Four per cent of homeowners consider themselves ‘rogue’ customers, with some admitting to have withheld payment they felt was rightfully due to tradespeople, a survey by Powered Now has suggested.
In addition, these self-declared rogue customers identified themselves as having missed appointments and paid late.
Conducted in July 2015 by research company Toluna on behalf of Powered Now, developer of an administration app for the trade, the survey requested the opinion of 1,038 UK homeowners.
Missed appointments by tradespeople are customers’ most common complaint, the survey also suggests.
A departure from print publications such as the Yellow Pages and local newspapers as the preferred source of new tradespeople seems to have been to the benefit of online search engines. Eighteen per cent go online to find a professional compared to 11% who use print-based media, while more than 70% act on word of mouth recommendations.
Exactly half (50%) of those questioned see reputation as very important when deciding who to give work to. Availability to start and a competitive price were deemed ‘very important’ by about a quarter of respondents. Fifteen per cent saw the professional look of company employees as ‘very important’ and a further 43% saw this as ‘somewhat important’.
The biggest complaints from homeowners concerned general organisation and reliability, with 83% of those surveyed experiencing tradespeople failing to turn up as agreed (31% were frustrated by this ‘to a large extent’). However, for homeowners who do manage to get a trade professional to visit, 75% were unhappy about how difficult it was to get a quote or estimate afterwards.
Having agreed a price, 76% complained that the final bill amounted to more than that initially quoted. This may have been the result of misjudged expectations, where changes and difficulties that could not reasonably have been foreseen led to increased charges. However, customers didn’t seem to be aware of this possibility, Powered Now said.
Cash was used as payment for 54% of jobs, a figure that represents a decrease compared to that recorded last year of 65%; bank transfer and card payments rose from 13% to over 25% of the total. Twenty-three per cent reported they had been offered a discount when paying with cash.
Of those surveyed, 59% (compared to 58% last year) would prefer to pay by card if they could. More than half said they would pay faster if this were an option.
And it seems that tradesmen are missing out on work due to poor paperwork: 71% of those surveyed said that a professional-looking quotation makes it more likely they will choose a particular company, an identical result compared to last year. This is in addition to the need to get quotes out quickly.
Powered Now says its mission to help tradesmen cope with their paperwork can be achieved by the mobile app it provides for Apple and Android devices that helps to manage customers, send quotations and invoices and takes payment.
Benjamin Dyer said: “Our annual homeowner survey substantiates what our users have been telling us: as tradesmen, they need solutions that can help with their administration and paperwork. No-one enjoys paperwork but it is a necessary evil. There was a lot of consistency between this and last year’s survey, which provides even more credence, particularly as this year we interviewed over 1,000 homeowners.
“At Powered Now we are aiming to provide the tools that make it easy to meet the needs and expectations of customers as well as tax and other statutory requirements, all with minimal effort. The results of the survey confirm our view that tradesmen who use technology intelligently have the opportunity to not only save time, but make more money too.”
The company also offered five pieces of advice to help tradespeople grow their business:
Powered Now also produced an infographic based on the results, which is available at www.powerednow.com.