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Wise up Wednesday Feb 2018

If you’ve missed any Wise up Wednesday e-mails from StreetwiseSubbie, then from February 2018 they will be collated into a series of unique monthly publications. The February issue is here now.

In February, I wrote about how keeping good records will help you to avoid payment problems, the ‘hit’ that the Carillion liquidation had on businesses, particularly Subbies, and how you can protect your business from potential disasters like this in the future.

There is also a personal story from a Carillion employee and who should take responsibility for the failure of the company he worked for.

You can find out more about our special Contractual Training events being held in  Nottingham and Coventry and there’s still time to catch these if you book soon. Get your copy now.

Get copy now

‘Wise Up Wednesday’ is a series of short, weekly emails to help Specialist Contractors like you stay on top.  Each week you get practical, down-to-earth advice that’s designed to help you to protect your business from unscrupulous contractors, win, work, get paid and make money!

StreetwiseSubbie has help countless Specialist Contractors to understand contracts,  recover retentions and solve payment disputes.

If you don’t already receive your copy of Wise up Wednesday’, then simply email StreetwiseSubbie via this link and we’ll add you to the list.

How do I join StreetwiseSubbie?

To find out more or to become a StreetwiseSubbie Gold Buddy, please click on the link below. You will then join dozens of other Specialist Contractors who are benefiting from being one of our Streetwise Buddies! There’s no long term tie-in and you choose the level of support you need. Here are the links to more information:

For faster success choose Gold Buddy status

Gold Buddy status unlocks a multitude of benefits including a free review of your business by expert consultants, free consultancy each month and valuable and extensive practical resources that help you to stay on top of your contractual and commercial obligations, sales and business development. We look forward to welcoming you to all this support.

And finally, you can also join our call for a full Public Inquiry into Construction by clicking the link in the story on page 8 of the February edition. You can read a flip book version here.

Visit the StreetwiseSubbie website


Why the bosses must pay for failed Carillion

“I work for Carillion – or at least the remains of it – and feel disheartened about what has happened because as the Government’s own phrase goes, I and many others ‘did the right thing’.

I’ve never claimed a penny from the state in almost 40 years at work and I’ve saved into various pensions, many of which will now be reduced in value. No one should be expected to lose a penny due to the incompetence of company directors.

Each time a firm goes bust and a hole is discovered in the pension fund, we are told: ‘There will be an inquiry’.

Regulators are seemingly useless and the so-called gold-plated element of final salary pensions is a myth.

This time, the state-owned British Business bank will step in, which seems to mean millions of taxpayers like me will pick up the tab. The perpetrators, always motivated by greed, should be made to surrender all wealth derived from the failed company, lose any titles they have been granted and be put on minimum wage.

I would also suggest community payback, with no prospect of a return to their previous status. However, it seems that there is no stigma or disgrace associated with their actions.”

Quote ends

The above is taken from a letter by Carillion employee, Michael Fell, to the Daily Mail newspaper. It appeared on Wednesday 7th February 2018.

As ever, it is PEOPLE AND FAMILIES, not businesses, which carry the cost of mismanagement and failure. Carillion’s debt to 30,000 suppliers (specialist contractors and others) is said to be one billion pounds.

As StreetwiseSubbie managing director, Barry Ashmore said in yesterday’s ‘Wise up Wednesday’ e-mail:

  • Carillion has impacted over 400,000 lives!
  • That’s 40,000 employees x (1 partner + 1.5 children) = 100,000
  • 30,000 businesses x say 4 people x (1 partner + 1.8 children) = 336,000

The actual number may never be known, but whatever it is, it’s a national disgrace!

There have been dozens of inquiries and reports into the state of Construction in the UK. It’s now time to have a full Public Inquiry, to learn from its findings and change the industry for the better.

Please sign up to our call for a Public Inquiry here:  https://goo.gl/qk6osw



StreetwiseSubbie’s Barry Ashmore on BBC Radio Derby today

Following Carillion’s “apology” today (06.02.18) to MP’s, I recorded an interview for Radio Derby’s Martyn Williams show which has been on air from 4pm today. (It will be available on i-player and I will post/share the link when it is available.)

Apart from telling Martyn that I didn’t think Carillion’s apology would count for much among the 30,000 businesses affected, I also said that what is needed is a full scale Public Inquiry into construction.

So please if you get chance listen in and please give us your support and sign our petition. And if you are in a Trade Association ask them if they have seen our open letter to all Trade and Professional Bodies in the UK construction industry.

You may also wish to ask your Trade Association whether or not they will be supporting our campaign for a Public Inquiry to Improve The Procurement and Payment Culture In Construction.

If you support our calls for action please ensure that you and your team have signed our petition (1186 people already have as at 6 February 2018).

And please share it as widely as you can with other subcontractors and suppliers. You can find it here: https://goo.gl/qk6osw

The text of our open letter is as follows;

An Open Letter To All Trade And Professional Bodies In The UK Construction Industry

Dear Sirs

What Next For Your Members In The Aftermath Of Carillion?

The pain and suffering of all those caught up in the liquidation of Carillion must not be for nothing.

We must come together at every level to bring about real and lasting change.

What has gone before is simply not working, and if we carry on as we are, the industry as we know it will destroy itself, as surely as its own flawed business model eventually destroyed Carillion.

Strong words I know, but if you doubt what I say please consider these facts;

  • Since 2008 thousands of SME construction related businesses have failed
  • The image of construction is at an all-time low
  • Men working in the construction industry are at the highest risk of suicide
  • There is a massive skills shortage
  • The industry is not attracting the most talented people

In 2016 a YouGov poll of 2,000 members of the public measured perceptions of a number of industries and found that the vast majority would never consider a career in the construction industry, with just 17% saying that they would give it thought.

What a sad indictment of what should be a fantastic industry!

The future is in our hands, we must act decisively, we must act now.

Every right-thinking person in construction knows what a dire state of affairs we have, but the government and others turn a blind eye to what is going on right under their nose.

Those that have the power to change things are choosing to ignore the shameful way that professionals, sub-contractors, and suppliers go unpaid or under paid, not to mention the falling standards and the very real but unseen human cost.

Enough’s enough, let’s all work together for real truth and real change. So, please;

  • Support our call for a Public Inquiry into construction at; https://goo.gl/qk6osw
  • Share this message across all social media using #enoughsenough and #buildfair4all
  • Share your thoughts and ideas

Please feel free to give us a call on 01773 712116 or email us on info@streetwisesubbie.com, and let’s see what we can all do together to bring about positive change.

Yours faithfully

B J Ashmore

Managing Director

Please Help Us To Build A Better Future For Construction

We are not interested in the politics of procurement. Enough’s enough, let’s all work together for real truth and real change.

Please feel free to give us a call on 01773 712116 or email us on info@streetwisesubbie.com for more information, and let’s see what we can all do together to bring about positive change.

He who alleges must prove! Keeping good records helps you avoid payment problems.

Whether it’s getting paid for variations, or stopping the contractor blaming you for delaying the job, you need to be able to prove that your version of events is correct, writes Barry Ashmore, managing director of Streetwisesubbie.com Limited.

Both these situations have arisen for Client’s this last week or so, and with our help, both Clients won – because they had good records!

“He Who Alleges Must Prove” and “Evidence Wins Cases”

Please understand this, neither Client got as far as a formal process, they didn’t need to, they had the evidence and could therefore show the Contractor, prove to him, that they would win.

Proof = Is best in the form of records in one form or another.

Please don’t tell me it’s difficult, or too expensive, to keep good records.There was a total of around £250,000 at stake in just these two cases, so how expensive would it have been if my Clients hadn’t got the records?

Keeping good written and photographic records is a fundamental necessity, 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. The scale and complexity of the work may dictate how much time and effort you need to put in, but even the most basic records can offer you protection.

Capture It – Because You Can’t Recreate It

Almost all construction disputes deal with events that occurred weeks, months or even years in the past. Your works may even be covered up, so cannot easily to be inspected at a later date.

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 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.

In one of the two cases mentioned above my Client faced a claim of £150,000 for alleged delays – he’s very glad he had the records!

Payment Abuse

Payment abuse is destroying the UK construction industry, and over 95% of respondents to our recent survey think that neither the trade associations nor the government are doing enough to solve the problem.

So we are taking action.

Our very popular training seminars start again in March.

We want to share “The Secret Keys To Unlocking Subcontract Payment” that we have been putting into practice on behalf of Specialist Subcontractors for the last 27 years.

And they’re are being revealed at our March events;

“Understand Your Contract to Minimise Risk and Maximise Profit”

“Introduction To Contractual Awareness and Using JCT Subcontracts”

WHEN/WHERE IS IT? The dates and easy access free parking venues venues are as follows;

Thursday 15 March Leeds

Thursday 22 March Nottingham

Thursday 29 March Coventry

WHAT DOES IT COVER? We will be unlocking the Secrets To Getting Paid on time every time in a straightforward down to earth easy to follow style using real life examples.

Training is designed to give you the inside track on subcontract law and procedures, with emphasis on the JCT subcontracts. And we show you the the practical steps you can take to get paid properly.

Full details will be released soon but if you are interested please email info@streetwisesubbie.com for more details.

Update On Our Petition

As you may have seen we are calling for a Public Inquiry into construction in the wake of the Carillion liquidation which is going to impact 30,000 firms just like yours.

We are not interested in the politics of procurement, we are interested in protecting Specialist Sub-Contractors.

As of today, 1,170 people have signed our petition. So, here is how you can help;

And please feel free to give us a call on 01773 712116 or email us on info@streetwisesubbie.com, and let’s see what we can all do together to bring about positive change.

#enoughsenough #buildfair4all

 I sincerely hope to speak with you soon.

 Best regards


P.S. Please remember if you need any support please take action sooner rather than later. If you’re not sure what you need, or just want a second opinion, please give us a call on 01773 712116, or email info@streetwisesubbie.com

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; http://conferencevideo.streetwisesubbie.com/

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; http://conferencevideo.streetwisesubbie.com

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

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.

Specialist Contractors: Forget England’s Sporting Failures and Focus on Your Success!

Out of the World Cup with only one point to our name!

Trounced by the All Blacks!

Beaten by Sri Lanka at cricket off the next to last ball…

It’s been a disastrous couple of weeks for English sport!

So my Wise Up Wednesday advice is forget the sport and focus on your own personal success instead.

Everything You Need For Success – All In One Place!

We are told that the economy is improving but if you are still suffering from the late payment and lowest price culture that has dogged the Construction and Engineering industries for the last few years, then this new concept might be just what you are looking for to cheer you up!

StreetwiseSubbie have a multitude of free and low cost resources exclusively for Specialist Contractors.

StreetwiseSubbie aims to help you to secure your company’s future whatever the economy, and to help you discover solutions that will make an immediate and positive difference in your business.

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 free copy of;

“The Little Book of Crap Advice for Specialist Contractors”

Just click on this link to get your free copy

An Intelligent Forum Exclusively For Specialist Contractors

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 1,800 owners, directors and senior staff of Specialist Sub-Contractors on LinkedIn.

You can find this exclusive group here Free To Join Your LinkedIn Group!

Here’s what one Specialist Contractor thinks about it;

“This group is a great idea, thanks! I am so pleased there is finally a forum to share relevant and needed information…particularly regarding Main Contractors that don’t pay!”

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 1,800 other Sub-Contractors irrespective of your size or specialisation.

You can find out more here; Free To Join Your LinkedIn Group!

Here’s The News About The News For Specialist Contractors

How would you like to keep up to date with the latest developments in the construction and engineering industries all in one place?

How would you like to keep up to date for free?

SubContracting Today is a free daily digest of all the hot topics that affect you and your business. please check it out now; CLICK HERE

Do you need to know what the news means to you and your business?

SubContracting Today will help you stay ahead of the curve with news, analysis, client information and regional and sector insight as well as practical advice.

We link you to all the top stories, and as well as daily news, analysis and interviews, you will find in-depth briefings and case studies of on-going projects.

For your free daily digest of all the hot topics that affect you and your business. please check it out now; CLICK HERE

One final thought. Are you making a fair return for all your hard work, and does everyone you are working for pay when they should? I thought not…

Maybe it’s time to try something new!