Freeing up your time

Richard Catt explains how one of the CFA’s goals is helping you spend more time fitting floors.

ONE challenge for most small businesses is spending as much time as possible concentrating on the main things that drive their turnover and profit and avoiding unnecessary distractions.

Ultimately, a flooring contractor needs to be successfully fitting as many floors as possible. The further you move away from that activity, the less likely you are to make a sensible profit.

Now, it’s obvious this statement is over-simplistic, because there are many activities that don’t involve laying floors that a flooring contractor simply has to do – for example, you’re unlikely to fit many floors if you don’t first of all tender for work.

Equally, you need to create risk assessments, method statements and so on. The key, while appreciating this is all basic contracting 101, is to have the common stuff standardised and easily modified to reproduce for each job. The CFA offers much help in this respect with templates in the members’ area of the CFA website.

Then there’s the next level. Those things such as more complex subfloor specifications that are less easily standardised. Only just before Christmas, I helped one member (using CFA guidance notes) to explain to a client the difference (in terms of testing and preparation) between a sand and cement screed and an anhydrite screed. Ultimately, a CFA subfloor manufacturer member provided a detailed specification and further support, but the CFA’s information got everyone to that position as quickly as possible.

Finally, for the purposes of my model, there’s the really unproductive stuff.

Complaints! From experience we all know that despite everyone’s best efforts, problems occasionally occur. On many occasions they involve things that are beyond our control - damaged floors immediately post- installation being one, or my favourite example, maintenance or cleaning.

A common scenario is six months after a floor is fitted, the flooring contractor gets a call from the client saying the floor is faulty. A site visit uncovers the fact that the floor is simply not being cleaned properly.

In this country, we have a strange relationship with maintenance, such that cleaning budgets are often tight and the delivery can be … well, shall we say, variable. While we already have some guidance available, I recently attended a meeting of a CFA maintenance subcommittee that is developing the next level of independent CFA support.

Independent is perhaps the key word as it’s the CFA’s independence that makes the information that we publish powerful and helps move many matters forward. It’s not just you, the flooring contractor who is saying it, or the manufacturer, but also independently the leading trade body in the industry.

The CFA’s updated maintenance guidance is still under development but is likely to include some simple initial checks to help members deal with a maintenance query. For example:

  • Has the appropriate cleaning information been distributed and does the cleaner have a copy?
  • Are the appropriate chemicals and cleaning equipment readily available?
  • Is there evidence that the cleaning procedures are being followed? eg knowledge of correct dilution rates? The right system for the right area?
  • Is there sufficient barrier matting at entrances?

Cleaning always needs tact (temperature, agitation, cleaning solution, time). If you reduce any of these, you’ll probably have to increase one or all the others. ALWAYS refer to floorcovering manufacturer’s recommendations.

The finished document will of course have much more to offer and will provide detail behind these and similar checks to help direct those involved to the real cause of a maintenance complaint. Not simply allowing the product or fitting to be blamed without fair challenge.

It’s an irritating truth that you increasingly need to have some knowledge in a wide range of areas (data protection anyone?!) to be successful in business in the 21st century and the CFA simply brings all this knowledge to the table in one very affordable package (£613 per year for a contractor), leaving members to spend the most amount of time possible earning a living at the things they do best.
0115 9411126
Richard Catt is ceo of the CFA