Last night I asked my followers on Twitter as to what they think my next poll should be. I got a lot of good ideas, some of which will be used in future polls. The conversation from there turned to the issue of deposits, with some saying that they have started to take larger deposits from home owners to protect themselves from any sinister behaviour on behalf of the customer.

This discussion led to me this weeks poll: do installers have enough protection from rogue home owners?

Enough or not enough?

This is the question I am asking people to vote on:

The early voting on this poll puts “no” well ahead of “yes”, which perhaps gives us an early solid indication of what the industry thinks.

Some of the tweets from companies online last night mentioned upping their deposits to 40% in order to protect themselves better from the home owner. What a sad state of affairs we have reached if companies feel they have to take more up front as a form of protection. At our place we take a 15% deposit, with the rest on completion. For larger value contracts we break it down into stage payments, leaving a small balance at the end. That being said, we have talked about taking a larger deposit at the start and taking stage payments on contracts we wouldn’t normally consider large, just as a way to protect ourselves against any customers who might think of becoming difficult.

If companies are starting to do this, then its an indication that they don’t feel as though they do actually have enough protection against home owners who deliberately set out to be difficult or withhold owed money.

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The customer isn’t always right

Whoever came up with the phrase “the customer is always right” wants more than a firm talking to. For those of us who deal with the general public, we all know how wrong that statement is.

You can do your absolute best for someone and at the end of a job they would still find reasons to be unhappy. The motivation is generally that they want a discount or wish to withhold the balance on their contract for as long as possible. You can speak to any good installer and they will be able to tell you of at least one instance where money has been held back by a home owner for minute reasons, such as a scratched handle or the job taking slightly longer than planned. The other good one is the “snagging list” comes out just as you’re about to ask for payment. Its simply not fair to treat a good business in this manner.

This is why we are seeing more installers take higher deposits up front. They are scared that when the job is completed that they are going to be denied being paid a large balance. For small to medium sized companies, situations like this are very damaging to cash flow, and in the worst case scenarios can send a company under.

As always, the poll will last a week, and I will report back on the results. Although I suspect that we already know the answer to this one!

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