These are the annual results for Home Improvements from 2005 to 2017
The number of reviews has grown steadily from 2005 to 2014 and is now consistently just under 1,600 reviews each year
The average price of work done has been quite consistent at just under £2,000, apart from a dip around 2009 following the financial crisis
The scheme has been set up with the primary aim of protecting consumers, so it is good to see that almost a third of all reviews are under £100, helping consumers with the little jobs that need doing - especially for those in the 70+ age group.
Over 80% of reviews are from consumers over 50. The average spend is over £2,200 for consumers in their 50s and 60s, but nearlyhalves to just over £1,300 for consumers over 70 due to the higher proportion of jobs under £100 as we have seen above.
Referenceline's unique Freepost forms offer a simple way for businesses to invite their customers to leave feedback and a convenient way for customers to fill out the form whenever they have a spare moment ... over a cup of coffee! As the chart above shows, they are especially popular with the older generations.
Over 40% of reviews come from consumers who have never used the business before. This shows the important role that reviews can play in giving consumers the confidence to choose a business that they previously knew nothing about and it also shows how firms depend on new customers to maintain or grow their business. Another 10% of reviews are from people who have known the business for less than a year, showing how a quarter of new customers can very quickly become repeat customers.
The average value of new customers is a little over £1,500, but many return within a year to spend close to £3,000 - almost double the original amount. It is clear that businesses who offer a good service and earn the trust and confidence of their customers can expect to win a loyal customer base over time.
Customers are asked to rate home improvement work on four separate measures and they do extremely well on all ratings:
- 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 chart above shows that the highest ratings are given for Service and Tidy - even higher than Quality. This reflects the fact that 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 bulk of the businesses are based in Dundee City, but the scheme is open to businesses that generally operate within the area, even if they are based outside. The chart above shows that businesses in Montrose, Forfar, Blairgowrie, Carnoustie and elsewhere are also part of the scheme.