Category Archives: construction news

Make your business more cost-effective and cheaper for your customers

There are a number of ways you can make your business cost-effective and save money without compromising the quality of service you provide to customers. One of these increasingly popular ways of getting your business on the move is to use free business savings advice.

In time of recession the government is willing to support businesses with providing advice and guidance on how to boost growth and create jobs. Greater support for innovation and decisive action from the government to cut red tape might encourage more people to start their own businesses in future. However, if you are an existing trade, one way of cutting cost effectively is to seek professional advice.

One of the companies that can be useful to your business has been recognised as one of Britain’s fastest-growing companies in this year’s Sunday Times Fast Track 100, published today.

‘Make It Cheaper’ will offer your business free and impartial advice to about a range of overheads including energy efficiency and how to get your supplies cheaper.

In the past 12 months it has saved 50,000 business customers in the region of £100 million by cutting an average of 30% off their bills, either by switching suppliers or helping to re-negotiate deals with existing ones.

Jonathan Elliott, founder and managing director of Make It Cheaper, commented:

“Whereas larger businesses often have the experience, resources and necessary clout to negotiate good prices with suppliers, most SMEs do not. And there are over four million of them in the UK. Make It Cheaper has answered a call from these businesses to represent their interests in a David & Goliath fight for a fair deal on a number of essentials from electricity to credit card charges. The money we help businesses save goes straight to its bottom line as pure profit, without it having to increase its sales.”

What is your opining on using a free business savings advice? Do you think they have the potential to transform your business as they say? Let us know by sharing your comments below:



T4TS How to Guides: Ex-Armed Forces Personnel talk about retraining with T4TS as plumbers and electricians

Train4TradeSkills are a big supporter of the armed forces and are keen to promote the good work our soldiers are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We are also keen to help servicemen and ex-servicemen make the transition from the armed forces back into civilian life and have a number of students who served in the armed forces and are now training as plumbers and electricians.

Train4TradeSkills Radio has spoken to a number of servicemen and soldiers who are preparing for life after the army by training as plumbers and electricians. These are Dev Pun, Daniel Terblanche and Darryl Johnson.

Dev Pun

Dev is a Gurkha who has spent 11 years in the army as an engineer. Dev has served with the Gurkhas, who are part of the British Army, in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dev turned to plumbing because he was recommended to take it up by a friend who is a plumber, and he said he wants to learn new skills and have a trade under his belt.

Dev says about the practical training part of the course:

“The practical training is quite challenging and demanding because I’m learning new things every week. The teachers are helping me, and I’m learning new things on practicals.”

Daniel Terblanche

Daniel has spent 7 years in the army, working as a tank commander. Dan describes his job as “I basically drive, load , shoot, gun and sometimes command tanks.” Based at RAF Honington, Daniel took leave to attend his practical training and is training as an electrician.

Daniel told Train4TradeSkills Radio how he went about doing the course as well as serving in the army and his plans for the future:

“I basically just went through the chain of command. I went to my boss and spoke to him about it, saying this is what I’m doing and I’m paying for it out of my own pocket. At the end of the course the army has a scheme called Enhanced Learning Credits – if you can pay for a course with those learning credits then the army is obliged to let you go. Once I’ve finished the course I will put my application for enhanced learning credits in and they will give me some money back. I can then go back to army and say this is what I’ve done, I’ve passed a course and you’re letting me go for a few weeks at a time when it’s justified

At this stage of the game I think it will take me quite a while to finish the course and I’m in no rush at all at this stage. Once I’ve finished the course I’ll probably see if I can get permission At the end I would possibly like to be self-employed, yeah, but initially I need to get a whole lot more experience before I do that, so I would probably look to work for a big company or something along those lines.”

Darryl Johnson

Darryl is a soldier and is in the 2nd Royal Welsh Battalion. He has served a tour of Afghanistan and is set to leave the army in the next month and will instead focus on plumbing.

Darryl told Train4TradeSkills Radio about how he arranged to do the practical training and his plumbing plans for when he’s left the army.

“At the moment I’m on leave so it was quite easy for me to come down here for this second week that I’m on now. When I was on week 1 I was still in my working hours so because I was leaving my platoon commander was kind enough to give me the time off because he knew I was already signed off and my contract was going to end. He was happy to give me the time off and let me complete my week 1.

With me coming out of the army this month, I’m hoping to finish my Level 2 by the end of the year. Once I’ve done that I’d like to get in with a plumber, get employed and gain some experience.

The benefit with Train4TradeSkills is that you can do it at your own pace, in the evenings or in your spare time.”

You can listen to Dev, Darryl and Daniel’s stories from Train4TradeSkills Radio at www.audioboo.fm/train4tradeskills

Train4TradeSkills is a big supporter of the Armed forces and particularly Holidays4Heroes, a charity that gives holidays to servicemen and women who have sustained injuries whilst on duty. To find out more about Holidays4Heroes go to http://holidays4heroes.blogspot.com

Six Train4TradeSkills students tell YOU how to get Jobs and Work Placements – October 2011

Are you training to be a plumber or electrician with Train4TradeSkills and want to get some practical experience outside of your course? Train4TradeSkills Radio has spoken to a number of students who are working in the industry alongside their training and gaining valuable experience. These students offer their advice and tips of how they managed to get work placements and jobs, so you can follow in their footsteps. Here are the students and the excerpts from their T4TS Radio interviews. All of the interviews are available to listen to at www.audioboo.fm/train4tradeskills and you can read and download the stories via Scribd at www.scribd.com/train4tradeskills

Rich Boden

Plumbing Course“I’m a self-employed roofer. I started off working for a firm as a kid getting my experience. And then what I did from working with them I’d do weekend jobs for family and friends and jobs on the side and their friends said “you’ve done a good job, do you want to do this…” and the recommendation side of it. From that I started to get a bit busier and was trying to squeeze jobs in at the weekends, as I was working full-time for a firm Monday-Friday I didn’t have time. So I started cutting out on them so I could do my own work. It was a bit of a gamble at the start, I cut myself off from them and worked independently. Then it came to setting up a website for a few hundred pounds, advertise in a local newspaper. Luckily my mum is a local community representative and she put an ad in for the local community voice paper that goes round to all the local houses, so I got quite a bit of work through that as well.”

Neil Pain

Plumbing Course“I met up with a chap who I’ve known for years and he’s given me a break really. He needed someone to do general labouring and it’s gone from there. I’m doing carpentry, roofing, a bit of everything really. I’m self-employed already, so initially my plans are to go out and do general plumbing, hopefully pass my solar as well. At the moment because I’ve got a fair bit of building work I might branch out on my own and do extensions and incorporate the plumbing into that.”

James Passas

Plumbing Course For the last 5 years I started up a handyman company with a friend of mine and we do various types of work. Apart from plumbing, we do bathroom installations, kitchen installations and smaller jobs, from painting and decorating to laying floors, carpentry, tiling – that sort of thing. For the people who want to go self-employed and start their own business, what ways have you found are the best to get customers?It starts off as word of mouth really and then setting up the website helped and making sure it was reasonably high up in the Google rankings, advertising. After a few years we’ve found the customers have increased and we’re getting more and more queries from people.

Dan Hardy

Plumbing Course I’ve been doing some unpaid work experience with a local plumber, so I work with him a couple of times a week or when I can and he teaches me the ropes. The main thing I’m getting out of it is the experience. It’s alright doing this course but being on-site is where it’s at and it prepares you a bit more. What sort of jobs have you been doing with the plumber then? PVC plasting piping, fitting in radiators, toilets, done a central heating system and general repairing and replacing taps. It’s been pretty full-on and it’s given me the determination to finish the course and do it for real full-time. Can you tell us how you went about arranging the plumbing work experience?I just got the Yellow pages and wrote all the names down and typed up a letter saying what my name is and I’m doing a Level 2 Plumbing Course, is there any chance of any unpaid work experience to help me along. And if they replied that’s a bonus and if not, just keep on trying.

Simon Venable

Plumbing Course “I run my own business now. It’s plumbing, property and gardening services, which I’ve been doing since February 2011. I’ve been doing bathrooms, wetrooms, kitchen sinks and replacing traps in bathrooms and kitchens, radiators”. How do you get your business then?“Word of mouth and business cards. I’ve put one advert when I first started in a local magazine. That cost me £70 to put the advert in, but on the strength of that I got 3 customers, 2 of which came back for extra work – so it more than paid for itself.”

Shaun Burke

Plumbing Course“I’m now installing solar panels on roofs – doing PV ones at the moment. The company I’m working for now are going to put me on the thermal panel and the hot water side, so I’ll be trained up for them and work there. Once I’m trained up fully, I’ll start installing those as well. The course will help me out with the job that I’m doing now – I could get on the other side instead of doing the PV panels and do the install of the thermal panels on the roofs, as people are going to push for a big drive for them to be installed on people’s houses.”

You can listen all the full interviews from Neil, Rich, James, Dan, Simon and Shaun at www.audioboo.fm/train4tradeskills – where you can download to iTunes and your smartphones (iPhone and Android) if you have one.

Train4TradeSkills student James talks about his plumbing and handyman business

James Passas is training to become a plumber with Train4TradeSkills. Tom Jinks from T4TS Radio spoke to James to find out how he was getting on with his training:

You can listen to James’ interview on the Train4TradeSkills Radio Blog at www.train4tradeskills.blogspot.com or download to iTunes from the AudioBoo app at www.audioboo.fm/train4tradeskills

You can visit James’ website for his Handyman business at www.handyman.co.uk

Train4TradeSkills Student Grant talks about plumbing training and his new job as a plumber

Grant Van Djk is training to become a plumber with Train4TradeSkills. Tom Jinks from T4TS Radio spoke to Grant to find out how he was getting on with his training:

You can listen to Grant’s interview on the Train4TradeSkills Radio Blog at www.train4tradeskills.blogspot.com or download to iTunes from the AudioBoo app at www.audioboo.fm/train4tradeskills

Megan tells Train4TradeSkills Radio about her plumbing course and work experience

Megan Morphew is training to become a plumber with Train4TradeSkills. Tom Jinks from T4TS Radio spoke to Megan to find out how she was getting on with her training:

You can listen to Megan’s interview on the Train4TradeSkills Radio Blog at www.train4tradeskills.blogspot.com or download to iTunes from the AudioBoo app at www.audioboo.fm/train4tradeskills

Cliff’s Diary of his Train4TradeSkills Practical Training – Week 4

Monday:

I am back in Featherstone for week 4 of my practical training there are not so many students this week and I am in a group of three. Our main task for the week is an airing cupboard fitting a hot water storage cylinder, feed and expansion tank also running a single hot feed to a hand basin.

This is part of the requirement for city & guilds 6129 course and is assessed but there is no photo and summary required. You can have two attempts to complete this task but if you are happy with your first install it is not necessary and you can move on to other things.

We don’t need a materials list for this task so it’s straight to work on the install. We can install this system any way we see fit and the only information given is that we must use as many machine bends as possible so as not to slow the flow of water.

This is quite a task as a great deal of the pipe work is in 22mm which is difficult to bend by hand, but after last week’s LCS I am feeling pretty pumped up and find it less difficult than my first attempts with 22mm pipe.

By lunchtime I am well into the install and have the feed and expansion tank completed and the feed to the cylinder also. After a catch up with the other students over lunch were back to work fitting the primary vent pipe which is the most complex of all the bends as it has a bridge, offset and two 90 ̊ bends all in one piece of 22mm tube. This takes the best part of an hour to work out and pull accurately but once complete the rest is plain sailing and by the end of the afternoon I have the system filled with water and soundness tested

Tuesday:

Having soundness tested the install the previous day and left the system filled overnight, Robert our tutor assessed the install and passed it with some nice comments on neatness and the quality of the bends and said that it was not necessary for me to do a second install and that I could decommission and move on.

The decommission takes a long time as there is a large quantity of water in the system so the morning soon passes. During lunch I spent some time with a group of students on their first week of training and am able to give some advice on what to expect during the week and hopefully helped them to avoid some of the mistakes people were making when I was there for week 1.

This was good because it allowed me to realise just how beneficial the first weeks were to me and how much I had retained to memory. In the afternoon Robert did air testing drainage systems with me and I got acquainted with a manometer, I also did two test papers ready for the exams the following day which I failed miserably much to my disgust, so out came the books and I spend the rest of the day doing some serious revision in the canteen.

Wednesday:

Feeling pretty tired today. I did another 2 hours revision when I got home last night and am just hoping I haven’t done too much and bamboozled myself with facts and figures.

I am given another task by Robert a Soil and Waste fit in one of the bays. It’s not a long task but there are two photo’s, a written summary and a materials list needed for this task. It really helps me clear my head and distracts me from worrying about the exams as I excel in the practical parts of the course.

And I am feeling much more relaxed by lunch. During lunch talking with fellow students I realise it’s not only me who has been dreading exam everyone failed the mocks and spent a long night of revision but are now all feeling pragmatic about them pass or fail, my own attitude is failure is NOT an option.

1pm: Exam time today we have Sanitation systems and Central Heating Systems both are about 30 questions multiple choice and computer based with about 60mins allocated for each which again is more time than is necessary and even spending lots of time over the papers I’m out within the hour relieved that there over with.

The rest of the day is to be a Rain Water System install again not a very long task but photo’s, materials list and a written summary is required for my portfolio, the install only take 30mins and the remainder of the day is spent doing materials lists and summaries for the last two tasks. We get our results from our exams quite late in the afternoon and I’m very pleased to say I passed both – CHUFFED!!!

Thursday:

Today is about getting my portfolio up to date and making sure everything is signed and dated correctly. Absolutely everything has to be signed and counter signed by the tutors, so Robert spends a whole morning going through our files with us, he also dose some talks on Solvents, Scaffolding Erection and The Safe Use Of Power Tools so that they can also be signed as completed.

He has also given us a talk on what to expect on our final two weeks and it sound like it’s going to be very intense with lots of summaries to do. I am all up to date with everything completed so there is no need for me to attend for the Friday. Friday’s seem to be for resit’s of exams and also any work that needs to be completed, so far I haven’t needed to attend on Fridays hope I can continue in that manner.

Hope you have enjoyed the read I have 4 more TMA’s to complete the level 2 then 2 more weeks practical so am hoping to be back with parts 5 & 6 of the diary soon.

To see photos from Week 4 of his practical training and read his other diaries, visit Cliff’s blog at www.plumbing-student.blogspot.com