The importance of quality contractors

07 December 2017 By Liam Sheanon, Policy & Membership Officer - Road Safety Markings Association

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We have all heard the phrase “you get what you pay for” and “if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is”. These phrases tend to resonate within the contracting arena.

Being a quality contractor and having quality assurance systems in place ensures your customers and clients that your company is operating effectively and efficiently. It means, through your policies and procedures, you have identified waste as well as products and/or services that do not meet expectations. With reduced deficiencies comes reduced waste and increased savings in both resource (human and material) and finance.

I work for the Road Safety Markings Association (RSMA), the trade association for companies involved in the road marking industry.  In today’s climate, you will be hard pressed to identify an industry that has not implemented some form of quality measurement system, many recognised and/or international standards; to maintain and consistently improve standards, the road marking industry too has a bespoke quality assurance scheme - the National Highways Sector Scheme 7, which works in tandem with ISO9001 quality assurance. Having this accreditation ensures that our member companies not only have effective quality control in place but also that operatives are qualified and competent in their respective roles. Operatives must work to correct guidelines at all times and are required to undertake regular refresher training after they have attained the full NVQ to address the real risk of skills fade within the industry. To uphold the standards, we require all of our members to be Sector Scheme 7 accredited. This quality standard allows a differential between assured and validated companies, who deliver a quality job and those companies that are not quality assured and are therefore able to use sub-par material and an unqualified workforce. A quoted job may seem a good deal at first glance, but when the job has to be redone after a few months it may be much more costly in the long term, making it a bad deal!

Prior to becoming the Quality Lead for the RSMA and before we achieved our own ISO9001 quality assurance, I remember being asked what the meaning of quality is. Undoubtedly I provided some sort of dry, run-of-the-mill answer about ensuring the organisation is fit-for-purpose, and fulfilling expectations etc., but over time, I began looking at it differently. It’s about giving confidence to the client and providing a service to the expected standards. It’s about ensuring the client receives what was expected. Quality is not isolated to a particular industry, on the contrary is touches all industries be it road-markings, house-building, plumbing, training, retailing, etc. Quality is really about understanding the true requirements of the client and delivering against them.

Quality assurance is a driver and precursor to success. Employing a contractor without quality assurance systems in place to complete a job could lead to costly rectifications of works completed whereas the use of a quality assured contractor will allow confidence that not only correct materials and competent labour has been employed but also that the tender figures have considered the minimisation of disruption and the mitigation of other risk factors in completing the job.

The choice to contract is an individual one. Select a quality assured contractor and be confident that the job will be delivered as agreed and expected or continue the myth that quality contractors cost more by engaging a non-quality assured contractor.  Choosing the latter may well result in longer and costlier final works completion again proving that you really do get what you pay for.

For information on YPO's 772 Road Marking and Surfacing DPS please contact [email protected]

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