Here's how we've done, over the 3 years 2015 to 2017
The schemes has three main goals:
- To protect consumers from doorstep crime, especially the vulnerable and elderly
- To Improve and monitor business standards
- To bring economic benefit to local businesses
Home Improvements have been a major focus of the scheme and so this report concentrates on the feedback we have been receiving from consumers for this area. We will add more information in future and we will update this page regularly, showing you the results of the scheme, so you can judge how well we are doing against these aims.
Every quarter, you send us about 200 reviews for the Home Improvement firms on our scheme. We use your feedback to find out who is using our service and how you feel about the businesses we have listed.
Goal #1: To protect consumers from doorstep crime, especially the vulnerable and elderly
Well over half of all reviews are from consumers in their 60s, 70s or more and who may potentially be more vulnerable. This chart also shows that - even for those over 70 - the average cost is over £1,500, which shows exactly why rogues can find it so profitable to trick the vulnerable into parting with their savings when so much money is at stake.
Over half of the reviews are from women at every age level, and the gap is greatest for consumers in their 20s and 30s. It may be that women (with young children) are more likely to be at home when tradesmen call, or that women are generally more willing than men to take the time to write a review. Either way, it is clear that female customers have a significant influence on the reputation of businesses listed.
In setting up the scheme, we recognised that not everyone likes using the internet, email and so on. That's why we use freepost forms which the businesses can give to their customers. Unlike emails, it's easy for customers to put them to one side and fill them out whenever it's convenient. We even publish the original handwritten comment so everyone can see that they have not been edited. Whatever the reason, over 90% of the reviews we receive are on freepost forms - preferred by silver surfers and the technologically savvy alike - and almost 100% for consumers over 70.
It can be hard to find businesses who are willing to tackle the small, essential everyday jobs that keep our homes safe and comfortable. So it is good to see that a quarter of the work done by home improvement members is for under £100. Sometimes a small repair carried out promptly can save a lot of money that would be needed later on if, for example, damp affects the woodwork.
Goal #2: Improve and monitor business standards
We ask customers to tell how they rate the businesses against four key objectives:
- Quality: The quality of the work as expected an agreed
- Tidy: There was little disruption and he 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
As the chart above shows, the overall ratings are very good indeed. Service is the rated highest of all, showing that consumers really appreciate business that not only get the job done, but treat their customers well. Value is the lowest rated, but not by much, and this is consistent with Referenceline's experience over almost 20 years and across all types of business - probably because it is the hardest question to answer if you don't really know what someone else might have charged.
Trusted Traders must promise to follow our Code of Practice. We therefore ask customers:
Before starting work
- Charges: Did the firm explain the charges including labour, materials, callout & VAT (as appropriate)?
- TIming: Did the firm explain when the work was expected to start and finish?
- Payment: Did the firm explain how to pay (e.g. cash, cheque, etc.)?
During the work
- Reliable: Did the firm keep their promises, explaining and agreeing any changes about the work, costs or timing where necessary?
- Invoice: Did the firm give you an invoice showing the cost of materials, labour and VAT?
- Guarantee: Did the firm give you a guarantee for a specified amount of time, or usage (where applicable)?
The results show 90% compliance by the businesses in every category except guarantees, where it is likely that consumers are unsure about whether a guarantee should apply or not and it is good to see that traders score very close to 100% for reliability.
Goal #3: To bring economic benefit to local businesses
Home improvement reviews represent about £400,000 per quarter and total over £4 million since the start of the scheme.
A third of all reviews are from consumers who have not used the firm before. We trust that our service has been helpful in encouraging consumers to choose these businesses, and perhaps in getting the work done at all. It is also encouraging to see that over half of all work is done for long-standing customers - many for over 10 years. This suggests that the scheme has attracted the right kind of businesses - those that already have many loyal customers.
Many businesses are based in or near the main towns, but we want to reach out to all areas of Dumfries and Galloway. We'd like to hear from any reputable business interested in becoming a trusted trader, or from any consumer wanting to recommend a business that they already know and trust.
Data as of 31 December 2017