Fife Trusted Trader - Home Improvements
Objective #1: increase consumer confidence
Since becoming established in the period 2011 to 2013, the total number of reviews has decreased to just under 1,000 per year.
Despite the slight drop in the number of reviews, their average value has increased substantially from +/- £2,500 to over £3,500 as the scheme remains popular with businesses carrying out larger works.
As a result, the total value of these reviews has risen from just over £2m to approaching £3m in 2017
Almost 50% of the reviews were from customers who had not used the business before - and another 10% went on to use the business again within a year. This shows the importance of the Trusted Trader scheme in helping consumers to take that first step in choosing a business with confidence.
The average value of new customers is just under £2,500, but those who return within a year - or even 10 years or more later - will often spend significantly more, encouraged by the trust established from their earlier experience.
It is important that consumers should not wait to carry out works which might be potentially small at the time that an issue (such as a leak) first comes to light, but may create more problems if ignored. The Trusted Trader scheme aims to enrol businesses that are willing to carry out such relatively small jobs at a fair price. The chart above suggests that the scheme is succeeding in this respect as 10%/20% of reviews correspond to work under £100/£200 for customers of all ages.
Much of the work carried out by Trusted Traders is very much higher value. The chart above shows that half fo all work is over £1,000 and 10% is over £5,000, so it is vital that consumers should know that such large sums are well spent.
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, averaging more than 9.5 out of 10:
- 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. With the exception of Guarantees, businesses meet or exceed 95% compliance. In the case of Guarantee, it appears that customers may more often be uncertain about their rights and what has been agreed.
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 chart above shows that most of the reviews are for businesses based in Dunfermline, Kirkaldy, Glenrothes and Dalgety Bay, but smaller numbers in many 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.
The average spend per customer is very similar across all age groups at +/- £2,500, with the exception of the small number of customers in their 20s who spend much less.
Fewer than 20% of consumers consider themselves truly "experienced" when it comes to Home Improvements and indeed another 20% judge themselves as "beginners".
The chart above shows that beginners don't have the luxury of being able "to put a toe in the water" by spending less until they are more confident - in fact their average value is one of the highest, at almost £2,500.
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 over 95% for those over 70, but even consumers in their 30s are happy to do so.
We have shown above that most reviews are written by people in their 60s and 70s. Within these age groups, the reviews are written equally by men and women, but below this age, women account for significantly more reviews. It may be that younger men are less likely to be at home during the daytime when tradesmen call, or that they are more willing to do DIY, or less willing to write a review. Whatever the reason, it is clear that women are key influencers of a business reputation.