#WiseUpWednesday: Enjoy The Christmas Break With A Round Up Of 2016

This is the last Wise Up Wednesday this year so let me start by wishing you, your family and your team a very Merry Christmas.

As Christmas comes around and the end of 2016 approaches, this week’s Wise Up Wednesday takes a quick look back at some of the year’s key issues for Specialist Contractors, and casts a glance forward to 2017.

Will it be a better year for you and your company?

First the Bad News From 2016

Several high-profile administrations along with wider market uncertainty were a timely reminder that bad deals can have catastrophic consequences.

In the summer the £80million turnover M&E contractor EIC went down with the loss of over 400 jobs, and its sudden collapse left many specialists shocked that the administration came without the usual warning signs of cashflow problems.

Concrete frame specialist Dunne Group, swiftly followed after reporting severe cashflow pressures. And in August administrators were appointed at Cardy Construction, who were later later found to owe its creditors £18million.

The autumn was no better, and in September Leeds-based Contractor Bay Construct went into administration after reporting “serious financial difficulties” due to a dispute on its Cumberland Hotel development. And heritage specialist William Anelay, logistics firm Elliott Thomas Group and ductwork contractor Galloway Group, soon followed.

The roll-call of company failures in 2016 is pretty stark.

What Does The Future Hold?

The longer-term impact of the Brexit vote and the recent slowdown in activity suggested by the Office for National Statistics are not yet fully clear.

“The construction sector is the first to show signs of distress when the tap of new developments is tightened”

Glyn Mummery, partner at business advisory firm FRP Advisory, says this could be a sign that insolvencies in the industry are set to rise.

“Overall corporate insolvencies remain at historic lows, but construction insolvencies are back on the increase,” he says. “The industry acts as a canary for the economy with the construction sector the first to show signs of distress when the [flow] of new developments is tightened.”

As SMEs You Are Most At Risk

“SMEs are the ones who are particularly vulnerable, especially if they’re over-geared in the first place” says Begbies Traynor partner Julie Palmer.

It’s not the larger firms that are hit by either slowing development pipelines or problem jobs, as they can maintain much larger cash reserves and the land-bank to manage cash-flow more effectively.

“The middle players and those at the lower end of the market are the ones who are particularly vulnerable – especially if they’re over-geared in the first place,” she says. “[It could be] a couple of contracts where they get it wrong, either in terms of margins or the classic mistake of buying turnover just to keep things moving forward.”

And in a more uncertain environment, managing contracts and cashflow effectively is becoming more important than ever – particularly with a devalued pound to contend with, Mr Mummery adds.

On a Brighter Note…

Although much of 2016 has been plagued by negative news StreetwiseSubbie and our Buddies have had a great year!

We’ve helped our Buddies, both old friends and new faces, to protect and grow their businesses throughout 2016, working all over the UK, and helping all trades and specialisms.

Our buddies range in size from those turning over less than £0.5million to firms in the £30million category and above.

Whatever their size or specialisation, all our Buddies enjoy our unique cost effective support service that connects them up with our independent experts in every specialism they need to support their business. And our Consultants have been particularly busy solving payment and commercial problems, and recovered literally £millions for our Buddies.

Our Construction Week Build Show Christmas Treat

Our stand at the 2016 Build Show was buzzing with Specialist Contractors talking to us about their business problems and getting helpful advice from our Consultants.


And at the show we had a cracking offer which proved very popular with our visitors. So as a very special Christmas treat we have brought that deal back until the end of December 2016.

Mouse Here For Your Christmas Treat

So, if you want to get your hands on £2,000 worth of manuals, have our Consultants ready and waiting to help you (with 2 hours of their time free every month), and enjoy the peace of mind of knowing that your commercial and contractual interests are being protected, and that your payment problems can get solved cost effectively.

And that you can get your Gold Buddy Membership package at a 70% discount for the first 3 months then you should treat yourself now, because when you join as a Gold Buddy your benefits include as a minimum:


# Initial implementation session with our Consultants [contractual and commercial, sales and marketing and health and safety]


# Report identifying ways in which to improve your business


# Free Insurance audit.


# 2 x 1 hour free Consultancy every single month to use as you choose and worth more than your monthly subscription!


# 2 x Resource Manuals written by our experts to provide knowledge and guidance in commercial and contractual, and business development


# Regular updates with additional sections.


# Access to our websites knowledge bank of information


# Free Subcontracting Today – the Specialist Contractors news letter


# Unlimited access by phone and email to a wide variety of experts for whatever it is your business needs.

# exclusive discount on a truly amazing access all areas Glenigan sales lead package.


If all this wasn’t enough we provide in-house and external training sessions, and hold regular conferences and seminars, giving your team opportunities to get together and discuss real business issues and hear from our experts about all sorts of practical solutions.


If Streetwise sounds like something that would benefit your business and would like to grab our Special Christmas Offer, you can find details here:

Your Special Christmas  (Build Show) Gold Buddy Offer

Alternatively if you would like to talk it over, please give us a call today on 01773 712116 or email us at info@streetwisesubbie.com.

Have A Great Christmas

I sincerely hope that you have a fantastic Christmas, but if you have any kind of business problem, and want some good honest no-nonsense advice then please don’t hesitate to call me on 01773 712116 or email me at barry@streetwisesubbie.com.


We look forward to keeping you up to date and helping you to resolve all your business problems in the New Year.


#WiseUpWednesday: Christmas Construction Concerns…

I’ve been taking a quick look around the news sites to see if there is any cheery Christmas news for Specialist Contractors, and frankly I can’t see much.

Indeed what strikes me is that no-one really has a clue about what the future holds for the economy and the construction industry.

And my concern is that irrespective of whether the economic news is good or bad, Specialist Contractors need to be ever more vigilant if your business is to survive and prosper.

You see, in our work both at Ashmore Consulting and StreetwiseSubbie.com, we are still seeing Specialist Contractors suffering from the same old problems.

Important Tips This Christmas

So, here are some important tips to ensure you avoid as many of my Christmas Construction Concerns as you can, and make sure your business prospers in the New Year ahead.

1 Who Are You Actually Contracting With?

Even in good times Contractors will still become insolvent.

If the Contractor you’re working for goes bust you will get nothing…

Watch out for contracts that allow the Contractor not to pay you if the Employer becomes insolvent, because you are then taking the risk of not getting paid if they go bust too.

2 Scope of the Works

It’s a chore but you should carefully check that the scope of works in the contract matches what you have priced.

At best Contractors don’t care if you get it wrong – their terms will protect them.

At worst some Contractors will deliberately manipulate the scope of works to increase their profits.

3 Time/Programme

Make sure the contract period is agreed and properly documented before you start the works.

Don’t agree to work “in accordance with the Contractor’s programme” or “in accordance with his directions.”

Failing to protect your interests in respect to time can prove extremely costly.

4 Qualifications and Discounts

If you have made important qualifications in your tender make sure they are not lost when the contract is formed.

Make sure you know the fundamental basis of the contract (e.g. lump sum, re-measurable, cost plus) and therefore who is taking the risk of quantifying the scope of the works.

Don’t allow one off discounts to be applied to variations.

5 Payment Terms

Make sure the payment terms are clear and unambiguous, and that you understand how they will work in practice.

Watch out for abuses of the Construction Act, and make sure you know what has to be done to ensure you get paid on time.

If the payment process is linked to valuation dates make sure these are agreed and recorded and go beyond the end of the anticipated contract period.

6 Design Liability

It is very easy to acquire design liability even when you think you haven’t got any responsibility for design.

If the contract does not expressly limit your design liability to “reasonable skill and care” you will get the more onerous liability of “fitness for purpose.”

Fitness for purpose obligations will void your professional indemnity or product liability insurance cover!

7 Non Payment And Dispute Resolution!

Being able to suspend performance for non-payment is a very effective remedy.

Adjudication (used correctly) is a very effective legal solution.


Neither remedy is automatically available if the Act doesn’t apply, and even if it does, these rights can effectively taken away by onerous drafting.

Advice And Information

If you want to know more, our unique web site has lots of useful information exclusively for Specialist Contractors.

Our expert team of professionals provide all the expertise and support you need to resolve your problems and grow your business. Our goal is your wealth and security, not just at Christmas, but now and always.

We look forward to keeping you up to date and helping you to resolve all your business problems.

#WiseUpWednesday: Run Across The Road For Me Would You?

If I asked you to run across the road for me, would you?

Your mind might immediately fire off any number of questions;


Which road?


What’s in it for me?

It’s Hypothetical – Please Humour Me I Will Explain

To start with let’s say that the reason I want you to run across the road for me is that I can’t do it myself. It doesn’t matter why I can’t. Just accept that I can’t.

And anyway it’s actually something you are very capable of doing.

So which road, and what’s in it for you?

A Safe Way To Earn £1,500

So, here’s the deal. It’s a quiet stretch of road, so quiet in fact it’s the UK’s quietest, it’s the A897 in the Scottish Highlands.

And if you do that for me I will reward you with £1,500.

“Yeah, count me in, I can do that for you, no problem. It’s going to cost me a few quid to do it, but a great return.” I hear you say.

Ok, great stuff, deal done, task completed and profit earned.

Would You Like Another Go – It’s £3,000 This Time…

That’s right it’s a mate of mine who wants you to run across the road for him.

Bigger reward of course, and it’s just running across the road again.

It’s a bigger reward because it’s the M1, and it is at peak time, but it’s just running across the road again. You’re good at that right?

“OK, I reckon I can do that no bother”, I hear you reply.

Oh, one small point, my mate does things a little bit differently. It is the M1 after all…

You will just need to wear ear defenders OK?

“Yeah OK if you say so.”

And a blindfold, but it is three grand after all…

Still Interested?

If you are still interested at this point, you are much braver than me.

But, in all probability, you are going to say; “no count me out taking that amount of risk is just nuts.”

The risk is real. You can see what’s likely to happen, and you know it’s just not worth it.

Let’s Come Back To Reality

Let’s substitute the “M1” for that bigger more prestigious job, and “my mate” for an unscrupulous Contractor.

And the “ear defenders” and the “blindfold”?

They are his terms and conditions. it’s not as obvious as ear defenders and a blindfold. But, the risks are just as real…

You see the Contractor is trying to transfer as much responsibility and risk as he can onto you. He will stitch you up financially. He doesn’t care if you get hurt.


You should not simply accept the Contractor’s terms and conditions!

Remember It’s A Process


Whatever else you do please remember that agreeing the contract is a process. It’s not just about getting the order and starting the work without giving it a second thought.

Next time you find yourself in line for a big job, just think;

M1 – ear defenders – blindfold.


There may be times when you have to take a commercial decision to accept onerous terms and conditions of contract.  But, if you do, you need to be very clear about the risks you are running.


I hope you enjoyed this week’s Wise Up Wednesday.


If you are in any doubt about how to manage this process, or whether or not the terms and conditions are onerous, you need to take professional advice and StreetwiseSubbie’s Nationwide Network of Consultants are experts in helping you to deal with such matters.

If you need help, you can call us or email us and there is no charge for initial advice. You can email info@streetwisesubbie.com or call on 01773 712116.


Once again thank you all for your support.