With landscape installers suffering with bad debtors and marketing cuts a membership scheme from Bradstone aims to boost business in the sector by raising standards.
Bradstone Assured is an initiative designed to give UK landscapers and contractors access to benefits such as branded uniforms, gazebos to protect workers from the elements, quotation documents and a guide to best practice in health and safety and customer approach.
The £300 joining fee will also see members listed as approved providers on the Bradstone Assured website where consumers will be able to rate their work. New members will receive a compulsory induction and must agree to comply with the customer complaints charter.
Head of Bradstone Assured Mark Wood said he hoped that the scheme would raise standards. "Whether it's a large organisation or a one-man band we can help them to professionalise their operations," he added. "We hope to eradicate rogue traders with this system."
Members will also benefit from Bondpay, a payment system launched this week that aims to eradicate bad debtors while instilling consumer confidence.
The venture by home insurance group Kinnell allows clients to pay fees into a holding account where it is kept until the contractors have completed the work. Bondpay takes 2.5 per cent of the total payment and will referee disputes arising between contractor and client.
Northampton-based TCL is the first firm to join the scheme. Managing director Simon Cashmore said: "Bad debtors have been an issue for a couple of years and Bondpay will be a huge benefit for smaller firms without the resources to chase payment."
Having access to Bradstone's sales office would also be a great new business generator, he added.
Cashmore said the scheme would provide quality assurance for the sector. "The market is fragmented and lacks credibility in the public eye and this scheme will help instil confidence.
Managing director of Bondpay Nick Edgell said the scheme would motivate contractors to get the job done on time and to a good standard.
"This is obviously targeted at smaller installers and anything that promotes good practice is a real benefit to the sector. But Bradstone must ensure that members meet the standards so it needs to monitor work. Our main concern is the involvement of a third party in the payment process. It is not usually their priority to speed up payment where there is a dispute so the process can be further delayed. Our advice would be that contractors and clients read the small print." - Paul Cowell, Chairman, Bali