In life, I am a great advocate for having a fair playing field for everyone.

I don’t like it when certain people get an unfair advantage – which you will know if you have heard me talk about “big boy” contractors who abuse their scale, reputation and power within the industry to hold their supply chains over a barrel and treat them as a source of finance for major projects by insisting on gruelling payment terms (for example).

Just occasionally, however, I do feel that there are situations where the field just needs to be tilted a little in favour of certain companies or practices, for the benefit of the client and the industry as a whole.

In the world of invasive weed management, experience counts (actually, I’m pretty sure that whatever field you’re in, experience counts – but I’m not talking about the rest of the world here, just our industry). On top of that, good management and financial stability bring the reliability needed to support our clients from day one until long after the works have been completed.

We deal with underground burial cells which are expected to remain intact for at least fifty years and carry out chemical treatment programmes that can take five years (or more) to complete – and on top of that, we providing guarantees for ten years or longer. A company that’s been trading for six months doesn’t just lack the experience of longer-established businesses, it presents a real risk that clients are investing money in works that will need to be picked up (at cost!) by another company a few years down the line, when it turns out that a shiny new website and a few certificates really doesn’t mean the same as decades of on-the-ground experience with the UK’s toughest plants in a highly-competitive marketplace.

Sadly, we’re also all too aware of individuals within our industry who have a great deal of experience, yet somehow seem to end up in charge of companies which only ever last a few years before folding… and of those same players re-appearing with a new “thoughtfully crafted moniker” to imply a continuity which is, sadly, very much false, particularly for suppliers who have been left out of pocket by credit agreements or clients whose treatment plans or guarantees are no longer honoured.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you and your team were recognised for the skills and experience that you have and the sound management practices you employ?

Wouldn’t it be nice if you got recognition for the fact that you have completed more of these five-year projects than you can remember? And what’s more, that you’ve seen out the five and ten-year guarantees that you provided for them? And that you’re still going strong and the clients who you provided these works for are still coming back to you because of the service they have received?

This is where INNSA can help.

As a trade association, INNSA’s core values include driving up standards in the industry, as well as protecting the interests of our members. We keep our membership criteria under review and we will continue to push INNSA membership as a badge of quality to clients, mortgage lenders and local authorities.

We are proud that INNSA’s contractor membership are all able to demonstrate at least a five-year track record of invasive species management and similarly respectable trading history and creditworthiness, as well as meeting and abiding by the most stringent quality checks in the industry.

INNSA truly believes that if clients are going to select a company to carry out five years’ worth of specialist work – and ask for ten year guarantees on top – then the only place to come is to the trade association whose members can all demonstrate that they have quite literally “been there and done that”.

Mike Clough