’s yours for the exclusive price of just £35 per annum and if you subscribe today you canadvertise your business for free in our on-line daily digest for 7 days!

So what are you waiting for? Subscribe today and start your journey to creating a bigger, stronger business with your quarterly magazine, SubContractingToday.

Got a question? Ask away! Send us a Tweet, @Streetwisesubbi, or get in touch through our new Facebook page!

We’re also offering tailored sponsorship and advertising packages. Want to know more? Email info@streetwisesubbie.com!

It’s Wise Up Wednesday! So How Important Is Collecting Retention?

It’s 2014 and whilst things might be looking up, we need to stay  focused on doing the right things in our business, because the future isn’t certain, with no-one truly knowing what is round the corner.

These past few years have been anything but plain sailing for Specialist Contractors in the construction industry, and that’s why we have put together our Streetwise Wise Up Wednesday Guides to give you a quick burst of stuff that will help you in your business life.

Sometimes quirky, sometimes hard hitting, but always guaranteed to make you think and take no more than 2 minutes to read.

So How Important Is Collecting Retention?

The collection of retention money is not usually on most Specialist Contractors’  list of priorities. But just stop and think about that for a moment.

What is your actual nett profit as a percentage of sales?

If you are like most Specialist Contractors, your actual profit after overheads might be as low as 3% to 5% of sales. If contractors are hanging on to 2½% of sales, they are effectively hanging on to your profit.

In most Specialist Contracting businesses, attention is focused on the now, the current jobs and the cash flow from those jobs. This is, of course, extremely important and attention has to be given to those issues.

However, if you set clear priorities, you can focus your team on the collection of retention money without affecting the rest of your business.

You simply do not have enough time and energy to do everything yourself.

How To Set Your Business Up To Get Paid

In order to improve the collection of your retention money, you are probably going to have to delegate some of the work to others. You will need to decide who is to be responsible for improving retention collection and who is actually going to do what.

Do not fall into the trap of delegating the task to someone who does not have the skill and expertise to do the job.

For your team to be effective, they will have to overcome the likely problems they will experience. Contractors’ accounts departments are good at putting off Specialist Sub-Contractors’ accounts departments when it comes to retention.

You may need to train and develop your people to improve their skills as the collection of retention requires contractual knowledge, persistence, good people skills and a degree of assertiveness.

What Can I Do If I Am Not Getting Paid?

In theory the main contractor should immediately pay out the retention money he has received.

Regrettably, one of the great weaknesses of the retention system so far as Specialist Sub-Contractors is concerned, is that it provides the contractor with a golden opportunity to receive money which he should be paying out but doesn’t.

This failure to pay out may be accidental but more often than not, it is quite deliberate.

The length of time the contractor can hang on to and utilise these windfall monies to run his business, will depend upon your ability to chase him for your money.

Some Specialist Contractors will not be very good at chasing their retention money and some may even write it off altogether. The contractor simply takes advantage of your generosity.

Some main contractors will only pay out if the Specialist Contractor chases him for the money.

Other main contractors will deliberately set out to make it difficult for Specialist Contractors to collect their retention. There are those even less scrupulous who are known to have a system in place for writing your money into their profits after a given period has elapsed.

There is no one simple answer, but once we know all the facts we can come up with the right plan to ensure you get paid what you are entitled to as quickly as possible.

No matter how determined the Contractor is not to pay we reckon we can usually find a way to unlock the cash, so, if you are struggling to recover retention pick up the phone and give me a call.

I hope you enjoyed my Wise Up Wednesday and that it gave you some food for thought.

Why Specialist Contractors Should Be Blogging in 2014

I have had many people mention already that they have made the New Year’s resolution to ‘get more involved with the digital world’. And in 2014, with the digital age well and truly upon us, there is no better time for Specialist Contractors to be doing just that if they want to grow their business and build their customer base. And personally, I think one of the best places to start in the digital world is with blogging.

You might be thinking ‘but my customers don’t read blogs’, which is fair enough assumption to make based on the stereotypical view of construction clientele, but in reality unless you ask them or offer them the chance to read your blog you can’t be sure if they would or not.

And blogs aren’t necessarily just for reading. Getting your name out there with creatively crafted useful information is one of the best ways to be picked up by a search engine, especially seen as Google has changed the way it searches.

So if your New Year’s resolution is to get more active digitally, or you are just intrigued by the idea of gaining more customers through blogging, here are the main reasons why you as a Specialist Contractor could benefit from blogging:

It demonstrates your technical knowledge

In the construction industry, showing your worth in terms of skills and expertise is a priority, and I bet most of your advertising and marketing campaigns describe you as ‘experts in your field’ or something similar that tells your target market that you are perfect for the job. But before that prospective customer hires you, how do they know you have the technical knowledge or skills for the job? Anyone can SAY they know it all, but the proof is in the pudding.

So use your blog to show off your knowledge and skills by writing technical content to support your claims. Post a series of blog posts on why you should design or install in a certain way and back this up with specific drawings and datasheets. Gain feedback from designers and engineers on innovative new ways of designing for construction and post about it on your blog. The possibilities are endless!

Prove You Are Market Leaders

The majority of companies claim to be market leaders in their industry, and there becomes a point where just saying it loses all meaning and emphasis. So make your company stand out as a true market leader by proving WHY you have earned the title. Post blog posts about people you have helped and how, use in-depth case studies about how you solved specific issues for customers, ask clients for testimonials or reviews of your products and services which can be posted on the blog to show why they chose you over others in the industry and provide specific information to back up their claims of your products being the best on the market. Don’t be afraid to interact with your audience and engage them through collaboration. Ask for their feedback on new services and products, as them to share their thoughts and ideas for new ones. This all helps show why your company stands head and shoulders above the rest.

Provide information and answers

There are people who take a keen interest and actively seek out all information on upcoming regulations and legislations that will have an impact on their industry, but there are also those who need to be informed. You can please both of these types of people by writing an informative piece discussing the key points of a upcoming change and throwing in your company’s opinion on the change and how it will affect the industry. Encourage people to comment and share their thoughts and opinions on the matter. This will help to engage the audience and hopefully get a conversation or debate going regarding this.

You can also encourage people to come to you with their questions, not only on changes within the industry but with their own construction based issues. You could run a regular Q+A piece where people can send you their issues and you can provide an answer to them, posting the most common/popular ones in a blog post for all to see and gain their own answers from.

Which business goals does Blogging contribute towards?

Blogging is one of the most valuable online marketing mediums to adopt as it contributes to all the main business goals while cutting down on costs such as PR expenditure. The main areas blogging will benefit your company most is:

  • Search engine rankings: The more content you put out there, the greater the likelihood of you appearing in search engine results, and higher up in those results.
  • Increased website traffic: Using blogs to link back to your website increases the traffic, and if you can turn those visitors into leads you increase your lead generation.
  • Increased sales: Increased lead generation means more opportunities to increase sales and revenue.

Got the blogging bug and are itching to get started but not sure where to begin? Email info@streetwisesubbie.com and one of our team can help you get set up and sharing your blog posts with the digital world in no time!

Its Wise Up Wednesday! – Some Thoughts About Getting Paid

 

It’s 2014 and whilst things might be looking up, we need to stay  focused on doing the right things in our business, because the future isn’t certain, with no-one truly knowing what is round the corner.

These past few years have been anything but plain sailing for Specialist Contractors in the construction industry, and that’s why we have put together our Streetwise Wise Up Wednesday Guides to give you a quick burst of stuff that will help you in your business life.

Sometimes quirky, sometimes hard hitting, but always guaranteed to make you think and take no more than 2 minutes to read.

Some Thoughts About Getting Paid

After safety, payment is obviously one of the most important issues for any business and it may sound obvious, but it is essential that you understand the terms of the contract as regards payment, and what you can do if you are not getting paid.

Many contracts refer to the “due date” and “final date” and the origins of these terms are to be found in the old DOM/1 form of Sub-Contract which was first published around 1980 and in widespread use in the 80’s and 90’s. The payment provisions of that contract said;

“21.2.1 The first payment shall be “due” no later than one month after the date of commencement”

“21.2.3 The first and interim payments shall be be “made” not later than 17 days after the date when they become “due”

So, if the parties didn’t or couldn’t agree anything else, there should be no dispute as to the date that the Sub-Contractor started work, and the date by which the payment had to be “made” was readily determined from that indisputable date.

When Part II of the Housing Grants Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 (the Construction Act) was drafted they used DOM/1 as a starting point and kept the idea of a “due date” and simply converted the date by which payment should be “made” into the “final date” for payment.

And contracts have been written to comply with (or try and get round) the Act ever since.

So How Come Payment Times Been Extended?

Unfortunately in accordance with the Act, the Parties are “free to agree” the relevant time periods between “due date” and “final date”.

So guess what? The Contractors have extended and extended them ever since!

“Free to agree” means free to get screwed, if you don’t have your wits about you!

What Can I Do If I Am Not Getting Paid?

It is extremely important to understand the distinction between the various payment problems that that might otherwise get rolled up and referred to as “non-payment”.

For example non payment could be due to;

  • under valuation of works or variations
  • set off from monies otherwise due
  • failure to comply with the contractual mechanism that trigger payment

Because understanding exactly why you are not getting paid, is key to unlocking payment.

And unfortunately walking off site is not a simple option!

Suspending work is NEVER something to be done lightly or casually, or without taking proper advice!

One of my Clients did just that, and suspended without taking my advice.

Not only did the Contractor determine his contract on the grounds of my Client’s repudiatory breach, which meant no further payment, they also hit him for £80,000 for finishing £20,000’s worth of work!

But don’t misunderstand me here.

Suspending performance of your obligations (which is much wider than just “works”), is the most powerful remedy available to you. But you need to ensure you are entitled to do so.

So, if you have a payment problem pick up the phone and give me a call.

I hope you enjoyed my Wise Up Wednesday email and that it gave you some food for thought.

 

Specialist Contractors – Make becoming more Streetwise YOUR only New Year’s Resolution!

What’s your New Year’s resolution this year?

I can tell you that mine is to make sure that me and the team here at StreetwiseSubbie.com continue to make a positive impact on the business lives of Specialist Contractors in the UK construction industry.

Not only will we be campaigning for fairer treatment, we will also be making sure that as many UK Specialist Contractors as possible know how to protect themselves contractually, and market their services better.

Without wanting to sound like a kill joy, the “growth” and “improvement” in the UK construction as widely reported in the media in 2013, has made little or no difference to the old non-paying, under-valuing, bullying ways that some of the Main Contractors now regard as standard practice.

Specialist Contractors still suffered from the after effects of late payment and unfair treatment that led to more than 5,500 Specialist Contracting firms going bust in  the last couple of years, and many more having to make redundancies and cut backs just to keep their heads above water.

So, we urge you all to do everything in your power to protect yourself against the commercial dangers that regrettably will still threaten your company during 2014, and to do as much as you can to improve the bigger picture for UK construction by standing up for Specialist Contractors.

What do I mean by that?

Well, as you might expect, I talk to lots of Specialist Contractors, and more and more are taking a much more pragmatic view of their business. They are steering clear of jobs with little or no margin and Contractors who don’t pay! And whilst that means less turnover, most of them are finding that they can make almost as much profit.

And, if all Specialist Contractors took the same view, then prices would rise accordingly, and the worst Contractors would have no-one to work for them!

By standing up for Specialist Contractors, the bigger picture for UK construction would improve for all the good honest hard working firms, and the unscrupulous Contractors would fail.

But the most important benefit of pragmatism is less risk and fewer sleepless nights!

Reducing risk, improving profitability and ensuring you get paid, are all benefits that our nationwide team of experts will help you to enjoy. Our Buddies are benefitting from the professional support that helps you win your commercial and contractual battles, and grow and strengthen your business.

If you are interested in knowing more then you can find out exactly what our Gold Buddy membership provides right here.

But first, you should know that in order to make absolutely certain there is no financial risk to you whatsoever, we have engineered our service so that in just the first 3 months alone you receive more value than you will pay for your membership in a whole 3 years!

No wonder we call it our ‘No Brainer Value Package’!

And no it’s not “too good to be true”, because when you read what our Gold Buddies have to say about us you will see that you only need to make just one New Year’s Resolution this year, and that’s to become more streetwise by becoming a StreetwiseSubbie Gold Buddy, and giving your business the best possible outlook for 2014 and beyond!

Happy New Year from everyone here at StreetwiseSubbie.