Independent timber and builders merchant Howarth Timber and Building Supplies has launched a partnership scheme to help customers help their customers.
Howarth has been looking at ways in which it can improve its service to customers and make it easier for them to find and do business. One such scheme is a partnership with Bondpay, a service that aims to create trust between tradesmen and their customers.
Issues of payment arising from domestic renovation work is not uncommon, especially in situations where no formal contract has been drawn up. The general public are bombarded regularly with stories of ‘cowboy’ builders conning unsuspecting people out of thousands and leaving them with a mess that it will cost them to clean up. This makes people understandably nervous about paying any money before a job is completed, despite the fact that the builder may need money to help cover materials costs and wages, particularly on larger renovation projects.
On the flipside, there are people who are willing to dodge or delay payment for completed work, usually citing trifling matters as an excuse to withhold funds from the tradesman. Howarth’s marketing and product development manager Neale Brewster describes these as ‘cowboy customers’.
“This can potentially create a feeling of distrust between the tradesmen and the customer before the work even starts,” he says.
“The Bondpay service is designed to eliminate this problem by creating a mutually agreed staged payment plan and by acting as an intermediary should any issues arise.”
Rather than paying the builder directly, the customer pays money into a Bondpay account, which holds the money for the job while the work is completed. As each stage of the project is completed, the builder is paid from the account.
From a builder’s perspective, it lets them know that the customer has the money to pay for the work in the first place. In the event of any dispute, Bondpay will act as intermediary and has the right to pay the builder if it finds in favour of them in the dispute.
“It’s a good way for the builder to eradicate common issues and problems, but for the customer it means that, if a builder disappears from the job, as they’ve gone through Bondpay, it means that, up to one and a half times that of the actual contract, Bondpay will get another builder involved to complete the job. Same for if the builder goes bust.”
From Howarth’s perspective, it gives tradesmen the option of setting up a materials payment through the Bondpay account, so that when the money is released, the merchant is paid in the first instance.
“Companies that haven’t got large credit ratings can take on bigger jobs knowing they going to allocate money to the merchant through Bondpay and the merchant has the peace of mind that they’re going to get paid for it. So it essentially gives them a better credit facility,” Brewster says.
Howarth is rolling the service out through its branches in stages, with roadshows planned throughout this month. The company has also partnered with decision2day, a local company that recommends tradesmen to consumers through its website. Decision2day also has strong links with Bondpay.
“We’re just trying to think of everything we can to do help our builders, make it easier, for finance, for whatever. The Bondpay element we feel is a really good addition to that. We have got exclusivity for that particular product around our branches, so any builder who wants to use that facility needs to come into our branches.”