now you know what trustmark does, but how is it organised, who are the approved scheme operators, and how do you go about getting involved? read on and all your questions will be answered …

How do you become an approved scheme operator?

Industry trade associations, certification schemes, professional organisations and commercial operators have developed rigorous membership standards over the last few years. It's on these firm foundations that TrustMark is built.

Approved scheme operators have to prove to the TrustMark board that they have a demonstrated commitment to raising standards in the industry. They must be able to show that they can manage the scheme impartially, with no commercial conflicts of interest or anything that might jeopardise consumer confidence. They must also have the financial strength and resources, and the administrative and technical capability, to operate the proposed scheme, plus quality accreditation or certification for their systems and processes.

Beyond this, the TrustMark board looks at everything from the code of practice for member firms and how an organisation assesses and monitors its member firms, to how it cares for customers, manages their complaints and any disciplinary issues, and the sort of warranty cover it provides.

How does TrustMark compare with Competent Persons?

Competent Person schemes cover much of the same ground as TrustMark but do not provide the full range of consumer protection checks. Many Competent Person schemes are considering offering TrustMark membership as an additional benefit to firms.

What makes TrustMark any different from previous schemes, like the old Quality Mark scheme?

There are three big differences that make TrustMark better than anything that has gone before. First, TrustMark works very effectively with industry and consumer groups. Second, TrustMark is not costly or bureaucratic to join. And third, it is a much bigger, nationwide scheme than its predecessor and is also being vigorously promoted to the public.

How must does it cost tradespeople to join TrustMark?

Costs for firms vary according to the pricing policy of each approved scheme operator. If your firm is already a member of a trade association licensed by TrustMark, it's worth checking what the fee may be to upgrade to TrustMark membership. If you're not a member of any trade association, you can choose to join one for your sector, or you can pay one of the independent certification bodies, such as AJA Registrars, to assess your firm and bring you into TrustMark.

Does TrustMark charge firms direct?

No. It charges the scheme operators a fee to be part of TrustMark, and it is up to them to decide how to pass on these costs to registered firms.

What standards does TrustMark expect of tradespeople?

TrustMark is built on a set of minimum standards intended to stamp out rogue traders and give consumers greater confidence in the trustworthiness of registered firms. Registered firms have to pass various checks. These include:

  • Assessment of technical skills, experience and relevant qualifications
  • Independent tests or on-site inspection of current work
  • Reports from qualified independent sources familiar with the firm's work
  • Verification of trading address, minimum trading record and/or bank records
  • Simple credit checks
  • Checks with local Trading Standards
  • A search for County Court judgements
  • Confirmation of mandatory insurance (such as employer's and public liability cover)
  • Checks on the firm's health and safety policy
  • Checks on the firm's customer complaints procedures
  • Customer satisfaction checks
Does TrustMark carry out its own direct checks on firms?

It is the responsibility of the approved scheme operators to check on the performance of their registered firms.

So who checks up on the approved scheme operators?

The TrustMark team monitors approved scheme operators on behalf of the TrustMark board. The board formally reviews each approved scheme operator's performance every year, taking into account an independent assessment of their quality of work, handling of complaints, and so on.

What standards does TrustMark ask of customers?

"We expect customers to deal fairly with TrustMark registered firms," says Ian Livsey. "This includes agreeing a fair price for good work and paying quickly once a job is finished."