New research by dispute resolution provider Dispute Assist has revealed the impact of customer disputes on the working hours and financial success of the nation’s home improvement contractors.
According to the research, 43% of contractors are spending between two and five hours per month dealing with disputes, a huge drain on their time and resources. In addition, nearly a fifth (17%) of contractors admit to spending between six and 10 hours a month liaising with customers over disagreements, and one in 10 (11%) spend more than 10 hours a month.
Only 7% of contractors said that they spend no time at all dealing with disputes, suggesting that they are a regular feature in the professional lives of most home improvement contractors.
Dispute Assist says that assuming a contractor’s hourly rate stands at £35, they lose the equivalent of £70 upwards to £350 on handling disputes alone, meaning these disputes have the potential to significantly setback a home improvement business financially. Costs rack up even more when a customer dispute is escalated to the courts, and more than a third (36%) of contractors revealed they have had an unhappy customer make a court claim against them.
Despite the financial and reputational damage a trip to court can create, uptake of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services to prevent disputes from reaching this stage has been surprisingly slow among contractors. Two-fifths (42%) of those surveyed are not part of an ADR scheme, and 28% don’t actually know what ADR is, even though it has been a legal requirement since 2015 for traders to signpost customers to an ADR provider if a complaint cannot be resolved.