Fife Trusted Trader - Home Improvements 2015
Objective #1: increase consumer confidence
The scheme shows some 1,200 to 1,400 reviews processed each year from 2012 to 2015
The average value of these home improvements reviews is +/- £2,500
The total value of these reviews is therefore £2.3m - £3.2m every year
Over £1m of the £2.6m spent on Home Improvements was by new customers who had not used the business before. This shows the importance of reviews in helping consumers to take that first step in confidence.
Half of the work carried out is over £1,000 and indeed almost a quarter is over £2,000.
Objective #2: promote good practice within local businesses
Customers are asked to rate home improvement work on four separate measures and the chart above shows that ratings are high:
- Quality: The quality of the work was as expected and agreed
- Tidy: There was little disruption and the site was left clear and tidy
- Service: The team was friendly, helpful, considerate and professional
- Value: The firm's charges are reasonable for the work involved
The highest ratings are given for Service and Tidy - even higher than Quality. Customers don't just want the work to be "done", they expect high standards of service, they want their house to be respected and kept clean and tidy.
Although Value achieves a high rating of over 9.5, it is lower than all of the other ratings. It seems likely that this is due to at least two factors. Firstly it is hard to assess and secondly we probably don't want to tell our suppliers that they are really cheap, just in case they put their prices up next time!
Referenceline has developed a Code of Practice for each type of business and for Home Improvements, business are expected to adhere to the following principles:
Before starting work, did the firm explain
- Charges: The charges including labour, materials, callout & VAT (as appropriate)?
- Timing: When the work was expected to start and finish?
- Payment: How to pay (e.g. cash, cheque, etc.)?
During the work, did the firm
- Reliable: Keep their promises, explaining and agreeing any changes about the work, costs or timing where necessary?
On completion, did the firm give you
- Invoice: An invoice showing the cost of materials, labour and VAT?
- Guarantee: A guarantee for a specified amount of time, or usage (where applicable)?
The scheme is open to businesses that generally operate within the area, even if they are based outside. The chart above shows that most of the reviews are for businesses based in Dunfermline, Kirkaldy and Glenrothes, but there is also a smaller number of high value reviews in Burntisland, Cupar and Dundee, as well as smaller amounts in several other towns.
Objective #3: help to protect citizens from doorstep crime
It is no surprise that there are relatively few reviews from homeowners in their 20s, given the high cost of buying a home. But the chart above shows that well over half of all reviews are for consumers in their 60s and 70s, so it is good to see that the scheme is reaching, and protecting, people in this age bracket.
Less than 20% of consumers consider themselves truly "experienced" when it comes to Home Improvements and indeed another 20% judge themselves as "beginners".
Despite this lack of experience, almost 50% of reviews are for consumers who are dealing with a firm for the first time. Another 10% have known the firm for less than a year and may well also have found them through the scheme. This shows the importance - and the success of the scheme - in creating that confidence.
The scheme aims to protect the vulnerable and it is interesting to see that consumers over 70 have one of the highest levels of average spend across all age groups.
Referenceline aims to make the scheme accessible to all age groups and the chary above shows the importance of our freepost forms, rather than the typical online systems used by most review sites as over 90% of all reviews are sent in this way. The figure is highest for those over 70, but even consumers in their 30s are happy to do so.
There are slightly more reviews submitted by women than by men, although this difference decreased with age. It may be that younger men are more willing to do DIY - or less willing to submit review, but this difference lessens with age. Without more information, this is speculation.