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Clients fail to change with times

Improvement message not getting across

INDUSTRY bosses warned this week that too many major clients were dragging their feet when it came to improving relationships with contractors.

Speaking at a DTI conference on client engagement in construction this week, Midas chief executive Steve Hindley said: 'We are trying very hard to influence our customers but it is a slow message to get across.

'We are still having to work in a tender environment and we do not have time to plan. If you are working for a NHS Trust or a council, the tendency is still to go for the lowest price.'

Strategic Forum chairman Peter Rogers responded: 'There is nothing intrinsically wrong with going for the cheapest price.

It depends on the questions you ask and how many people you ask it to.'

The Strategic Forum is pursuing a target to have 20 per cent of clients' projects by value embracing the benchmarking and partnering principles of the clients' charter by the end of 2004.

Mr Rogers said: 'We should meet the target but it is mainly being taken up by the housing sector at the moment.We would like to see more of a range of sectors on board.'

He added that the industry needed to be more focused to get the improvement message out to the industry.

He said: 'There is a bit of a mish-mash.

There are too many initiatives at the moment, too many things going on with too many people driving them. It is not rocket science - what we do is common sense but the trouble is that everybody's common sense is different.'

But George Martin, the BRE's director of sustainability, warned: 'The major contractors are on board but, for the rest of construction the score is two out of 10.

'Unless we get the message to them we are in danger of creating a two-tier industry.'