Trusted Trader - West Dunbartonshire

Home Improvements 2015

The West Dunbartonshire City Council Trusted Trader Scheme is a local business partnership which aims to increase consumer confidence, promote good practice within local businesses and help to protect consumers from doorstep crime.  Only 3 home improvement businesses have been recruited in 2015, so we must not try to over-analyse the results to date, but the following charts show the main statistics.

Objective #1:
Increase consumer confidence

New members are encouraged to ask recent customers to leave feedback, so this resulted in a peak of reviews in July and August, with current reviews in the months since then.

The very small number of reviews in September, October and November were also for small amounts, so the monthly value was very low.

Objective #2:
Promote good practice within local businesses

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

The overall ratings are good so far and consistent with our experience of other schemes.  Service and Tidy are rated the highest, since consumers really appreciate business that not only get the job done, but treat their customers well. Value is the rated a little lower, 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?

On completion

  • 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.

Objective #3:
Help to protect citizens from doorstep crime

We can see that a quarter of all reviews are for customers of 70 or over, and another 40% for those over 60.  It is understandable that the home-owning public will tend to exclude the very youngest, but this shows that we are very much including the target market of the elderly.

We ask consumers how long they have known the firm and "New" customers, who have never used this firm before, are the largest proportion. It is clear that reviews are most valuable to consumers who need to establish a level of trust in someone they do not know and it also evident that these businesses are very much dependent on attracting new customers in order to grow their business.

We normally find that the average spend for consumers in their 50s, 60s and 70s is similar to the younger age groups, at around £2,000- £3,000.  In this case, it seems that the early small number of reviews is for particularly large contracts, so we would not expect this picture to be maintained as we go forward.

This profile suggests that about 40% of consumers consider themselves experienced or above average experience, with fewer than 10% rating themselves as beginners.  We would expect the proportions of less experienced consumers to increase over time.

This chart shows the usual picture of more reviews from women than men, but the age profile is distorted by the small number of reviews received so far.

The three tradesmen are so far only offering our freepost forms, so there have been no online reviews received.