How the Fix Forward Application Process Works

As the Fix Forward brand continues to go from strength to strength, we’re getting a lot of enquiries from professional tradesmen interested in joining us. Our application assessment is quite the process, so we thought that we’d break it down by answering a few of our most frequently asked questions. If you’ve ever asked “How do I join Fix Forward?”, or know someone who has, then read on…

1. What happens when a referral is received? What is the process thereafter?

We contact the tradesman and ask them to submit three references of clients whom they’ve done work for previously

2. Can you outline the vetting / selection procedure?

i) We call a minimum of three references to check on the quality of work and the reliability of the tradesman.

ii) If their references are good, we invite the tradesman to complete an application form so that we can assess their suitability.

iii) Once we’ve gone over their application form, we call candidates for a one-on-one interview where we find out more about their business and how they deal with clients. At this stage, we also find out whether they work with a regular trusted team or if they use casual roadside labour.

 

Fix Forward Founder, Joshua Cox.

3. How would someone apply themselves? Or can you only be referred?

We do get tradesmen contacting us directly and based on the phone call we are quickly able to assess whether it’s worth conducting reference checks and undergoing screening. Most of the time, the proactive guys who contact directly prove to be reliable and a good fit for Fix Forward.

Refer A Tradesmen

4. What tradesmen are in short supply and what do you no longer need more of?

We currently need more tilers, pavers and builders.

5. Once they have been accepted, how do you refer them to work? Is it a first come, first serve basis or how does allocation take place?

We give the bulk of the work, and the biggest jobs, to the best rated tradesmen. This provides an incentive for them to excel and ensures our customers consistently get only the best service. Our allocation process does however ensure that a tradesman with a slightly lower rating (minimum of 7.5 of 10 to stay on the programme) does still get business.

 

Fanie_Manjete_Team

Fix Forward teams guarantee quality.

6. What are the benefits of joining Fix Forward for local entrepreneurs? 

First of all, and perhaps most importantly, most tradesmen double their revenue within 6 months of joining Fix Forward so the financial benefit is significant.

Aside from that, we offer amazing opportunities for our tradesmen to upskill themselves and their businesses. All our tradesmen get access to our e-learning platform with 11 entrepreneur development modules that cover everything from marketing and quoting to financial management and customer relations. They also get to participate in monthly group workshops for six months, where they share learnings and experiences with each other on the themes of their training.

Do you know someone who has what it takes? Are their references and skills up to scratch? Contact Us to chat about becoming part of our team!

Contact Us To Refer A Quality Tradesmen Now

#FixForwardFix: Blocked Drains

In the latest of our #FixForwardFix series, where we tackle common household DIY issues, we chatted to Fix Forward plumber John Hopley about something that everyone has encountered at some point or another – blocked drains.

Having joined us at Fix Forward in December 2016, John is still fairly new to our program but said that he has already benefitted tremendously. Aside from the extra work he now enjoys, John has also found our business workshops to be really helpful and already feels more confident handling quotations and customer relations. We met up with John at our offices in Cape Town to get his expert advice how to unblock a drain.

Household Drain Maintenance 

First things first – and this is often easier said than done – always be mindful of what is going down your drains to begin with. Household drains have a ‘U-Shape’ trap that keeps outside waste and smells from getting inside, and oftentimes the blockage is a result of overloading the trap with solid waste that it isn’t meant to process. For the toilet, try and limit the amount of toilet paper you flush down and steer clear of throwing any foreign objects into the loo too. In the kitchen, fit a food trap over your kitchen sink to catch all the solid bits and avoid putting excess fat down the drain as it tends to congeal and block the drain when too much builds up.

 

plumber cape town

Fix Forward plumber, John Hopley

Unblocking A Drain

When it comes to unblocking a drain or toilet, there are a number of options to try depending on the severity of the blockage. Here are a few suggestions in the order that you should try them:

Get Heated: Pouring boiling water down the drain will dislodge any bits of fat or grease that may be obstructing the flow of water.

Clear the Trap: Place a bucket under the sink and unscrew the cap at the bottom of the ‘U-Bend’ – oftentimes this will be clogged with hair or some other solid that can be easily removed.

Take the plunge: Sometimes you just can’t beat the efficacy of a simple plunger. The strong force generated by the downward flow of air or water can unblock even the most stubborn of drains or toilets. Pro tip: when unblocking a kitchen sink, cover the overflow with a wet cloth to create good pressure, and do the same to the second drain if you have a double sink.

The Green Option: Make a homemade drain unblocker with vinegar and bicarbonate of soda.  Mix 1/2 cup salt, 1/2 cup bi-carb and 1 cup of vinegar with 1 cup hot water and pour the solution down the drain, wait for half and hour and then flush with cold water. This will also help to neutralise any odours.

The Chemical Option: A staple in the trade, caustic soda (or sodium hydroxide) is a metallic alkali of sodium that comes as pellets or prepared solutions. Strong and effective, there aren’t many drains that remain blocked after a dose of caustic soda. Be sure to take appropriate safety precautions when handling this toxic substance.

Call the Professionals: Still battling with a blocked drain and unpleasant odours even after trying the above a few times? It could be a job for John and his team. Click the button below and we’ll get a plumber over quicker than you can spell Bicarbonate of Soda!

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Fix Forward Client Profile – Keith Juries

This month we met up with Fix Forward client, Keith Juries, to discuss his recent home renovation project and why he chose to use a Fix Forward tradesman. Keith needed some paving done and, like any good home improver, he did his fair share of research of Cape Town pavers before he was confident that he had made the right choice.

Thanks for your time Keith. Tell us, why Fix Forward?

KR: “It’s really difficult to find reputable builders and workers that you can trust. I came across the business while on the internet searching for “pavers in Cape Town” and the helpful Fix Forward consultant put me in touch with Danny Kleinsmith, the paver who completed the project. It was a very simple process and, thanks to all of the quality checks that Fix Forward tradesmen have to go through to qualify, I was immediately confident in Danny and his ability to get the job done right.”

How did the project go?

KR: “The paving project took a week to complete and I really felt at ease throughout – the work was completed to a high standard and Danny and his team were really professional. This is in stark contrast to my previous building experiences with other suppliers, where I was constantly worried and chose to be present the entire time.”

 

Paving Cape Town

A job well done by Danny and team.

Would you recommend Fix Forward?

KR: “Absolutely! Firstly, the peace of mind when using a service like Fix Forward is worth it alone. You are able to view all the tradesmen profiles beforehand and are confident in the knowledge that each tradesmen was thoroughly vetted in the Fix Forward application process.

Secondly, there are the incredible benefits of the socio-economic empowerment which the business model encourages. It’s great model that allows those who are capable the opportunity to do good work.”

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Pam Golding Properties Appoints Fix Forward

Cape Town – We are proud to announce that Fix Forward began working with Pam Golding Property Management Services in November of last year.  Appointed to take care of the plumbing needs of the 190+ properties that Pam Golding manages in the Western Cape, we are thrilled to work with such a prestigious client and look forward to a fruitful relationship for both us and our entrepreneurs.

In a little over a few months, one of Fix Forward’s plumbers has already completed around ten contracts for them thus far – doing everything from fixing leaks to replacing geysers. We chatted to Jonathon about the experience of working with one of South Africa’s top property firms…

Thank you for chatting to us Jonathon! How has the experience of working with the Pam Golding Group been so far?

Well firstly I must say I was a little overawed by the sheer scale of their portfolio and was worried I wouldn’t know which property was which! After I had familiarised myself with the various sites, I felt a lot more confident and ready to tackle the job.

I have really enjoyed the experience of working with one client over multiple sites. Since we began near the start of the holidays, I’ve worked on a wide variety of maintenance jobs and that’s what I prefer! The increased client interaction is also something I really enjoy.

 

Pam Golding Fix Forward Cape Town

A property in the Pam Golding portfolio.

What do you think the partnership with Pam Golding means for Fix Forward?

The partnership with Pam Golding represents a massive boost for Fix Forward. The partnership is going to be helpful to both companies, as Fix Forward will get great exposure and experience while the client will get quality service and the best out of their properties. It is really significant that a company as reputable and established as Pam Golding has chosen to work with Fix Forward as it displays a lot of trust in our abilities, and other companies and individuals will take note of that.

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Fix Forward Plumbing

A Fix Forward kitchen installation.

How does the partnership with Pam Golding impact you and your business?

Let me just say that Fix Forward has already had a massive impact on my business, my life and my family. Having come through the Fix Forward training programme has benefitted me greatly as it provides a reference of trust similar to word of mouth. Working with Pam Golding has taught him a lot – especially with quoting and how to handle respective client call outs.

It’s not just Jonathon who is enjoying working with Pam Golding; Mike Howard of Pam Golding Property Management Services had this to say about Jonathon:

“He is proving so far to be great, and the people like his demeanour.”

Keep up the good work Jonathon and thank you to Pam Golding for the opportunity! Contact Us to learn more about our services.

#FixForwardFix: Interior Painting

In the second installment of our #FixForwardFix series of DIY and Home Improvement tips, we give you some expert advice on Painting an Interior Room. In order to get the best inside info, we chatted to Fix Forward painter Kingstone Katuruza about selecting what paint to use and where; how to prepare the room for painting; and how to give your wall(s) a quality finish with the minimum of mess and fuss.

Pre-Painting Considerations

When it comes down to the type of paint that your interior wall requires, there are some important factors to consider. How much light does your room get and what colours would best suit the light conditions? What is the room used for? Different environments and surfaces will all require different paint finishes; for example the wet and warm conditions of a bathroom or kitchen will be best suited to a glossy finish, whereas an eggshell finish might work best in an ornate, decorative paint. Lastly, think about the size and architectural layout of the room – are there tricky cornices or alcoves and how big is the wall’s surface area? All of these considerations will better inform your decision when it comes to choosing the paint finish and colour at your local paint store.

Before getting started, be sure to properly prepare the walls by removing any unwanted nails or screws, filling any holes left by old shelves or art, and give the wall a good clean with a soft cloth and sugar soap. Prime your wall with a water based primer beforehand – this might only require one coat, depending on the original colour and how different it is to the new colour. If you have any issues with damp or mould, check out our #FixForwardFix on Rising Damp.

 

painting filler

Applying filler to imperfections.

Selecting A Finish

As mentioned above, the rooms form and function will determine which paint finish to use. Whether acrylic, latex, or otherwise, here are a few of the more common paint finishes:

Flat Finish – use this opaque finish to add a touch of muted elegance to your ceilings and low-traffic walls. As it doesn’t have any shine or gloss, a flat paint finish does not clean easily so it is not suitable for use in kitchens, children’s rooms or bathrooms. It’s great for use on walls with slight blemishes, as the finish won’t catch the light and draw attention to imperfections as much as other paints would.

Eggshell or Satin Finish –  although both of these finishes are low luster, they do have more sheen than a flat finish and so are easier to clean too. Perfect for higher traffic areas such as hallways or lounges, eggshell and satin finishes tend to be the most popular thanks to their all round practicality.

Glossy Finish – available in either semi or high gloss, these finishes are both extremely durable and easy to clean. A semi-gloss finish is ideal for kitchens, bathrooms, doors and moldings and will give the wall a subtle shine. Go for a high-gloss finish on surfaces that get used the most, such as railings, shelves, banisters, and in the kitchen or bathroom. A high-gloss finish is resistant to most stains and is scrubbable, making it perfect for future Picasso children’s rooms where crayons might be in high use! Remember though that the higher the gloss, the more the paint shows surface imperfections.

As a general rule of thumb, 1 litre of paint should cover 10 square metres of wall, but take your wall measurements to your paint provider for a more accurate assessment. Try to use water based paints whenever possible, as these are less odorous and toxic than oil based paints.

Is your painting project a little too daunting? Contact Us to chat solutions and get your #FixForwardFix!

Painting Your Wall

Move any objects that are near the surface to be painted and clear the floor space. Use masking tape to clearly define the wall’s borders or edges, as well as to tape down refuse bags on the floor to protect against drips or splatter. Use a brush to cut in on corners and edges, but apply the majority of a paint with a clean roller for the smoothest finish. When it comes to rolling, sometimes you need to roll in multiple directions to ensure even coverage, but always make sure than once you have evenly covered the section you are painting that you finish off by rolling in one direction throughout.

 

painting cutting in

Use a brush for ‘cutting in’ before finishing with a roller.

After Painting

Be sure to give your walls enough time to dry between coats – this will vary depending on the finish and whether the paint is oil or water based. Give the room time to ventilate with open windows and doors wherever possible, and try to avoid sleeping in the room the same day it was painted.

Clean your brushes, rollers and trays well (with water or turpentine, finish dependent) and they will give you many years of good service. Then sit back and enjoy your new room!

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Q&A With Fix Forward Founder Joshua Cox

As an eventful 2016 draws to a close, we met up with Fix Forward CEO Joshua Cox to ask him about the year that was, and what we can expect from the company in 2017.

How did Fix Forward perform in 2016?

Josh: In the last year, Fix Forward grew our pool of tradesmen from 12 to almost 60. This growth is encouraging and obviously multiplies Fix Forward’s impact and ability to connect more clients to quality tradesmen.

 

joshua cox fix forward

Founder and CEO, Joshua Cox

With such growth, there must have been a lot of learning. What can you take away from the year in terms of lessons learnt? 

Josh: The biggest lesson to come out of the year for Fix Forward was to constantly challenge our ideas on the best way of doing things. For example, previously the Entrepreneur Development Program was very much classroom based, but we wanted to adapt it without losing the face-to-face interaction and learning. We shifted the training to e-learning, which was a much more effective way to deliver content to people, allowing them the convenience of engaging with it at their own pace and in their own time. The lesson in this is realizing that we need to constantly challenge if we are doing things the right way.

What has changed since for the company since you first opened your doors?

Josh: A lot of has changed since we first opened our doors! For example, when we started out we really identified quite strongly as a non-profit social enterprise and were modeling ourselves around what other social enterprises were doing; but just over a year ago we realized that we are much more of a tech start up, and so have tried to learn from the likes of successful tech start ups like AirBnB and Uber. We would like to achieve a highly scaleable business, which non-profit organisations struggle to achieve because they rely on funding. Our vision is to scale this – not only across South Africa but also worldwide.

 

fix forward welding

Fix Forward is all about empowering skilled entrepreneurs.

With 2017 just around the corner, how do you plan to continue your development next year?

Josh: We would like to get the business to the point where we are ready to scale up to Johannesburg. This involves testing and ensuring that the new learning program is working; and that the e-learning is going smoothly. We are developing a web application which we will need to check, and if it is fully functional and the automation of our systems and processes are working properly, then we will be ready to scale up to Joburg next year.

Challenges are a part of both business and life. What challenges are you facing in the construction industry at present?

Josh: One of the biggest problems faced in the industry – which is a longstanding challenge – is that clients often aim to pay as little as they can and still expect exceptional service. Our challenge will be to change that mindset and to one where our clients can get fair value for money instead. Ultimately there is a price point which is beneficial to both the client and the tradesmen; if it is cheaper than that then it’s beneficial to neither because the tradesmen are forced to cut corners and the quality is compromised.

We need to get clients to understand that paying a little bit more is in their best interest for quality work. Overcoming this will have to involve communicating to clients what a fair price actually is – particularly because the tradesmen come from lower income areas, there is a perception that the job will be a ‘cheap deal’. Fix Forward is all about about positioning our service as a quality service, not a cheap one!

If you would like to know more about Fix Forward and the services offered – or just have something to ask Josh – please feel free to Contact Us.  Remodelling or Renovating? Request a Quote.

Fix Forward Client Profile – Richard Thomas Pt 2

In the follow up to our original post ‘Fix Forward Client Profile – Richard Thomas Pt 1‘, we caught up with recent client Richard Thomas to discuss his experience using Fix Forward for the recent renovation on his family home in Claremont, Cape Town.

After deciding to give Fix Forward’s team of specialist contractors a try, Richard Thomas undertook to Project Manage the renovation himself in order to reduce costs and learn as much from the process as possible. And boy, did he learn! Below are some key findings.

Richard’s Key Learnings  – Post Construction / Renovation

  • The more you plan and prepare initially, the smoother the project will go.
  • Managing a project yourself requires significant time and effort, but it does help to ensure the end result is as aligned with your expectations as possible.
  • Do not be shy to communicate your ideas to your contractors – they are there to provide a service and should always try to realise your vision, whenever practically possible.

 

fix forward painting

Fix Forward painters hard at work.

Richard was incredibly happy with the standard of work delivered by Fix Forward, who had contractors working on bricklaying, joinery, tiling, plumbing and carpentry.

Handling the building was Fix Forward favourite Shepherd Mtyatya and his team. Shepherd was always available for a chat, whether in person or on the phone, and was meticulous in checking on the quality of work each day. All of the construction was completed to an incredibly high standard, and the team were more than happy to make alterations where requested. Check out a recent review of another of Shepherd’s projects here.

For all Richard’s carpentry needs, Yandisa Mpila took charge and ensured that the joinery was completed on time and according to specification. Richard was particularly concerned about a beautiful oak counter that he restored, so Yandisa and his team took great care in installing the counter in a way that both preserved and enhanced the wood.

Fix Forward plumber Marcus Sansvenga took care of all the tiling and plumbing throughout the house and received rave reviews from Richard. Hailed for being patient and professional, Marcus and his team took accountability for any inconsistencies and worked hand-in-hand with Richard to deliver a quality end product.

I would highly recommend Fix Forward to all family and friends looking to renovate or construct. They are professional and capable and made the experience of my own renovation as seamless as possible.” – Richard Thomas

Renovating your house? Starting a new build? Get A Quote!

 

Fix Forward Client Profile – Richard Thomas Pt 1

In the first of a new series of posts where we will be profiling our clients and their experiences with Fix Forward, this week we chat to recent client Richard Thomas and get his insight into the crucial decisions that need to be made when beginning a construction or renovation project. In Part 2 we check back in with Richard to find out how the project went and what he learnt from the experience.

Richard Thomas and his wife bought their house three years ago with the idea of adding value and then selling at the right time. This was inspired by his family constantly renovating whilst he was growing up, and from this Richard learnt to “buy the worst house in the best area”. The house backs on to the fields of Villagers in Claremont; and is therefore the perfect family home, central to everything.

 

fix forward richard thomas

Richard had big plans for his family home.

Initially Richard planned on adding another story to the house to take advantage of the mountain views, but decided against this for budgeting reasons. The main aim was to maximise the space of the property using what already existed and bringing out the best of what was already there. After conducting all his research and fine tuning his ideas, it was time to choose some contractors.

As a trustee of Fix Forward, Richard wanted to get some hands-on experience and see if the tradesmen live up to their reputations. With that in mind, his family renovation provided the perfect opportunity to put Fix Forward to the test! Check out ‘Fix Forward Client Profile – Richard Thomas Pt 2‘ to see how we did.

Richard’s Key Learnings  – Pre Construction/Renovation

  • Conduct market research into property prices in the area. What alterations are your neighbours making and how do they impact on market value?
  • Clearly define your ideas with detailed notes and reference images to show your contractor. This will help align expectations with reality.
  • Agree upon a detailed project timeline and budget with your contractor before beginning to ensure accountability and efficiency.

Have a project that requires our expert attention? Get A Quote!

Shepherd Mtyatya & The Fix Forward Model

As Fix Forward continues to grow and empower entrepreneurs in the construction industry, we often stop to reflect on our past to critically examine how our model is impacting the lives and businesses of the tradesmen and women in our programme. We recently caught up with Shepherd Mtyatya –  a builder and painter who joined us in 2014 – to chat about the progress made since first we met.

A consummate professional, Shepherd was previously the head of maintenance at the prestigious One&Only Hotel – a five star hotel and resort located in the centre of Cape Town’s hottest tourism commodity, the V&A Waterfront. Although the challenge and experience of working at such a world class facility was invaluable, Shepherd got the ‘entrepreneurial itch’ and decided to branch out on his own. Shortly after establishing his own Construction and Painting business, Shepherd heard of Fix Forward through his network and immediately reached out to us…

After acceptance into the Fix Forward development programme, Shepherd eagerly began participating in our business development and skill training workshops. Due to our holistic approach, his business acumen rapidly developed alongside his chosen trade skills. Fix Forward helped Shepherd to become better organised, especially with the administrative side of things with which he was not as familiar, and this enabled him to develop his business to where it is today. Based in Phillipi, Shepherd hopes to continue to grow both his skillset and his business to the extent that, in five years, he is able to employ even more staff and tackle even bigger projects.

 

shepherd Mtyatya office

A smiling Shepherd Mtyatya shares a joke with an employee at his office

Shepherd’s favourite project with Fix Forward was the renovation of over 10 schools for a local NGO. Involved from the outset, Shepherd saw the project go from a paper dream to actual brick and mortar structures that help make Early Childhood Development nurseries a lot more habitable.  Other than these projects, Shepherd and his team predominantly work on the construction and renovation of private homes.

Shepherd’s partnership with Fix Forward allows him to subcontract other tradesmen for many of his projects, thus creating a network which results in growth for all affiliated. Our comprehensive vetting procedure bridges the trust gap between the client and tradesmen by ensuring all tradesmen on the site are reputable and come complete with solid references. As a result of this, Shepherd says that when Fix Forward organises a quote for a client he knows that he’ll get the job 80% of the time. It is for this reason that he has no hesitation in recommending us to others in his extensive network. Keep up the good work Shepherd!

Want to refer a tradesmen or get a quote for a project? Please Contact Us.

 

#FixForwardFix: Rising Damp

In the first of a new series called #FixForwardFix, our team look at common household DIY problems and give you some tips and tricks on how to tackle them!  This week we met up with Herbert Makamba – who has been painting for 15 years now – and got his thoughts on how to deal with rising damp.

Rising damp occurs when there is inadequate protection in the building’s foundation to block groundwater and/or by rain water penetrating cracked or badly installed damp proof course (DPC). Herbert explained how the problem sometimes only manifests years after construction is complete, and is more prevalent in a lot of the older houses in areas such as Woodstock, Salt River and Observatory where moisture tends to sneak through structural cracks.

We recommend that people closely supervise the construction of their homes to make sure that all cement work is done properly, and that there are no cracks evident – these make the walls porous and susceptible to dampness. Although every measure should be taken to ensure correct waterproofing during the build, sometimes these cracks are caused by uncleared tree roots or branches that have grown over time.

 

damp_DIY

Dealing with Damp.

Whilst rising damp issues can occur throughout the year, people usually tend to notice the dampness in the rainy seasons.  Damp causes the discoloration or staining of the walls, a noticeable smell of moisture, diminishing of grout, and the presence of mould. Aside from the structural damage, damp can also cause some nasty health problems, especially to those who suffer from asthma.

Rising damp bringing you down? Contact Us to talk solutions and get your #FixForwardFix!

When faced with rising damp, the first step in the DIY process should be attempting to identify any obvious external factors, such as an overhanging branch or a crack in the wall, and removing these as best as possible. If your flower beds are higher than the damp proof course, dig away or lower the flower beds to divert runoff water from the building. Oftentimes some trusty PolyFilla and a coat of paint working in tandem with some garden shears are enough to solve the problem, but if not then it’s best to get experts in. Herbert says it takes less than a week to repair the affected walls and he boasts an enviable success rate!