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AA Teccie (Paul)

ARB Approved...views please.

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"Dear collective," I seek your views and comments on the ARB Approved Contractor Scheme and "how" we/I can improve its standing in the industry and the associated take up by yourselves....which in turn will / is highly likely to result in customers / clients requesting it (the oft cited "chicken n egg" scenario.) 

 

Quick (recent..ish) background:

In 2011 we restructured the scheme to make it more relevant and more accessible to small businesses which increased contractor nos. from circa 150 to 270 (current nos.) AND small businesses from 18% to 33% (and up to 64% if you include both 1-5 and 6-9, i.e. both still equating to small businesses really.)  The previous "one size fits all" in terms of standards / criteria, number of assessors, assessment duration AND cost has changed to a scale of such relevant to business size / staff nos. etc. (I do acknowledge however that compared to CHAS Safety Scheme for instance ARB Approved is significantly more expensive but it's significantly more detailed, industry specific and beneficial with a much wider scope.) We also developed a specific membership opportunity for contractors looking to be acknowledged as "working towards" ARB Approval, i.e. Affiliate Contractor Membership, and to then go on and achieve the accreditation.    

We've also developed a Utility Scheme for the electrical, rail, high-speed roads and waterways sectors which is currently in a 'slow-launch' stage.

 

If I may, and to hopefully pre-empt some comments, "Joe Public" never asks for ARB Approved because they don't know about it = therefore don't need to do it! In reply I would enquire which other Trade Associations / Accreditations do JP know about other than perhaps GAS SAFE / NICEIC / Fensa maybe ...any why (because they see the logos on commercial vehicles on the road / at traffic lights I would suggest.) Further, I'm sure many would like there to be actual regulation for tree surgery contractors to hopefully expel, or at least marginalize, the many unscrupulous tree surgery(???) contractors out there...it's never going to happen unfortunately so 'self-regulation', i.e. a voluntary scheme (AKA ARB Approved ;)), is the only way forward I believe.

 

We've hit something of a plateau in terms of scheme / contractors numbers and I'm keen to try to push-through this and to engage with, and support / promote, many more of you.

 

Please help me to better understand why you're not becoming ARB Approved? (I guess a 'poll / survey monkey' thing might have been a good option here :/ ...sorry!)

 

Thanks in anticipation and for reading this rambling email.

 

ATB,

Paul

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What puts me off is that the majority of main local authority arb contractors are arb 'approved' and their gangs are pretty dismal in both quality of work and general approach to arboriculture. I appreciate that will not be everyone but it is certainly not going to be an anomaly either.

It feels less like a mark of quality and more a case if you want to pay a high fee you get to be part of a boys club.

Honest feedback, apologies if it is a bit blunt.

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I think there will be too many hoops to jump through, I am a sole trader and don't have policies on this or that, which I guess you would be looking for.

 

I also went down the Trusted Trader route, whereby the local Trading Standards vet you and check you are not an unscrupulous trader. I know it doesn't check the quality of my work but it counts for something and works, and only cost £100 p.a.

 

I am an AA associate member btw.

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Pay some one to do the paperwork ..pay a decent climber to do a nice reduction....arb approved.....Cheers....look at my new logo on the van

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14 minutes ago, essential said:

Pay some one to do the paperwork ..pay a decent climber to do a nice reduction....arb approved.....Cheers....look at my new logo on the van

 

9 minutes ago, essential said:

Sorry ...but I don't think it carries the status it use to ...more of we just want your money

or do the paperwork and the reduction yourself as I did

ive been arb approved coming up 6 years, it has opened doors for some of the well paying work that we do now, for example the national trust near us will only use arb approved contractors.

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I went AAAC in July and have won probably £10k in commercial work that I wouldn't have been asked to price without being approved so cost wise at approx £500 a year averaged over 4 years it's not a big issue.  All without much personal promotion of the fact we are now AAAC.

 

The policies are easy to write, most in fact are available to modify on the AA site.  Yes they do take a good amount of time as does the various site safety inspections and post work audits but if I'm honest it was something I was doing before just not writing down and if the poo ever hit the fan and something ended up in court, if it isn't documented, it isn't done.  The rest is organisation and time.  I am now in a position when I am rarely on site on the tools so have the time to run the office, quote keeping good records, audit sites, manage finances, etc.  I can see it being an issue for someone on the tools 5 days a week running a team and trying to do the ongoing paperwork.

 

If the AA wants to really show the AAAC off as being a level above then get rid of a load of the other levels of membership.  With gas safe, NICEIC, CHAS, Safecontractor, constructionline and the majority of others you have either got it or you haven't.  You cannot use the name in any form unless fully approved.  Having member, affiliate member, working towards member (really don't understand this one!!) and approved contractor is confusing in the industry never mind to the public.  I know there is massive financial income with memberships but if you tell a potential client you are a member of the trade approval body they are likely to assume that means approved.  It's even proven Trustmark don't know the difference!!

 

Controversial I am sure.

 

Kev

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I think I've said my bit in the past but to reiterate:  It was, and maybe still is, a club for the boys...back-slapping old school tie and all that. 

 

Bitter and twisted?  Maybe but with good reason.  It's a long time ago now and I'm past bothering about the AA but what about the contractors who where once approved and still drive around with the logo displayed on trucks and letterheads after dropping out of the scheme. Are you not bothered chasing them up?

 

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