Is an installer who cares about your business a unicorn in the kitchen and bathroom industry? Owner of MBK Design Studio Stewart Woodruff asks the question
One of the most difficult and most important tasks we all have in this industry, if we offer an installation service, is getting good fitters and keeping them.
An installer can either make your life blissful or make you wish you worked for someone else.
In an idea world you want your designated installer to feel as passionate about your business as you do.
You want them to be caring and considerate to your customers, and provide a service that reflects well on your business.
In reality, it is very rare that any of these feelings are present on many of your projects.
If you can honestly say you have never had a problem with a fitter, who does not have a vested monetary interest in your business, then I want, together with many other retailers, to know how you manage it.
In the 30 plus years I have been in business, I have tried every business model and each of these has their own flaws.
So which route do you go down?
My honest answer is I don’t know, I have tried them all and the jury is still out as to which method is the best.
Employed fitter: They receive a wage, you pay tax and national insurance and are responsible for their mode of transport and tools.
They have no great desire or motivation to complete jobs to time constraints, as there is always next week and the next job.
Do they care about your business? They should but they can always get another job and that is their bargaining chip.
If something goes wrong, it’s not their problem it’s yours and you will have to pay for it to be done again, because you can’t deduct their wages.
Sub contracted fitter: They are working for you but are their own boss.
You have to deduct their tax under the CIS scheme and although they have the motivation, as they will be on a fixed price contract if they goes over the time allocated, the only person losing is them.
They do not really care if they take longer, they just won’t be getting the maximum daily rate.
Do they care about your business? Well they want more work but they are in business for themselves and will be working for other people, so they have no real loyalty.
If they fail to complete the project it will be very difficult to get them to finish the work and you will be left with any remedial works that need to be completed, as it is your contract.
Contracted out fitter: They have no contract with you. You have recommended them to your client and they have a contract with them to undertake the work.
They are not working for you and so you have no control over their diary.
They can only work for your client when they have the time and you have no control over their time keeping.
They are on a fixed price contract and you are hoping they complete the work on time and to the customer’s satisfaction.
However their contract is with the client, so you ultimately have no control over the time they taks and if there is a problem the client will inevitably come back to you.
If they do not complete the work to the client’s satisfaction you are left with a moral dilemma, and in most occasions you end up picking up the bill for any remedial works.
Great installers required
I should point out, I have had many good fitters working with me, in excess of 10 years, and who have worked hard for my business.
And I still have teams that are doing that now.
There are also many excellent installers out there, who continually provide contracts on time, on budget, and to a great standard.
However there is a definite lack of numbers across the board.
So, I urge installers to consider expanding their horizons, get some business advice and create a company who will be able to provide a fitting service to a number of retailers.
You could be head and shoulders above the competition by fitting well, being reliable and caring.
Stewart Woodruff looks at how to improve kbb retail businesses in “What would the best showroom do?“