How to Choose a Fencing Company
With more than 20 years experience in the fencing industry, there is not much that AlphaFence doesn't know about fencing (as our many customer references show). Whether you have a fence installed by us, or from ANOther, if you follow the steps below you are very likely to find the 'right' company for you.
Essentially what you are looking for is a fencing company that will provide a quality product, safely, respecting your business and environment, on time, and will not go bust before, during or after the works. Look at ANY company's marketing and publicity and it will offer you all of the above. So how do you know whether it is true or just hype?
Independent Vetting and Accreditation
What you need is some form of external independent judge, and one that is consistent in measuring one company against another by the same objective criteria. Fortunately there are a number of excellent third party independent pre-qualification and vetting organisation who offer accreditation to companies that meet their stringent criteria. Some such as CHAS (see below) focus exclusively on health and safety, others such as ConstructionLine take a broad overview of the entire company's operations and performance. Applying for accreditation with one or more of these vetting organisations represents a financial commitment as well as one to get their house in order and show it off - companies that produce poor work do not usually volunteer themselves for scrutiny and pay for the priviledge.
What if something is damaged, or worse someone is hurt, on your premises during the course of your fencing works? You need to ensure that the company carrying out the work has at least £ 5 million Public Liability cover and £ 10 million Employers Liability cover. Choose a company with adequate and appropriate Business Insurance.
CHAS has become the UK benchmark for health and safety vetting and monitoring. In order to achieve CHAS accreditation a company must submit its health and safety policies and procedures for scrutiny to a panel of health and safety experts. Only companies taking full responsibility for the healh, safety and welfare of not only for their employess, but also their clients, visitors and the general; public, will be CHAS accredited. Look out for CHAS Accreditation as it signals well-developed relevant and professional health and safety management systems.
Industry Trade Associations have stringent entry criteria taking a broad overview of the company's operations and performance. They have the advantage over many other vetting organisations in that they are industry-specific and hence their requirements are likely to better reflect the specific needs of their marketplace. The European Fencing Industry Association (EFIA) for example checks its applicants financial stability, quality of work, health and safety, and also requires its members to operate to a professional code of conduct with an approved complaints handling procedure overseen by the association. An EFIA Member can be considered within the top tier of the UK fencing industry.
ConstructionLine has become the construction industry's standard vetting organisation, taking a broad overview of the company's operations and performance. It uses and recognises (through SSiP) the CHAS standards for vetting safety, and also includes financial stability checks and very comprehensive quality checks - it requires for example signed statements from satisfied customers for each and every product or service that the company suppliers (and these endorsements must be renewed every 3 years). A ConstructionLine Accredited company can be expected to provide quality work, safely and in a professional manner.
Customer References can be a useful aid to the decision making process, although frankly no company will refer you to a customer who was dissatisfied. A large number of Customer References or Testimonials can indicate that the company has not just buttered up one or two mates.
The work itself in evidence on the customer's premises may be a better guide than the customer's words, i.e. seeing is believing etc. If you can see, touch and feel the work that they have done then you can make a first hand judgement yourself. NB - ensure that you get permision before testing out a fence on someone else's property.
It is said that most small business start-ups fail in the first two years, and the longer they have been in business the less likely they are to fail. Recent world events demonstrate that no company is too old or big to go bust, but generally as a rule of thumb a company with a couple of years under its belt is preferred to a start up. After all, if they can survive in "the worst economic downturn for 100 years" then they have probably put the worst behind them. Look for a company with a bit of History.
Companies that are too pushy and demand commitment or money too soon rarely have anything good to offer. A good quality product and company generally sells itself. What you need is someone to listen to your needs and provide good objective advice in return. Perhaps they will suggest a range of alternative products and guide you through the pros and cons of each. Perhaps they will offer just one solution and tell you why. In any case a good company will provide information in a clear and understandable manner and leave you to make your own decision without any pressure. Look for a company that puts its customers first and offers a FREE no-obligation site inspection and quotation service without a hard sell.
Policies in themselves are no signal of quality, stability or professionalism. After all we can write what we want but the proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the eating. However, policies do at least demonstarate a commitment to certain standards of behaviour or outcome, and if they are kept relevant and up to date they indicate a company that is constantly reviewing its operations and aspirations.
A Health & Safety Policy should be a 'given', in fact it is a statutory must for any company with more than 5 employees, and should be insisted upon in any event - you need to know that the workers on your premises will not be a danger to themselves nor anyone else.
An well developed and relevant Environmental Policy will usually indicate that the company has a sense of social responsibility and is thinking not only about profit, but also about the impact of their operations on the environment. It also tends to suggest that they are planning to be around for a long time and thus have a vested interest in the quality of their work and the repeat busines that it brings.
A Quality Policy indicates a customer's commitment to the quality of its work, as does a Customer Care Policy, and a Customer Complaints policy and procedure sets out what happens if that commitment is not met in reality, i.e. tells a customer what to expect and how to make their complaint. If it is backed up by an industry Trade Association, e.g. EFIA, then it has real muscle giving the customer an additional form of external redress if the company's own policy does not satisfy.
We are sure that you want to be confident that waste from your site is not going to end up in a nearby back lane or lay by. A registered Waste Carrier with a Waste Carriers License will have likely recognised and met their responsibilities for the correct disposal of commercial waste.
A Training Policy indicates a commitment to train and develop the workforce, and a Training Log is evidence that it happens in real life. Such things again are good indicators of a bone fide business in it for the long haul and with a vested interest in producing quality work.
Of course no outcomes are guaranteed, but by choosing a company that meets as many of the above criteria as possible one can reduce the likelihood of an unpleasant experience. How do AlphaFence fair?