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We met up with Dave Lowndes who is our July’s Tradesman of the month, on a job in Liverpool. It was a full refurb that he’d won through a contact made on MyBuilder. Dave of DL Builders has worked as a tradesman for over 25 years, primarily working in plastering and joinery.

dave
The job we visited was a huge refurb of an old pub in the centre of the city. This rundown boozer had been turned into luxury student accommodation by Dave and his team, it required gutting and renovation of the whole building. Each room had it’s own en-suite bathroom and there were shared kitchens on each floor. It was looking immaculate as he was coming to the end of the project.

So of course we asked, how did he bag such a big job?

“The guy posted a different job – he shortlisted me but didn’t hire me at the time. He kept my number, then got in touch and gave me this job. It was an £18 lead that I didn’t get hired for initially. Using MyBuilder you don’t win every job you get shortlisted for, but like this one, sometimes you hear back months later about other projects which makes it worth it.”

“The landlord who owns this property has a lot of houses in Liverpool. He says that he’s going to give us any future work, because he’s so pleased with this job we’ve done. All from a job I wasn’t even hired for!”

daveswork

Using MyBuilder for the past 5 years

Dave has been with MyBuilder since 2010 and has 42 feedback. For someone who takes on such large jobs, it’s a great amount of feedback. Restoration & refurb jobs are what keep him busy from the site. He’s also had a lot of repeat customers, as well as multiple word of mouth recommendations.

“There is loads of work in Liverpool!” he tells us, “all my customers through MyBuilder have been really comfortable because of the site, they all say how good it is. I feel like they put a bit more trust in me because of my profile than they would outside of the site.”

Selling yourself and making your customers trust you

“You don’t get anyone stopping you nowadays, or seeing your number on a van and ringing you. People are too scared to do that, because they don’t know you and have no way of knowing if your work is good. People only hire through word of mouth if you have come highly recommended, or through MyBuilder because of the feedback and your profile. It makes them feel more comfortable.”

vans

Dave explained that as long as you do a great job, the knock on effect is ‘phenomenal’. You start to go out to a bigger audience; family and friends. Just a bit of plastering work can lead to so much more if the original job poster recommends you.

But before you’ll be recommended, it’s so important to make sure you leave a good impression on the customer. Great customer service, being prompt, staying polite and courteous are all things Dave makes sure to do.

“Once you gain that trust from a customer – they’ll carry on ringing you.” says Dave.

How Dave got started on MyBuilder

“The initial £70-odd of fees, you have to try and get that money back ASAP. If you throw enough shit at the fan, some things have got to stick!” exclaimed Dave.

He feels that when you spend money, you do win jobs eventually, and that it’s worth sticking it out during those first few weeks.

Dave’s tips to winning initial jobs

“Make sure you go in as competitively as possible with your pricing to make sure you win it”, he explained. “At first you have to go in a little bit lower than you normally would. Once you get those initial feedbacks other customers will want you because of them, and that’s when you start to get busy.”

Congratulations to Dave, and we hope you continue to win great jobs through the site!

If you’d like to hire a tradesman like Dave, post a job on MyBuilder today.

Electrical work is tricky and dangerous to figure out on your own. The slightest error can lead to a short circuit or fire, so it’s a good idea to hire an electrician, even if it’s for the smallest of jobs.

Jonathan Steed, our tradesman of the month

Jonathan Steed, our tradesman of the month

We checked in with our June tradesman of the month, Jonathan Steed, and the first tradesman to achieve 500 positive reviews on our site, Vin Patel. No matter how straightforward your job might seem, there are some things that are important to keep in mind when hiring an electrician. Here is what they suggested:

1. Ask for proof

Ask to see proof of their Part P qualification, which is required for most electrical work. The more qualifications they have the better, but Part P is the most important one to check for.

2. Check for a governing body

Make sure they are registered with a governing body like NAPIT or NICEIC. You can do this by simply going onto the relevant websites and entering their name to see if they are listed there. You can also check on Registered Competent Person Electrical.

3. Read previous, relevant reviews

Read through their MyBuilder reviews. Being positively reviewed is not enough in and of itself—you need to check if they are relevant to the job you need done. Read through previous reviews to confirm that your potential electrician has been well-reviewed for jobs similar to yours. Check also for reliability and punctuality. Customers often leave detailed comments and feedback—make use of these!

Vin Patel, the first tradesman to achieve 500 positive reviews on MyBuilder

Vin Patel, the first tradesman to achieve 500 positive reviews on MyBuilder

4. Agree to a quote

Before you hire, make sure you are agreeing to a quote and not a rough estimate. The quote should include details about the job, concrete prices, and a payment schedule that outlines a deposit as well as a payment calendar. The schedule is particularly important, since it is what avoids misunderstandings down the line.

5. Don’t pick the cheapest option

When considering different quotes from your shortlisted electricians, don’t pick the cheapest one. Read through the quote carefully to ensure that you end up picking the best person for your job. Anything that sounds too good to be true usually is.

Finally, once your job has been completed, get a certificate issued for it. If your electrician doesn’t agree to this, that’s a major red flag and you should reconsider hiring them.

Find an electrician in your area

You may have read recently that the cost of renovating the Houses of Parliament could reach a staggering £7.1 billion over a 32 year build! We think this figure is astronomical, so we’ve come up with a few alternatives you could spend this amount of money on.

Houses of Parliament MyBuilder

Jonathan Steed is an electrician based in the Midlands who joined MyBuilder in March 2014. Since then he’s gained a whopping 152 positive feedback!

On the way to Liverpool for our first roadshow, we popped in for a cup of tea and a chat at Jonathan’s home in Hinckley.

TOTM June Jon

Originally in the Army as a fitness instructor, he sustained an injury which meant he couldn’t walk properly for 2 years. After the injury and 10 years of service, he decided it was his time to leave. With financial help from Army rehabilitation he trained to be an electrician.

Jonathan is not originally from Hinckley, so was trying to find new ways of making work contacts when he discovered MyBuilder. The site is what “made his business” – he proclaims.

Once qualifying, Jonathan soon went from working for a company, to working for himself using the site. He now has 4 lads working with him, “It’s changed everything hasn’t it?” he says to his partner Jenny.

He won a job for a recent X Factor contestant which he is pretty pleased about. “That was massive for us!” He told us excitedly. She even tweeted a picture of his employee which he was a little bit jealous of. “Why didn’t she tweet a picture of me?! It’s my business, I could have had like 500 retweets!”

electric

We asked Jonathan what other jobs he’s particularly proud of…

“Recently I also won a huge job for electronically charged cars, the power points. I’ve been working around the whole of the UK fitting them in different cities. That’s one of the biggest jobs I’ve won off MyBuilder.”

He also spoke about a large warehouse job he won. The customer had posted a small light fitting job that Jonathan went out and completed for just £20. “A few months later I had a call, the guy had kept my details and wanted me to do the electrics on a huge warehouse job in London. He liked me and wanted me to do it. Accommodation & travel has been paid for and it’s kept us busy for months!”

As well as the customers Jonathan has gained through MyBuilder, he also lets us know that he gets plenty more from the amount of reviews on his profile.

“I always get customers who ring me up and say ‘I’ve read your reviews on MyBuilder, can you come and do some work?’”

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Jonathan Steed & Ben from MyBuilder

So how did he do it?

Like most successful tradesmen on the site, Jonathan said it was quite difficult at first while he built up those early 15 feedbacks. He stuck it out and made sure he was friendly and approachable in his initial messages. Jenny, his partner, also helps with the initial messaging and getting back to customers quickly when Jonathan is on a job. “Customers are like ‘wow, that was quick!’” he exclaims.

Once on those early jobs, he bent over backwards to make sure the customers were happy. “As long as you make sure to give decent customer service, as well as do a great job, you’ll do well.” Jonathan tells us. “My aim is to be one of the top ten highest reviewed tradesmen on MyBuilder!”

Jonathan is the highest reviewed electrician on MyBuilder in Hinckley and he aims to keep it that way! Next stop for JS Electrical is 200 feedback!

Last week MyBuilder caught up with Kerry Chapman from Eurolay Asphalt and roofing, May’s tradesman of the month! Gaining 179 Positive feedback over 4 years, Kerry’s got a lot of happy customers and his business is going from strength to strength.

kery

Eurolay’s beginnings

Kerry’s father has been in the asphalting business his whole life. Initially Kerry aspired to become a professional footballer, even playing for Leyton Orient’s youth team. But it didn’t work out, “I messed it up” he told us, “the lure of being a teenage boy was too much to handle!”. He dropped out of the team and started working for his dad. “I always loved the smell of asphalt!” Kerry exclaimed.

Before starting Eurolay, Kerry went to college and completed a four year apprenticeship, three years at college and one on site. He began at a couple of established companies where he gained invaluable experience, then decided it was time to go it alone. That was 7 years ago and he’s never looked back!

Joining MyBuilder was a game changer for Kerry, 50% of Eurolay’s work still comes through the site. He also finds a lot of potential customers contact him directly after seeing his positive feedback on MyBuilder.

tools


The recipe for Kerry’s success?

“I make sure my profile is up to date, well written, with correct spelling and grammar.” Kerry explained. He also gets professional photos taken of past work so new customers can see the quality of his roofing jobs.

Good communication is also key for making clients happy. He makes sure to get back to customers quickly, and if running late or the job is running over, he makes sure he is completely honest at all times.

Going the extra mile to make sure you get that positive feedback is also important. “I never cut corners to make a job cheaper, I pride myself on Eurolay doing the best job possible. It might cost more, but it will cost less in the long run” he asserts.

bucket

Kerry doesn’t charge for quotes, and makes sure to meet customers face-to-face to build that initial trust.

“Customers want to see the person behind the profile, as well as check that you’re a decent person who knows what you’re talking about. Especially customers who have been burnt in the past, they want that peace of mind which I completely understand.”

The future

“Me and the boys are proud of what we’ve achieved on MyBuilder.” Kerry told us, “ my favourite job to date was when we came and fixed the MyBuilder office roof! Being asked to carry out that work was an exciting moment for the company.”

benandkerry

Given that asphalting ran in the family, it seems like Kerry was always destined to work in the trade. One of his earliest memories was playing with balls of asphalt his dad brought home. But little did he know that it would lead to a successful business and almost 200 incredible reviews on MyBuilder!

Check out Kerry’s MyBuilder profile.

Garden hacks

With summer rapidly approaching your garden can quickly get out of hand. We present some great tips to help you spend less time working on your garden and more time enjoying it.

 

1) Re-use water that you cook with

Much of the water that people throw down their drains every day is rich in nutrients and perfect for your garden.

Water that vegetables have been cooked in can add nutrients back into your soil. Rice water contains starch which helps to encourage healthy bacteria for strong roots. Finally, water that eggs have been boiled in contains calcium which helps plants grow and prevents pathogens from attacking them.

 corn-549328_640 2

Source: pixabay.com/p-549328/

 

2. Pee in your garden

What?! Yep… believe it or not urine is non-toxic and actually contains nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, all chemicals which can help improve soil nutrients and crop yield. Neat urine can help compost decompose quicker and be used as a weed killer. It’s best to dilute it with 8-10 parts water before adding to grass or plants. Urine also has the added benefit of warding off animals like cats, foxes and rabbits. Before you go wazzing on your garden just remember your neighbours!

Water down urine for your garden

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watering_can

 

3. Buy a soil testing kit

Add a little science to your gardening by picking up a cheap soil testing kit for around £10. Knowing what nutrients you need to add will give you the best garden soil in no time.

Soil testing kit

Source: Amazon.co.uk/Haversack-Soil-Test-Kit

 

4. Use candle wax for garden tools

Rubbing a candle on garden tools blades, especially if you’re pruning trees will make life easier. It reduces friction by stopping sap getting on the blades and can also help to prevent rusting.

Candles can be used as tealights

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soy_candle

 

5. Vinegar is a gardener’s best friend

Who’d have thought that stuff you put on your chips had so many uses in the garden? It’s the perfect weed killer for dandelions, especially on cracks in driveways or paths. It’s great for cleaning lawn mower blades, getting rid of bird poop, removing mildew from garden furniture and giving ants the heave ho from your garden.

 Vinegar has many uses in gardens

 

6. Newspaper stops weeds and grass

Put down sheets of old newspaper around plants before you put down mulch. The newspaper sheets will ensure that weeds and grass can’t come up through your mulch and the newspaper will eventually break down.

6277209256_934f20da10_z

 

7. Eggshells make a great home for seedlings

If you’re planting seedlings, placing them in eggshells is a good idea for a few reasons, they can be stored in the carton the eggs came in, a little hole in the bottom will allow drainage. Once ready to be planted the eggshell containing the seedling can be directly transferred to the soil, the eggshell will break down and enrich the soil with calcium.

 Egg shell for seedlings

 

8. Gardens love your leftovers

Vegetable peelings can be added to compost to add nutrients. Potatoes can be used to propagate roses providing just the right amount of liquid they need. Banana peels, eggshells and coffee grounds can all be used to add nutrients into soil, whilst coffee grounds will also prevent cats from digging and littering in your garden. Garlic and onion peel can be added to water and used as a natural pesticide to keep bugs away from plants.

 food scraps

 

9. Lure snails and slugs with Beer

Snails and slugs eat plants and generally cause a nuisance, but they love beer. Bury a plastic cup into your soil and add a small amount of beer, they will crawl in and drown.

Beer trap for snails

 

10. Get a pet toad

If drowning in beer sounds a little extreme, a more natural and humane way to handle those slimy pests is to get a toad. Build a little hut somewhere dark and cool, add some water nearby and wait (or buy one from a garden centre). Toad’s eat an inordinate amount of all bugs.. and who wouldn’t want a pet toad.

 Toads eat bugs!

 

11. Turn a shoe organiser into a herb rack

Great for the urban gardener. If you’re short of space or prefer to keep things simple, a hanging shoe rack can make a great herb garden

Shoe organiser for herb rack

Source: greenupgrader.com/files/2009/07/planters1.jpg

Hopefully these handy tips will help save time in your garden. If it’s not even in a state to do that, why not use MyBuilder to hire a landscape gardener this summer?

Thanks to Andy Robertsnet_efektSteveR- USFWS Mountain-Prairiedavid paceyJon S for the images off Flickr. Please note, all images were suitable for use at the time of publication according to the Creative Commons License.