Another Two Specialist Contractors Bite The Dust…But Who’s Counting?

Another One Bites The Dust…

(It’s two actually – but no-one seems to be counting)

Just read about not one, but two Specialist Contractors that have bit the dust this week…

McGrath Bros (Engineering) Group has ceased trading with the loss of 171 jobs.

The firm, founded in 1981, worked on major projects across the UK, including the London Olympics Aquatics Centre, with a London office in Tottenham handling a large order book in England and a Glasgow office covering Scotland.


Hull-based offsite manufacturer Modular Space Limited has fallen into administration.

The firm specialised in site cabins supplying the Costain/Skanksa joint venture on Crossrail and Wates.  It also delivered prefabricated buildings for school and health projects.

Skills and High Profile Projects Do Not Equal Success

Clearly both firms had worked on high profile projects, they don’t come much bigger than the Olympics and Crossrail. And there was no shortage of skills and expertise in these two companies, Modular had even developed a special two-storey house design, which could be assembled from four basic units in just five hours.

So What’s Going Wrong?

The fact of the matter is that whilst Trade Associations and Build UK tinker around the edges of the major issues facing you and your business, and promote nonsensical solutions to the very real and business threatening payment problems facing the industry, more Specialist Contractors are going to fail.

As Brian McGrath is quoted as saying;

“Legacy contracts taken on during the recession have also taken their toll on main contractors and specialist subcontractors alike, all linking to underpayments of completed works and disputed final accounts.”

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

Please don’t stand for late or underpayment.

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.



Delays on construction site? Ignore it now and you’ll regret it later!



If you are please;

  • don’t ignore it
  • don’t simply accept it as normal
  • don’t throw more men at the job to catch up
  • don’t simply accept what the Main Contractor says

At its simplest, if you are being delayed by events beyond your control, you are entitled to more time!

If those delaying events cause you to take longer to complete than originally planned, you are entitled to an extension to the contract period.

But you must take action.


Most sub-contracts will require you to identify any cause of delay or likely delay to progress, and to notify the Contractor of that delay and estimate the effect on the date for completion.

Even if it doesn’t say that, it is a good discipline to adopt in any event.

You should also be very wary of Main Contractor’s onerous notification requirements that are designed to prevent your entitlement to extension of time. Check the contract – and do what it says!

And don’t fall for the age old trick of the Contractor saying; There’s no need to be contractual or we will sort it out at the end or any other BS. It’s a trap – don’t fall into it!


Specialist Contractors routinely get clobbered financially by Contractors because they have allegedly delayed the Works, and have no records or notices to say otherwise.

Here’s an example of the sort of thing coming your way if you don’t, from a live job we are currently resolving for a Specialist Contractor;

Deductions, LAD’s, Charges relating to incomplete works – £72,656.82

Setting aside any commercial considerations (but why worry about upsetting someone who is trying to screw you?), one of the main reasons Specialist Contractors get clobbered is that there is a good deal of uncertainty about what to do , and they end up like rabbits caught in the headlights.

We routinely see Main Contractors setting off monies for alleged delay in the tens and hundreds of £thousands!

Don’t let it happen to you.


There are some key measures that you can implement now:

  • 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 preceding trades, record the fact with an email, letter or fax, doing nothing is fatal.
  • Understand the requirements for submitting applications for extensions of time, as in some circumstances you may lose your entitlement with a late application.
  • If there are other delays being incurred in regard to information or variations, record the fact with an email letter or fax.
  • Take dated photographs of anything that is delaying your progress.
  • If it becomes evident that you will not complete by the completion date, you must be able to demonstrate it’s not your fault.


You must apply for and do whatever it takes to demonstrate your entitlement to an extension of time.

Not doing so puts you at massive financial risk.


Once you get your head around such matters, it all makes sense, so don’t let the way contracts are drafted, or the Contractor’s reactions put you off.

Most of all don’t put off taking action, problems do not get better with age, get those notices in and protect your interests. If you don’t do it, you put your business at financial risk, and all your hard work goes down the drain.

And remember that if you need any help to resolve such problems, please don’t hesitate to pick up the phone, take action and give us a call.

I hope you enjoyed my Wise Up Wednesday email and that it gave you some food for thought, and I sincerely hope to speak with you soon and see you at the biggest event of the year for Specialist Contractors.

Our Very Best Ideas To Help Protect and Grow Your Business

We’d like you to have our very best ideas to help protect and grow your business over the next 12 months, and they’re now available in a set of 10 Relevant, Informative, No-Nonsense Video Presentations That Will Boost Your Success as a Specialist Contractor.

“Win Work-Get Paid-Make Money” was recorded live at our Conference this year, on one AMAZING DAY of presentations designed exclusively for Specialist Contractors by top industry experts.

It reveals all the business secrets you need to know about “Winning Work”, “Getting Paid” and “Making Money” in the Construction and Engineering Industries. But don’t take my word for it, here are a just a couple of the dozens of comments we got on the day;

“It was a fantastic conference with lots of useful information and actions to take away” Ollie Yeo – Security Direct Ltd

“Very interesting with excellent tips on sales and marketing, business planning and getting paid” Graham Holmes – Ground Control

** Why Else Should You Take a Look? **

Specialist Contractors make things happen. You have all the skills, you take all the risks, and incur all the costs, and it’s no exaggeration to say that without you nothing would ever get built.

Unfortunately, for many Specialist Contractors business is full of struggle. Financial struggle, personal struggle, dealing with staff and suppliers struggle. And most importantly, getting paid from tight fisted Contractors struggle. It’s a long list…

So if you would like some great ideas and information to help you and your staff avoid that struggle then please take a look at this;

You don’t need me to tell you how difficult it is to turn those jobs, and all your hard work into decent profits. But with profit margins for the top 25 firms dipping below 1.5 per cent, you can be sure that the Contractors aren’t going to make your life any easier just yet!

What we are going to share together is the expertise you need to turn all your hard work into better and worthwhile profits, whilst protecting your contractual interests.

Gain access today to “Win Work-Get Paid-Make-Money” recorded live at the exclusive StreetwiseSubbie Conference July 2015.

Simply click this link;

And Watch At Your Leisure As Many Times As You Like!

Best regards


P. S. The presentations were eloquently summed up in three words by one of our Gold Buddies “Enjoyable, useful, informative!” Trevor Kirby – Anglian Architectural

The Fundamentals of Contract Formation and How To Avoid Getting Caught Out!

Today’s blog post has been prompted by a discussion about the fundamentals of contract formation, which has attracted over 80 comments in our exclusive LinkedIn Group of some 2,000 Specialist Contractors!

If you are in the group you may have already seen it, but if you are not in the group, then please come and join us – just CLICK HERE. Either way I have summarised the key points for this week’s Wise Up Wednesday”.

Do Not Start Work!

What I said in the group was “DO NOT start work, order materials, or do any design work, unless and until you are absolutely certain as to what the terms of the contract actually are.”

That is NOT the same thing as not having received contract documents from the Contractor.

In simple terms you don’t have a contract unless you

a) Have an unconditional acceptance of your offer, or

b) Have a signed order / contract agreement, or

c) Have received an order / contract agreement before you started work and have begun work without contesting it.

If the contract is not properly formed then you do not know what your obligations are.

“The Last Shot” Principle

If your tender (in law an offer capable of acceptance), is made on your terms and conditions and you are asked to start work, then if you make it clear that you are only starting work on the basis of their unconditional acceptance of your terms and conditions, then it is your terms that will apply.

This is called the “Last shot” principle.

If they have sent you nothing but still allow you to start work, then this is their acceptance of your offer, which includes your terms, and a contract is formed on that basis.

If they then subsequently send you an order and/or terms and conditions, you need to advise them that it’s too late, because the contract has already been formed on your terms.

One word of caution. You need to make sure that you do actually have your own terms, and that your terms are favourable to you!

Is There A Binding Contract?

Some contributors to the discussion said that they were put under pressure to get on with the work irrespective of the contractual position.

Our advice is don’t be bullied.

If you have sent an offer and received nothing from the Contractor, or they have sent you an order / contract – that is not an unqualified acceptance of your offer, then their order / contract is a counter offer and you don’t yet have a contract.

If there is no contract, then there is nothing to be in breach of.

At this point, it is up to you whether or not you accept their terms or negotiate better ones. You cannot be deemed to have accepted them unless you start work, or sign the contract.

Don’t Accept Onerous Terms!

If you agree to onerous terms and/or an unrealistic period for procurement/installation, or worse still onerous payment terms, then you are putting your head in their noose!

Don’t do it!

Watch out for contracts that say that no payment becomes due until you have signed the sub-contract and sent all the warranties and bonds and guarantees.

If you receive such an order / contract and start work, you are deemed to have accepted these ridiculous terms. You then find that you can’t receive ANY money until you sign – then you sign and find all the onerous clauses, that you never agreed to, being used to reduce your payments.

Stand Your Ground

We know it is tough but as Julian (one of our contributors), rightly said you have to stand your ground. There is only a brief window in the whole procurement and delivery process when you have the upper hand. As he says;

“When you are bidding the Contractor has what you want – the order

When you are working / have finished the Contractor has what you want – the money for what you have already done

When you have been given the job but haven’t started you have what the Contractor wants – your specialist skills and equipment to perform the work that he needs. This is the only time when you have real strength in negotiations and the choice to walk away.”

We are NOT advocating that you use this position to try to gain unfair advantage – what we are advocating is that you use the opportunity to secure a written agreement that reflects your offer and any negotiations that have taken place up to award.

This should include, as a minimum, clear payment rules, a clear programme and a clear scope of works.

Again as Julian rightly says;

“You will get all sorts of abuse, you will be accused of being “contractual”, you will be accused of “holding a gun to their head” they will threaten to give the contract to someone else.

Ignore it all – if your client is not prepared to have a grown up discussion about the fundamentals of your contract before you have spent tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds doing the job, what chance is there of having a sensible conversation when you have given him everything he needs from you and he still has a big bag of your money.

If he would rather give the contract to someone else, rather than formalise what he has already agreed in writing, what does that tell you about his motives?”

Sometimes you have to be prepared to walk away.

Don’t Underestimate Your Value

Don’t underestimate the value that you bring to the Contractor – if they can get away with imposing ridiculous terms on you then they will.

But it is currently a seller’s market and you should be in a position to reject onerous terms and still win work. If you aren’t in that position then we need to talk about your marketing, but that will have to wait for another blog post.

If you need an immediate solution in the form of initial free advice* from our nationwide team of highly qualified and experienced professionals, please give us a call on 01773 712116, or email us at (please don’t click reply to this email as it will not be picked up as quickly).

If you are looking for free information please check out our main web site; HERE IS THE LINK

StreetwiseSubbie’s Nationwide Network of Consultants are experts in helping you to deal with everything the harsh world of construction and engineering throws at Specialist Contractors. So if you would like a confidential chat please call us for initial free advice on 01773 712116.

Are You Still Struggling to Find Those Profitable Jobs? Then Read On…

Over the past few months, most of the the news reports have been suggesting that things are looking brighter for the economy and for construction. 

But whether things are on the up or not, it would seem that all Specialist Contractors are still facing the same problem;

“How do we find sources of profitable work and win enough orders?”

Some commentators say that there are more tenders around now. 

Or is it just that the same number of tenders are being distributed to more and more Sub-Contractors? We have anecdotal evidence of lists as long as 20 bidders!

Whatever your take on the current situation, one thing is certain. You need to set your stall out to ensure you receive enough of the right kind of enquiries, and win your fair share of orders.

There are several strategic options that you can employ to help you find new opportunities;

  • Sell more existing products/services to existing customers
  • Sell existing products/services to new customers
  • Sell new products/services to existing customers
  • Sell new products/services to new customers

By far the easiest route to take is the first, selling more products/services to existing customers, because this is much easier than finding new ones. 

But, whichever route is right for you, here are one or two things you can try;

  • Enhance the quality of your existing products and services or find a way to ‘windowdress’ something you are presently doing as something else? For example; ”We only install BS67456 compliant materials”. It might be that all installers have to work to this standard, but if no other Sub-Contractor is actually saying it, then you can makes it your own! It differentiates you from the rest!
  • Increase personalised contact with your customers? Years ago, it was essential to be face-to-face with customers on a regular basis. However, technology has changed this to the point that we rarely need to sit down with our customers any more. But whether we actually need to is not the issue, because going back to the personal approach will set you apart from your competitors.
  • Look at ways you can add value to what you are selling. Can you encourage involvement with a further contract if it helps you to buy better and offer a volume discount to the customer?
  • 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 services or, ways of doing things better.
  • Plan out a series of strategic marketing activities that can help to engage with your potential customers and devise ways to convert them to orders even if you are not the lowest price!

Last but not least, keep in mind that, whatever the prevailing climate in the economy, people still buy things! Contractors still need you to get the job done. The key question you need to ask yourself is, 

‘How can I ensure that they buy from me?’

One way is to make sure that you have up to date relevant information and advice about how to market your business better and smarter than your competitors. Even better still, get that up to date, relevant information and advice for free!

So, before you do anything else, please take five minutes to check out some of the links in this email which will take you to the huge range of free information we have put at your disposal. 

Ever heard the expression “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”

Please don’t look our gift horse in the mouth! Come and check us out now…

It could be the most worthwhile five minutes you spend on your business today.

And, if you are already one of our Silver, Gold or Platinum Buddies, please make sure to use the initial free advice and free Consultancy resources at your disposal. They are there to help you protect and grow your business, because together we can make a real difference!

I hope you enjoyed my post and that it gave you some food for thought, and I sincerely hope to speak with you soon.

In the meantime if you need any help with any of your business issues, please don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and give us a call on 01773 712116.

‘Breakthrough Construction 2014’:’s Second Annual Conference And A MUST For All Specialist Contractors!

Following the tremendous success of last year’s exclusive conference, we are announcing our second annual event!Join us on 10th June 2014 at the Nottingham Belfry Hotel (same venue as last year) for what promises to be an even bigger and better day than last year!

‘Breakthrough Construction 2014’’s Second Annual Conference And A MUST For All Specialist Contractors! 

We may be coming out of the recession, we may be returning to growth and better times, but Specialist contractors are still at risk, still getting paid late and less than they are owed, still struggling to find profitable work.

So, it’s time to start making some real progress and Breakthrough Construction in 2014!

I am still seeing far too many Specialist Contractors going to the wall despite the economic recovery, simply because they don’t have the help, support or resources they need to survive and succeed the aftermath of the worst recession of modern times. If you are trying to go it alone, and don’t have access to the proven strategies for commercial and contractual security and new business generation, you are putting you and your business at serious risk.

Please don’t assume that just because we are seeing reports of growth and recovery, of Contractor’s profits soaring and new investments being made, that everything is good in UK construction, and that the hard times are over.

Some Main Contractors are still draining Subbies’ cash-flow to boost their own profits despite their growth, as they are working their way through jobs they have secured at negative margins!

Don’t get caught in the firing line. Come and enjoy the enlightening, informative and entertaining presentations, and a great day out!

Come and get the information that will enable you to make ‘breakthroughs’ in your business!

Please click here to make that breakthrough!

We will show you how to protect your business and improve your marketing, solve your problems and make sure that you are at the leading edge of the most recent thinking that affects all Specialist Contractors.

The Conference

What is it? A half day conference where you get everything you need to maximize your profits – and protect your business in 2014.

When is it? The Conference takes place at the Belfry Hotel M1 J26 Nottingham on 10th June 2014.

Who is it for? This is a must attend conference for you if you own or run a Specialist Contracting business and want to survive and prosper in the aftermath of the recession!

It’s for small and large businesses and it doesn’t matter what type of installation you specialise in.

What’s In Store?

You are set for a transformational day, because you’re about to discover ways to grow and protect your business and cut through the confusion to give you a clear and profitable strategy for growth and prosperity.

For a detailed and evolving agenda of the day; Click Here!

How to Book Your Place

Places are Strictly Limited – So Please Don’t Miss Out!

Priority Reservation is currently available just email and our team will contact you to take care of everything. It’s that simple!

With Priority Reservation you and your colleagues can book places on this exclusive event for just £95 plus VAT.

That’s a massive deduction on the ticket price, so don’t miss out, when the Priority Reservations are gone they’re gone!

The advice and support your will receive on the day is worth hundreds if not thousands of pounds, so don’t miss out, grab a bargain and ensure the success of your Specialist Contracting business in 2014 and beyond!

Come and have a great day out and meet some wonderful people at the same time!

The Conference isn’t all gloom and doom it’s about making the most of the opportunities that are ahead whilst ensuring your commercial security. It’s about a fast paced series of short presentations that will keep you interested and entertained – if you want a boring lecture then our Conference isn’t the place to come!

To grab your Priority Reservation; please email or call us on 01773 712116 now.

Last year close to 100 delegates took something away from the event, with many thanking us for an insightful and enjoyable day. See their feedback for yourself;

Essential Print Services: “I drove away buzzing my socks off.”

Taskmaster Doors: “Thanks for last week’s do, we enjoyed it greatly and have decided to sign up [as a Streetwise Buddy].”

Giles:  “I very much enjoyed it!”

S+B UK Ltd: “My colleague Craig attended the recent Conference and has said that he found it most worthwhile. As I result, I have sent an e mail to Tanya to see how we can best avail ourselves of the services you offer.”

Shakespeares Legal LLP: “Thanks for the opportunity. It had a great good “buzz”.

Demag Cranes and Components:  “I really enjoyed the Streetwise event. I usually say that if I get 5 good pointers from such an event that I can use in my business it was worthwhile. I got 11 pointers!”

Top Service:  “A big thank you for inviting us to be part of your day on Friday. The whole Streetwise Subbie team did a fantastic job of hosting a brilliant day! 

Natalie Wilson: “The atmosphere was amazing; I felt such a buzz and really part of something big!”

So what are you waiting for? Reserve your place now before it’s too late! Simply and our team will contact you to make the necessary arrangements.

I look forward to seeing you on Tuesday 10th June in Nottingham for what promises to be a very special event.

And, if you are travelling up to stay over the night before, dinner is on us at the informal pre-conference evening!

Another UK Specialist Contractor Goes Under. Don’t YOUR Firm Be The Next!

Here’s today’s headline (13 February 2014) from Construction Enquirer;

“West Sussex-based steelwork contractor Graham Wood Structural has collapsed.”

The firm… had run up losses in recent years, but managed to keep afloat with the help of parent company loans… but the current deal does not save Graham Wood Structural, which employed 25 management and office staff with around 50 operatives, according to the last accounts and owed £2.6m.”

Don’t let this be you!

Specialist Contractors This Is Selling Out Fast!

‘7 Key Secrets That Will Ensure Your Survival And Success In 2014’

After the success of our sell out conferences Specialist Contractors told us that you want better awareness, and increased protection.

So, here is your first opportunity to protect the future of your business…

‘7 Key Secrets That Will Ensure Your Survival And Success In 2014’, is a half day seminar with limited spaces for 3 dates across UK wide locations and is already beginning to sell out!

There are significant steps that every Specialist Contractor can take to protect your business in 2014.

Don’t be one of the casualties!

Come and join your fellow Specialist Contractors at;

“7 Key Secrets That Will Ensure Your Survival and Success In 2014”

The economy is fragile and THOUSANDS of Specialist Contractors have lost their businesses over the past 2 years alone.

The brutal truth is the government doesn’t care about you, most Contractors don’t care about you, and if you’re in a Trade Association it is highly likely that it isn’t doing enough to protect you!

So, we decided it was time to get even more proactive to help you succeed in 2014 and beyond.

Our first seminar is geared towards arming Specialist Contractors with the knowledge you need to give your business the best possible chance not only of survival, but of growth and success in any economy, no matter what the industry throws at you!

The 7 Key Secrets revealed on the day will be all about protection, prevention and progress, so if you want your business to survive and succeed in 2014 then be sure to book your ticket now for the event near you:

Tuesday March 11th – Morning Seminar Cedar Court Hotel Leeds/Bradford

Tuesday March 18th – Morning Seminar at Holiday Inn Chester South

Tuesday March 25th – Morning Seminar at Holiday Inn Luton South

Normal ticket price is £125 + VAT, reduced to only £50 + VAT for the first 50 places!

The value of the information and support that you will receive on the day is priceless!

And if you are a Streetwise Gold or Platinum Buddy, your entry to the event is entirely free!

Don’t hesitate, book yours and your colleagues places NOW before the discounted places are taken.

Simply email or call the lovely ladies in the Streetwise office on +44 (0)1773 712116 and they would be happy to help.

I look forward to seeing you on the day.