Three-quarters (75%) of homeowners are more likely to use a home improvement contractor who is part of an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme, meaning businesses who aren’t embracing ADR could be missing out on new business, according to a new report from dispute resolution provider Dispute Assist.
The Future of Disputes in Home Improvement report found that once given a definition of ADR, 64% of homeowners would consider using it in the future to settle their disputes with home improvement contractors. Whilst 31% were still unsure, just 5% of respondents were unwilling to use it.
ADR is a bank of dispute resolution methods which includes mediation, conciliation, arbitration and expert determination. These methods can all help to resolve disputes between home improvement contractors and customers without going down the court route, and they are often significantly cheaper and quicker than filing a claim through the legal system.
Knowing they will have easy access to an ADR provider if something goes wrong can improve customer trust in a home improvement contractor, and if they advertise their involvement in an ADR scheme it can help to boost their reputation and win them new customers too.
The findings illustrate just how fearful customers are of resolving disputes through the courts, with 56% of homeowners admitting that they found it stressful when asked to describe their experience. Almost half (49%) found the process to be lengthy, 29% said it was expensive, and a similar number of people (26%) said that courtroom resolutions were disappointing. At the other end of the scale, just 21% thought that the court process was easy and only 18% said it was quick.
When asked the same question, tradespeople shared similar negative experiences of the courts, as 63% stated that proceedings were stressful and 40% said they were lengthy. 39% agreed that court was expensive and 29% shared their disappointment with the outcome.
Ciarán Harkin, managing director of Dispute Assist, said: “The potential for disputes between contractors and customers is currently exacerbated by the economic circumstances impacting the home improvement sector, such as supply chain shortages and the increased cost of materials. “Our findings show that court proceedings are unlikely to be the answer to contractors’ dispute woes, therefore it is crucial that contractors understand how to reach a solution with customers at the soonest point possible to protect their businesses financially and reputationally.
“With 33% of contractors also admitting that they aren’t sure how to choose an ADR scheme, greater education is needed to illustrate the value of ADR to businesses operating within the home improvement and renewables sectors. Crucially, businesses also need to know that by joining an ADR scheme, new customers can see they are serious about customer satisfaction and that their finances and homes will be protected if something goes wrong during works. It really is a win-win for both customer and contractor.”
You can read the full findings of Dispute Assist’s latest report here.