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A new way to sign up

As the pandemic continues, we’ve launched a new way to sign up with SELECT. Matt Ayre, one of our first Conditional Members, reveals how he’s already been helped by joining us

The COVID-19 restrictions might still be in place, but it hasn’t stopped new Members joining SELECT.

Matt Ayre was one of the first people to sign up using our innovative Conditional Membership scheme. The process makes sure that firms can still join and access our support while the usual in-person assessments are suspended.

And since signing up, Matt’s already discovered the benefits of being part of Scotland’s largest construction trade association. He said: “I was told about SELECT by other electricians who recommended joining. One of the main reasons I joined was the technical advice and when I called for guidance I got answers straight away. There’s always someone on the phone and the person who helped me really knew his stuff.”

Online assessment

As a Conditional Member, Matt undertook a virtual assessment online with SELECT Technical Adviser Stuart McKelvie. Matt explained: “Normally an assessor would come to site and you’d show them round, but this time I sent pictures of my work instead. In the month before I joined I made sure I took photos of the jobs I was doing so I’d be able to show as much as I could.

“I sent a lot of pictures and documents and we went through it all together. I explained what I’d done in the different stages and answered questions.

“Getting some materials is still taking longer than it usually would. The nearest wholesaler to me is an hour and a half away so it can be a challenge”

“In the end, it wasn’t that much different to previous assessments I’ve been involved in. It was probably less stressful because you weren’t face-to-face – you didn’t feel like you were on the spot. Stuart’s a nice guy and easy to get on with as well, which helped.

He knows his stuff and I’d done my 18th Edition training with him so we’d met before.”

Matt says that domestic work has increased in recent months

Matt set up his M Ayre Electrical business in Stranraer two years ago and since the initial coronavirus lockdown was lifted in summer, he’s seen a big surge in his workload as people spend on home improvements.

He said: “During lockdown I had to turn down work because I couldn’t get hold of materials. But I’ve been really busy lately. There’s not a lot of electricians where I am so there’s always a lot on the go. I do everything – domestic, commercial, agricultural, landlord reports, you name it.

“The domestic work has been really busy with a lot of people getting extensions and new kitchens. They’re not going on holiday so they’re spending money on their house instead.”

Helping hand

While his business is booming, Matt’s been able to help someone else continue their career in the industry by taking on an apprentice who had been made redundant because of effects of the pandemic.

“Before lockdown I’d spoken to the local college about taking on an apprentice,” he said. “Afterwards they got in touch to ask if I could take on someone who was being laid off.

“I wasn’t sure at first because I didn’t know much work I’d having coming in. But over the next few days my phone never stopped ringing. I took him on for a two-week trial and he’s been with me four or five months now.

“He’s in his third year and that helps me because as he’s not at college as much, he can spend more time working with me.”

The COVID precautions mean Matt’s had to adapt how he works to make sure he and his customers stay safe. He always has wipes, sprays and masks in his van, as well as a spray to clean his tools between each job.

“The biggest issue has been getting deliveries,” he said. “Getting some materials is still taking longer than it usually would. The nearest wholesaler to me is an hour and a half away so it can be a challenge.

“I’ve had to explain the delays to customers and most of them are fine. They realise from things they’ve ordered online themselves that everything’s taking longer at the moment.”

Going digital

Matt’s also signed up to SELECTcerts, our digital certification system, which he’s now using it to save time on admin.

“I love it and have even bought an iPad for doing my certificates,” he said.

“I used to have to write them out and then write them out again more neatly. “Now I just do it once and send it straight to the customer so it saves me time.

“I had a couple of little software issues at the start but it’s fine now and I’ve got the technical numbers saved if I ever need any support.”

While COVID means it’s hard for anyone to predict what 2021 will bring, Matt’s remaining upbeat about the future.

He said: “Maybe 2021 will be quiet because everyone has already spent their money getting work done on their houses in 2020.

“But hopefully things will get back to normal sooner rather than later and people will always want kitchens or need things fixing.

“I’ve also got a lot of contracts with hotels, shops, care homes and farms so hopefully they’ll help to keep me busy.”

Kitchens have been a big part of Matt’s workload


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