#WiseUpWednesday: The Scourge That Is Retention

Retention is a scourge on the industry, and I’m sorry to say it will be with us for some considerable time.

And if your actual profit after overheads is as low as 3% to 5% of sales, and Contractors are hanging on to 2½% of sales, they are effectively hanging on to your profit.

Yet collecting what’s rightfully theirs is not usually on most Specialist Contractors’ list of priorities.

In most Specialist Sub-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.

How To Set Up To Get Your Money Back

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 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, because Contractors’ accounts departments are very good at putting off Specialist 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.

When Should You Get Paid?

In theory the 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. If you are not very good at this game the Contractor simply takes advantage of your generosity.

Most Contractors will only pay out if you harass them for the money…

What If You Struggle To Get Paid?

Please do not struggle alone, this can be tough, so please be re-assured that it’s not just you that struggles with this. The best way to improve things is to either;

  • set up a more robust system
  • understand exactly what it takes to get paid
  • check out our page for more information: Retention
  • or
  • let someone like us do it cost effectively on your behalf

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 us a call on 01773 712116 or email us oninfo@streetwisesubbie.com.



#WiseUpWednesday: 3 Year Debt Agony – Resolved In 7 Days!

3 Year Debt Agony Resolved In 7 Days

Wow, that’s what I call a result.

3 Years of the Contractor’s BS excuses for not paying swept aside.

We put an end to the Specialist Contractor’s 3 year wait for their money in just 7 days.

So How Was it Done?

This case is typical of why you shouldn’t struggle on alone trying to collect your money. Because, at the end of the day getting paid can often come down to just 3 things;

  • knowing what to say
  • knowing how to say it
  • knowing who to say it to

So, let’s take a look at each element in turn.

Knowing what to say in this case, required knowledge of construction law and in particular the application of the Construction Act. When it applies, and when it’s in your favour there is nowhere for the Contractor to hide.

Knowing how to say it required not only knowledge of construction law, but also a certain degree of gravitas and compelling drafting that makes our expert’s letter hard to ignore.

Knowing who to say it to is easy if you have got the first two points absolutely bang on. Because, unless there is a good reason not to, we usually start at the top of the tree. The CEO, MD or in this case the Chief Financial Officer of Willmott Dixon.

It’s Still The #1 Problem for Specialist Contractors…

Payment, or rather the lack of it, is still the #1 reason that Specialist Contractors contact Streetwisesubbie.com. That’s why we have prepared our complimentary report “How To Get Paid” which you can find below.

The fact of the matter is that whilst some Trade Associations, Build UK and the government, promote nonsensical solutions to the very real and business threatening payment problems facing the industry, we get stuck in and sort it out for you.

And we would like you help to highlight the very real problems that still exist in construction by taking a very quick payment survey;

Please Complete Payment Survey Now

So, if you are not getting paid properly then don’t delay in getting it sorted.

Please don’t stand for late or underpayment, or struggle on alone.

Take action

Take action to safeguard your business from the catastrophic impact of reduced, late, or non-payment in 2016.

If you don’t then it could cost you your business…

Unscrupulous Contractors use every trick in the book, to reduce and delay payments. Specialist Contractor’s efforts to avoid or rectify this problem often come too late in the process.

Don’t be one of the casualties, take action now.

You can download a complimentary “How To Get Paid” report right now, and put an end to reduced, late and non-payment.

And you can call us for initial no cost advice on 01773 712116, and our Gold and Platinum Buddies can use their commercial and contractual consultancy to find an answer.

Whatever level your business is at, and whatever your specialisation I want to encourage you to experience and enjoy a better more profitable, less stressful way.

I hope you enjoyed my Wise Up Wednesday and that it gave you some food for thought, and please don’t hesitate to grab your Complimentary Report at “How To Get Paid”

And if you need any help with any of your business problems pick up the phone and give us a call on 01773 712116.


Subbies, You NEED To Read This…”Self Employed” Plumber Has Won “Workers” Rights Case Today!

A self-employed plumber has today won the latest stage in a legal fight over his employment status in a case which his solicitor says could affect the legal status of others. And it could have a massive impact on you as a Specialist Contractor if you employ subcontract labour.

Gary Smith, who worked for London-based Pimlico Plumbers for six years until 2011, had already won a tribunal case after challenging the company’s view that he was self-employed.

The Court of Appeal has now rejected an appeal by the firm – a decision welcomed by unions but which could concern employers including you.

Mr Smith’s lawyer Jacqueline McGuigan said it could affect other workers in a similar position, and that “The decision brings welcome clarity to the issue of employment status relating to work in parts of the economy.”

Mr Smith worked for Pimlico Plumbers for six years until 2011 when he claims he was dismissed following a heart attack.

He took his case to a tribunal which found he was a “worker” and therefore entitled to employment rights.

The case centred on whether people engaged as self-employed contractors should be classed as workers. Pimlico Plumbers boss Charlie Mullins said he “We will be looking at the full judgment and there is a good chance we will appeal to the Supreme Court.”

Mr Mullins said it was not likely to affect the current workforce as the case referred to a contract six years ago and the company’s contracts had changed since then.

A leading employment lawyer has already said that “This is a significant ruling for the workers at Pimlico but it will also concern for lots of other companies too”

 Take Action Now

Whatever happens next, this is significant ruling which could have serious ramifications for your business.

It certainly highlights the potential dangers of having defective contracts in place for anyone you employ on a “self employed” basis.

As one of our Buddies we are offering you a no-cost, no obligation review of your employment terms and conditions. But, please note that following this ruling we expect demand to be high.

Therefore, we are operating on first come first served basis, so please email us now on info@streetwisesubbie.com to book your place on the list for a call back from our employment law specialist.


We look forward to keeping you up to date and helping you to resolve all your business problems, so please feel free to give us a call on 01773 712116.

#WiseUpWednesday: Subbies Are Losing £3bn A Year – That’s “B” for Billion!

Subbies Losing £3bn A Year! – That’s “B” for Billion!

The latest Subcontracting Growth report by Bibby found that Subbies are on the receiving end of deductions and disputes with main contractors costing as much as £3.1bn each year.

The report’s authors said; “The construction sector is characterised by high upfront costs and for this reason, unpaid work and debts that cannot be recovered are serious issues for both big and small firms.

“The issue is particularly problematic for smaller subcontractors. Not only does it impact a business’s cashflow, it often prevents suppliers and workforces from being paid. In extreme cases, it can lead to insolvency…”

Harsh Reality Check

This week’s Wise Up Wednesday is a harsh reality check for Specialist Contractors;

  • Payment isn’t improving
  • Contractors are still out to screw you
  • The Government doesn’t care about you
  • Some Trade Associations have sold you down the river
  • The NSCC has joined the Contractors in Build UK and all talk about poor-payment has seemingly been expunged from the record

Sorry to be so harsh but even Construction News (who are not known for supporting Specialist Contractors) had this to say about payment;

“Almost all main contractors pay late without justification and poor payment practices are getting worse not better.

The CN report quoted one Specialist Contractor as saying;

“No one seems to be willing to tackle [the problem] and they get away with what amounts to fraud day in, day out. Then they have the nerve to ask us to sign non-corruption forms.

Well Streetwisesubbie Care – And We Are Doing Something About It

So, we want you to know that the Specialist Contractor’s champions StreetwiseSubbie.com  already have lots of resources exclusively for Specialist Contractors, and will soon be launching a multitude of new ones.

We want to engage with, and bring together every single Specialist Contractor in the UK, and help you secure your company’s future whatever the economy, and discover solutions that will make an immediate and positive difference in your business.

Here is what’s already available;

Exclusive Guides

First off, StreetwiseSubbie have published a whole range of easy to read guides written specifically and exclusively for you the Specialist Sub-Contractor.

You can find them here; Guides For Specialist Sub-Contractors

And to ensure that we cheer you up we are giving away a copy of;

The Little Book of Crap Advice for Specialist Contractors

Here is your copy

An Intelligent Forum

If you prefer to get answers via an intelligent and exclusive forum (none of the drivel you get in other forums), you are invited to join our exclusive group of over 2,195 owners, directors and senior staff of Specialist Sub-Contractors on LinkedIn.

You can find this exclusive group here Join Your LinkedIn Group

The group is an exclusive alliance of Specialist Sub-Contractors in the Construction and Engineering Industries, and it will help you to interact with over 2,000 other Specialist Contractors irrespective of your size or specialisation.

And Because We Know Times Are Tough…

We know these are tough times and we are already helping lots of Specialist Contractors just like you to market their business for bigger profits, and help them hang on to those profits in this tough commercial and contractual environment.

Protect and Grow Your Business

Trust me, the consequences of not having the right advice on your side can be catastrophic.

Don’t go there. Take action.

But you need to take the right action, at the right time. Waiting to see what happens, or asking the wrong person for advice will not cut it.

But, don’t take my word for it, read what several of our Buddies think about us here;

Protect and Grow Your Business

We look forward to keeping you up to date and helping you to resolve all your business problems, so please feel free to give us a call on 01773 712116.

#WiseUpWednesday: Fight Back Against QS Cash Vampires

You may have seen the grim headlines from Construction Enquirer about the widespread abuse of Subbies by Main Contractor’s QS Cash Vampires.

It’s a sickening state of affairs which is getting worse by the day as cash strapped Main Contractors use every trick in the book to reduce and delay your payments.

Don’t Let Them Screw You…

If that sounds blunt then I’m sorry, but that’s the world we are living in.

Because Roger, the sleek haired 30 something QS in his pin striped suit and crisp white shirt doesn’t care about you or how hard you have had to work to get that job done.

The payment problems in the construction industry are driven by the lack of money and the fact that Main Contractors simply bully their Specialist Contractors into submission will not change unless you make it change.


Cracked Record…


Even if you are too young to have ever owned a record player, I hope you know what I mean when I say that “I’m beginning to sound like a cracked record.”


And regrettably we need to keep pumping out the same message because every single day of the week Specialist Contractors are getting into trouble because they are not getting the basics right.


Speaking of Records…

Whether it’s recovering the cost effects of variations or delays you may need to be able to prove to a third party that your version of events is correct and your assessment is fair and reasonable.


And, please trust me on this, you will need those records, starting with a copy of the contract…


Keeping good written and photographic records is a fundamental issue, the importance of which cannot be overstated.


Regardless of the size and value of the work, good records are essential in order to protect yourself.


Fight Off The QS Cash Vampires And Avoid Those Contra’s          


We are seeing more and more Main Contractor’s QS’s hitting Specialist Contractors with contra charges at the end of the job.


Once the job is done the QS Cash Vampire turns on you and blames you for events that occurred weeks, months or even years in the past.


Any records that you make at the time will be far more valuable as evidence than your memory of what happened, particularly if you can show that they have been issued to the other party at the time the events took place.


Check What It Says…


Check what the contract says about records and make sure you comply. It is not uncommon for a failure to submit records to be used as an excuse to reduce or withhold payment or blame you for delays that are not of your making.

Here are my top tips about records;


  • Verbal instructions – don’t act on verbal instructions and always confirm them back in writing to the Contractor.
  • Access dates – make sure you can actually get at the various parts of the job when you are supposed to and tell the Contractor when and why if you can’t.
  • Delays – notify the Contractor about everything that holds you up or interrupts the regular process of your works.
  • Sequence – you will have priced and programmed the works to proceed in a logical sequence. If you are expected to go backwards and forwards to and from different areas you will be less efficient and your costs will definitely increase.
  • When you have completed the various sections of the works make sure you notify the Contractor and get them signed off if possible. Make sure you get someone to sign to acknowledge the date and time that you handed the works over.
  • Photographs/video can be invaluable. You can record exactly what was done, and when.Use a camera that records the date and time, but it is still a good idea to use the old fashioned idea of taking a picture of the headline from the Sun or Mirror for each day you are taking photographs.
  • Make sure you keep records of what all the other trades are doing, when they start and finish various areas if these are impacting on your works.

What If The QS Cash Vampire Still Attacks You?

If your account is attacked and you’re not getting paid, StreetwiseSubbie’s team of professional Consultants are on hand to resolve your immediate payment problems and recover monies owed to you

We stop you being be bullied into simply accepting what the Main Contractor says about how much you’re owed, so don’t settle your account for far less than it’s actually worth.

If your account comes under attack the best advice is to act quickly and to take appropriate advice. Our Professional Consultants have decades of experience in contractual and commercial matters and will give you no-nonsense, practical advice and take action on your behalf.

We won’t blind you with legal jargon, we will just get stuck in and get your money. Mouse here: Buddy Details

Alternatively email us at info@streetwisesubbie.com or give our friendly team a call on 01773 712116.

We’re here to help.

A Team Of Experts In your Back Pocket

We give you the tools and skills you need to ensure that you do everything you can to resolve your current problem, and to avoid problems in the future.

And we provide a whole range of dedicated business support services specifically tailored to your needs as a Specialist Contractor.

Together we can make a difference…