We know there are loads of ‘Trusted Trader’ type schemes out there, and some are better than others – but a recent announcement from TrustMark, the only Government endorsed scheme for trades in and around the home, might just make it worth another look. Especially if you’ve considered it before but decided not to take a punt . . .
In our recent article about marketing your business we mentioned trusted trader sites, so it’s good to look into this one in a bit more detail. We’re not formally endorsing TrustMark of course, but it does seem like it might be worth looking at - so we thought we’d cover it here on the Real Deals for You blog anyway, and then you can make your own decision!
At the end of February, TrustMark joined forces with The Chartered Institute of Trading Standards with the aim of ‘improving consumer confidence’. They have been working together over the last year to look at ways of providing higher levels of consumer protection and confidence, by delivering joint services to all of the various tradespeople who deliver services in and around people’s homes.
As TrustMark’s CEO put it, “By joining forces with The Chartered Institute of Trading Standards, it both highlights our commitment and will to enhance consumer protection, encourage best practice and promote excellence and good standards nationally.” But what does that actually mean for tradespeople? In the same announcement, Trading Standards’ CEO Leon Livermore acknowledged that ‘the approval landscape is confused for both consumers and businesses’ – which is why they wanted to work together to make things clearer for you, and your customers.
The aim is to ‘support reputable and honest tradespeople and protect consumers in the decisions they make in order to help improve consumer confidence . . . and drive up industry standards in the repair, maintenance and improvement market.’ – which has to be a good thing surely? Even if it does cost a few quid a month. Your call of course, but here’s a bit more info on how it all works . . .
So, as we said at the start, this is the only Government endorsed scheme. Any firm that gets the TrustMark has to be thoroughly vetted, through on-site inspections and the like, to prove they are not only maintaining certain standards but also aiming to raise industry standards generally. Sounds like a bit of a faff we know, but if it improves the reputation of the industry as a whole, and gets you more customers, it could be well worth it.
The TrustMark scheme works on three principles – what it calls its ‘Cornerstones of Quality’ – which are Good Trading Practises, Good Customer Service and Technical Competence. The sad thing is that we should all be working to those principles anyway as a matter of course, without the need for a scheme to keep us in check – but of course not all tradespeople do, which is why things like this exist!
It’s also important to say that this is a ‘not for profit’ organisation, so they should have the industry’s best interests at heart. The scheme has been around for 12 years now, and this new announcement is just the latest step in a long journey to achieve its goal – which is ‘a position where consumers can engage firms with confidence to undertake work that is of high quality, protected and at the agreed costs’.
We’re not here to do TrustMark’s marketing for them of course, but here’s a few top benefits as they explain it:
• Win more business for your company through TrustMark accreditation
• Be included in their website search facility, which gets around 750,000 hits a month
• Get yourself a business profile on their website so people can find you
• It’s a good way of getting documented customer feedback
• Access to their disputes service if you have a problem with a customer
• Free vehicle stickers and other marketing tools to show your TrustMark status
• Access to their Escrow payment protection facility to guarantee 100% payment for every completed job – which can’t be bad!
And when it comes to the benefits for your customers, they look something like this:
• Confidence that all TrustMark firms are committed to working to Government endorsed standards
• All TrustMark firms offer insurance protection, so they are still protected even if you cease trading for any reason
• Access to TrustMarks’s disputes service if you have an issue
• Access to the Escrow payment protection facility to guarantee everything that you promised them
• Access to a free and user-friendly TrustMarkmobile app
All types of trades can be covered by the scheme – and at the moment 49 different types of companies are included! Everything from aircon to windows and from boilers to TV aerial installers. There is a full list on the TrustMark site. Each area of the industry is covered by a ‘scheme operator’ – which is a governing or certification body that has the technical knowledge within the specific industry.
By becoming a TrustMark Scheme Operator they have made a commitment to raising standards within their industry, especially when it comes to quality of workmanship, quality of service and customer care – they also have a commitment to tackling undesirable trading practices. So you can be sure that the scheme has the right level of skill, whatever your own trade is.
As we said, we’re not endorsing anything here, but with this latest announcement about TrustMark’s link with The Chartered Institute of Trading Standards – in our opinion it has to be worth a good look.