// PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Benefits of Federation Master Builders with Hayley Lorimer Transcript

Greg Wilkes (00:01):

The construction industry can be a tough business to crack from cashflow problems. Struggling to find skilled labor and not making enough money for your efforts leaves many business owners feeling frustrated and burnt out. But when you get the business strategy right, it’s an industry that can be highly satisfying and financially rewarding. I’m here to give you the resources to be able to create a construction business that gives you more time, more freedom, and more money. This is the Develop Your Construction Business podcast, and I’m your host, Greg Wilkes.


Greg Wilkes (00:34):

Okay, so welcome back to the podcast this week’s podcast. I’ve got a special guest that’s traveled from the Federation of Master Builders. He’s visited us from there, which is absolutely great. It’s Hayley Lorimer. So great to have you with us today, Haley, and appreciate you coming, attending and helping our listeners. So, I’m sure a lot of my listeners will be well familiar with the Federation of Master Builders. You may belong to your own construction trades groups depending on what industry you’re in, but the Federation is probably one of the most popular in the UK. So I know many of my clients and many of my listeners belong to that already, which is fantastic. So Haley’s going to help us out and tell us why it’s such a benefit being part of the Federation of Master Builders as we go through this, and also some of the benefits that you might not quite realize are there once you become a member. So we look forward to running through some of that Haley. So Haley, maybe just before we go into it, maybe you could tell us a bit about what your role is at the Federation.


Hayley Lorimer (01:31):

Okay. Hi, thanks Greg. So my role is director of Membership services, which sort of the clues in the name really I look after all of the services to our members and there’s a wide range of services that we do offer to members, but I also am responsible for the standards that are applied to the membership. So the joining criteria, the inspections of work, and all of that because that really underpins the main reason for joining the federation, which is the additional credibility that it lends to a business. So as part of that, obviously we have to put our money where our mouth is and we say that we are all about quality and standards and we want members who join to benefit from that. So we have to apply that to the membership and carry out regular inspections of work and all of that vetting and checking of members that we do because that is what underpins the credibility that members want.


Greg Wilkes (02:33):

Yes, that’s really important, isn’t it? So it’s not just anyone can join the Federation of Master Builders. There’s got to be, I guess, a certain standard and criteria that’s got to be reached. Well, just giving us a brief sort of rundown of what that criteria might be, is there some sort of basic rules before people can think about joining?


Hayley Lorimer (02:51):

Absolutely. So members have to have been trading for 12 months at least when they apply to join the FMB. We carry out a whole range of desktop checks, so things like financial background checks to make sure there’s no county court judgements against the company. We do look at online reviews and that kind of thing, and one of the most important things we do is send out an inspector from the BBA or from Resa out to look at a current project that company’s working on and we will talk to clients as well so that we get feedback on the way that the members deal with their customers, which is obviously one of the most important aspects.


Greg Wilkes (03:31):

Yes, brilliant. Yes, that’s really important, isn’t it? So that’s good. It is for the customer obviously, that it’s well vetted and as you say, if you then belong to the Federation of Master Builders, it obviously adds to your credibility. You’ve been vetted and checked out thoroughly, which is good.


Hayley Lorimer (03:47):

Yes, I mean that’s the main,


Greg Wilkes (03:50):

Sorry,


Hayley Lorimer (03:51):

The firms join is that credibility and it’s about winning work ultimately. The reason that a business would join the FMB and get the credibility that comes with being one of our members and having that logo is about increased confidence that the consumer then has in that business. And it’s a fairly sort of subtle nuance thing because it’s not like you join the FMB, get our logo on your van and you suddenly get thousands of consumers flocking to you. That’s not how it’s intended to work, but it’s about during that negotiation process with a client being able to tell them that you are a member of the Federation and Master Builders, you’ve been vetted, your work is inspected, and all of that is often the thing that we find members say to us that can be the thing that pushes the client towards them rather than another builder when they’re comparing quotes.


(04:46)
So it’s not only about sort of helping you to win work, it’s helping you to win better quality projects that are more profitable ultimately and move you into maybe a different part of the market. So what members say to us is that they’ve been able to pick and choose projects more having been a member of the Federation and Master Builders, and that the leads that come to them where consumers have found them through our website tend to be higher quality leads. So they’re bigger projects, more profitable work and that kind of thing. So it’s not about getting massive volumes of jobs through the FMB, it’s about the type of work that you get and the profit that you make ultimately, because you can be very busy and not making as much money as you should be because not getting your share of the most profitable projects. So that’s why we’re here really to help to achieve that.


Greg Wilkes (05:41):

Yes, that’s brilliant. As you say, no one wants to be a busy fool, do we just running around not making any money. At the end of the day, that’s what we are in the business for, to make money and deliver a good service. And I think that’s important to think about, isn’t it? Because we obviously want customers when they’re making a choice on what building company they’re going to use, it doesn’t always want to be about price, just winning it because we’re the cheapest quote it wants. The customer really wants to be making the choice because they see the credibility there, don’t they? And if they’re comparing us against someone else, they think, right, look, this builder has been vetted, it’s established. So it’s not always about money, is it at the end of the day.


Hayley Lorimer (06:16):

Yes, exactly. And we all know that the building industry unfortunately doesn’t have the best image with consumers and a lot of consumers are wary about having a building project done because many of them have heard a horror story from a friend or acquaintance or seeing something on TV, and they need that additional reassurance that this project is going to go well, that if anything goes wrong, it’ll be put right. And they need to have that trust in the person that they’re working with because on most projects that do go through sticky, particularly domestic work where you’re working in somebody’s home and that’s their big investment financially and emotionally, and you’ve got a team of guys championing through their house making changes to it and it can get a bit scary. So having that trust and a good communication with the client is really important, we also offer a dispute resolution service, which is certified by The Chartered Trading Standards Institute, and that helps us both to offer to members a way of resolving a dispute when it does come up, but it also gives us quite useful data kinds of things that are causing disputes. And we know at the moment the materials costs increases are one of the things that’s having an impact disputes. A couple of months ago we saw a rash of dismisses about installing flat roofs and different types of systems for doing that. So it’s useful data that we get back from that about the kind of work our members are doing and the kind of issues that are arising from it.


Hayley Lorimer (07:53):

I’m going off on all sorts of tangents.


Greg Wilkes (07:56):

That’s alright.


Hayley Lorimer (07:57):

I have to call to the subject if you want.


Greg Wilkes (08:01):

Interesting what you’re saying about some of the data you can gather because I guess you’ve, you’ve got quite a lot of members, haven’t you? So I guess you can start seeing trends that are appearing and potential problems that are arising in the industry. Do you know how many members you’ve got in FMB?


Hayley Lorimer (08:14):

Yes, we’ve got about seven and a half thousand companies in membership at the moment, which makes us the largest construction trade association. And I guess that’s why you’ve come across several of our members. We’ve got members all across the UK including Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland as well. And so each of those, typically they’ll be employing between five and 10 workers each. So that’s quite a lot of people that we represent as an organization and we’ve got really good links into government. That’s an important part of what we do really is about representing our members’ concerns into government, different departments depending on the issue and just flagging up what’s affecting the members. And at the moment it is that materials price rise is the biggest issue. And quarterly we survey our members an issue of state of trade survey that just talks about what members order books are looking like for the coming few months. And we’ve been talking about material shortages, but also skill shortages as a big part of that because we’ve gotten that feedback back from members that they either can’t find the materials or they can’t find the skilled workers to carry out the work. So it is really difficult time for a lot of our members despite the fact that they have got a lot of work coming in. It’s actually getting the work done is the biggest problem it seems.


Greg Wilkes (09:38):

Yes, you’re definitely right. I was just reading in the Times today an article that this is one of the biggest increases in construction we’ve seen quite recently. It’s really sort of is everyone we speak to is having a bit of a mini boom at the moment, but it’s just challenges in delivering the work isn’t there? Which is different. You just touched, sorry.


Hayley Lorimer (09:58):

I was going to say that the FMB was formed in 1941, so it’s our 80th anniversary this year. And we were formed during the war when there were similar challenges. Actually it began in London when a group of builders got together, talk to local government in London at that time and suppliers about the challenges that they were facing in rebuilding London after The Blitz. So it feels a little bit like we’ve come full circle in the past 80 years and we’re dealing with some of the same issues now that our members were dealing with back in 1941.


Greg Wilkes (10:33):

Wow, that’s fantastic. I didn’t realize it.


Hayley Lorimer (10:36):

Not the exact same.


Hayley Lorimer (10:41):

Same companies actually.


Greg Wilkes (10:43):

Yes, I bet there are. Yes, that’s interesting. You mentioned you approach government and you’re looking out for the builders that you represent. So I know that some of the newsletters I’ve had through one of the big issues you were talking to them about was VAT on domestic works trying to get a decrease in VAT reduced. I think the FMB was trying to get it down to like 5% or something like that. What other issues do you generally approach government about represent their members with.


Hayley Lorimer (11:15):

Two big issues at the moment. One of them is about licensing for the building industry. So we’re a supporter of the core for a licensing scheme because it’s true to say that anybody can set themselves up in business as a builder, you don’t need any particular qualifications to do that. And that is one of the reasons that the reputation of the industry as a whole. So we have been campaigning on the idea of introducing a licensing scheme for the industry whereby some of the checks that we already do, like inspecting work, checking competence and qualifications and that kind of thing that should be done across board before anybody could set themselves up and trade as a builder.


(11:57)
And they do have teams in other countries in some American states in parts of Australia. And so it’s something that we believe could work in the UK. That’s one thing that we’ve been talking to government about. And also retrofit, which is obviously a big issue for the future when we’ve got pressures to get all the UK’s existing housing stock made, more energy efficient. And of course we were involved with the green home grant scheme, which was scrapped not too long ago, and that obviously wasn’t the way to do things. The scheme wasn’t particularly well thought through. And some of our members who did invest a lot of time and money in that scheme to get qualified and certified to deliver works under that scheme didn’t get the business benefits that they should have from that investment. So that was unfortunate. But we believe that the principle in general of retrofitting existing homes to bring them up to energy efficiency standards should create an awful lot of work and business opportunities for small builders including FMB members. So that’s another issue that the FMB is campaigning about as well as talking to government about what can be done about material shortages. So yes, there’s usually a whole range of issues that we’re talking about


Greg Wilkes (13:20):

That’s really good. And it’s nice to know, isn’t it? As a small builder, you’ve got someone that’s got your back really and looking out for you because how does a small builder get their voice out there to the government to address these things that you’re only going to be able to do that through an organization like the FMB, aren’t you? So that’s really good to know.


Hayley Lorimer (13:36):

Yes. Exactly.


Greg Wilkes (13:39):

Brilliant. You mentioned, did you say seven and a half thousand member you’ve got? Is that what you said?


Hayley Lorimer (13:43):

Yes, that’s right.


Greg Wilkes (13:47):

So who joined the FMB, is it just sort of general builders or can certain trades join it like electricians, plumbers, or is it just general building really?


Hayley Lorimer (14:01):

It’s mostly general builders. So we do have some specialist trades in membership, some plumbers, electricians, few scale companies even. But we believe that actually the membership is of most benefit to those general building companies, and that’s the market that we’re fairly and squarely aiming our services at. And that’s the vast majority of our members and most of them are that small and mediums size between five to 10 employees type of business. Although we do have about a quarter of our membership is much bigger than that multimillion pound turnover size companies. And the nice thing is, I mean I’ve worked for the FMB for a long time now, for 20 years this year actually. And I’ve seen some companies that joined us back in the early days when I was working for the FMB who were two man bands starting up a business in their spare bedroom who are now multimillion pound turnover companies, restoring castles for English heritage and that kind of thing, which is great to see. And so the membership is always changing in that firms that start as a small builder applying to join now could be a really big employer or working on really big prestigious projects at some point in the future. And we like to think that we’ve played a part in their success, obviously.


Greg Wilkes (15:22):

Yes, that’s brilliant. So they get to work with you all the way through, really, as they go through their business growth, so that’s fantastic. Yes. So I know we’ve touched this slightly Hayley, but if I’ve got, there’s obviously going to be a lot of general builders listening to the podcast. Why would someone like that consider joining the FMB? I know some might have a concern that it’s just an annual fee that they’ve got pay and they won’t get a lot for it. What would you say a reason someone should seriously consider it?


Hayley Lorimer (15:50):

Yes, well, I would say that the credibility piece that we’ve already talked about, Greg, is the most important reason for joining most of our members when they join. That’s the thing that they’re, so that’s the most important part of joining the FMB. But once you’re in membership, there’s also a whole range of services that have been especially tailored for the small and medium sized building company. So we’ve got a range of support and advice services from technical advice through to legal advice, HR, taxation and health and safety advice, et cetera. But, also we have the FMBs developed a suite of template contracts. We’ve had those in place for many years, but we’re continually revising them and updating them and they’re really clear and straightforward and easy to use. There’s many different types of contracts out there, but we think that ours are the best contracts for using with the domestic client in particular because they’re very fair and straightforward and that helps to build confidence with the client.


(16:53)
And those are one of our most used membership services. Actually, about 60% of our members use those contracts on a regular basis, and we can offer legal advice as well to go along with that. Should anything go wrong with a project or should there be anything that the member’s not sure of? We also are a network, a community, if you like, of builders so that our members can share best practices, they can ask questions of each other through online communities, through area groups, all sorts of different ways that they can network with us and with each other, which is really important once they’re in membership as well. The range of services, it depends what they want from us. It’s all of our services are well used by a certain segment of the membership. So things like insurance backed warranties, some of our members use those quite a lot.


(17:44)
We run programs of webinars and as well as the lines, we’ve got a debt recovery service and we’ve got a document library with about 700 different template documents that provides everything from a template method statement through to health and safety policies and all sorts of HR related documents as well. And we’ve got some e-learning courses as well that a lot of members find quite useful, put their whole teams this awareness course for an example, really quickly and easily using in our online facility. So there’s a whole raft of benefits in there, and we often find that members don’t really know what’s available as part of their membership because they’ve joined us at a certain point in time. Business needs may have changed over that time, and often they’re surprised if we get a chance to talk to them and say, did you know that we’ve got this debt recovery service that you can use?


(18:40)
You get a solicitor’s letter to your client, really cost effective in terms of that could get a debt repaid that pays for your membership for the next five years quite easily. So yes, there’s a lot of things. Once a company’s in membership, there’s a lot of things to keep their membership, I think. And things like the FMB awards program I think is one of the best things that we do because it gives us a chance and our members a chance to really showcase the quality work that they carry out. So that’s a really important part of what we do as well.


Greg Wilkes (19:14):

Yes, that’s really good. We’ll come on to the awards in a minute, Hayley, but just going into some of the services and the benefits you offer, I guess when we get, as you say, your ideal client or your ideal person that’s joining might be five to 10 people in their team. They’re probably just starting to employ people full time, so they need that HR. A lot of people don’t think about the contracts that have got go when you employ someone, what the rules are around holidays or when you’ve got to let someone go. So what we’re saying is some of the benefits are they’ve got a helpline they can call to get all that HR advice on how to do that stuff.


Hayley Lorimer (19:50):

Yes, exactly. And it’s kind of a safety net. It just must be helpful to people that helps them sleep at night to know that if they do get an issue with an employee or anything like that, they’ve got someone there at the end of the phone who can say, yes, this is how you can deal with that particular situation, and here’s a document that you need, to help you do it so you’re not starting from scratch. So yes, I mean that HR helpline, one of our most used helpline services. It is, as you say, it’s a major challenge, isn’t it? Once you start to employ people, then problems come with that often.


Greg Wilkes (20:25):

That’s it. And it gets expensive. I mean, when we went for a massive period of growth, and we had an HR consultant and it wasn’t cheap to get all the contracts on board, and there were so many different documents we had to put in place, it wasn’t cheap at all. So, I just want to dive into a little bit more about those benefits. So you mentioned about HR, you also said, was there something about tax helpline? Did you say something about that?


Hayley Lorimer (20:49):

Yes. We’ve got a taxation helpline. We ran a few webinars earlier in the year on taxation as well, because there was the introduction of reverse charge VAT, which was something that some of our members were finding a bit of a challenge more before it came in. I think once it actually came in and people were in the swing of using it, it was okay. But yes, so we saw a spiking calls to the taxation helpline around that time.


Greg Wilkes (21:17):

Yes. That’s good to know. So sometimes you just need to know who to call, don’t you? That can give you some guidance on that, so that’s really useful. And the contracts, you mentioned, there’s a bit of a suite of contracts that you potentially have, so obviously, you’ve got domestic contracts that will work for your clients, I believe you have other contracts that you can use for subcontractors and things as well, is that right?


Hayley Lorimer (21:37):

Yes, we do. Yes, subcontractors, contracts and a commercial contracts. And we have different versions of each one of those for Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales, because the legal requirements are slightly different. Also, a really short contract for very small jobs where it doesn’t, it seems overkill to have a full contract in place, but it’s useful to have something set out in paper. So, we’ve got that together with the associated documents that you would expect, like variation forms for capturing changes. And we’ve just added a new document actually, which is a completion certificate for the client and builder to sign off that they’re happy with everything by the snagging at the end of the project, which actually came out of a conversation with a member who phoned up and said, I’ve looked through all these contract documents, it doesn’t seem to be any kind of completion certificate.


(22:33)
Why not? And we said, well, yeah, good point. There should be. So we’ve written one and got some legal advice on that, and that’s the kind of thing we do all the time in relation to member feedback. So things like retention clause, most of our members don’t want to contract with a retention clause or a defect stage payment, as we are calling it in the FMB suite. And so we’ve adapted it for those that do, but I think that makes it quite a unique product really, because it is a contract that’s designed to protect the builder, but also for the consumer to be able to understand it really easily.


Greg Wilkes (23:12):

That’s really useful. Now, we touched on earlier about the increase in material prices, and now we’ve touched on contracts. Something that is coming up quite a lot obviously is people are worried that they’re going into contracts now. Material prices are increasing massively, and that’s a big issue for many, isn’t it? Thinking, well, what do I do if I take on a project and all of a sudden I’m not going to make any money? The prices have all gone up significantly. What are you advising your members on that at the moment?


Hayley Lorimer (23:41):

Yes, so we have actually made a slight amendment to the contract for domestic consumers, which explicitly points out that materials prices can increase unexpectedly, and that can have an impact on the ultimate price of the work. There is a change clause in there, and so members can vary the price of within reasonable bounds. However, what we’re also advising members is not to rely on the contract and the terminology in there, but to keep communication channels open with the client and to have an adult conversation with them to say, look, this is the scenario. The unprecedented price rises that everybody’s facing are bound to have an impact on the work, but also the clients don’t have unlimited funds to draw on mostly. And so there has to be some kind of compromise reached, and we have drafted a letter that members can use with their clients that helps to set some of these things out because we thought that having the FMBs logo on there sort of stamp of authority to say, yes, it’s not just your builder who’s experiencing this issue, it’s across the board. Everybody is facing this really challenging time because it is just, nobody can remember a time quite like this for these massive price rises. So how to cope with that is difficult, that we’re thinking of putting together a webinar to get a lawyer and some of our members as well, to give advice to fellow members about how to handle these kinds of situations. Because what we don’t want to see is an increase in disputes or members not getting paid and getting into debt situations because of this issue.


Greg Wilkes (25:30):

Yes.


Hayley Lorimer (25:31):

We’re doing what we can or we can’t change the situation with the prices going up, unfortunately.


Greg Wilkes (25:36):

No, but that’s good. So I mean, that’s a real sort of protection for the construction companies out there that are your members, and I think it just educates the client too, doesn’t it, which is really important. So no, that’s really useful. Thanks for running through that, Hayley, we spoke just coming back a little bit, because you mentioned this about the awards that you offer, and we talked about the credibility of being part of the FMB, so awards, well, obviously if you won an award, that’s huge credibility, isn’t it? If you can win an FMB award and they are definitely viewed as quite prestigious if someone has an award. So how would someone go about doing that? Is it only for people that are doing multimillion pounds conversions, or how would someone win an award?


Hayley Lorimer (26:20):

Yes, well, it is a great thing. The other thing that members tell us about winning the award is what a huge morale boost it is for their team members as well when they know what’s been recognized in that way. So yes, I mean, we’ve just come to the end of a cycle of awards, so we run them every other year because it’s a big resource intense program for us to run. And so we won’t be opening those up again until probably sometime next year because it’ll be the year after that when we award those awards again. So, it’s a biennial program, so anyone listening to this now has just missed the boat, but they’ve got plenty of time to prepare for the next one. On the plus side, there’s a range of categories from Apprentice of the Year right up to Large Renovation of the Year, which is for projects over 150,000 pounds worth of work.


(27:12)
And there’s everything in between from kitchen refurbishments and all sorts of different work and public sector projects as well. So that’s just recognizing the diversity of the different types of projects that our members do carry out. So there’s something for everybody in there, and that’s one of the tips that we give to members when they’re submitted an awards entry is to make sure you pick the right category. Also, things like Tradesmen of the Year and Building Company of the Year. So there might be a project that you’ve really pleased with that you’d like to submit for one particular category, but if you think about it, did an apprentice make a particularly good contribution to that project, or is there some other aspect to it that you could highlight in the awards? And once you’ve picked the project, we always encourage members to tell us a really good story about that particular award entry.


(28:06)
So not just to give us loads of technical detail, which may be great about what challenges we’re faced in that project, but it’s the judges are human beings like the rest of us, and everybody likes a good story and they like a struggle against adversity and how they’ve managed to find an innovative solution to a problem and what the end result has been for the client as well. So those kinds of projects really stand out. And we do get some amazing projects. We all love looking at the winning entries and all the photographs of these amazing building projects


Hayley Lorimer (28:39):

That our members are carrying out. And as you say, we get some amazing press coverage as well from it. And the members who win the awards and get the logo with Master Builder Award winner, it boosts their business no end because everybody wants an award-winning builder to work on their project, don’t they?


Greg Wilkes (28:55):

Of course, that’s right. Yes, that’s fantastic. Are there prizes as well for the awards, or is it just the prestige of winning one?


Hayley Lorimer (29:03):

Oh, no, no. It’s the headline sponsor for the awards is a Isuzu, so the all winner wins an Isuzu truck.


Greg Wilkes (29:13):

Wow.


Hayley Lorimer (29:13):

And there are other sponsors for different cafes of awards. So yes, it’s mostly about the prestige and the publicity and all of that, but there are prizes as well. And so normally, of course, we have a really fancy awards event do in a big hotel in London. We haven’t done that this year, so it’s been virtual. All the awards events have been virtual, and everybody’s about how virtual event measure up in a nice meal and drinks and a celebrity host at a hotel type event. But the virtual events have been amazing. People have been very clever in dreaming up ways of making a virtual online awards event sort of special, and it’s gone down really well with the members who’ve won the awards. So yes, it’s been really successful and I thought, we’ve been doing the awards for probably 20 years or so, and they just get better each time, and the standard of the entries gets better as well. So it’s really encouraging.


Greg Wilkes (30:17):

That’s fantastic. Well, hopefully next year we’ll be able to do real events. I think we’re all fed up with virtual stuff, but it’ll be good to meet again, wouldn’t it?


Hayley Lorimer (30:28):

Exactly.


Greg Wilkes (30:29):

So, you mentioned that earlier about some companies that you’ve seen grow significantly. They started off small and then building castles or whatever else they’re doing now. Have you got any specific case studies of companies that have joined really well by joining the FMB and how it’s benefited them? Have you got any that you can think of?


Hayley Lorimer (30:47):

I know that a member I was speaking to recently who he’d been a member for about 10 years, but in his first year of membership, he won a contract for 140,000 pound job, which was bigger than anything he’d done before. And he was saying that particular job and the profiting wasn’t able to make from it has sort of paid for his membership for the next 10 years or so. So he’s at sort of lifelong member as a result of that. So that’s really great thing to see. And many members have talked to us about how they’ve been able to do more high-end projects as a result of being an FMB member.


Greg Wilkes (31:27):

Something else too we think about is obviously someone’s joining the FMB one for the credibility, but they want to win more work. Is there a search function or anywhere on your website for, or would clients go on your website to find a builder? How does that sort of work? Is there a profile someone gets?


Hayley Lorimer (31:43):

Yes. Yes, it’s called Find a Builder, Greg. So thanks for the prompt for something I need to, yeah, we have a directory service on the website that we know clients do go and search for a builder in their area who can do the work that they’re looking to have done. What we find is that the more time and effort the member themselves can put into building their profile on the Finder Builder site, adding case studies and testimonials and that kind of thing, the more job leads they will get through it.


(32:15)
And many members, it’s not something that they like spending time doing. They like getting out on site and doing the work rather than posting the photographs of it online very often and that kind of thing. But that really helps because we know that members get results from that. And another thing that happens a lot that members are probably not aware of, we get a lot of phone calls from members of the public saying, I’m thinking of using an X, Y, Z builder, and I just want to check in with yours. Is he okay? Kind of thing. So we get a lot of people doing their homework and checking that companies actually are in membership, and they can do that online as well. It’s good that they do, because I think logo misuse is quite a challenge in our industry. We get a lot of businesses using logos that they’re not entitled to use, and we work quite closely with trading standards on cases like that because they do prosecute people for misusing logos. It is a criminal offense, and we want only our bonafides to be using our logo, not other people who managed to get their logo from somewhere. So it’s an ongoing issue, but we do put quite a lot of effort into trying to stop that.


Greg Wilkes (33:31):

Yes, I can imagine. But I guess for the average client, they’re probably going to do a double check online, especially if they’re going to spend a hundred grand on a refurb, they’re probably going to do their due diligence and work out pretty quickly if they’re an FMB member or not. So, no, that’s interesting. Okay. Hayley, another thing that I know you mentioned that the FMB offer is an insurance back warranty service, which is obviously great for clients. Why would a client potentially consider choosing to do that? What are the rough costs for that, and what benefits does that provide for the builder?


Hayley Lorimer (34:07):

Yes, so we offer two kinds of warranties. There’s new homes warranty, and also a latent defects warranty on refurbishment extensions and that kind of project. And as well as all the other insurances, contractors, liability, and that kind of insurance that are offered through our insurance company, which is part of the FMB group. But the warranties, I think it’s true to say that probably having a building project done is probably the biggest investment that clients likely to make other than actually buying the home in the first place. And often clients are spending far more than they would on a new car, and you wouldn’t dream of buying a new car without getting a warranty on it. So we would say to consumers, why wouldn’t you want a warranty on the work that you’re having carried out, which then covers you if any latent defects come to light after the work is completed, or I mean, heaven forbid that the company goes out of business partway through a project or somebody gets ill or is unable to complete it for some other reason, then the warranty cover will kick in and will enable you to get the project finished.


(35:18)
So we find that a lot of people feel like they just have that bond of trust with the builder who’s carrying out the work. They know that he’ll come back to put right any defects, so they maybe feel like they don’t need a warranty, but it is something that we would recommend that more clients should be asking their builders about, and any member of the FMB can offer a warranty on the work that they do, not just the TRUSTMARK registered members, although we are a trustmark scheme operator, and many of our members also have the trustmark badge as well. So yeah, it’s again, a product that we’ve had to offer to members for many years, and it’s developed over time so that it meets members’ needs better.


Greg Wilkes (36:05):

Yes, I mean, that is really useful because I mean, at the end of the day, any builder can sort of walk outside and get knocked down by a bus, and anything can happen to anyone at any point, can’t they? So I think for a builder to be able to offer that peace of mind to their clients, even though they know they have every intention to come back and do the work, it just gives that bit of reassurance to people, doesn’t it? And again, it’s just that added benefit that another builder might not be offering if they’re not part of the FMB. So huge range. That’s really useful, Hayley. I think we’ve covered a huge range of benefits there. To be honest, I didn’t realize there was that many benefits with the FMB when I had a building company many years back. We were part of the FMB and it did serve us well. So that’s why I wanted to get you on here. But yeah, I didn’t realize you had so many things since then. So that’s so fine.


Hayley Lorimer (36:54):

Well, I ought to say before I go that if anybody is interested in joining, the contact details are all on our website, and there is a form on there that you can complete to get a call back from one of the team to talk about the benefits of joining and to go through how it would benefit your business specifically. So yes, we’d love to hear from anybody else who wants to join that seven and a half thousand strong army of builders across The UK. We’re welcoming to any more quality builders that would like to join us. That’d be great.


Greg Wilkes (37:26):

Yes, fantastic. Well, I’m sure many listeners to this, if they’re not already members, they’ll be seriously considering it. So really appreciate your time with us today, Hayley. I think you’ve really demonstrated the benefits of that and how builders can up their profile and their credibility. So thanks for all your time. Take care.


Hayley Lorimer (37:41):

No problem. Thanks, Greg.


Greg Wilkes (37:48):

If you’d like to work with me to fast-track your construction business growth, then reach out on www.developcoaching.co.uk.

Greg Wilkes (00:01):

The construction industry can be a tough business to crack from cashflow problems. Struggling to find skilled labor and not making enough money for your efforts leaves many business owners feeling frustrated and burnt out. But when you get the business strategy right, it’s an industry that can be highly satisfying and financially rewarding. I’m here to give you the resources to be able to create a construction business that gives you more time, more freedom, and more money. This is the Develop Your Construction Business podcast, and I’m your host, Greg Wilkes.


Greg Wilkes (00:34):

Okay, so welcome back to the podcast this week’s podcast. I’ve got a special guest that’s traveled from the Federation of Master Builders. He’s visited us from there, which is absolutely great. It’s Hayley Lorimer. So great to have you with us today, Haley, and appreciate you coming, attending and helping our listeners. So, I’m sure a lot of my listeners will be well familiar with the Federation of Master Builders. You may belong to your own construction trades groups depending on what industry you’re in, but the Federation is probably one of the most popular in the UK. So I know many of my clients and many of my listeners belong to that already, which is fantastic. So Haley’s going to help us out and tell us why it’s such a benefit being part of the Federation of Master Builders as we go through this, and also some of the benefits that you might not quite realize are there once you become a member. So we look forward to running through some of that Haley. So Haley, maybe just before we go into it, maybe you could tell us a bit about what your role is at the Federation.


Hayley Lorimer (01:31):

Okay. Hi, thanks Greg. So my role is director of Membership services, which sort of the clues in the name really I look after all of the services to our members and there’s a wide range of services that we do offer to members, but I also am responsible for the standards that are applied to the membership. So the joining criteria, the inspections of work, and all of that because that really underpins the main reason for joining the federation, which is the additional credibility that it lends to a business. So as part of that, obviously we have to put our money where our mouth is and we say that we are all about quality and standards and we want members who join to benefit from that. So we have to apply that to the membership and carry out regular inspections of work and all of that vetting and checking of members that we do because that is what underpins the credibility that members want.


Greg Wilkes (02:33):

Yes, that’s really important, isn’t it? So it’s not just anyone can join the Federation of Master Builders. There’s got to be, I guess, a certain standard and criteria that’s got to be reached. Well, just giving us a brief sort of rundown of what that criteria might be, is there some sort of basic rules before people can think about joining?


Hayley Lorimer (02:51):

Absolutely. So members have to have been trading for 12 months at least when they apply to join the FMB. We carry out a whole range of desktop checks, so things like financial background checks to make sure there’s no county court judgements against the company. We do look at online reviews and that kind of thing, and one of the most important things we do is send out an inspector from the BBA or from Resa out to look at a current project that company’s working on and we will talk to clients as well so that we get feedback on the way that the members deal with their customers, which is obviously one of the most important aspects.


Greg Wilkes (03:31):

Yes, brilliant. Yes, that’s really important, isn’t it? So that’s good. It is for the customer obviously, that it’s well vetted and as you say, if you then belong to the Federation of Master Builders, it obviously adds to your credibility. You’ve been vetted and checked out thoroughly, which is good.


Hayley Lorimer (03:47):

Yes, I mean that’s the main,


Greg Wilkes (03:50):

Sorry,


Hayley Lorimer (03:51):

The firms join is that credibility and it’s about winning work ultimately. The reason that a business would join the FMB and get the credibility that comes with being one of our members and having that logo is about increased confidence that the consumer then has in that business. And it’s a fairly sort of subtle nuance thing because it’s not like you join the FMB, get our logo on your van and you suddenly get thousands of consumers flocking to you. That’s not how it’s intended to work, but it’s about during that negotiation process with a client being able to tell them that you are a member of the Federation and Master Builders, you’ve been vetted, your work is inspected, and all of that is often the thing that we find members say to us that can be the thing that pushes the client towards them rather than another builder when they’re comparing quotes.


(04:46)
So it’s not only about sort of helping you to win work, it’s helping you to win better quality projects that are more profitable ultimately and move you into maybe a different part of the market. So what members say to us is that they’ve been able to pick and choose projects more having been a member of the Federation and Master Builders, and that the leads that come to them where consumers have found them through our website tend to be higher quality leads. So they’re bigger projects, more profitable work and that kind of thing. So it’s not about getting massive volumes of jobs through the FMB, it’s about the type of work that you get and the profit that you make ultimately, because you can be very busy and not making as much money as you should be because not getting your share of the most profitable projects. So that’s why we’re here really to help to achieve that.


Greg Wilkes (05:41):

Yes, that’s brilliant. As you say, no one wants to be a busy fool, do we just running around not making any money. At the end of the day, that’s what we are in the business for, to make money and deliver a good service. And I think that’s important to think about, isn’t it? Because we obviously want customers when they’re making a choice on what building company they’re going to use, it doesn’t always want to be about price, just winning it because we’re the cheapest quote it wants. The customer really wants to be making the choice because they see the credibility there, don’t they? And if they’re comparing us against someone else, they think, right, look, this builder has been vetted, it’s established. So it’s not always about money, is it at the end of the day.


Hayley Lorimer (06:16):

Yes, exactly. And we all know that the building industry unfortunately doesn’t have the best image with consumers and a lot of consumers are wary about having a building project done because many of them have heard a horror story from a friend or acquaintance or seeing something on TV, and they need that additional reassurance that this project is going to go well, that if anything goes wrong, it’ll be put right. And they need to have that trust in the person that they’re working with because on most projects that do go through sticky, particularly domestic work where you’re working in somebody’s home and that’s their big investment financially and emotionally, and you’ve got a team of guys championing through their house making changes to it and it can get a bit scary. So having that trust and a good communication with the client is really important, we also offer a dispute resolution service, which is certified by The Chartered Trading Standards Institute, and that helps us both to offer to members a way of resolving a dispute when it does come up, but it also gives us quite useful data kinds of things that are causing disputes. And we know at the moment the materials costs increases are one of the things that’s having an impact disputes. A couple of months ago we saw a rash of dismisses about installing flat roofs and different types of systems for doing that. So it’s useful data that we get back from that about the kind of work our members are doing and the kind of issues that are arising from it.


Hayley Lorimer (07:53):

I’m going off on all sorts of tangents.


Greg Wilkes (07:56):

That’s alright.


Hayley Lorimer (07:57):

I have to call to the subject if you want.


Greg Wilkes (08:01):

Interesting what you’re saying about some of the data you can gather because I guess you’ve, you’ve got quite a lot of members, haven’t you? So I guess you can start seeing trends that are appearing and potential problems that are arising in the industry. Do you know how many members you’ve got in FMB?


Hayley Lorimer (08:14):

Yes, we’ve got about seven and a half thousand companies in membership at the moment, which makes us the largest construction trade association. And I guess that’s why you’ve come across several of our members. We’ve got members all across the UK including Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland as well. And so each of those, typically they’ll be employing between five and 10 workers each. So that’s quite a lot of people that we represent as an organization and we’ve got really good links into government. That’s an important part of what we do really is about representing our members’ concerns into government, different departments depending on the issue and just flagging up what’s affecting the members. And at the moment it is that materials price rise is the biggest issue. And quarterly we survey our members an issue of state of trade survey that just talks about what members order books are looking like for the coming few months. And we’ve been talking about material shortages, but also skill shortages as a big part of that because we’ve gotten that feedback back from members that they either can’t find the materials or they can’t find the skilled workers to carry out the work. So it is really difficult time for a lot of our members despite the fact that they have got a lot of work coming in. It’s actually getting the work done is the biggest problem it seems.


Greg Wilkes (09:38):

Yes, you’re definitely right. I was just reading in the Times today an article that this is one of the biggest increases in construction we’ve seen quite recently. It’s really sort of is everyone we speak to is having a bit of a mini boom at the moment, but it’s just challenges in delivering the work isn’t there? Which is different. You just touched, sorry.


Hayley Lorimer (09:58):

I was going to say that the FMB was formed in 1941, so it’s our 80th anniversary this year. And we were formed during the war when there were similar challenges. Actually it began in London when a group of builders got together, talk to local government in London at that time and suppliers about the challenges that they were facing in rebuilding London after The Blitz. So it feels a little bit like we’ve come full circle in the past 80 years and we’re dealing with some of the same issues now that our members were dealing with back in 1941.


Greg Wilkes (10:33):

Wow, that’s fantastic. I didn’t realize it.


Hayley Lorimer (10:36):

Not the exact same.


Hayley Lorimer (10:41):

Same companies actually.


Greg Wilkes (10:43):

Yes, I bet there are. Yes, that’s interesting. You mentioned you approach government and you’re looking out for the builders that you represent. So I know that some of the newsletters I’ve had through one of the big issues you were talking to them about was VAT on domestic works trying to get a decrease in VAT reduced. I think the FMB was trying to get it down to like 5% or something like that. What other issues do you generally approach government about represent their members with.


Hayley Lorimer (11:15):

Two big issues at the moment. One of them is about licensing for the building industry. So we’re a supporter of the core for a licensing scheme because it’s true to say that anybody can set themselves up in business as a builder, you don’t need any particular qualifications to do that. And that is one of the reasons that the reputation of the industry as a whole. So we have been campaigning on the idea of introducing a licensing scheme for the industry whereby some of the checks that we already do, like inspecting work, checking competence and qualifications and that kind of thing that should be done across board before anybody could set themselves up and trade as a builder.


(11:57)
And they do have teams in other countries in some American states in parts of Australia. And so it’s something that we believe could work in the UK. That’s one thing that we’ve been talking to government about. And also retrofit, which is obviously a big issue for the future when we’ve got pressures to get all the UK’s existing housing stock made, more energy efficient. And of course we were involved with the green home grant scheme, which was scrapped not too long ago, and that obviously wasn’t the way to do things. The scheme wasn’t particularly well thought through. And some of our members who did invest a lot of time and money in that scheme to get qualified and certified to deliver works under that scheme didn’t get the business benefits that they should have from that investment. So that was unfortunate. But we believe that the principle in general of retrofitting existing homes to bring them up to energy efficiency standards should create an awful lot of work and business opportunities for small builders including FMB members. So that’s another issue that the FMB is campaigning about as well as talking to government about what can be done about material shortages. So yes, there’s usually a whole range of issues that we’re talking about


Greg Wilkes (13:20):

That’s really good. And it’s nice to know, isn’t it? As a small builder, you’ve got someone that’s got your back really and looking out for you because how does a small builder get their voice out there to the government to address these things that you’re only going to be able to do that through an organization like the FMB, aren’t you? So that’s really good to know.


Hayley Lorimer (13:36):

Yes. Exactly.


Greg Wilkes (13:39):

Brilliant. You mentioned, did you say seven and a half thousand member you’ve got? Is that what you said?


Hayley Lorimer (13:43):

Yes, that’s right.


Greg Wilkes (13:47):

So who joined the FMB, is it just sort of general builders or can certain trades join it like electricians, plumbers, or is it just general building really?


Hayley Lorimer (14:01):

It’s mostly general builders. So we do have some specialist trades in membership, some plumbers, electricians, few scale companies even. But we believe that actually the membership is of most benefit to those general building companies, and that’s the market that we’re fairly and squarely aiming our services at. And that’s the vast majority of our members and most of them are that small and mediums size between five to 10 employees type of business. Although we do have about a quarter of our membership is much bigger than that multimillion pound turnover size companies. And the nice thing is, I mean I’ve worked for the FMB for a long time now, for 20 years this year actually. And I’ve seen some companies that joined us back in the early days when I was working for the FMB who were two man bands starting up a business in their spare bedroom who are now multimillion pound turnover companies, restoring castles for English heritage and that kind of thing, which is great to see. And so the membership is always changing in that firms that start as a small builder applying to join now could be a really big employer or working on really big prestigious projects at some point in the future. And we like to think that we’ve played a part in their success, obviously.


Greg Wilkes (15:22):

Yes, that’s brilliant. So they get to work with you all the way through, really, as they go through their business growth, so that’s fantastic. Yes. So I know we’ve touched this slightly Hayley, but if I’ve got, there’s obviously going to be a lot of general builders listening to the podcast. Why would someone like that consider joining the FMB? I know some might have a concern that it’s just an annual fee that they’ve got pay and they won’t get a lot for it. What would you say a reason someone should seriously consider it?


Hayley Lorimer (15:50):

Yes, well, I would say that the credibility piece that we’ve already talked about, Greg, is the most important reason for joining most of our members when they join. That’s the thing that they’re, so that’s the most important part of joining the FMB. But once you’re in membership, there’s also a whole range of services that have been especially tailored for the small and medium sized building company. So we’ve got a range of support and advice services from technical advice through to legal advice, HR, taxation and health and safety advice, et cetera. But, also we have the FMBs developed a suite of template contracts. We’ve had those in place for many years, but we’re continually revising them and updating them and they’re really clear and straightforward and easy to use. There’s many different types of contracts out there, but we think that ours are the best contracts for using with the domestic client in particular because they’re very fair and straightforward and that helps to build confidence with the client.


(16:53)
And those are one of our most used membership services. Actually, about 60% of our members use those contracts on a regular basis, and we can offer legal advice as well to go along with that. Should anything go wrong with a project or should there be anything that the member’s not sure of? We also are a network, a community, if you like, of builders so that our members can share best practices, they can ask questions of each other through online communities, through area groups, all sorts of different ways that they can network with us and with each other, which is really important once they’re in membership as well. The range of services, it depends what they want from us. It’s all of our services are well used by a certain segment of the membership. So things like insurance backed warranties, some of our members use those quite a lot.


(17:44)
We run programs of webinars and as well as the lines, we’ve got a debt recovery service and we’ve got a document library with about 700 different template documents that provides everything from a template method statement through to health and safety policies and all sorts of HR related documents as well. And we’ve got some e-learning courses as well that a lot of members find quite useful, put their whole teams this awareness course for an example, really quickly and easily using in our online facility. So there’s a whole raft of benefits in there, and we often find that members don’t really know what’s available as part of their membership because they’ve joined us at a certain point in time. Business needs may have changed over that time, and often they’re surprised if we get a chance to talk to them and say, did you know that we’ve got this debt recovery service that you can use?


(18:40)
You get a solicitor’s letter to your client, really cost effective in terms of that could get a debt repaid that pays for your membership for the next five years quite easily. So yes, there’s a lot of things. Once a company’s in membership, there’s a lot of things to keep their membership, I think. And things like the FMB awards program I think is one of the best things that we do because it gives us a chance and our members a chance to really showcase the quality work that they carry out. So that’s a really important part of what we do as well.


Greg Wilkes (19:14):

Yes, that’s really good. We’ll come on to the awards in a minute, Hayley, but just going into some of the services and the benefits you offer, I guess when we get, as you say, your ideal client or your ideal person that’s joining might be five to 10 people in their team. They’re probably just starting to employ people full time, so they need that HR. A lot of people don’t think about the contracts that have got go when you employ someone, what the rules are around holidays or when you’ve got to let someone go. So what we’re saying is some of the benefits are they’ve got a helpline they can call to get all that HR advice on how to do that stuff.


Hayley Lorimer (19:50):

Yes, exactly. And it’s kind of a safety net. It just must be helpful to people that helps them sleep at night to know that if they do get an issue with an employee or anything like that, they’ve got someone there at the end of the phone who can say, yes, this is how you can deal with that particular situation, and here’s a document that you need, to help you do it so you’re not starting from scratch. So yes, I mean that HR helpline, one of our most used helpline services. It is, as you say, it’s a major challenge, isn’t it? Once you start to employ people, then problems come with that often.


Greg Wilkes (20:25):

That’s it. And it gets expensive. I mean, when we went for a massive period of growth, and we had an HR consultant and it wasn’t cheap to get all the contracts on board, and there were so many different documents we had to put in place, it wasn’t cheap at all. So, I just want to dive into a little bit more about those benefits. So you mentioned about HR, you also said, was there something about tax helpline? Did you say something about that?


Hayley Lorimer (20:49):

Yes. We’ve got a taxation helpline. We ran a few webinars earlier in the year on taxation as well, because there was the introduction of reverse charge VAT, which was something that some of our members were finding a bit of a challenge more before it came in. I think once it actually came in and people were in the swing of using it, it was okay. But yes, so we saw a spiking calls to the taxation helpline around that time.


Greg Wilkes (21:17):

Yes. That’s good to know. So sometimes you just need to know who to call, don’t you? That can give you some guidance on that, so that’s really useful. And the contracts, you mentioned, there’s a bit of a suite of contracts that you potentially have, so obviously, you’ve got domestic contracts that will work for your clients, I believe you have other contracts that you can use for subcontractors and things as well, is that right?


Hayley Lorimer (21:37):

Yes, we do. Yes, subcontractors, contracts and a commercial contracts. And we have different versions of each one of those for Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales, because the legal requirements are slightly different. Also, a really short contract for very small jobs where it doesn’t, it seems overkill to have a full contract in place, but it’s useful to have something set out in paper. So, we’ve got that together with the associated documents that you would expect, like variation forms for capturing changes. And we’ve just added a new document actually, which is a completion certificate for the client and builder to sign off that they’re happy with everything by the snagging at the end of the project, which actually came out of a conversation with a member who phoned up and said, I’ve looked through all these contract documents, it doesn’t seem to be any kind of completion certificate.


(22:33)
Why not? And we said, well, yeah, good point. There should be. So we’ve written one and got some legal advice on that, and that’s the kind of thing we do all the time in relation to member feedback. So things like retention clause, most of our members don’t want to contract with a retention clause or a defect stage payment, as we are calling it in the FMB suite. And so we’ve adapted it for those that do, but I think that makes it quite a unique product really, because it is a contract that’s designed to protect the builder, but also for the consumer to be able to understand it really easily.


Greg Wilkes (23:12):

That’s really useful. Now, we touched on earlier about the increase in material prices, and now we’ve touched on contracts. Something that is coming up quite a lot obviously is people are worried that they’re going into contracts now. Material prices are increasing massively, and that’s a big issue for many, isn’t it? Thinking, well, what do I do if I take on a project and all of a sudden I’m not going to make any money? The prices have all gone up significantly. What are you advising your members on that at the moment?


Hayley Lorimer (23:41):

Yes, so we have actually made a slight amendment to the contract for domestic consumers, which explicitly points out that materials prices can increase unexpectedly, and that can have an impact on the ultimate price of the work. There is a change clause in there, and so members can vary the price of within reasonable bounds. However, what we’re also advising members is not to rely on the contract and the terminology in there, but to keep communication channels open with the client and to have an adult conversation with them to say, look, this is the scenario. The unprecedented price rises that everybody’s facing are bound to have an impact on the work, but also the clients don’t have unlimited funds to draw on mostly. And so there has to be some kind of compromise reached, and we have drafted a letter that members can use with their clients that helps to set some of these things out because we thought that having the FMBs logo on there sort of stamp of authority to say, yes, it’s not just your builder who’s experiencing this issue, it’s across the board. Everybody is facing this really challenging time because it is just, nobody can remember a time quite like this for these massive price rises. So how to cope with that is difficult, that we’re thinking of putting together a webinar to get a lawyer and some of our members as well, to give advice to fellow members about how to handle these kinds of situations. Because what we don’t want to see is an increase in disputes or members not getting paid and getting into debt situations because of this issue.


Greg Wilkes (25:30):

Yes.


Hayley Lorimer (25:31):

We’re doing what we can or we can’t change the situation with the prices going up, unfortunately.


Greg Wilkes (25:36):

No, but that’s good. So I mean, that’s a real sort of protection for the construction companies out there that are your members, and I think it just educates the client too, doesn’t it, which is really important. So no, that’s really useful. Thanks for running through that, Hayley, we spoke just coming back a little bit, because you mentioned this about the awards that you offer, and we talked about the credibility of being part of the FMB, so awards, well, obviously if you won an award, that’s huge credibility, isn’t it? If you can win an FMB award and they are definitely viewed as quite prestigious if someone has an award. So how would someone go about doing that? Is it only for people that are doing multimillion pounds conversions, or how would someone win an award?


Hayley Lorimer (26:20):

Yes, well, it is a great thing. The other thing that members tell us about winning the award is what a huge morale boost it is for their team members as well when they know what’s been recognized in that way. So yes, I mean, we’ve just come to the end of a cycle of awards, so we run them every other year because it’s a big resource intense program for us to run. And so we won’t be opening those up again until probably sometime next year because it’ll be the year after that when we award those awards again. So, it’s a biennial program, so anyone listening to this now has just missed the boat, but they’ve got plenty of time to prepare for the next one. On the plus side, there’s a range of categories from Apprentice of the Year right up to Large Renovation of the Year, which is for projects over 150,000 pounds worth of work.


(27:12)
And there’s everything in between from kitchen refurbishments and all sorts of different work and public sector projects as well. So that’s just recognizing the diversity of the different types of projects that our members do carry out. So there’s something for everybody in there, and that’s one of the tips that we give to members when they’re submitted an awards entry is to make sure you pick the right category. Also, things like Tradesmen of the Year and Building Company of the Year. So there might be a project that you’ve really pleased with that you’d like to submit for one particular category, but if you think about it, did an apprentice make a particularly good contribution to that project, or is there some other aspect to it that you could highlight in the awards? And once you’ve picked the project, we always encourage members to tell us a really good story about that particular award entry.


(28:06)
So not just to give us loads of technical detail, which may be great about what challenges we’re faced in that project, but it’s the judges are human beings like the rest of us, and everybody likes a good story and they like a struggle against adversity and how they’ve managed to find an innovative solution to a problem and what the end result has been for the client as well. So those kinds of projects really stand out. And we do get some amazing projects. We all love looking at the winning entries and all the photographs of these amazing building projects


Hayley Lorimer (28:39):

That our members are carrying out. And as you say, we get some amazing press coverage as well from it. And the members who win the awards and get the logo with Master Builder Award winner, it boosts their business no end because everybody wants an award-winning builder to work on their project, don’t they?


Greg Wilkes (28:55):

Of course, that’s right. Yes, that’s fantastic. Are there prizes as well for the awards, or is it just the prestige of winning one?


Hayley Lorimer (29:03):

Oh, no, no. It’s the headline sponsor for the awards is a Isuzu, so the all winner wins an Isuzu truck.


Greg Wilkes (29:13):

Wow.


Hayley Lorimer (29:13):

And there are other sponsors for different cafes of awards. So yes, it’s mostly about the prestige and the publicity and all of that, but there are prizes as well. And so normally, of course, we have a really fancy awards event do in a big hotel in London. We haven’t done that this year, so it’s been virtual. All the awards events have been virtual, and everybody’s about how virtual event measure up in a nice meal and drinks and a celebrity host at a hotel type event. But the virtual events have been amazing. People have been very clever in dreaming up ways of making a virtual online awards event sort of special, and it’s gone down really well with the members who’ve won the awards. So yes, it’s been really successful and I thought, we’ve been doing the awards for probably 20 years or so, and they just get better each time, and the standard of the entries gets better as well. So it’s really encouraging.


Greg Wilkes (30:17):

That’s fantastic. Well, hopefully next year we’ll be able to do real events. I think we’re all fed up with virtual stuff, but it’ll be good to meet again, wouldn’t it?


Hayley Lorimer (30:28):

Exactly.


Greg Wilkes (30:29):

So, you mentioned that earlier about some companies that you’ve seen grow significantly. They started off small and then building castles or whatever else they’re doing now. Have you got any specific case studies of companies that have joined really well by joining the FMB and how it’s benefited them? Have you got any that you can think of?


Hayley Lorimer (30:47):

I know that a member I was speaking to recently who he’d been a member for about 10 years, but in his first year of membership, he won a contract for 140,000 pound job, which was bigger than anything he’d done before. And he was saying that particular job and the profiting wasn’t able to make from it has sort of paid for his membership for the next 10 years or so. So he’s at sort of lifelong member as a result of that. So that’s really great thing to see. And many members have talked to us about how they’ve been able to do more high-end projects as a result of being an FMB member.


Greg Wilkes (31:27):

Something else too we think about is obviously someone’s joining the FMB one for the credibility, but they want to win more work. Is there a search function or anywhere on your website for, or would clients go on your website to find a builder? How does that sort of work? Is there a profile someone gets?


Hayley Lorimer (31:43):

Yes. Yes, it’s called Find a Builder, Greg. So thanks for the prompt for something I need to, yeah, we have a directory service on the website that we know clients do go and search for a builder in their area who can do the work that they’re looking to have done. What we find is that the more time and effort the member themselves can put into building their profile on the Finder Builder site, adding case studies and testimonials and that kind of thing, the more job leads they will get through it.


(32:15)
And many members, it’s not something that they like spending time doing. They like getting out on site and doing the work rather than posting the photographs of it online very often and that kind of thing. But that really helps because we know that members get results from that. And another thing that happens a lot that members are probably not aware of, we get a lot of phone calls from members of the public saying, I’m thinking of using an X, Y, Z builder, and I just want to check in with yours. Is he okay? Kind of thing. So we get a lot of people doing their homework and checking that companies actually are in membership, and they can do that online as well. It’s good that they do, because I think logo misuse is quite a challenge in our industry. We get a lot of businesses using logos that they’re not entitled to use, and we work quite closely with trading standards on cases like that because they do prosecute people for misusing logos. It is a criminal offense, and we want only our bonafides to be using our logo, not other people who managed to get their logo from somewhere. So it’s an ongoing issue, but we do put quite a lot of effort into trying to stop that.


Greg Wilkes (33:31):

Yes, I can imagine. But I guess for the average client, they’re probably going to do a double check online, especially if they’re going to spend a hundred grand on a refurb, they’re probably going to do their due diligence and work out pretty quickly if they’re an FMB member or not. So, no, that’s interesting. Okay. Hayley, another thing that I know you mentioned that the FMB offer is an insurance back warranty service, which is obviously great for clients. Why would a client potentially consider choosing to do that? What are the rough costs for that, and what benefits does that provide for the builder?


Hayley Lorimer (34:07):

Yes, so we offer two kinds of warranties. There’s new homes warranty, and also a latent defects warranty on refurbishment extensions and that kind of project. And as well as all the other insurances, contractors, liability, and that kind of insurance that are offered through our insurance company, which is part of the FMB group. But the warranties, I think it’s true to say that probably having a building project done is probably the biggest investment that clients likely to make other than actually buying the home in the first place. And often clients are spending far more than they would on a new car, and you wouldn’t dream of buying a new car without getting a warranty on it. So we would say to consumers, why wouldn’t you want a warranty on the work that you’re having carried out, which then covers you if any latent defects come to light after the work is completed, or I mean, heaven forbid that the company goes out of business partway through a project or somebody gets ill or is unable to complete it for some other reason, then the warranty cover will kick in and will enable you to get the project finished.


(35:18)
So we find that a lot of people feel like they just have that bond of trust with the builder who’s carrying out the work. They know that he’ll come back to put right any defects, so they maybe feel like they don’t need a warranty, but it is something that we would recommend that more clients should be asking their builders about, and any member of the FMB can offer a warranty on the work that they do, not just the TRUSTMARK registered members, although we are a trustmark scheme operator, and many of our members also have the trustmark badge as well. So yeah, it’s again, a product that we’ve had to offer to members for many years, and it’s developed over time so that it meets members’ needs better.


Greg Wilkes (36:05):

Yes, I mean, that is really useful because I mean, at the end of the day, any builder can sort of walk outside and get knocked down by a bus, and anything can happen to anyone at any point, can’t they? So I think for a builder to be able to offer that peace of mind to their clients, even though they know they have every intention to come back and do the work, it just gives that bit of reassurance to people, doesn’t it? And again, it’s just that added benefit that another builder might not be offering if they’re not part of the FMB. So huge range. That’s really useful, Hayley. I think we’ve covered a huge range of benefits there. To be honest, I didn’t realize there was that many benefits with the FMB when I had a building company many years back. We were part of the FMB and it did serve us well. So that’s why I wanted to get you on here. But yeah, I didn’t realize you had so many things since then. So that’s so fine.


Hayley Lorimer (36:54):

Well, I ought to say before I go that if anybody is interested in joining, the contact details are all on our website, and there is a form on there that you can complete to get a call back from one of the team to talk about the benefits of joining and to go through how it would benefit your business specifically. So yes, we’d love to hear from anybody else who wants to join that seven and a half thousand strong army of builders across The UK. We’re welcoming to any more quality builders that would like to join us. That’d be great.


Greg Wilkes (37:26):

Yes, fantastic. Well, I’m sure many listeners to this, if they’re not already members, they’ll be seriously considering it. So really appreciate your time with us today, Hayley. I think you’ve really demonstrated the benefits of that and how builders can up their profile and their credibility. So thanks for all your time. Take care.


Hayley Lorimer (37:41):

No problem. Thanks, Greg.


Greg Wilkes (37:48):

If you’d like to work with me to fast-track your construction business growth, then reach out on www.developcoaching.co.uk.