It’s a competitive market out there for plumbers & electricians. Chances are there’s scores of others in your industry all hoping to sweep up your potential customers and ultimately take a bite out of your revenue.
Of course, you know that you stand head and shoulders above the rest thanks to your unwavering commitment to quality service, but do your customers know that?
What if you find yourself just one among a group of similarly qualified tradesmen being considered for a new job? What if they promise the same high standards of work for the same cost? How will you present yourself as the better option and ensure the work goes your way.
You could always cut your quote, but then that means losing out on profit too, and you didn’t get into business to lose money. You could (and should) work on your marketing. But that is extremely time consuming for small businesses.
Thankfully, there is an alternative.
Become accredited with your trade’s governing body
In most cases, when you apply to be recognised by an official governing body for your industry, you’re essentially submitting yourself to a rigorous vetting process, taking a good look at your career and competencies as a tradesman before you earn their sought-after stamp of approval.
This in itself is enough to put off those with a less-than-stellar record, meaning that already you can prove to your potential clients that you’re a cut above the competition.
Not that it ends with merely gaining accreditation. From there, you may well be asked to show that you’re up to the standards required to keep it.
Consider the ECA (Electrical contractors association), who at regular intervals will ask you to demonstrate your competency by taking part in one of two ongoing schemes, namely their ‘Deemed to Satisfy’ Scheme or their ECA Membership Certificate Scheme.
Whichever one you participate in, it only goes to further demonstrate a high level of accountability to your customers, giving them the peace of mind that comes from knowing their plumber or electrician is up to the task.
What this means for you of course, is that you’re not only making sure you’re working to industry-expected standards, but you can guarantee your customers those same standards in a way that other non-accredited tradesman can’t.
Further benefits for your business
We’ve pretty much hits the proverbial nail on the head concerning the number one reason why it pays to join a governing body:
When you can demonstrate a level of professionalism, ability and commitment that your nearest competitors can’t, you increase the chances of winning more work without lowering your prices.
Don’t just take our word for it though. According to the Trading Standards Institute, almost 85% of consumers prefer to do business with a vetted and approved trader, whilst research carried out by a number of local authorities yields similar results.[clickToTweet tweet=” 85% of consumers prefer to do business with a vetted and approved trader” quote=” 85% of consumers prefer to do business with a vetted and approved trader”]
Yet even that isn’t the only reason why gaining accreditation makes a good deal of sense. There’s a whole lot of other benefits besides:
Reach more customers
The Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating (CIPHE), to give just one example, present an opportunity to be included in their nationwide database of professionals, accessed online, and over the phone, by scores of consumers on a daily basis.
Other bodies such as the National Association for Professional Inspectors and Testers (NAPIT) offer a similar service. There’s a good chance that whichever governing body you apply to, you’ll be gaining access to valuable opportunities to grow your customer base.
Increase your marketing channels
As a small business, there are some marketing channels which may seem forever out of reach. Again, here’s where both CIPHE and NAPIT come to the rescue. They offer vast discounts on advertising in both the Yellow Pages and Thomson Local.
For their part, the Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors (APHC) can even help you get a website up and running at a budget rate, whilst NICEIC (National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting), run national advertising and PR campaigns which work to promote you as one of their registered contractors. You could always check out our handing guide to taking your first steps into the world of marketing, too.
Even more discounts
Saving money doesn’t stop with marketing and advertising.
Each of the trade bodies mentioned above all provide their own discounts on insurance, training and other essential costs that come with growing and maintaining your operation. NICEIC for example promote discount offers on equipment, tools and even workwear.
Taking advantage of what’s on offer works out well in the long run. Plus, the money you save will quickly offset the relatively small cost of signing up.
Business support for member plumbers & electricians
The ECA’s range of back office support functions is highly regarded by its members, and for good reason, it saves them time and money whilst ensuring their customers still enjoy a professional service throughout each stage of the project.
Both the ECA and the APHC come recommended for their work in helping contractors. They assist in recovering debts from non-paying clients, for example. They also help out with things like checking over contracts, financial advice and other critical business elements.
All of this gives you more time to concentrate on helping your customers. Often this eliminates the expense of taking on staff to run your office.
Where to start?
The initial sign-up process for any governing body isn’t as tricky as you might imagine. Each association’s website will have their own application form which you’ll either download or fill in online.
To make life easier for you, we’ll provide you with links to those below.
- APHC application form
- CIPHE – request an application form
- ECA – membership enquiry form
- NAPIT – forms and requirements
- NICEIC – application enquiry form
From there, it’s simply a case of making sure you have the appropriate financial records. Add in your proof of qualifications and other information that your accredited body of choice asks for.
After that, simply follow their instructions, and you’ll soon be on your way! Enjoy the recognition and respect that comes from being an approved trader.
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