#WiseUpWednesday: If You Don’t Ask, You Don’t Get

As humans, we’re afraid to ask for things;

  • We’re afraid to ask someone out on a date.
  • We’re afraid to ask for more money at our jobs.
  • We’re afraid to ask the tough questions in our relationships.

And as Specialist Contractors we’re particularly afraid to ask for a better deal in our relationship with the Contractors who we work with (please note I said “with” and not “for”).

We’re Afraid To Ask Because We Fear Rejection

Rejection is this unbelievably strong thing that keeps us from getting so much in life. If you experience rejection one time, it is likely to derail you from ever asking for that thing again.

Why is it so hard to overcome the feeling that the tiny two-letter word “no” gives us?

Negativity = Rejection  And It’s Incredibly Powerful

100 people could tell you what a great job you’re doing, but if one person says you are crap, those 100 positive messages won’t matter a jot.

See, on some level, we all just want to fit in. The reason we fixate on things like rejection and negativity is because they make us feel alienated from the rest of the world.

Experiencing rejection on any scale cuts us to our most basic human core.

And that is what Contractors are deliberately, or subconsciously doing to you. They are conditioning you not to ask.

  • Don’t ask for a fair price
  • Don’t ask to amend the unfair terms in our contract
  • Don’t ask for instructions for variations
  • Don’t ask for extension of time or extra costs

Break The Mould – Start Asking

The simple magic to getting anything you want in life is just to ask.

The only caveat to simply asking for what you want is this: make sure you do it with confidence, knowledge, and authority, and put some effort into it.

The four-time Olympic Gold Medallist Jesse Owens put it perfectly:

“We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.”


Effort is truly a secret to success. No one has ever put in an insane amount of effort for something and not gotten some value out of it.

The more you ask for things, in the right ways, the better you’ll get at it. And the better you get at asking, the amount of times you hear “yes” will increase.

  • You’re going to hear “no”
  • You’re going to feel rejected.
  • You’re going to encounter negativity.

But if you truly want whatever you’re asking for, you won’t and shouldn’t give up at the first sign of adversity.

Start repeating these words to yourself: “You don’t get what you don’t ask for.”

And Remember To Ask for Help When You Need It

You are the back bone of the industry and you are entitled to achieve great things for you and your family. But even the biggest and the best Specialist Contractors don’t have all the answers or all the skills.

So, don’t ever be afraid to ask for help.


And if you have enjoyed my Wise Up Wednesday, please share it with your colleagues.


I sincerely hope to speak with you soon, but in the meantime if you need any help with anything to do with your business, please don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and ask. Simply give us a call on 01773 712116 and ask.


#WiseUpWednesday: Court Action Didn’t Work – Our Letters Did!

Court Action Didn’t Work – Our Letter Did…

And In Just 3 Days!

That’s what I call another great result.

Our Client had employed solicitors and even issued court proceedings in order to recover their £20,276.71 in unpaid retention.

The problem was that the solicitors who drew up the court papers didn’t understand the Construction Act rules regarding retention, and that made it all too easy for the Contractor to defend the action and frustrate the process.

We put an end to the Specialist Contractor’s 2 year wait for their money in literally just 3 days.

So How Was it Done?

This case is typical of why you shouldn’t struggle on alone trying to collect your money, and why solicitors and court action are not necessarily the quickest way to get your money.

In this particular case I applied the rule of 3 that I told you about in a Wise Up Wednesday a couple of weeks ago. Here they are again because, at the end of the day getting paid can often come down to these 3 things;

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

Knowing what to say in this case, required the application of the Construction Act. In this case the 5 outstanding invoices were actually subject to 3 different contractual ways of applying the Act. As in this case, 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 the correct analysis of the 3 scenarios, but I used the kind of compelling drafting that makes our letters hard to ignore. The new message was loud and clear – we now know exactly what we are doing because we have changed horses from solicitor who hasn’t applied the Act, to Consultant who has applied the Act.

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, or in this case the MD and owner of the £92 million a year turnover company that bears his name.

The #1 Problem for Specialist Contractors…

Payment, is still the #1 reason that Specialist Contractors contact Streetwisesubbie.com, and it’s no surprise because it can be really tough out there, and the rules aren’t easy to get your head around.

So, if you haven’t done so yet, please take a minute to download our complimentary report “How To Get Paid” which you can find below.


“How to Get Paid”

And if you haven’t already done so we would like your help to highlight the very real problems that still exist in construction by taking a very quick payment survey;

Please Complete Payment Survey Now


Don’t Struggle On Alone

Please don’t stand for late or underpayment, or struggle on alone. That’s what the Contractor wants you to do because then he gets to keep your money.

How do you think the Contractor in this case gets to have over £7 million pounds working capital? If they’re holding back just £20,000 from each retention they should have paid back (and you can reckon that some are a lot more), then that’s only 350 accounts.

See how easy it is for big Contractors to look richer than they actually are? They do it by holding onto your money!


How To Recognise It’s Time For A New Approach

Here are a few thoughts on things that might be holding you back and stopping you getting paid. If you’re;

  • Doing the same thing and just hoping for change
  • Avoiding thinking about the reality of your situation
  • Feeling like you made the right decision but there’s still no progress
  • Thinking that asking for help discredits you or your successes

Then it might just be that the fear of change, or your pride is getting the better of you, and actually holding you back from even greater success, and stopping you getting paid quicker and more effectively.

Try Something New

Please remember you can call our friendly team for initial no cost advice on 01773 712116 or email us on info@streetwisesubbie.com, and if you’re one of our Silver, Gold and Platinum Buddies you can use your commercial and contractual consultancy to find an answer. Just like in the case above.

Wouldn’t you prefer to get paid rather than struggle?


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 email 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 please take 3 minutes now to complete the Anonymous Payment Survey.

#WiseUpWednesday: Finding Those Hidden Profits

Sometimes it’s necessary for Specialist Contractors to squeeze every drop of income out of its projects.


There has never yet been a construction project devoid of variations, therefore this is a good place in which to look for those hidden profits.


Most contracts incorporate the requirement to produce a schedule of rates for use in pricing variations. The natural reaction is to price the variations at the rates in the schedule without giving that any further thought.

Where Are The Opportunities

The wording in the contract is the starting point in deciding if there are opportunities to enhance the rates in and prices in the schedule of rates.

The JCT contracts clearly state that the contract rates should only be applied, when the work described in the variation is;

  • of a similar character
  •  the conditions under which the work is carried out are the same,
  • and there is no significant change in quantities.


There are a few ifs and buts here that need to be considered.

Concrete in columns and beams cannot be classed as similar in character to concrete in foundations.


Undertaking work in soft and watery ground conditions cannot be regarded as the same conditions as working in firm ground conditions.


And as for a significant change in quantities, even a small increases or decrease can be “significant” if it affects the manner and timing relating to the ordering of the goods and materials and hence the unit price.


That is not all. The JCT contract provides for payment of an extra, if other work is affected by the variation, such as a knock-on effect which causes disruption. For example, an alteration to the specification part way through a job may disrupt your follow up works.


Finally, if the variation causes delay, then the delay costs are also recoverable

So, come on, every additional pound secured in respect of variations, is a pound added to the bottom line.

Records Records Records


One of the most important tools to help achieve the objective of increasing your recovery from variations is the keeping of good records.


The contract will usually say that you won’t get paid if you action variations without proper written instructions.So, please don’t fall into that trap and make sure you comply with whatever the contract says.

If verbal instructions are allowed make sure you have a system of confirming these instructions, usually referred to as CVIs (confirmation of verbal instruction).

In the case of each instruction or CVI, it is important for proper records and detailed breakdowns to be produced and issued to the Contractor as soon as possible.


Very detailed records need to be kept of all work covered up, or altered such as foundations, drainage or scaffolding. Where there are problems of access to parts of the site, it is necessary for a proper record to be kept.


Stoppages of work, due to weather, lack of instruction and the like should always be the subject of comprehensive records, indicating the times involved and the number of operatives and plant affected.


A proper note should always be retained of all operatives employed on site and those of any sub-subcontractor and where on site they are working.


A proper system of record keeping needs to be developed by every subcontractor and its importance stressed to all concerned.  The keeping of good records is often regarded as a bind by many but if you want to get paid what your hard work is worth, you must have those records, records, records.

It’s Easier With A Little Help From Your Friends


We’re proud to say that we work exclusively for Specialist Contractors and have done for the last 26 years, so helping you guys comes as second nature to us.

And, “I wish we had spoken to you sooner” is something we hear a lot.

So,please don’t be shy, or afraid to ask. Just pick up the phone and have a chat with our friendly team on 01773 712116 or email us oninfo@streetwisesubbie.com.