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You may have seen we ran a giveaway on our Facebook last week for 5 pairs of VIP tickets to the Grand Designs Live London event this May! If you didn’t win, you’re in luck! We’ve paired up with Grand Designs Live to offer you an exclusive 2 for 1 discount code.

Grand Designs Live, the UKs top contemporary home show, returns to ExCeL London from 2-10 May 2015 Presented by design guru Kevin McCloud, and based on the hugely popular Channel 4 series, the show offers visitors a unique opportunity to see all the latest trends for the home.

With areas dedicated to interiors, technology, kitchens, bathrooms, build and gardens, there’s something for every room in your home. And with over 500 exhibitors, you can shop from a great selection of brands with 100’s of items not available on the high street.
With all this and much more, make sure you plan a GRAND day out this May!

ExCeL London 2-10 May 2015

Claim your 2 for 1 tickets now

We have teamed up with Grand Designs Live to offer you 2 for 1 tickets to the event!
Simply log on to www.granddesignslive.com, follow the link to book your tickets and enter the code MYBUILDER241 to claim.
Or call the ticket hotline on 0844 854 1348.

**T&C’s – Transaction fee of £1.70 applies per order. Tickets must be booked in advance. Offer ends 1st May 2015. Offer valid on standard admission tickets only. Saving based on the door rate.
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Last week, we invited two long standing MyBuilder tradesmen Luke Stagg and Dave Gilbert to our office. They took part in our live online discussion to talk about their personal experiences using MyBuilder. Here’s what we found out…

Dave Gilbert started in the trade at 23. “Doctors were retraining as plumbers as they were earning more at the time”, he told us. “I tried 300 electrical employers in Berkshire before one of them would take me on. I worked and trained there in 2010.”

Once qualified, Dave headed to the big smoke where he landed a 6 month sub-contracting job. After discovering MyBuilder, he started taking on small electrical maintenance jobs and his career progressed from there.

Luke Stagg, from Croydon, completed a crash course in plumbing around 7 years ago. He had high hopes of qualifying and landing loads of work, but as a newly qualified plumber that wasn’t the reality. Luke worked hard for 2-4 years to gain some solid experience and then started making a decent living – joining MyBuilder contributed to his success. He says the site “changed his life.”

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We asked both tradesmen if they found it hard to win work when they first started using MyBuilder:

Dave: “I found it very easy – I saw that most of the work coming through was what you might consider electrical maintenance, small jobs. I soon worked out how to approach these jobs, for example how I’d message the customer and the speed of responding. The penny dropped that I could start my own business just from the work I was winning on MyBuilder.”

He found that by doing the smaller jobs initially, his feedback quickly grew as well as his client base. Happy customers were recommending him elsewhere and his business thrived. He could then win bigger jobs based on his feedback.

For Luke, success didn’t come as fast, but he kept at it. “It took me a couple of weeks to get shortlisted for my first job. I was up against guys with over 100 feedback.”

“There was one guy who would go for every job I went for and I originally thought “oh I haven’t got a chance.” Then I got shortlisted for a few jobs and bent over backwards for the customer – I still do. Once I got a few good pieces of feedback on my profile I found myself getting shortlisted more and more.”

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Feedback is something both tradesmen agree is the bread and butter of their business.

Luke is obsessed with keeping it positive. He even has bad dreams at night where he receives negative feedback. “It’s really sad I know! I’ve woken up and thought oh, no! To me my feedback is massively important and it pushes me to deliver my best at all times.”

As Dave puts it “great customer service skills are necessary when you’re a tradesman. We’re in the service industry so you have to be polite, punctual and honest with the customer at all times. Otherwise you risk giving them a bad experience.”

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Initial messages are a huge factor when it comes to winning jobs on MyBuilder.

Dave and Luke both make sure every first message includes a warm, friendly and personal introduction. Dave added that he states his hourly charges in this first message, as well as a time prediction of how long he thinks the job will take. Usually he’s pretty spot on.

“I try to put myself in the customers shoes and think about what they’d want to ask.” noted Dave.

Luke also makes sure he reads job descriptions well so he can tailor messages to each customers needs. “Templates save a lot of time, I have 5 or 6, which I always tweak for each customer. I also include my quote if I feel I can give this over a message, if not I’ll ask for photos so that I can quote in my second message.”

Luke does point out that quoting over messages isn’t always perfect, but sometimes it’s worth it because it means he wins the job quicker. “Sometimes I do quote, and realise I under quoted when I get to the job. But I just bite the bullet. Some guys would go out and then double the price for 20 extra minutes of work but I say that if you want the good reviews, sometimes you have got to bend over backwards to get them.”

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During the live chat, it became clear that speed was imperative for both tradesmen when it came to getting shortlisted and bagging that job.

“If you hang about, then you can end up wasting a couple of quid on a shortlist fee, that’s a pint of beer!” exclaimed Luke.

“I have alerts set on my iPhone that make a noise every time MyBuilder emails me leads, I get in there straight away. Especially after being shortlisted, I’ll try and contact the homeowner as soon as I see it.” He adds “You have to be like that with the whole job. If your communication is brilliant, and the customer knows what’s going on at all times then they’re going to be happy.”

Dave: “Like Luke said, it’s about being quick. They’re really impressed when you’re fast at responding once they’ve shortlisted you.”

One tradesman wrote in and asked “What do you do if the client has invited you and another tradesman at the same time?”

Luke: “Go go go! Quick!” – for him it’s about speed.

Dave on the other hand, is a little more careful. If the job has been flooded with loads of interested tradesmen he lets it go – especially if he’s already quite busy. But he says every situation is different and sometimes it’s best to just express interest and call the customer to find out.

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“When you started on MyBuilder what sort of area did you cover? And how was it easiest to win work?” – Anthony Millington.

Dave explains that setting your working area on MyBuilder is a huge advantage. He has friends who get up really early to drive a long way for jobs. But all he does is set a 5 mile radius on MyBuilder and works within that every day. This is much more convenient and saves a lot of travel time.

When Luke first joined MyBuilder he tried to cover as big an area as possible. “Soon I realised I was getting more jobs locally. I fine tuned my working area to cover the ‘hot areas’ which were located closer to me anyway.”

For more trade tips please check out our Advice Centre. We’ll also be blogging part two of the town hall meeting next week, so keep your eyes peeled! 

Recently we hit a big landmark in the history of MyBuilder. Vin Patel, of Ohm Electrical, became the first tradesman to reach 500 positive online reviews. We were so excited by this that went out to surprise Vin while he was at a customers’ house.

After losing his job contracting, Vin went back to his first love by training as an electrician. We asked Vin about the secret to his success and he was more than happy to give some advice as to how he has achieved so much in just three short years.

Even though Vin now has a record number of feedback, he still recalls how hard it was to get started on MyBuilder, “I only had a couple of references and no feedback.” He decided on a novel approach to winning his first job, by offering a no satisfaction, no fee policy for his first customer. “I said to them ‘give me a chance, if you’re not happy don’t pay me.’”

Although Vin knows the first few months with MyBuilder can be tough, it’s important that you shouldn’t give up. “Keep showing interest in leads and the success will come”, he said, “…but also make sure not to compromise on your pricing, after all, you have to make a living.”

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For the best chance of winning jobs on MyBuilder, Vin suggests responding to each new lead as soon as possible. When visiting, give a thorough explanation of what needs to be done and provide a detailed quote. These straight-forward steps will put you on the path to success.

Vin always ensures he communicates with his clients if things don’t go to plan, warning that the alternative can often lead to negative feedback. If things are going over-budget or you don’t feel comfortable completing the work, Vin believes it’s best to be upfront with the customer as soon as possible to reach an agreeable solution.

Once a job is completed, Vin ensures that the customer is absolutely happy with the work before leaving. “I will ask a number of questions, even down to details like the presentation of my team. I make eye contact when asking my client, then I can be confident they will leave feedback soon.” Finally he then chases up for feedback via text, email or through the MyBuilder messaging system.

Vin showing off his gift from MyBuilder

Vin showing off his gift from MyBuilder

It’s no surprise that Vin is a committed member of MyBuilder, he believes it delivers great value for money. “One of the huge positives of using MyBuilder is the work they do to make sure tradesmen come high in the Google ranking. It’s difficult to be noticed on the internet but my profile gets a lot of attention and even results in people ringing me directly after seeing my feedback.”

Vin is aware there are lots of other great tradesmen on the site who would love to steal his crown, but he has no intention of slowing down. Not content with reaching 500 feedback, he now has his eyes on 1000 feedback. Congratulations and good luck Vin!

Find a tradesman like Vin in your area today

Far too often, the media and press like to stereotype tradesmen as ‘cowboy builders’ or ‘rogue traders’. But we know from experience that most tradespeople are the complete opposite!

From the sheer volume of great positive feedback reviews posted to our site daily, MyBuilder can see that a lot of tradesmen love their job.

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In the spirit of Valentine’s Day we thought we would try to find out more…

For the five days leading up to Valentine’s Day we asked tradesmen what they loved about their job and the response was huge. Almost 700 tradesmen posted on our Facebook page to let us know why they love what they do.

One question we asked our tradesmen was “What is the best job you have ever worked on?” – we had so many great responses.

Clare Brown from Decisions Made said she thinks the best part of being a painter and decorator is transforming a house into a home. “Making an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan. A finished product can lift somebody’s mood. The best is when the client cries with joy, I’ve had a couple of those!”

But it wasn’t just the work that mattered, a lot of tradesmen said the best jobs were the ones that had a wider impact on the customer. Greg Adamson wrote, “As a heating engineer I take great satisfaction in restoring peoples heating when it fails. Especially if they’re older or vulnerable. It’s one of the many trades/professions that really make a real difference to people’s lives and health. The feeling you get when you resolve the issue is indescribable.”

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Almost 200 tradesmen let us know what their most cherished tool is…

“My most cherished tool is my Grandad, I was his apprentice so without him I would never have learned my trade.”  - Davie Curl, Tiling Solutions.

“My most treasured tool has to be the Stanley hand plane I won as an apprentice 27 years ago for apprentice of the year. It’s never been out of the box.” – Matt Stevenson Carpentry & Joinery services.

“A wallpaper hanging brush which is worn down and not suitable to use, it belonged to my dad who got me into the decorating business. I’ll never throw it away, it’s got too many memories” – Mick Morgan, Handy Devils.

And we received over 150 photos of jobs that tradesmen are most proud of. There was a lot of impressive work posted!

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When asking our trades why their customers love them, Russell Tullis said “I think it’s the fact I go and see every customer to discuss and quote for work, or it may simply be because I always leave properties as clean I as found them – if not tidier.”

Nic Forbes George also explained how he makes sure he is flexible on weekends and evenings at no extra cost. He also always asks the customer if they are happy before he leaves a job as customer satisfaction is “number one” for his company, as well as honesty around pricing.

“A happy customer makes me happy” expressed Warren Schmid of W Schmid Landscapes. He said he treats every job as though he was doing it on his own home and wants to make sure the customer is “very happy” when he’s left.

Over the week we received a lot of heartwarming and sentimental comments from tradesmen all over the UK, who regularly go above and beyond for their customers. Not only that – but they are clearly extremely passionate about what they do, taking the utmost pride in their work.

We think these comments prove that for all the talk of cowboy builders, there are plenty of tradespeople that are hardworking, charitable and above all, great people.

Want a tradesperson who loves their trade? Hire a tradesman today!

Recently I caught up with Nick Kilshaw from Kentish Builder, February’s tradesman of the month. Receiving 250 positive feedback with MyBuilder over a five year period means Nick is well placed to give great advice to both homeowners and tradesmen. He offered us some tips on maintaining a healthy working relationship during the course of a project.

If you’ve got any great advice for creating a great working atmosphere please add a comment below.

Give as much information as possible when you post a job, then you’ll get a committed tradesman

With a MyBuilder job, if the homeowner doesn’t give enough detail I don’t know if I can help them or not. You don’t need to know specialist terms, but I need to know some detail. With a garden wall for example, it can be as simple as “I need a wall 10m long and a metre wide, I want all the footings done, brick on edge.” That gives me a decent indication, and I’ll know how to help. You’ll get more tradesmen interested in your job if they know they can give it their full commitment.

Nick Kilshaw from Kentish Builder

Nick Kilshaw from Kentish Builder

“There’s no substitute for seeing the job”

I lost money on the very first job I won through MyBuilder because I sent a quote over after seeing a photo on the job page. Now 99% of the time I will go and see the customer and the site before sending my quote over. Viewing the job is beneficial to both sides and will mean a better understanding of the job in hand and a more realistic quote, with less trouble down the line.

“Keep to agreements”

It’s important to get an agreement in writing, when I send my quote it says what I’m going to do exactly, otherwise any adjustments can cause friction. During the job, if the customer wants to make a big change then we can come to a new agreement, while little changes throughout aren’t as much of an issue. Timing is important too, if I say I will send a quote to the customer then I’ll make sure it’s in their inbox just a couple of hours later.

“Make sure both parties are comfortable with each other”

Sometimes a homeowner and tradesman aren’t right for each other, this can be down to differences in personality or personal tastes. If something doesn’t seem right it’s easier to part ways before the work begins. For example, one client didn’t want to pay for stone slabs, so she bought indoor floor-tiles instead, it would’ve been like an ice-rink!

If alarm bells ring, I will say “sorry, but you’re better off getting somebody else”, it’s important both parties feel they can work with the other.

A driveway and wall completed by Nick

A driveway and wall completed by Nick

“I stick to what I know”

Homeowners often make the mistake of hiring a tradesman for one job, then giving them another project which is beyond their capability – this is a recipe for disaster. A handyman probably won’t have the qualifications to replace a bathroom. I won’t do anything I don’t have the skills for, this means I am proud of all the work I complete. If you need a different trade, post a new job on MyBuilder.

“Feedback benefits both parties, for tradesmen that’s what wins them their next job”

I ask customers to be honest, and if possible to mention trust within the feedback. If a customer leaves me with their house and keys all week, I’ll ask them to put that in there as I think that’s important to share. After all, my reputation is built on my clients.

Do you agree with Nick? Or have any pointers for a healthy working relationship between client and builder? Tell us your experience, leave us a comment on the blog.

Post a job today to find qualified tradesmen like Nick.

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At MyBuilder we know our tradesmen love their job and really care about their work, so we want to give something back!

With Valentine’s Day coming up this weekend, we want to hear why you love what you do. Join us on Facebook every day this week to be in with a chance of winning one of 150 limited edition #ILoveMyTrade t-shirts.

Enter on Facebook now

Good luck!

Ben & Hannah
Community Team

By entering the competition, you agree to these terms & conditions:

  • Competition is open to all MyBuilder trade members
  • Entries accepted between 7.30am and 4pm each day between 9th-13th February
  • Tradesmen can enter every day, but can only win one t-shirt each
  • Draw will be made at 4pm each day and winners will be contacted via email
  • All decisions are final and no correspondence will be entered into