Within the painting and commercial decorating industry, there is a complex concoction of issues, both with regard to the industry’s image and the difficulties that those who maintain or construct buildings face in finding reputable, quality painting contractors for their projects. This is where the Dulux Trade Contract Partnership Scheme comes in; a scheme that is not solely looking to champion the best commercial decorators, but looking to reshape the very image of the wider sector itself.
Historically regarded as a skilled trade, commercial decorating is an integral part of any project development, both for new build and refurbishment. It offers the opportunity to entirely transform the interior of a building into an environment that enhances people’s lives. In recent years however, the sheer potential of this role has unfortunately been overlooked, as a result of the global recession, with cost-cutting prioritising over quality workmanship for the majority of projects. On this note, the Contract Partnership scheme is working hard to change this image and is targeting three core concepts capable of realigning the position of commercial decorating within the construction industry itself: the availability of quality workmanship, the inspiration of trust and reliance in commercial decorators playing a key role in construction projects, and the provision of a clear line of support offered to commercial decorators who are committed to elevating the reputation of the industry.
Now boasting a network of some 250 approved decorators, the Contract Partnership scheme exists out of a combined need for Dulux Trade to champion the best of the best in the wider industry and drive forward the efficient use of high quality products. As such, the network is considered to be quite exclusive, with strict assessment procedures and requirements for commercial decorators to enter the scheme. While this may be quite a daunting concept for tradesmen, this exclusivity means that only quality approved contractors are able to enter the scheme and provides reassurance to the client that they are working with the highest quality tradesmen in the UK. The assessment and application process and auditing may be thorough but it gives contractors who get through the scheme an advantage, giving them a real USP with clients.
Illustrating the driving ambition behind the Contract Partnership scheme as a way of highlighting excellence within the industry, Duncan Lochhead, Commercial Marketing Manager, explains: “We want to be championing the very best contractors who are working to drive continual improvements in the industry. Our aim is to encourage customers not to settle for poor workmanship, but to insist on quality commercial decorators. We can then, hopefully improve the focus on quality for all those operating in the market including those already in the partnership. This improvement is rewarded with incentives for members.”
With its technical specification team consistently out in the field, providing support services for many of the UK’s leading asset managers and contractors, the Contract Partnership scheme is at the sharp end of the industry with a direct feed into the market and is therefore well placed to reflect the needs and wants of the modern-day building owner and contractor. The field resource significantly helps Dulux Trade understand the capabilities and professionalism displayed by commercial decorators across all projects. By not only recommending commercial decorators, but also monitoring the progress of individual projects, the Contract Partnership scheme is increasingly taking a central role in the sourcing and management of commercial decorating contracts across a wide range of projects.
As a concerned stakeholder in the commercial decorating sector, the Contract Partnership scheme is integral to the future prosperity of the decorating industry, driving standards up and value into the wider construction industry itself – a responsibility which the scheme takes very seriously. As Lochhead further suggests: “We have a keen sense of responsibility towards all projects that we’re involved with. We follow projects through to completion to be sure that decoration goes well. We get a feel, on an ongoing basis, of who is delivering quality in the marketplace and then invite them to go through the assessment process. Rarely does a contractor pass the audit first time without improvement recommendations, but we provide help and support so they can make those improvements and reach the standards required to pass the audit.”
The Contract Partnership scheme also improves the accessibility of such contractors through its web portal, an enhanced search-based website where some procurement processes can be undertaken on the website itself. This, in effect, offers something of a one-stop-shop service and is the first step to inspire clients to use highly skilled contractors to realise their ambitions of bringing colour into their projects. The website is a simple, reliable procurement solution for building owners and asset managers.
This simple and efficient method of procurement, combined with the expertise and reliability of decorators on the scheme, is also confirmation of the Contract Partnership’s aspiration to encourage trust within the industry. Through the partnership, it is hoped that leading specifiers will be able to rest easy, knowing that they can rely on Contract Partnership commercial decorators to not only support the client’s vision of a building, but to bring innovative creations to the table which can completely and utterly transform environments.
Explaining the importance of this trust and the potential for transformation, Lochhead details: “Our commitment and strategic ambition is to not only promote quality in the marketplace but also to. In doing so, we give clients the confidence to create an amazing transformation rather than a bland recoat in magnolia. You can make a huge difference to the users of a building through their visual experience of it; you can improve learning outcomes for education, healing outcomes in hospitals, productivity in office environments and more. Having skilled commercial decorators as part of their team gives specifiers confidence that they can deliver an amazing transformation.”