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In the spirit of CROSSHIRE

Paddy’s Motorbike encounters a construction professional who, besides not appreciating our industry’s service, has trouble understanding paperwork.


I am sure we all appreciate that being the head of a construction company can be difficult, especially when they might face a large outlay as they start a job. We also know that if their customers are slow in paying them, this can have a knock-on effect on others, such as the good old tool hire company.

Sometimes it seems we are the last on their payment list, yet what has crossed my mind is that they have no problem paying when they leave the supermarket, pub or restaurant, or even their local petrol station - so why are we singled out? They call on us to deliver plant and tools to a site and we don’t take 45 days to deliver it. Nor do we state that we are on our way but leave it a week before we actually are, nor say things like ‘It’s in the post’. No, we get kit to site as quickly as we can and collect it when the customer asks. Sometimes we can have the equipment on site in 30 minutes and they have 30 days to pay. Annoying as this is, we can say it is part of our normal business routine.

One day I got a call from a director of such a construction company - let’s call him Rodney. Now, I had already guessed he might be having a bit of a cash flow problem as he had to pay his very overdue account by credit card, when normally it is done by BACS, so alarm bells were ringing. Rodney was asking to off-hire a list of items from his sites but, from memory, I knew that nearly every piece of plant he was mentioning had, in fact, already been off-hired and collected the previous month.

I informed him of this but it only made him irritable and he started complaining about how his staff apparently had held onto hired plant longer than needed. He then began asking me, why had he kept the hired equipment for so long, and why was the bill so high? I sensed panic in his voice and found that the blame was aimed at me! Have you ever tried to reason with a man who does not want to listen? Yes, I am sure we all have.

Now, it appears that poor old Rodney cannot read an invoice. We use a well-known software system to produce ours,

stating the on-hire and off-hire dates, along with a breakdown of weeks and days and quantities. Rodney had overlooked these details and was now looking directly at the total amounts at the bottom of the page. I was told to off-hire the lot and he was going to buy all his own plant. And that, as they say, was that.

However, let’s move forward a week and I get a very amused site foreman phoning me, requesting an aluminium tower for the site that his boss - Rodney - wanted clearing previously. “Are you not buying one?” I asked. “No,” came the reply. “Have you cleared this with Rodney then?” I asked. “Yes,” he answered. So it was back to business as usual, apparently.

As it happens, Rodney had gone out and purchased some equipment from a local auction or car boot sale. He got a nice laser level that was out of calibration with some faulty rechargeable batteries, plus a concrete breaker that had a very high HAV level, and which his workers refused to use. And he had also acquired everyone’s favourite: a second- hand cut-off saw that was losing power when in operation. Guess whose workshop this is now residing in! Our drivers always seem to hear the best site gossip, and they informed me that one of Rodney’s builders had spent the best part of a day making a four hour round trip to collect the laser level and get it back to site, only to find it was not fit for purpose.

All this only proves to me how professional we are in tool hire. I would suggest that there are few construction firms with the same quality of equipment as we invest in, while maintaining it well and keeping track of where it is. Furthermore, would they dedicate the room we need to store it all safely? And if that was not enough, there are the logistics, vehicles and delivery drivers to think of. Maybe one day Rodney might just realise that we are ourselves a vital trade in our own right.


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